Trail Gear

As I am new to trail running, I am sounding out new gear that I haven't used before.  Many competitive trail runs have compulsory gear, and the Routeburn Classic is no exception.  I am reading a lot of reviews from other runners, and trialing some equipment for myself.  The biggest change for me will be carrying gear, food and water in some sort of hydration pack.  I am looking for a pack that fits and sits really comfortably, and thermal gear that is as light as possible.  I will also be trialing some energy gel's and other endurance nutrition options, as the overwhelming advice I have read so far recommends that race day is NOT the day to try new things - makes sense.

Compulsory Routeburn Classic Gear

  • 1x thermal bottom
  • 2x thermal top (one can be short sleeved)
  • Hat & gloves
  • Seam sealed stitched wind/waterproof jacket
  • Survival blanket
  • Whistle

Other Gear 
  • Hydration pack & Bladder
  • Trail shoes 
  • Energy Gels/Nutrition
  • Trail Socks
  • Running Shorts
  • Running Shirt

Hydration Pack

The hydration pack is one of the first things that I want to get sorted.  I have never run with anything on my back before, so I am keen to find something comfortable, lightweight and yet roomy enough to fit all of the gear I am required to carry.  Here are some of the packs that I have looked at so far, and what about them that appeals to me.

Osprey Manta Hydration Pack
-heaps of zippered pocks for organized storage
- large hip belt pocks
- magnetized bite valve storage on sternum strap
-25 L pack capacity
- 3L water reservoir
-weight: 1.03kg
-cost: $199.00

Kathmandu Women's Kassei Pack
- compressible pack body
- pockets on hip belt
-designed for female physique
- 18 L pack capacity
- 3 L water reservoir
-weight: 680g
- cost: $189.98

In the end I was trying on a few different packs, when I came across the Camelbak Octane 18X.  It was so light when I put it on, that it felt as though I wasn't wearing anything on my back.  The pack body is super compressible so this pack can be used solely as a hydration pack while training, and also expands to fit all of the gear I require for racing.

Camelbak Octane 18 X
-Hydration Capacity: 3 L
-Total Capacity 18L + 3L
-Weight:  507 g

All of the straps in the harness are very adjustable, so there are a lot of combinations, which make it really comfortable.  I tested the pack out the next day after purchasing it.  Filling the bladder (a new experience for me)  was interesting.  If I didn't hold the bladder just right as I was trying to screw it shut, the bladder vomited water all over me.  It took not one, but two incidences of sloshing water all over the kitchen, the floor and myself before I got the hang of holding and closing the bladder.  The pack is obviously a bit heavier once it contains the full 3L bladder, but I still felt as though I was hardly carrying anything on my back.  It was much easier to run carrying the pack that I anticipated.  I had expected the weight and movement to be distracting, but this pack fits me so snugly, that after a few km I stopped noticing.  The strangest part for me, was hearing the water slosh around in the bladder, and I wonder if the sound will be reduced when the pack has other things stuffed into it.  I will also have to practice a bit more with the drinking-while-running aspect of carrying a hydration pack.  Overall, I am really pleased with this pack, and knew it was the right one for me when I tried it on and found it so light and comfortable!

Now if only I could make the decision about trail shoes as easily...


Found (and bought) these comfy gloves at Bivouac on sale the other day.  I tried them on and they fitted, well, like a glove.  Very close fitting without feeling over-tight, light and warm, weird little grip pads on the fore-finger and thumb, everything that I was looking for in a glove for trail running.  I have never worn gloves while running (but have worn gloves on plenty of other occasions), but I have been out running on frosty mornings when my hands got so cold that I had to cut my run short and go home, so I am looking forward to having some running gloves to keep my fingers toasty in the future.
Outdoor Research Women's PL 100 Gloves

Trail Shoes

After a lot of um-ing and ah-ing, the agonizing over which trail shoes to go with was somewhat taken out of my hands when the demise of my last pair of running shoes meant that I had to buy a new pair.  I bought the Mizuno Wave Ascend 7's on a 30 day trial, not sure how they would work for me.  But after running in them a few times, and testing them out on the trail, I LOVE them.  They are super comfortable, sturdy, stable and grippy.  The sole design provides shock absorption, and also makes my stride feel springier than my old shoes.  The bright design, cheers even the most devastating hill climb, and I see them a lot, because I so often look down on the trails.  I only wish that I had bought two pairs.
Mizuno Wave Ascend 7

Diadora Women's Leggings

Running Pants

I keep buying all sorts of running pants.  Previously I have mostly run in shorts, but recently have started trying out a few different brands of leggings, as well as some compression gear.

Diadora Compression Leggings
First compression pants.  Bought a size 12, but they were too big, and rode down while running.  I have stitched the waist band several inches narrower, and they stay up nicely now.  The compression aspect of the pants, was really tight to start with, but they seem to have relaxed over time.  I like wearing these in recovery from running, or if I go running after a race, and the old leg muscles are still tender.

Skins Women's Shorts
Skins Compression Shorts
After receiving these for my birthday, they quickly became my favourite and most often worn running pants.  Skins, I think, were the first and in my opinion are the best compression wear you can get.  The price is steep, but the cost is well worth it.  When I am wearing and running in these shorts, they feel as like a second skin (funnily enough) and are extremely comfortable.  The fit is snug without being too tight, and there is no chafing, or riding-up of the legs.  I will definitely be buying more skins products and most definitely more of these shorts.

Xero 3/4 Length Compression Leggings
These were the second pair of compression pants that I purchased, I wanted them as a cooler alternative to the full length pants, especially for racing.  I have now replaced the use of these pants with the skins shorts.  These pants started out being very comfortable, but with wearing and washing the seams and lining became very pilled, which led to quite bad chafing.  I liked that these pants had a drawstring and elasticated waist.  The fit was better than the diadora pants, and before the fabric quality deteriorated, I really liked these compression leggings.

Performax Running Tights
I bought these online, and they had been miss-sold as compression pants.  They turned out, on arrival to be a pair of running tights.  I was disappointed at first, but the comfort and practicality of these running tights have made these my favourite long running pants for racing or on cooler training days.  A very comfortable alternative to compression gear, these pants aren't compressive at all.  Constructed of silky smooth synthetic material, and with reflective strips and zips from the ankle to knee, they are great for running (as long as its not too hot), and cause no chafing or discomfort.

Running Bare Shorts
I have a couple of pairs of running shorts that I have been wearing less frequently since experimenting with running pants and especially since getting my skins.  I have a pair of light Running Bare shorts which have been great in hot weather, but have bulky seams and are uncomfortable when I get hot and sweaty.  The second pair of shorts I have owned for ages and ages.  They are Old Navy brand, and I purchased them in the States.  These shorts have a built-in knicker-lining, and are the most comfortable of any running short I have ever had.  I have tried on a few pairs of shorts that are a similar style, but am yet to find some that are as comfortable or as flattering (many that I have tried in NZ bunch and bulge weirdly). 

Running Tops

I have yet to splash out and purchase really technical or expensive running tops.  Mostly I just run in lightweight, synthetic, loose fitting singlet tops.  I generally choose very bright or fluorescent colours so I am highly visible when I run on the open road (I also love bright things). My two most commonly used singlets are fluorescent pink and orange, and I stole them...not really, but they were a steal at $8.00 from Kmart.  If it is cold, I run wearing a short or long sleeved thermal (polypropylene) top.  For support I have an Active Intent Crop Racer Back Sports bra.  I want to get a couple more sports bras, but the one I have at the moment does it's job perfectly and is comfortable, so I am keeping my eye out for additional tops that will do a good job too.

Racer Back Crop Top

Florescent Singlet

I am totally addicted to buying running gear, I had a bit of a splurge on the weekend, as a pre-uni-return gift to myself.  I have bought a couple of new tops, another Kmart top, and my new and very favorite Reebok singlet.  This is the most expensive top that I have purchased so far, and is supremely comfortable for running.

Thermal Tops

With the cooler weather closing in I bought a couple of warmer thermal tops designed to keep me warm in cold and damp conditions.  Both of the tops are Kathmandu, one a short sleeve merino base layer.  The second, a long sleeved top, constructed from technical fabric.  Both of these tops are brilliant, and I usually pair them together when I run, they keep me warm (even when its windy and wet), but they also keep my temperature comfortable when I heat up.


Icebreaker Beanie
I grabbed this light weight and warm Icebreaker merino beanie on sale from Bivouac.  It took be a while to find a style that fitted over my hair (regardless of bun/pony tail/plaited style) and comfortably covered my ears - lots of the hats didn't quite reach to cover the whole ear.  The size isn't too tight.  The merino fabric will ensure that my head stays warm, but I think that the minimalist construction will stop me from over heating, and also weighs next to nothing, and takes up no space in my bag.  I haven't yet had occasion to actually wear my beanie yet, but I am hoping that it will be ideal for the cold and windy days, or for alpine trails.  I will keep you posted on it's performance.

Head Band

I really want to get two head bands, one for keeping the hair out of my eyes, and off my face and one that I can use to keep my ears warm.  I have had little success finding one that suits the first purpose.

 Waterproof Jacket

I actually have two jackets.  I am not a big fan of wearing a jacket running, I don't like the sound they make, or how warm I send to get if conditions are humid.  However, I can definitely see the benefits of wearing/carrying a jacket in alpine conditions, especially as a wind barrier.  The required gear list calls for a water-proof seam-sealed and stitched jacket.

My first jacket is a Colombia Field Gear Waterproof shell.  The jacket is lightweight and breathable, constructed from OMNITECH fabric (similar concept to goretex, allowing moisture out, but keeping the wearer protected from the elements).  This jacket has a hood, and some reflective detailing.  The only think that I don't like about it is that the colour is dark grey/black on the exterior and I prefer really bright apparel for visibility and for easy location (if it came to that) by rescuers.  My version of the jacket is a couple of years old and has a fluorescent green lining (different from the Jacket in the image).  I got my jacket from the USA on clearance, and I am not even sure if these are sold in NZ, but all the sports and outdoor retailers have similar jackets for a range of prices.

My second jacket was a gift, and I like it because it is bright pink and packs down into a handy and easily carriable pouch.  This jacket was from Rebel sport, and although seam sealed and stitched, it is not constructed from technical fabric, and it gets pretty sweaty inside (to the point where I have to empty the sleeves - eww!).  My plan for the Routeburn is to take both jackets with me, and then depending on weather forecast, make a decision about what to carry on the day.


  1. Hello! What a treat to stumble across your blog! Can I ask what jacket you have for the event? I was just googling possible jackets (super organised, I know!) as I am not sure either of mine meet the brief. I hope you are enjoying your taper and feeling good about next weekend. See you there! Carla

    1. Hi Carla, Thanks for your kind comments, I have added in a section above about my Jackets. I am really excited and quite nervous about next weekend...bring it on :-) see you there!