Thursday, December 29, 2011

The ultrarunning gear I use

I’ve had this blog for almost two years now yet have never written about gear.  I know I often scour other running blogs looking for advice before I buy since, let’s face it, good gear isn’t cheap.  But it’s worth it.  I remember working an aid station at mile 22 of the Bear 100 one year, and a young runner came into the station looking for some gear repair.  He had taken a normal plastic bottle and fashioned his own bottle holder using only duct tape.  Unfortunately, it lasted less than 20% of the race.  As he left the aid station with our flimsy repair job, I thought it would be a shame if thousands of hours of training and tons of money went to naught just because he didn’t have the right gear.  Good gear won’t make you faster, but it shouldn’t slow you down.  With that intro, here is some of my favorite gear:

Water bottles- Nothing beats a Nathan Quickdraw Elite bottle.  I own 3 and use them all the time.  Good size pocket, tough as all get out (survives multiple wipeouts), and the handstrap with thumb-hole makes it so you don’t have to grip the bottle.  It’s worth the money, esp. since I have seen them as cheap as $16 recently. 

Hydration pack- I own multiple, and find myself using the Nathan HPL 020 the most.  I haven’t seen the newer Nathan vests, but love my 020.  Can fit 70-90 oz of water plus moderate amount of gear.  Comfortable and light.  I don’t like the bite valve on the bladder though (leaks when open, real hard to open/close), so swapped it with a Camelbak Antidote reservoir.  I also own an Nathan Krissy vest (HPL 028)- it’s like a small version of the 020, but with a single open pouch in back that can fit 2 bottles.  I use it mainly for racing when I need more than 20 oz of water but don’t want to double fist.

Gaiters- Dirty Girl Gaiters.  Light, tough, cheap, works great.  I got the bright green to match my shorts.  Really.  I know, I’m lame.


Photo- sporting my favorite running gear after a 50 mile Grand Canyon R2R2R.  Visible in this photo: Nathan bottle and vest, Dirty Girl gaiters, Drymax socks, S-caps, Brooks Shorts, Pearl Izumi shoes, and EFS Liquid Shot.

Socks- Drymax Maximum Protection Trail.  Expensive.  Durable.  Absolutely blister-proof.  Made in America.  I wear these for every long run and ultra and have never had blister issues.  You won’t regret buying these- I own 4 pair.  If I had to choose my favorite gear, it would either be these or the Quickdraw Elite bottles.  I also like my Thorlos, Darn Tough, and Smartwool socks, but not as much as Drymax.

Food- I’m not too partial, though mainly stick to gu’s even for 100 milers.  If I bring my own, I use First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot.  I really like that it comes in flasks so you don’t mess with opening and getting sticky fingers from gu packets.  I like Clif Bloks for the same reason- no sticky fingers… but sometimes a pain to open.  If I’m doing gu’s, I like the Powerbar and Clif Shots and Gu’s more than Hammer, just cause I don’t like the big Hammer packs.  Due to race day availability, I have probably eaten the most Vanilla Clif Shots this year and never gotten tired of the taste.  For my money, though, I don’t buy the Gu Roctane, since I just don’t think it’s worth the extra $$$.

Electrolyte- Succeed S-caps.  3x the sodium of Endurolytes, none of the fizz of Nuun.  And the most inexpensive of the choices by a long shot.  S-caps get me through 100+ deg humid days in South Carolina with no cramping.

Shoes- I think these are too dependent on the person to make recommendations.  I have wide feet and have had good luck with New Balance, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon for many years now.  I’m also trying some new brands that seem promising, such as Hoka, Scott, and Altra.

Other gear I like- Petzl Myo RXP headlamp, Under Armour Coldgear Mock top, Sporthill XC pant, Brooks Infiniti shorts, Body Glide anti-chafe, Blistex lip balm, and Charmin toilet paper.

[Disclaimer: I’m not sponsored by any of these companies and am not benefiting in any way by posting this.  And I bought all the gear with my own money.]