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Essential Adventure Racing Kit

17:04 10th April 2013 by Fi Spotswood
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GearPileIt’s true that adventure racers are total kit junkies. I can’t deny it. We tend to have garages, sheds and ‘spare rooms’ full of The Latest Gear, which is soon replaced by, well, The Latest Gear. I am also aware that this puts people off from racing. They think it’s expensive, elitist and the reserve of geeky engineering types who can understand the intricacies of declination.

But actually to adventure race you really need a set of good quality basic kit. Everything else is just faff.

Here’s our list of essentials:

  1. Mountain bike with front suspension (at least), relatively light weight (under 27-28lbs) and hydrolic disc brakes.
  2. Off road running shoes. Check out our review of the best to help you make your choice.
  3. Light weight ruck sack with hydration pack capabilities. We like the OMM sac range for their handy side pockets for stashing snacks.
  4. A good compass. Thumb compasses are great but expensive. A decent Silva will do the trick.
  5. Warm and wicking clothing. Running tights, gloves, long sleeved top and a fleece should be enough for most races. Bike jerseys are handy on the run and bike for stashing stuff in the pockets. You’ll need padded shorts on the bike and if you can afford it, go for some waterproof baggies. They keep the grit out your nethers. Everyone has their favourite retailer, but if you’re starting out, take a look at Sportspursuit.com for some bargains.
  6. A hooded, quality waterproof jacket with taped seams and plenty of pockets. Every kind of weight is available but if you get a decent weight one that’s big enough to layer up, then you’ll be good to go in most conditions.

The potential to buy kit and spend money is endless in AR, but this list should get you to the start line of a shorter race – at least one that doesn’t include kayaking. That said, our favourite kit is generally pretty cheap stuff that we find to be incredibly useful on the move. Here’s our secret list of favourites:

  1. The ‘bento box’ top tube bag for stashing food on the bike within easy reach.
  2. The retractable dog lead for rigging up a tow for slower riders. Zip tie it to the strongest biker’s seat post and grab hold for a help up the hills.
  3. Fingerless gloves. Some come with hoods you can pull over your fingers and then retract when you need to do your laces up or fiddle with a zip.
  4. Quick laces which don’t involve knots or tying. Salamon shoes come with them as standard but you can buy various options from running shops.
  5. Arm warmers for layering so you don’t have to stop and strip off when things get heated.
  6. Buffs (neck tubes) which can be bandanas, hats, neck scarves and even bandages. And they’re light weight.
  7. Mini gaiters that keep the mud and grit out of your shoes on the fell.

Don’t be put off by the kit. Get out there and have some adventures!


This article is part of our series on Adventure Racing Skills.
Read the other parts here:

Adventure Racing Skills

  1. Towing
  2. Packing Light
  3. Teamwork
  4. How to be a city dwelling Adventure Racer
  5. Eating
  6. Navigation
  7. Essential Kit
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