Friday, 6 February 2015

Marmot Dark Mountains - Kit List

This post turned out to be longer than expected so I split it off. Getting your kit right for an event like this can make or break your chances and with Shane Ohly's words about "running warm" ringing in my ears and my experience of night nav being one of moving steadily not quickly I decided to pack some warm stuff.

Being a bit of a massive gear geek, I present a short list of the gear packed along with some comments and how useful it was.

I was thankful for the good weather that meant we didn't need all of the gear. If I was putting all my layers and gloves on then the weather would have been really bad!

Kit List
  • Team mate: 0.5 of Team Spinach = Emma
  • Haglofs Gram 25 rucksack for lugging with the shoulder-attached water bottle holder. Great pack, lightweight, stable when running, comfy and pockets where you need them. Shoulder bottle pouch useful, elastic tag needs a bigger tag for pulling on to secure bottle. Suits my long back nicely.

None of which was used thankfully
  • PHD sleeping bag, custom length, 5°C "comfort" - light, warm, cheap, great quality
  • Alpkit Airlok Xtra 8 litre drybag for the above sleeping bag
  • Terra Nova 2 person bothy bag
  • SOL emergency bivvy bag - 100% tested on organic Eleanors
  • A borrowed lightweight 2 person tent
  • A bit of OMM foam pad for a sleeping mat
  • First aid kit, knife, Petzl eLite emergency torch
  • Old style Primus ETA express gas stove, pan and burner only (no lid or windshield), tin foil lid and windshield, 100ml gas
  • Orikaso lightweight fold flat cup
  • 4 sachets of instant hot chocolate drink for emergencies


  • Rab MeCo boxers - no chafing pls
  • Ronhill winter running tights - I suffer from a medium waist but large thighs so unless I tie the waist cord on these they work their way down. Mmmm, nice. My legs ran cool but was balanced by the amount of warmth I had on top (see below).
  • Buffalo Mountain Shirt with Expedition hood fitted, worn next to skin. This is one of my favourite items of clothing in my wardrobe that just seems to keep you warm and dry in all manner of conditions. The Needlesports website has a great explanation of how the system works. The hood makes for a good scarf when the neck is fastened up tightly and is very warm when you batten down the hatches. Fantastic top office pocket for snacks, maps, notes, camera, gloves but makes you look like you have massive man boobs! Downsides are annoying hood velcro tabs and face flap. Most of the way round in the valleys I was running a bit too hot with vents down and no hat on.
  • Rab MeCo 120 weight long sleeve base layer - spare in pack, not used
  • Montane Prism jacket - spare warm layer for on top of Buffalo shirt - not used
  • Montane Minimus waterproof jacket - light yet suprisingly waterproof! Not used.
  • Montane Minimus waterproof trousers - warm and effective when paired up with the Ronhill tights. Nice tight fit around the calves. Not used but would have been the first extra item of clothing on.
  • Decathlon thick liner socks. Comfy.
  • Sealskinz mid weight waterproof socks. AMAZING. We forded several streams/rivers and I would not have been able to continue the event with wet, cold feet. Feet slightly damp at the end, probably from water coming over the tops!
  • Inov-8 Roclite 295 trail/fell shoes. The 2013 model that have served me well for ages. Wide toe box for my fat feet, decent grips, very comfy and light. Low strength uppers led to two identical lace loops blowing on the descent to CP5. My previous pair did exactly the same on the Haworth Hobble a couple of years ago. Inov-8 have changed the lace loop design on newer models so I look forward to testing these out. The last pair did 600 miles so I'm not too sad about that.
  • Two Inov-8 Wrags - buff equivalents. One used as a hat when on the tops. Other kept in reserve in rucksack.
  • Mountain Equipment beanie hat - not used, left in rucksack.
  • Sealskinz windproof gloves - used occasionally on the tops, otherwise I was using my hands to dump heat from my body
  • Mountain Equipment Guide gloves, warm and waterproof with a pile lining. My normal winter climbing gloves. Not used.
  • Bolle clear ski goggles, essential for walking into a strong head wind with snow/rain/hail and still being able to navigate. Used several times in Scottish winter conditions. Not used.


It's dark, you may need these.
  • Princeton Tec Apex headtorch, two sets of Eneloop rechargeable batteries. 4 x AA battery powered light with enough clout for fell running downhill and wide beam/low light options for walking and map reading. A versatile torch that provided enough light for walking/navigation on its lowest setting.
  • Spare torch, random eBay "2000 lumen lies" focusable LED torch. 18650 lithium batteries kindly loaned by Mark the Machine. Used once on top of The Calf in highly focused mode when looking for the checkpoint.

Food / Drink
Whatever you take on a night event has to be easily edible even when feeling like you are about to throw up. Selection is a very personal thing and only comes with experience. I normally take Lyle's golden syrup cake with me but decided to experiment.

  • 750ml random brand squeezy bottle, refilled at streams. I went through two and a half bottles which means I kept on top of my hydration. Food seemed to take effect quickly which backs this up.
  • Nuun tablets, grape flavour, half a tab per bottle. Yum.
  • Big bag of jelly babies in rucksack waist belt pocket. Mostly gone!
  • Six slices of home made pizza, pepperoni, mushroom, pepper - stomachable even when nauseated. I ate three on the way round, should have eaten at least one/two more but needed more cheese. These were a very good choice, maybe mini calzones next time for easier eating?
  • Fig rolls - normally a favourite but the co-op ones were very dry and hard work. Try a different brand next time?
  • "Pitch" brand chocolate brioche - tasty and easy to shove down your neck. Would use again.

  • Casio digital watch. We did some rudimentary timing but pacing and using catching features allowed us to move faster. Mostly used for figuring out our predicted finish time.
  • Recta compass. I would like a compass with a stronger needle as I felt the settling time was too long on this one. Maybe an orienteering type compass with a fat needle would be good?
  • Home made 1:40k romer and pacing/timing cards, laminated. Was slightly annoyed to find that the map scale wasn't 1:40k as advertised but 1:30k instead so had to make some romer marks on the back of the compass with the crayons.
  • Waterproof notebook for course log. Not used.
  • Blue and red Sharpie chinagraph pencils, only made occasional notes on the map
  • Sony smartphone running Strava logging the route - sealed in a plastic bag and shoved in the bottom of the pack. No cheating! In flight mode my Z3 compact Strava'd the entire 10 hour run and had only used 25% of the battery. This will be good for longer events like the Fellsman.

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