Our Everyday Adventures

We are not adventurers by choice but by fate – Van Gogh

Adventure Race Gear

Post By:Jake

This year’s Grizzly Man and Black Bear Challenge race was brutal.  It thoroughly tested competitors mental and physical strength.  Racers, and their gear, was pushed to their breaking points.  While only a 1-day event, the event was described by many to be nearly the hardest endurance challenge of their lives.  With an entirely open race format, participants get to chose their own path, and their own adventure.  Racers can turn around and throw in the towel whenever they want; provided they can navigate their way back to some form of civilization.

Knowing this would be one of the hardest races of our lives, my partner and I put in a lot of effort researching the best of the best gear and equipment to use for this race.  Here’s what we ended up using and some of the gear’s highlights. Gear marked with a * was acquired at no cost for testing purposes.  

Footwear:  Without a doubt, our most important piece of equipment.  We specifically required trail runners that were made with Gore-Tex, as we expected the course to be wet, muddy, and snowy; which it was.  Additionally we wanted trail runners with great support as most of the course would be off trail.  All three of these shoes made the top of our list, and their performance was flawless.

LOWA S-Trail GTX 12 oz $135.00*

SCARPA Pursuit  GTX 13.8 oz $125*

Vasque Mindbender GTX 13.6 oz $130*

Gaiters: As we were told to expect a significant amount of snow on the course we knew we’d need gaiters to keep the mud and ice out.  I used the OR (Outdoor Research) Flex Tex gaiters $35*.  They provided a great tight fit, and performed exactly as expected.  I have a similar pair of these that are a few years old, and the new Flex Tex are a MUCH improved version.

Pants/Shorts and Map Case:  We chose to race in shorts as the weather was nice and sunny and about +45 degrees; however next year, regardless of the weather I’ll be running in pants!  Both of us had legs that looks like shredded beef by the end of the day.  Running off trail through thorn bushes and brambles, post holing through razor blade sharp icy snow, having a bike peddle continually grind into the back of my leg while pushing the bike through snow… Any one of those reasons would have been enough to convince me to wear pants next year!  Having said that,  the shorts we did use performed great.  I could hardly feel they were there, literally.  

I used a pair of GoLite Mesa Trail* shorts… They weighed hardly anything, but would better be used for an “on-trail” race.   Next year I’ll be wearing a pair of OR Equinox* pants.

Shirts:  I used a GoLite WildWood* shirt, which was incredibly light, breathable, and all around comfortable.  Perfect placement of seams, and all around well thought out design. Next year, I may wear a compression shirt under this shirt so it doesn’t ride up under my pack while I’m running.

Sunglasses:  Sunglasses were a MUST have for the race for 2 reasons. 1.) it was a SUPER bright sunny day, and 2.) biking fast down the mountain and being forced to stay close to your race partner, it seemed my glasses were catching lots of tiny twigs, pebbles, mud, bugs, ect…

I used a pair of Julbo Pipeline Glasses with  photochromic lenses.  The photochromic lenses are super nice as during times of low light, the lens tint will lighten up making it easier to see. So you’re eyes will be protected in any light condition.

Adam used a pair of Ryders Shot* glasses with photochromic lenses.  While the fit isn’t quite as nice as the Julbo’s the price is definitely more affordable.

Backpack:  This race has a lot of required gear for every single person so running in a pack is essential.  We were specifically looking for a pack that fit close to your back, was comfortable to run in, wasn’t too hot, and was sized appropriately to carry all the necessary gear.  I chose the GoLite Rush* pack, and I saw a couple other racers with the same pack.  The Rush pack has excellent features for adventure racing.  It’s comfortable to run in, has 2 excellent side pockets for water bottles, a hydration sleeve if that’s your thing, a nice bungee net to catch any extra layers, bike shoes, helmet, ect… and a couple very nice sized zip pockets on the waste belt. One of these pockets carried my camera through the race while the other carried all my food for the day.  Overall an excellent pack.  It’d be my first choice again in a heartbeat.

Adam used a Hydrapak Selva* pack with a 70oz. water reservoir.  The reservoir was excellent, and much easier to fill than my Camelback bladder.  Overall, good size and good, close fit.  

Required Gear:  The following gear was required for the race:  Compass, Headlamp, Water carrying capacity of at least 64 oz., Space blanket, Fire Starter, Matches in waterproof container, Whistle, Bike Helmet.

Compass:  We used a Brunton 15TDCL* and a Silva Ranger.  Both performed well, but the Brunton was slightly nicer and easier to use.

Water: I used a 100 oz. Camelbak bladder, but only had it 1/2 full, while I also carried 2-16oz squeeze water bottles, filled with Nuun electrolyte supplements.

Fire Starter: We carried a Gerber fire starte*r that came with a Bear Grylls survival knife, and a Kershaw fire starter*.  We actually used the Kershaw fire starter the night before the race to start a fire in our cabin’s pot belly stove.  It was a little tricky at first, but one good spark hit the paper and started the fire right up.  Good to know we could do it if we ever needed to.

Matches in a Waterproof Case:  Adam carried an Industrial Revolutions Stormproof Match Kit*. a little bulky, but handy if you need em.  I carried a tiny old kit I had laying around from my hunting pack.  I carried a Sea to Summit small Map Case*.  While the map case was very handy and very quick and convenient, it would have been nice to pass it off 1/2 way through the day as the constant swaying around my neck was quite annoying by the end of the day. Adam carried his map/passport in his pocket.

Bikes: I used a hard-tail Fetish Cycles mountain bike and Adam used a full suspension mountain bike that has the option of locking out the tail suspension.  Overall, most of the competitors looked to be riding similar setups, either hard-tails or full suspensions that could be locked out.  We did see one guy with a cyclocross bike, and I have no idea how he could manage the course with that thing.

Food:  The night before the race Adam and I cooked up some pasta with a GSI Pinnacle Dualist* cookset.  We used just about everything in the kit.  I was doubtful at first on the size of the pot.  At first glance it didn’t look big enough to cook enough pasta for two full grown men before race day, but alas, I was wrong, it was the perfect size.  Perhaps the coolest feature with the set was the strainer holes in the lid of the cook pot.  It’s about time a company used some common sense!  Those things worked perfectly!

For race day food, I ate 1-Pro-Bar for breakfast and carried 1-Odwalla bar, 1-Kashi granola bar, and 4-home made venison pepperoni sticks–high in protein and sodium.  I also carried Nuun electrolyte drink* and sipped it throughout the duration of the race.  By the end of the race I felt great, a little bit hungry, but not too bad considering of the food I brought, Adam ate 1/2 the pepperoni sticks and my Kashi bar.

RoadID:  Before the race, Adam and I picked up a couple RoadID’s* for our training and to use for all our adventures.  When we got our race packets we noticed the big RoadID logo on our race numbers!  We just wanted to give them a special shout out and thank them for their support in sponsoring this event, and hope their support will continue as we’re REALY looking forward to competing again!

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