UTMB Training Part 3 – The Gear

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in gear, mountaineering, race, ultra distance

part3If you have missed the previous posts about UTMB preparation here are the links: part 1 – training volume and intensity / part 2 – nutritionThis week I want to explain and clarify the issues that relate to the gear that is needed for participating in the UTMB. For US based ultra runners this is subject to much torture because in the US I have yet to see an event that has a mandatory gear list. It stems probably from the fact that in the US no one cares if you die on the mountain in severe weather and also reflects cultural attitudes: in the US you’re on your own! In contrast the UTMB organizers provide a list of clothing and safety items that participants have to carry – the bags are checked when bibs are handed out (a couple of hours before the race) and random checks can occur on the course. It’s a lot of gear to carry for a ‘running’ race – this sounds more like a fastpacking list. And it took quite some time and research to assemble most of the items. Please note that the list doesn’t include a backpack! I’ve had a great experience with the Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5 Set so I got a Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 12 to fit all the gear that I need to take with me. On long runs carrying the UTMB gear the pack weights about 8 to 9lbs.

Mandatory Gear List

The list provided by the organizers is as follows (obviously translated from French by organizers – I like the French list better… but this blog is in English):


Obligatory material


Mobile phone with option enabling its use in the three countries. – Using my old iPhone 3GS with extra battery (CasePower A3). Also packing an iPod shuffle for when I want to listen to music (I won’t have 36hrs on the iPhone even with the extra battery) and also to have my Pzizz segments play (more on power naps later)


Personal cup or tumbler 15cl minimum (water bottle not acceptable) – Using the UltraSpire cup I was given at Miwok. It’s also possible to attach it with a carabiner.


Stock of water minimum 1 litre – The Salomon pack holds 1.5l but I always fill it to 1 liter.


Two torches in good working condition with replacement batteries – Petzl Nao and Fenix LD20 180 Lumen LED Flashlight – Both totally badass – I carry a headlight and a flashlight because the flashlight helps discerning relief on the trail better. Not quite sure about the Nao battery but the original battery can be replaced by AA batteries.


Survival blanket 1.40m x 2m minimum – The Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 12 comes with one – if there wouldn’t be any shelter along the route I’d pack my Adventures Medical Emergency Bivvy


Whistle – There is one with the Salomon pack.


Adhesive elastic band enable making a bandage or a strapping (mini 100cm x 6 cm) – LOL – ACE Elastic Bandage


Food reserve – Packing bars and gels see nutrition post about that. I will have to rely on course food too. 


Jacket with hood and made with a waterproof (recommendation: minimum 10,000 Schmerber) and breathable (recommendation: RET lower than 13) membrane (Gore-Tex or similar) which will withstand the bad weather in the mountains – This was the most difficult item to obtain! I ended up ordering the North Face AK Storm Jacket from the UTMB store to make sure I had the right one. Problem: it took forever for them to ship to the US and the Euro exchange rate really doesn’t work in our favor. I don’t recommend ordering from the UTMB store if you live outside of France.


Long running trousers or leggings or a combination of leggings and long socks which cover the legs completely – I will carry a pair of Cold Gear Under Armor leggings that I have used in winter training. 


Additional warm midlayer top: One single midlayer long sleeve top for warmth (cotton excluded) with a minimum weight of 180g (Men, size M) OR a two piece clothing combination of a long sleeve baselayer/midlayer for warmth (cotton excluded) with a minimum weight of 110g (Men, size M) and a windproof jacket with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) protection. The windproof jacket does not replace the mandatory waterproof jacket with hood – OMG stop it with the details! So for this I’m just packing the Cold Gear Under Armor top that goes with the leggings – it weights 210g.


Cap or bandana – Salomon XA-CAP


Warm hat – I have an awesome Odlo fleece hat with a French flag on it – I bought it in Chamonix a couple years ago.


Warm and waterproof gloves – I chose the Outdoor Research Versaliner Gloves. They are warm and there’s a rain/wet overglove. 


Waterproof over-trousers – I first ordered a pair of North Face Storm Slayer Pants from the UTMB shop and after many phone calls it appeared the pants got lost in transport. It’s only after I got payment back from my credit card company that they really shipped a pair. In the meanwhile I ordered a pair of Mountain Harwear Epic Pants for half the price. I’m taking the North Face pair to the UTMB just to make sure the gear meets the requirements.

Very strongly recommended


Knife or scissors with which to cut the self-adhesive elasticised bandage – I have a Petzl Spatha knife. Very light.


Walking poles for security on slippery ground in case of rain or snow. – I love my Black Diamond Ultra Distance Poles! 


A change of warm clothes indispensable in the case of cold weather, rain or injury – In the Courmayeur drop bag I will have a spare set of UA leggings and top – also socks and a pair of shoes.


The sum of 20 euros minimum – Carrying about 100 euros (the 20 they ask for are actually for the timing chip deposit) – and two credit cards. I hope I don’t get robbed in Italy!


My Own Regular Running Gear

Here’s what I trained with for the most part and will wear at the UTMB.

Other Gear

A couple of items not mentioned above (some of them recommended by the organizers)

  • Gorilla tape
  • iPod Shuffle
  • Vaseline / Bodyglide
  • Minimal First Aid Kit
  • Spare Contact Lenses
  • Passport
  • Sewing kit


That was fun. I hope there’s some nasty weather and difficulties so I get to use everything at least once! I will provide a budget of how much this UTMB adventure costs me in the next part: Other Aspects! Happy running!

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