UTMB Gear Quest 2011

Today kicks off the 2011 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market (summer OR) where upwards of 1,000 outdoor gear vendors (think of anyone who’d sell a product to REI or EMS) get together in Salt Lake City to show off their goods, including new products that will debut in the first half of next year. With this being my fourth summer OR, I know that there’s no better place in the Western Hemisphere to find that just-right piece of gear for any use.

That’s great, because with only 23 days until running this year’s The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, there are very few pieces of gear that I’m settled on… and that’s with an extensive list of mandatory gear. Here’s that list of required gear, in the organization’s own words (but reordered), as well as other items I’ll need. Each items is followed by my current thoughts on what I’ll bring or what I’ll be looking for at summer OR. Please chime in with suggestions. I’ve starred my biggest items of concern or where I think I can save the most weight.

Organization’s Obligatory Material:

  • * 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. – Hold on, I think I need some more details first!? I’ve got a Mountain Hardwear Quark 2 jacket (258g), but I’ll look for something lighter than 9 ounces. Any ideas on other brands or models to look at?
  • Long running trousers or leggings or a combination of leggings and long socks which cover the legs completely – Montbell Ultralight pants (67 g). I brought these to the Marathon des Sables and plan to use them again… unless I find a lighter system at OR. Given that I’ll wear Salomon Exo Calves, I could go with knickers/manpris.
  • Warm long sleeved clothing (type « second layer », cotton excluded) of a weight of 180g minimum – I’ve got a 196g tech shirt made with the same fabric as Mountain Hardwear’s forthcoming Way2Cool shirts. I’ll keep my eyes open for a 180-190g (for small) tech half zip at the show.
  • * Warm and waterproof gloves – Mountain Hardwear Epic Gloves (99g). I’ll look to improve (or creatively interpret the rules) here.
  • * Waterproof over-trousers – Mountain Hardwear Epic Pants (217g). Great pants … for winter sports and very cold weather. Far more than I need at UTMB, so looking for lighter options.
  • Two lights in good working condition with replacement batteries – Super hard call. Do I go with a huge, but super bright Petzl Ultra and a very small spare, such as an E-Lite. Do I go with two Petzl Tikka XP2s? Do I try to get a custom Black Diamond Sprinter that takes replaceable batteries? Do I look for something else?
  • Warm hat – For now, a 45g hat from The North Face. Another place I’ll look to save weight at the show… or possibly with a Buff (38g) from home.
  • Cap or bandana – iRunFar Headsweats hat all the way. (I find it very odd that this is required in addition to a warm hat.)
  • Adhesive elastic band enable making a bandage or a strapping (mini 100cm x 6 cm) – I need a Frenglish translator to figure out what this means. Help!
  • Food reserve – Lots of GU! Sucks that I’ll have to carry 20-30 from the start and again at Courmayeur. I’ll take a few other treats such as Stinger Waffles, Honey Stringer Cherry Blossom Chews, and Chocolate Agave #9 gels.
  • Mobile phone with option enabling its use in the three countries – My iPhone 4 for which I’ve already set up international calling, text & data.
  • Personal cup or tumbler 15cl minimum (water bottle not acceptable) – I’ll buy a collapsible cup in Europe or cut a disposable beverage bottle down once I get to France.
  • Stock of water minimum 1 litre – I’ll have a 1L water bladder in my pack and a very lightweight water bottle that holds another .5 liters when needed. The reason for the extra bottle is refilling at the fountains along the course.
  • Survival blanket 1.40m x 2m minimum – I’ve got a selection of these at home… but you’d best believe I’ll be looking for the lightest blanket and they do differ in weight.
  • Whistle – I have a 5 gram whistle if my pack doesn’t have one.

My Additional Items

  • * Pack – Despite my stash of a dozen or so packs, I have no option that I’d use. I’m open to all ideas for a 10-12 liter pack. Packs I’m looking forward to seeing at OR: Salomon’s 12 liter Skin pack, Mountain Hardwear’s new 10-12 liter Fluid pack, and UltrAspire’s UTMB-ready model.
  • Short sleeve shirt – Mountain Hardwear’s Way2Cool short sleeve… if I can get this Spring 12 shirt by race day. I’ve worn the singlet and it’s the best top I’ve ever run in.
  • Running shorts – Brooks Infini Split Side shorts. I run in these shorts or their predecessor, the Element, nearly every day.
  • * Shoes – While I need to test them on steep downs, it looks like I’ll be wearing the Montrail Bajada, my Western States shoe choice, again at UTMB. My current backup are the Salomon XT Wings II. I’m still looking for a mud shoe if it rains… and have no idea. I’d need a well-lugged shoe with a standard (10-12 mm) drop that’s supportive yet (and this is very important) drains/breathes well. I’ve got some solid mud shoes, but, oddly enough, they all seem to hold moisture like a sponge in a ziplock bag.
  • Socks – Drymax Maximum Protection socks are it unless my mud shoe choice necessitates thinner socks in which case I’ll wear Drymax Hot Weather socks.
  • Trekking poles – I love my Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Poles and I’ll likely use them at UTMB. However, I will take a look at Komperdell’s Featherlight poles at OR in case I decide to go with fixed length poles.
  • Sunglasses – I’ve really been enjoying the Julbo Races with Zebra photochromic lenses. I’m also considering the Julbo Trail with Zebra lenses or the simple, yet wonderful Ryders Shot.
  • Time piece – I’ll likely wear my Garmin Forerunner 310XT (despite my issues with it) with the GPS turned off, so I can record monitor and record my heart rate the entire way. There’s a slight chance I’ll simply go chrono or, possibly, go to a heart rate monitor/barometric altimeter combo so I’ll know my heart rate and generally where I am on climbs.

Call for Comments
I’m sure there’s other gear that I need, but that’s a start. Let me know what you think of my options for UTMB gear.

There are 109 comments

  1. Christian Johnson

    Waterproof jacket – At Hardrock I carried the houdini but I was really wishing I had the Quark, especially when the temp dropped.

    Adhesive elastic band enable making a bandage or a strapping (mini 100cm x 6 cm) – Go with a strip of Coban, superlight and sticks to itself.

    Mud shoes – Inov-8 310's or 295's are my favorite. Good sized lugs, lightweight, drain well. Only downside is the minimal protection.

  2. Andy

    Bryon — while you're at OR would be very eager for any word on the Brooks Pure Grit and relatd shoes slated for release in October. Debate about minimal vs. regular shoes aside (cf. your other recent post about the MT110), I'm sure many of us are curious about the new Brooks shoe — I haven't seen anything out there about it other than Brooks minimal (no pun intended) promo. Thanks.

      1. Franzi68

        The new MP+ Raidlight mitts weight 40 grams in reality, not as advertised…

        The lightest jacket in MP+ is not the most waterproof one (users review telling about leakage)…

  3. Chris G


    The Petzl e-lite has a built-in whistle unless you removed it :)

    Pants/leggings + rain pants?

    My first reaction is way OVERKILL. But honestly, a safe runner should be carrying most these items. The list is pretty close to my overnight kit (including two lights).

    Christian, the Houdini is not waterproof as you probably learned at Hardrock :( The list explicitly calls for a waterproof jacket. I'd probably pick up the Montane Spektr Smock. EVent fabric @ 7.4 ounces/210 grams.

  4. Sebastien

    "Adhesive elastic band enable making a bandage or a strapping (mini 100cm x 6 cm) ": my French tells me that regular sport/athletic tape will do the trick!

  5. Roy Wells

    -Socks: I would take a look at the Swiftwick Pursuit Line. (200 needle) merino construction. It doesn't get any better.

    -Trekking poles: Black Diamond Z-Poles, Super nice

    -headlamp: Black Diamond/Petzl they both ROCK!!

  6. Craig

    Having done a few races in Europe now I can tell you that the gear will be enforced at check-in. You'll have to go through controle where someone will check off all the required gear, including the waterproof pants which I never used once despite running in Western Oregon for 5 years. I wanted something bottle friendly so I'm using the Golite Rush pack. Haven't decided whether I like it or not yet, they could definetely use some tips from Raidlight/Ultimate Direction.

  7. Trail Clown

    Umm, not to beat a dead horse here, but please stop by the Altra booth, get some zero drop Lone Peaks, and that's all you need for the whole race, whatever the conditions. There is ample protection (at least 10-12mm of cushioning…it's not a barefoot shoe, but a zero drop with cushion) and your achilles is strong enough to handle it. Anything else, including the Bajada, and you will have at least minor PF pains following the race. Whatever you choose, Go Kill It! -Charlie M.

  8. Oliver Lorincz

    My options and advices:

    Lamp: Fenix HP 10 – 120 lumen for almost 8 hours, 120g (wo batteries), second one: Petzl e-lite for emergency

    Jacket: Montane Minimus (215g in Large) or Montane Lite-speed (170g in Large)

    WP over-trousers: Montane Atomic DT (190g in Medium size)

    WP gloves: Sealskinz

    Cup: just cut the upper half of one 0.5L plastic bottled water, and use the bottom half. thats it, 10g.

    Poles: Leki traveller carbon, or Gipron Mont Blanc 310

    Shoes: Hoka Mafate – first choice for that steep, technical and long trail.

    See you in Chamonix!

      1. roger

        Fenix HP-10 is a kickass light. Not so fun to pack but worth its consistently reliable high-powered fully regulated weight in gold. Interesting – new Fenix TK15 looks like a mountable handtorch but also has a headwear option. $80 for 6.5hours at 143 lumen.

        Montane's Spektr eVent shell probably a great call if you're happy having no pockets on your shell – which you probably are. Would be interesting if people have really pushed the Minimus but when you're short on time making a decision, eVent is reliable, and in the cold it breathes incredibly well.

        Have a mad run Bryon!!

        1. roger

          Just read your other bits:

          Salomon will have the Advanced Skin S-Lab 12L pack on limited release for UTMB – you probably have the kind of connects, not to mention sweet running form, to get your hands on that. That would be a seriously sweet running pack. I'd question their sleeves as a choice for compression though, find them to be more thermal than anything else but betting $1M you know better.

          Inov8 Roclite 295s are a sweet mud shoe but the US issue them as standard with a thinner insole, thicker insole will give you better drainage I think, because otherwise part of the rubber outsole around the shoe seems to keep wetness in. Mainly, make sure it's a 6mm insole. They can be a pisser of a shoe for descending though, especially when your foot swells a bit, as the front wall tends to act as a toestop. Shoes are so personal I'd be sticking with what you've tested on that one unless it's total battle stations. For lugs, Inov8 are pretty bombastic.

  9. Franzi68

    Hi Bryon,

    Here my lightest options:

    Lamps: Petzl Myo RXP with lithium batteries 144 grams + Petzl e-lite 27 grams ; the e-lite incorporates a whistle as well in case your new runninh pack does not have one.

    WP Jacket: Haglofs Oz pullover 170 grams in size small (Goretex paclite)

    WP pants: Golite Reed 130 grams. I do not know any lighter waterproof one, absolutely non breathable however.

    Warm long sleeved clothing: Icebreaker Ace LS shirt 192 grams (Merino 150grams). Great confort, gets however heavier when you sweat.

    Warm and waterproof gloves: Outdoor Designs Layeron Gloves 27 grams + Outdoor Research Rain mitts (Paclite) 33 grams

    Warm hat: extremities Beanie Power Dry Beanie 24 grams

    Cap: Mountain Hardware Geist cap 24 grams

    Pack: Lafuma Ultra Trail 3. Pack 306 grams, front pocket removable 28 grams.

    Only 3l so you need to pack lightest gear, put jacket and trousers outside the pack. Advantage of having water bottles on the front. As front bottles the lightest waterbottles. My 0.75l Raidlight bottles with straw weight 86 and 89 grams (empty).

    Looking for your findings at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

    1. Franzi68

      For people interested in the Salomon 12l advanced skin pack, here the weights:

      – pack = 535 grams + removable right front pocket (device pocket) 13 grams

      – water reservoir 1.5 liter newly supplied by Hydrapak = 105 grams

      – water reservoir isolation pocket = 22 grams

      – included safety blanket = 57 grams

      Although the backpack is much better finished than the 5 liters version, it is too much accessorized for me (too many pockets, unnecessary internal zip to separate internal room, removable front pocket) and therefore heavier than necessary. I ended asking myself, where the 12 liters are hidden… On the positive side, the pack is so confortable.

        1. Anonymous

          As usual with Salomon, the first year's SLAB stock is dispatched through the French dealers network and some selected foreign stockists (under which criterias it is unknown for me…).

          Advanced Skin 12 liters stock went fast by the classic internet dealers, but you can still find some having stock.

          One that tends to have special connexion with Salomon (always getting new products first) is Altecsport, but they have no stock on the 12l pack anymore.

          Mine in Alsace (Topsport Cernay, part of Running Conseil) has still plenty of stock.

          Online you can try you luck by Technicien du Sport, but they do not ship everywhere. [broken link removed]
          Team Outdoor (Paris) also should have some in stock:
          You can also call the dealers from Chamonix and try to reserve one there.

  10. terence


    Waterproof Over Trousers – What is 'waterproof'?. Montane Featherlite pants (pertex). 110g

    Waterproof Jacket with Hood – TNF Triumph Anorak 160g

    Good luck!

  11. GlennA


    An alternative headlamp I would like to suggest is the Lupine Piko X. I have been running with it all winter and it is really great. 180 grams incl battery and up to 750 lumen… See website: [broken link removed]

    Good luck at UTMB!


  12. rgr

    Take a look at Ledlenser headlamps, they're much brightr than Petzl's, a huge help in technical downhills though probably heavier…

  13. Panos from Greece

    a few thoughts for your concerns


    marmot mica: just 200 grams. Tried and tested during 2010 utmb 2 hour heavy rain. Keeps you dry from the rain outside but you get wet from inside from your sweat when the effort is intense. I think the best choice is a jacket with armpit zippers for better ventilation like North Face Stretch Diad or the Norrona Bitihorn dri™1

    Warm and waterproof gloves

    Seal Skinz Ultra Grip: windproof, waterproof with grip dots for better gripping in the wet.

    Waterproof over-trousers

    Inov-8 Mistlite 130: just 130 grams


    North Face enduro 13: holds anything you need with 2 easily accesible bottles but i find it a little bit tight on the chest and it doesn't like my polar hr transmiter


    Salomon speedcross 2 & New Balance MT101

    1. Weldon


      Second on the Solomon Speedcross 2. Light, great traction, and (in my experience)drain well/feel dry quickly (drymax sock great, too, with these).

  14. EMRE

    I got my 12 Liter Salomon Advanced skin S-lab pack which is incredible. http://www.geziyorum.net/salomon-advanced-skin-s-

    I got cheap terra nova gloves. GTX. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NEW-Extremities-Terra-N

    North Face goretex pants ultra light 220 grams ( 55 GBP )

    I have my Minim Salomon paclite. As i used in UTMB CCC

    GU Gels and chews are ready but I will buy some MYOCramp from Chamonix… some French overstims gels as well.

    For shoes I am in middle between Salomon xt wings slab 2 – used in CCC or Fell cross used in Anatolian mountain marathon.. was great. http://www.geziyorum.net/salomon-fell-cross/

    1. GlennA

      Do you have better experience by MYOCramp than other products such as Hammer Endurolytes or Saltsticks to prevent Cramps?

      I have huge problems with Cramps why I am curiuos on different products and I have never heard of MYOCramp.

      1. EMRE

        You might pray me after using MYOCramp. I use hammer and salt sticks as well but i bought them in last year UTMB CCC in chamonix in a drug store. you can find them anywhere. they are incredible soving the cramps in 5 minutes response time. i exported to UK from France EAFit company. I will again buy 20 pack in Chamonix for future usage. taste is in mango. i dont use 4-5 max in CCC or TDS parcours…

  15. Travis

    Shoes – Go a little lighter with SLAB Wings 4 and if the ground is muddy, use the Softground option. Good grip and should drain well.

    Timepiece – Suunto T6d. Chrono, with heart rate monitor/barometric altimeter combo. Plus you could add a footpod or GPS pod if you want to track that.

  16. Sarah Lavender Smith

    Bryon, great post. Here are my two cents; er, I mean two recommendations– favorite new gear pieces discovered this summer:

    – for socks: Saucony Elite Compression Sock knee high. Love it way more than calf sleeve and no blister problem.

    – breathable long-sleeve top good for warmth and sun reflection: Craft brand. Not sure the model. Looks like long underwear. I had never heard of this brand but definitely want to buy another one.

    Have fun at OR.


  17. Mike

    SLAB 4 lighter than what??? 340 gr… The Bajada, Single Track, Rator are lighter. And probably more cushioned and better grip. And with same weigth you could try much of the shoe market. Only your wallet would be lighter!!

    And the same with the pack,if you want to try european brands, try Raidligth Olmo or Endurance, sure cheaper, lighter and more funtional.

    The best marketing don´t do it better gear.

  18. Paul Bateson

    I suggest you look at the OMM Kamleika smock and over trousers, if it does rain then you need clothing that is totally waterproof and OMM stuff is produced for the UK market, need I say more. It is very light and very comfortable.

    I would wear 3/4 compression tights with compression calf sleeves.

    Shoe choice would be UKGear PT1000 with Raidlight or Slab gaiters.

    Poles, MountainKing, strong, very light and they fold up small.

    Pack, definately not a bladder, go for two bottles on chest strap, I reckon your gear would all fit in an OLMO5 but if the new Salomon pack has the front bottle holders then go for that. I use OLMO5 or Salomon Slab Skin but I usually add a Salomon mountain waist belt (can't remember its Salomon name) in which I can carry gels, bars, phone/camera. They fit well below the pack which you can remove and still keep your belt on. Good luck and hope it is better weather than last year.

  19. Runstephane

    Hi Bryon,

    "Survival blanket 1.40m x 2m minimum – I’ve got a selection of these at home… but you’d best believe I’ll be looking for the lightest blanket and they do differ in weight."

    Hum- my thoughts are that if I had to use this blanket I should be pretty happy to have the best one-not the lightest one. The weight differs about 20g or so? OK the second (and my) option is to take this weight from my body first! No magnesium supplement (should I say "chocolate"?) for one week ;o)

    See you in Chamonix!

  20. Rich

    Hi, I would have thought that 20-30 gels will cancel out all the weight saving that you'll be looking for from the clothing/tech items… Look to half this to at least a bag drop??

    For info, last year as we ran off up into the hills there were runners wearing a trash bag for rain cover and in the shorter CCC race there were a number of runners who feared for their lives, rescue teams called out etc….along with this there were 3 French runners who died a couple of summers back during an Ultra…I believe this is what forced the organisers towards the 'obligatory' items.

    See you in Cham…

  21. Matt Smith

    Hey Bryon – wondering if you saw any jackets made with the new Gore-Tex 'Active Shell' material, like the new Mammut Felsturm? Sounds like this fabric is going to be a game-changer, putting all the other companies in catch-up mode again…


    1. Franzi68

      Felsturm jacket is looking nice, but will only be available in fall and retails 350 euros. For me too expensive and not enough minimalist (weight could be reduced, this jacket is thought for climbers). Looking what other brands will offer with this material.

  22. Bryon Powell

    The E-Lite does have a whistle, but whether I take that light and whether I need another whistle depends on what pack and lighting systems I bring.

    I checked out the Spektr Smock and it looks like an excellent piece.

  23. Bryon Powell

    Shoes are one place I don't skimp just to save weight. I really like the SLab shoes, but they're too flexible in the mid and forefoot for me to wear for more than 50k or so at this point.

  24. roger

    Thanks heaps for that – checked them out and they all seem to have o/s sales restrictions but it's a good place to start and hopefully something will come of it. Will pay more attention to Altrec in future – not my favourite online shop for pricing but with this bag already being in and out of stock at least once I totally missed out on the one bit of kit I'm really wanting locked down right now. Much appreciated, Anonymous : )

  25. Paul Bateson

    Personally I would go for a chest or waist light such as GoMotion and also Ledlenser produce. Head lamps, although the most popular, cause fatigue to the optic nerve and having the beam go from chest or waist makes no difference to how well you can see but it is far more comfortable than having a beam clamped around your head. Even a hand held light is more preferable although I would suggest that you also use poles. Re the gels, a lot of weight and a lot of liquid needed to go with them, I think you will find the main CP's have plenty of proper food so the gels and bars should just be for topping up between feed stations.

    Jacket and Over trouser definately look at OMM Kamleika smock and pants, 4 way stretch fabric, light and totally waterproof with high breathability.

  26. Paul Bateson

    No waterproof jackets are breathable when it is raining. The sweat vapour cannot escape through rain soaked fabric. It will only breathe once the rain stops and you can open it up to allow some ventilation.

  27. Bryon Powell

    Panos, Inov-8's website says the pants are water resistant, not waterproof. While they may actually work at keeping you dry, I'd hate to be penalized or disqualified for having non-waterproof pants. I only say that as I like your idea and am tempted to get these! :-)

    1. Panos from Greece

      Bryon, i don't think that the volunteers of the organization have a list or can tell by looking at the pants if it is waterproof or water resistant. I suppose they just want to see some 'plastic' pants and they will be ok.

  28. Matt

    Question – I am looking at using the Mountain Hardware Double Wicked Lite T Long Sleeve Shirt, which weighs a 158g according to the website (less than the 186 needed). Will they actually weigh the shirt? Does anyone know what size Mountain Hardware uses for their weights?

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