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Alec Muthig
(Alekat) - F

Locale: Wyoming, USA
Winter Expedition Race Gear List on 11/13/2006 15:50:16 MST Print View

Here is the first iteration of my gear list for the Arrowhead 135 race that I will be running (on foot) in February from International Falls to Tower, MN on the Arrowhead snowmachine trail. The race requires self-sufficiency with a required gear list (minumum of 15lbs not including water and food - although i expect to at least double that). Temps have been -20f in the past, but could be colder. I will be training extensively in the cold to adapt. Plan is to take two meal/sleeping breaks and also stop to melt snow for water.

Any input or advice would be really helpful. (I know many of you will think my sleeping bag is too heavy. :)

Clothing (Upper)
Duofold Veritherm shirt (1/2 zip)
Terramar Midweight shirt (1/2 zip)
Columbia Six-Glacier Fleece Sweater (pit-zips)
Illuminite reflective wind vest
TNF Hydrenaline Anorak (pit-zips/hood)
Integral Designs Dolomitti Jacket (w/hood)

Clothing (Lower)
Duofold Duo-dri Seamless Boxer-Briefs
Marmot Wind Briefs
Powerstretch Tights
In-Sport Wind Pants
Mountain Hardwear Chugach Pants

Extremities
Outdoor Research Micro Beanie
Turtle-Fur MFS Tube (neck gaiter & hood)
Seirus Wind-Pro Extreme Hood
TNF Powerstretch Gloves
LoweAlpine 200wt fleece mitts
LoweAlpine GoreTex mitt shells
Smartwool socks (2-3 pair)
REI GoreTex socks
Montrail Hardrock trail runner
Outdoor Research Flex-Tex Low Gaiters
NEOS Explorer insulated overboot

Sleep System
Mountain Hardwear Backcountry pad
Wiggy Ultima Thule -20 bag
Sierra Designs Zagori Bivy

Other
MSR XGK Stove w/trillium base and windscreen
MSR fuel bottle (11oz or 22oz?)
1.5 qt aluminum pot
Petzl Myo 5 Belt headlamp w/extra batteries & bulb
Small LED light (backup)
(2) flashing red LED lights - front and back of person
Small first-aid/blister kit
Emergency whistle and signal mirror
Flint/steel with tinder
Matches in a waterprrof case and a lighter
Homemade pulk sled and harness system
Sled repair kit
Black Diamond Beebee pack
CamelBak Omega 100oz Reservoir w/thermal kit
Nordic ski poles

Alec Muthig
(Alekat) - F

Locale: Wyoming, USA
Re: Winter Expedition Race Gear List on 11/13/2006 15:54:41 MST Print View

I almost forgot my lexan spork, insulated mug and folding lock-back knife!

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Winter Expedition Race Gear List on 11/13/2006 16:24:50 MST Print View

Hi Alec,

Sounds fun! Considering that you'll likely want to get as close to that 15 lb minimum as possible, I have a couple of questions:

1) That Wiggy bag is listed at 5 pounds- a full 1/3 of your total weight allowance. I'm wondering if there is a lighter sleep system that you could swap in- especially considering that you're carring that very warm Dolomitti jacket. Aren't those MH pads heavy too? Maybe if you use a down bag (Western Mountaineering- or even a and a foam pad...

2) The XGK is a great stove and super-reliable. But you could cut some ounces with a Simmerlite.

3) You could trade the fleece jacket for a lighter and warmer synthetic or down sweater- something like a Montbell Thermawrap or a BMW Cocoon (if you can find one).

This trip sounds so fun- how many days do you plan on taking?

Doug

Alec Muthig
(Alekat) - F

Locale: Wyoming, USA
Re: Re: Winter Expedition Race Gear List on 11/13/2006 16:48:24 MST Print View

I think 15lbs is a pipe dream, but you are right about needing to shoot for it. (I guess ounces really do equal miles.)

"1) That Wiggy bag is listed at 5 pounds- a full 1/3 of your total weight allowance. I'm wondering if there is a lighter sleep system that you could swap in- especially considering that you're carring that very warm Dolomitti jacket. Aren't those MH pads heavy too? Maybe if you use a down bag (Western Mountaineering- or even a and a foam pad..."

The Wiggy bag comes in at 5.5 lbs on my scale. Very heavy. Th race requires a bag that shows -20 on the tag - they examine it during check-in; I thought about a -5 or so bag with my parka but they won't allow it. (I just ordered my Dolomitti and have not seen it yet. Glad you think it's warm!) When I was researching bags I started with the old "down or synthetic" question. A similar but longer race in the Yukon that I may enter next year strongly recommends a sythetic bag. All of the winter sythetic bags that I looked at (TNF, MH) turned out to be heavy compared to down. Yuk! So I ended up with a Wiggy's. Not sure if I could afford such an expensive switch right now. The MH pad is also heavy and that is something that I could afford to change... suggestions?

"3) You could trade the fleece jacket for a lighter and warmer synthetic or down sweater- something like a Montbell Thermawrap or a BMW Cocoon (if you can find one)."

The fleece jacket really is a question mark. I like the pit-zips since I sweat pretty heavily, but the whole thing seems too heavy for the warmth it provides. Because of the sweat I'm afraid down would get very wet. Would one of the sythetic sweaters breathe enough?

"This trip sounds so fun- how many days do you plan on taking?"

We have 60 hours to officially cover the 135 miles. I'm shooting for just over 50 hours, so that means two crisp nights out. Hydration, fueling and bits of sleep here and there will be key factors... I'm very excited. I haven't had this much fun planning a trip in a long time!

Edited by Alekat on 11/13/2006 16:50:47 MST.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Winter Expedition Race Gear List on 11/13/2006 19:11:54 MST Print View

1. Neoprene overboots instead of NEOS? (easier to run in)
2. Gossamer Gear nightlight torso plus full length thinlight (~6 oz) OR full length nightlight instead of MH pad?
3. Integral Designs Event overbag (~18 oz) instead of SD bivy?
4. Lighter bag is obvious but expensive
5. Powerstretch balaclava plus wind pro balaclava instead of three pieces of headwear?
6. Montane featherlite pants instead of in sport wind pant...plus leave the MH pants and wind briefs at home?

Edited by jshann on 11/13/2006 19:17:30 MST.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Re: Winter Expedition Race Gear List on 11/13/2006 19:48:21 MST Print View

Hi Alec,

Without dropping some serious cash, it will be hard to make that 15 pounds. But I'll bet that on race day there will definitely be folks with 15.0.

Without buying a new down bag, why not considering using down in other places? It's always a good idea to blend insulations in case of a soak down but with the synthetic bag, you could totally trade the Dolomitti for a down jacket (Western Mountaineering maybe) and the fleece for a lightweight synthetic jacket (such as Montbell Thermawrap). That would be some warm layering, would save weight, and would still have you covered in the wet dept.

Speaking of wet, won't you need a fully waterproof shell? Something made of eVENT would be really nice for your sweating (best wp/b out there) and you could use a superlight 3 oz windshirt during dry, mellow conditions. Then if you get too sweety, you can use your thin layers with the windshirt for a very versatile system.

Doug

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Winter Expedition Race Gear List on 11/13/2006 19:54:50 MST Print View

I agree John- mixing a full length and a torso length pad would be a good plan. If going the nightlight/thinlight route I'd definitely get the 3/8 version. If going full length, a 5/8 foam pad would be a good deal. Bulky, but with the sled it won't matter.

Alec- speaking of the sled- wouldn't it be easier to use a pack? Are you going with snowshoes? Are skiis allowed? Probably not...

The Integral Designs bivy is a great plan too. And the eVENT is way more breathable. Being so far north, you'd probably want something that will fully close. The Micro might be a good plan- or the South Col.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Winter Expedition Race Gear List on 11/13/2006 20:04:09 MST Print View

Ski's are a different catagory. I'm watching the thread with interest since i'm hoping to do it on bike in 2008.

I'll chime in with some options when i can put together a decent list.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
MB #1 rated to -20 on 11/13/2006 20:29:29 MST Print View

Alec, As others have mentioned, upgrading the bag is an obvious but expensive option. The Montbell Ultralight Alpine Down #1 is rated below -20C (for 6-8 hours sleep), but I do not know if that is printed on the tag as required by race officials. It weighs half what your Wiggy does (2lb 2oz) and costs $299 at gear zone.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: MB #1 rated to -20 on 11/13/2006 20:31:25 MST Print View

Probably needs to be -20F, not -20C.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Winter Adventure Racing on 11/13/2006 20:47:23 MST Print View

You might check out an old interview between Ellen Zaslaw and Bill Merchant.

Bill is a very experienced winter adventure racer, and has some good advice for shedding weight.

At those temperatures, assuming they really will get that cold, I might go with lighter clothing and spend the weight on a fat sleeping bag, non-waterproof, breathable bivy sack as my only shelter, and a full-length 15mm EVA closed cell foam pad for insulation.

You probably won't need a -40 bag or anything, you're going to be racing, not sleeping. The purpose of the bag is to buy you catnaps to recharge.

I would take high loft synthetic clothing using Polarguard or Primaloft because you can wear this in very very cold conditions if needed. You don't really have that option with down unless you move really slow. The synthetic clothing should be pretty thin. I've been on alpine climbs in the winter during subzero temperatures and there is no way you can climb (or race) with a Dolomitti Jacket and Chugach pants. That combo is for descending off a mountain in the dark, you'll overheat and sweat in those garments, even at incredibly cold temperatures. I'd opt for the Patagonia Micro Puff hooded jacket and side zip pants. Combined weight of those is only 30 oz.

Edited by ryan on 11/13/2006 20:54:14 MST.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
-20F.. ouch on 11/13/2006 20:50:11 MST Print View

Christopher, thanks.. boy that is cold. Then, Id suggest the MB U.L. Super Stretch Down Hugger #0, -23.8F at 2lbs 10oz.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Winter Adventure Racing on 11/13/2006 21:09:46 MST Print View

Really good points Ryan- I was thinking that the down would be for resting but this is a race- you're right that synthetic is definitely best when moving and sweating.

I own a Dolomitti jacket and I also agree that it's really warm. I can only wear it around camp or when moving very slowly. In this case, when moving slowly you'll be in your bag in the bivy and the jacket won't be necessary.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Re: Winter Adventure Racing on 11/13/2006 22:41:26 MST Print View

This is from the Arrowhead 135 Web site:

All racers are expected to carry or tow a minimum of 15 lbs. of gear (not including the sled, bike, skis, nor water) at all times and must finish with at least 1 day or 3000 calories of food and 8oz. of fuel. Racers may share gear and assist each other; however, each participant must have their own mandatory gear at all times.

MANDATORY GEAR from race start to race finish. You must have this at all times:

* Minus-20 sleeping bag
* Insulated sleeping pad
* Bivy sack or tent (NO space blankets)
* Firestarter (matches or lighter)
* Stove to heat water (tip: Don't eat snow! It burns to many calories.)
* 8 fl. oz. fuel at ALL times (either white gas, alcohol or 2 cannisters of propane/butane 100 g. each or 12 Esbit tablets)
* Pot (min. volume is 1 pint)
* 2-qt insulated water container (filled with water, but the weight of water is not counted in the minimum weight)
* Headlamp or flashlight
* Flashing red light, both on front and back. The DNR requires that everyone have at least 10 square inches of reflective material on front and back for this race.
* Whistle on string around neck to call for help.
* 1-day of food at ALL times (3000 calories) (tip: a pound of butter is 3200 calories)
* 15 lbs of gear at ALL times

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Winter Adventure Racing on 11/13/2006 23:11:10 MST Print View

  • Minus 20 Bag: Feathered Friends Ptarmigan 3 lb 10 oz
  • Sleep Pad: 15mm EVA Foam, 20x72 1 lb 2 oz
  • Bivy Sack: Integral Designs eVENT Overbag 1 lb 1 oz
  • Firestarter: 1 lighter, 1 solid fuel tablet 1 oz
  • Stove: Coleman Xtreme w/empty canister + windscreen 1 lb
  • Fuel: 8 oz canister fuel
  • Pot: Snowpeak 900, foil lid, 4 oz
  • Bottles: 2x32 oz Nalgene Cantenes 5 oz
  • Headlight: Princeton Tec EOS w/Li AA's 3 oz
  • Strobe: 2 Red Photon Lights 1 oz
  • Whistle: on lanyard, 1 oz

    Total weight of mandatory gear:

    8.25 lbs...hmmm...!!

    Oh, let's add a pack. 1 lb.

    Footwear: thin wool socks (1 oz), RBH Designs Vapr Thrm Socks (4 oz), GTX Trail Runners (26 oz), Forty Below Neoprene Overboots (18 oz), Northern Lites Elite snowshoes (41 oz) = 5 lb 10 oz

    Now we're there...14 lbs.

    Add a willy warmer and a PossumDown Beanie and start running.

    Edited by ryan on 11/13/2006 23:15:04 MST.

  • Christopher Plesko
    (Pivvay) - F

    Locale: Rocky Mountains
    Re: Re: Re: Winter Adventure Racing on 11/14/2006 07:33:37 MST Print View

    Brainstorming...
    Insulated water bottles needed. Nalgene's do count? Perhaps just wrapping them in a sit pad? Trianga 1L pan instead of SP900. Pad too bulking for a biker. Might be ok with the sled? What about insulating clothes for slow going? Add back a Micropuff set?

    Still need to carry food too which can count towards the 15lbs. Must end up with at least 3000 uneaten calories.

    I'm still going to come up with my own gear list (although this is a great start) since I'm thinking about 2008.

    Edited by Pivvay on 11/14/2006 07:34:41 MST.

    Alec Muthig
    (Alekat) - F

    Locale: Wyoming, USA
    Re: Re: Re: Winter Expedition Race Gear List on 11/14/2006 08:26:59 MST Print View

    Wow, so many responses. Thanks! (I need to join this great site!) Lots of good ideas. I'll try to expand on my strategy and ideas that led me to my current list.

    First, I will be travelling by foot/snowshoe rather than by skis (which is a different category). Most racers use a pulk sled to take the weight and stress off of their backs and reduce any postholing by spreading the weight over more area. My pulk is snazzy, I'll post some pics sometime soon and a description of how I built it. Still needs some more testing though - this weeking I'll be out pulling and camping in the snow.

    Having done long distance races in the past, at 15 hours I start to get a little bit mentally tired, by 24 hours I'm fried. Don't want to make mistakes out there and not be able to rewarm myself by pushing too long - so I plan on being conservative on this one, which means I will need to stop for two sleep breaks (maybe 1.5 hrs of sleep each time to recharge). At 37 miles there is access to a small store where I will be able to refill water and grab some calories. At about 67 miles is the only check point where there is a warm cabin, food and water. I may be able to make the 67 miles before sleeping, although if it is packed it may be better to sleep outside. The second half gets very hilly and will be slow going. I will stop for another sleep break somewhere along the way. Rather than carry a tremendous (and heavy) amount of water, I will use the stove to melt snow as I go. This will require me to stop every few hours and work in damp clothing. I will already be exhausted, probably a bit dehydrated (hopefully not too much) and underfed as well. With that combination in mind, I opted for a heavy coat and pants (and overboots) to put on before I start working.

    Some racers suggest getting larger shoes and wearing more sock layers for foot warmth. I want to try using my normal shoes to help prevent blisters. Hardrocks do expand some so I will be able to layer a bit. I was under the impression that neoprene overbooties would not be enough insulation during my stops or very slow periods during the night, so I opted for the NEOS. Amazingly, my Hardrocks fit perfectly inside of them, with no spare room to slide around. Maybe they are too much. They are bulkier than I would like. I'll see if I can pick up some neoprene booties and test them out.

    A light waterproof layer would make me feel safer, although I'm guessing at the temps I'll see any snow that falls will be really dry. I just treated my anorak so it's fairly water resistant. It is also somewhat light, 12oz including over-the-butt length and the newly added pit-zips.

    What else? I'll have to go read more of the posts again... Thanks so much!

    Alec Muthig
    (Alekat) - F

    Locale: Wyoming, USA
    Re: Re: Re: Winter Adventure Racing on 11/14/2006 08:45:44 MST Print View

    Minus 20 Bag: Feathered Friends Ptarmigan 3 lb 10 oz = Nice bag. I want one! Anyone have $640 I can borrow? I will put that on a list for the future.

    Sleep Pad: 15mm EVA Foam, 20x72 1 lb 2 oz = exactly what I need

    Bivy Sack: Integral Designs eVENT Overbag 1 lb 1 oz = That would actually save me about 8oz. Hmmm....

    Firestarter: 1 lighter, 1 solid fuel tablet 1 oz = I'm of the "three" philosophy - three ways to start a fire. If I had to pick one I would pick my flint and steel, I guess I'm old school. :)

    Stove: Coleman Xtreme w/empty canister + windscreen 1 lb = Interesting... I have a Coleman Xtreme and was going to use that as my stove but many, many people told me it would not perform at really cold temps. I emailed Coleman and they said it would not be reliable at -20f. We had a cold snap last winter and it was -29. I left the stove and fuel outside all night and it lit almost as easily as normal. I bought the XGK after almost everyone I talked to - mountaineers, dog mushers, etc suggested it.

    John S.
    (jshann) - F
    Re: Winter Adventure Racing on 11/14/2006 09:10:14 MST Print View

    Good list Ryan. The pot size might have to be increased to 1 liter since that is the rule posted above. Alec is probably right in the XGK choice. Instead of the flint and steel, consider REI matches as your third fire source. Those thingies are small torches. One esbit could be cut into quarters to make 4 for the weight of 1.

    I'd still wager the 3/8" thinlight alone might be fine for this race, especially since his sleeping bag has down on the bottom. It would save 12 oz weight.

    Edited by jshann on 11/14/2006 09:44:38 MST.

    Paul Tree
    (Paul_Tree) - F

    Locale: Wowwww
    RE lighter on 11/14/2006 09:46:15 MST Print View

    don't forget to remove the childproofing, it can make it tough with liner gloves or cold hands. I take 2 minis rather than one decently-sized one. BTW, lighters are another good place to wrap duct tape.

    Your sled and harness counts toward the poundage?

    Black Diamond Winter Bivy Sack - Epic material - 9 oz - $90

    Edited by Paul_Tree on 11/14/2006 10:11:42 MST.