An ultramarathon packing list isn't quite as complex and doesn't require much as packing for overnight backpacking, but it could be argued that the consequences are much higher. Forget something during an ultramarathon and it could ruin your entire race. Nobody wants to end up with a DNF (did not finish) because they forgot to pack something.
The following is all the gear I brought with me for my ultramarathon followed by a detailed description of each piece of gear and what, if anything, I would have changed about it.
- Running Vest: Salomon Sense Pro 5 (L)
- Sunglasses: goodr BAMFGs Polarized Sunglasses (L)
- Hat: Montbell Mesh Logo Cap #2 (L/XL)
- Shirt: Ridge Merino Journey Merino Wool T-Shirt (M)
- Hoodie*: Ridge Merino Solstice Lightweight Pullover Hoodie (M)
- Wind Jacket*: Patagonia Houdini Jacket (M)
- Gloves*: Patagonia R1 Daily Gloves (L)
- Neck Gaiter*: Continental Divide Trail Buff
- Shorts: Brooks Sherpa 2 in 1 Shorts 5in Inseam (M)
- Socks: Injinji Ultra Run Mini Crew Socks (L)
- Shoes: HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 5 (12 W)
- Water Bottles: Salomon Soft Flask 500ml (x2)
- Trekking Poles: MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon Backcountry Poles (L)
- Headlamp*: BioLite HeadLamp 800 Pro
- Power Bank: Nitecore NB10000 Gen II
- Poop Kit: Space Bear Bags Poop-moji Pouch
- Tape: Leukotape P Sports Tape
- Anti-Chafe: Body Glide for Her, Squirrels Nut Butter
*These items I used and/or added to my pack while running at night.
I trained with both a Salomon Sense Pro 5 and a Salomon Adv Skin 12. For my ultramarathon, I decided to go with the smaller pack since I wouldn't need to be carrying too much extra gear. I also prefer having my bottles in front instead of carrying a hydration bladder. If I had to carry any more gear or food than required by Oregon's Mountain Lakes 100, I likely would have opted for a larger pack. Although I haven't tried one on, I also think I should have a medium instead of a large.
I'm happy to have (finally) discovered goodr and their wide variety of polarized, affordable, and (if you need them) large sunglasses. The goodr BAMFGs Polarized Sunglasses were my choice for my ultra and despite most of the race being shaded, they served me well. They remained affixed to my hat and head without issues and I would 100% use them again and recommend them to anyone looking for some running sunnies.
Montbell Mesh Logo Cap #2 (L/XL)
My larger-than-average head provides me the same challenge with hats as it does sunglasses. Thankfully, I've discovered the plainly named Montbell Mesh Logo Cap #2 (size L/XL) fits my head quite nicely (as do the other Mesh Logo Caps by Montbell). It's comfortable, soaks up my sweat, and I typically forget I'm even wearing it which makes it great for running absurdly long distances.
I quickly discovered during my training that merino wool was my flavor of choice when it came to tops. The Ridge Merino Journey Merino Wool T-Shirt quickly became my favorite and it's what I wore for my 100-mile (160 km) race. It's comfortable, lightweight, breathable, smell-free(ish), and it doesn't chafe my nipples (like polyester does). Highly recommended for anyone looking for comfortable running apparel.
When night rolls around and temperatures drop, I want something warmer than my t-shirt, but I also don't want to have to put on a jacket. I used the Ridge Merino Solstice Lightweight Pullover Hoodie – basically my t-shirt with long sleeves, thumb holes, and a hood – at night and it worked out perfectly. It is comfortable and versatile enough that I could warm up when I slowed down or pull up the sleeves and take off the hood when I got moving more quickly.
The Patagonia Houdini Jacket is a lightweight wind shell designed to be able to keep the chill off you. It's not going to provide warmth or insulation as an insulated jacket would, but for running in cold (and dry) conditions, it does an excellent job of giving me just that little bit more warmth I sometimes need. It also packs down incredibly small and fits nicely into the back of my small running vest.
The Patagonia R1 Daily Gloves are lightweight, comfortable, touchscreen-compatible gloves that are my go-to for running or hiking in cold and dry conditions. They can be easily and quickly taken off or put on and even when my hands start heating up, these gloves are still comfortable to keep on for a while before my body heat and sweat force me to take them off and store them.
Buffs have become as much a fashion statement as they are a piece of functional gear. I like the Continental Divide Trail Buff because I like the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). The CDT Buff is simply the regular, thin material buff, not one of the fleece-lined polar ones. It's lightweight, but warm enough to keep my face or ears warm should I need it.
In all my training I found that the Brooks Sherpa 2 in 1 Shorts 5in Inseam were my favorite to run in. They have a built-in liner, plenty of stretchy side pockets (for snacks), and a zippered pocket that is large enough to fit my phone if required. The waistband doesn't dig into my back or waist and the liner stays put when running.
I resisted toe socks for a long time but eventually broke down and tried some Injinji Ultra Run Mini Crew Socks. They're now my favorite socks to run in. I did all my long training runs and my 100-miler with these socks and I never had any chafing, blisters, or complaints. My only problem now is I need to buy more of them.
Shoes will be different for everyone, but I'm pretty happy with the HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 5. Importantly for me, they come in wide sizes, but beyond that, they're comfortable, durable, and easy to get on and off. I've yet to get blisters running in a pair of Speedgoat 5s and they have never chafed around my ankle.
I carried two Salomon Soft Flask 500ml water bottles in my running vest, which served me well. However, there are two versions of this bottle. The one pictured here has a soft bottom consistent with the material making up the rest of the bottle. The other has a hard, semi-spherical bottom that is made of hard plastic to (presumably) give the bottle more structure. The latter version dug into my ribs and I would not recommend them. Go with the soft-bottom version.
I never trained with poles but I brought a pair of MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon Backcountry Poles to my 100-mile race just in case. It turned out to be a great thing I had them because after around the 60% point I found my knees bothering me and I ran the rest of the race with these poles in hand. The MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon Backcountry Poles are lightweight and easy to adjust. However, I do think I prefer a cork handle to the Ascent Carbon's foam.
For running all night long, I needed a headlamp that was both comfortable and with a battery capable of staying charged. The BioLite HeadLamp 800 Pro accomplished both of these things. It has a variety of settings with a max output of 800 lumens. It also has a rear red visibility light with solid and strobe functions (neither of which I used). The only downside? It's not USB-C.
Although I never ended up needing it for anything, I had a Nitecore NB10000 Gen II available to me in case I needed an emergency charge for my phone (i.e. music device), headlamp, or headphones. This 10000mAh power bank is surprisingly lightweight and supports USB-C quick charging. For backpacking, I typically bring two of these along. For running, just one.
This could just have easily been a plastic bag, but I love the Space Bear Bags Poop-moji Pouch because it not only tells you exactly what it is (my poop kit) but it also prevents me from repeatedly buying and throwing away more plastic. Regardless of what your strategy is, it would be wise to ensure you have tools available to you should you need to answer a call from nature somewhere out on the course.
I brought Leukotape P Sports Tape with me to combat chafing. Instead of slathering my entire body with anti-chafe, I put a few strips of tape on the areas where I am prone to chafe and where I knew the tape wouldn't bother me. Necessary? Probably not. But did it work in preventing chafe in those areas? Absolutely.
If anyone knows why I shouldn't be using the Body Glide for Her version of Body Glide, please let me know. It appears to be the same thing as the original Body Glide except it is in a pink container and it is “rich in Vitamins A, B, E, and F”. I need those vitamins, too, right? Regardless, this product does a great job of warding off chafe and I probably couldn't have finished without it.
After some horrible chafing all over my upper body during a 50 mi / 80 km training run, I decided I needed more than just one chafing cream. I went with Squirrels Nut Butter as my second and put it all over my upper body before my race (the Body Glide for Her was applied below the waist). Did I chafe during my 100 above my waist? No. Will I use Squirrels Nut Butter in the future? Absolutely.