Are you prepared when it comes to your equipment? Do you know exactly what you’ll be taking and how you’ll be transporting it? Whether the answer’s “yes” or “no”, a small check list won’t do any harm!
• The biggest item to fit into your backpack is no doubt your sleeping bag. Stuff it down at the bottom of your bag. Choose one with a comfort temperature of about 10°C and as compressible as possible.
• The second largest item, which will get smaller as the adventure goes by, is your food package. Gather all of your dried items into one bag, which will make it much more practical to handle every day.
• To prepare your meals, you should have a small mess tin (http://www.waa-ultra.com/en/recommended-equipment/118-popote-50cl.html); fill it with everything you’ll need for eating: a lighter, stove (http://www.waa-ultra.com/en/recommended-equipment/120-stove-esbit.html), fuel tabs (http://www.waa-ultra.com/en/recommended-equipment/112-solid-fuel-tabs-esbit.html), spoon and/or fork.
• In a separate bag, keep the race food that you won’t be needing on the coming stage.
• Set aside a “health and body care” bag to store your skin antiseptic (mandatory), your medicine if you’re following treatment, spare safety pins, and wipes.
• We recommend that you keep the passport and cash required by the regulations in a waterproof inside pocket.
• Don’t forget the mandatory items, i.e. survival blanket (http://www.waa-ultra.com/en/required-equipment-/121-couverture-de-survie.html), headlamp, spare batteries, venom extractor (http://www.waa-ultra.com/en/required-equipment-/116-aspivenin.html).
• Lastly, you will need clothes for the bivouac. Many competitors take the lightest possible clothes, like a painter’s outfit. The good side is that it takes up little room and is very light, but if it gets a bit cold, you could be uncomfortable. Some participants opt for tights, a long-sleeve technical t-shirt and under garments.
Optional: Mattress, gloves, warm hat, sandals, eye mask, earplugs.
Tip: sleeping jacket = 1 sleeping bag + 1 jacket (http://www.waa-ultra.com/en/textile/543-ultra-sleeping-jacket.html)
How to pack your bag: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bF9rgypMPXs
Whatever type of backpack you have, you’ll need to keep some of your equipment handy so that you can use it during the stage. A front pack is ideal.
• Roadbook: normally, you won’t lose it, but keeping your roadbook within reach is more secure (and also mandatory).
• Food for the race: cereal bars, dried fruit or energy powders: prepare sufficient quantities each day for the duration of the stage.
• Compass: the tracks that the first runners leave in the sand should be enough, but sometimes in the dunes it’s better to make sure you’re following the right course.
• Check-in card: this needs to be checked off at each CP, and so should be easy to reach.
• Knife, whistle (http://www.waa-ultra.com/en/all-products/122-sifflet-de-detresse.html), mirror (www.waa-ultra.com/en/required-equipment-/946-miroir-ultra-leger.html): safety items in case of problems.
• Sun cream: don’t forget it! Remember to reapply regularly; perspiration cuts down protection time.
• Salt tablets: we recommend that you take two tablets per 1.5l bottle.
• Toilet bags, bins: don’t leave any rubbish behind you in the desert.
Optional: camera and/or telephone (not for making calls on the course: respect the tranquillity of the other runners). Caution: remember that no electric charging is possible during the race!
How to pack a front bag: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNdsSWBqZ3o
• Race numbers: you will have two numbers, which must imperatively be positioned on the chest and the back of your bag and remain visible during the entire race (penalties for non-compliance).
• SPOT messenger: the device that you will receive must be positioned at the top of your backpack. You will be told how it operates, with a reminder in the roadbook.
• Light stick: you will be provided with this during the long stage. It must remain attached to the back of your bag during the whole night.
Lightweight or comfortable? It’s up to you! It all depends on your objective: the keener you are to be up with the frontrunners, the more comfortable items you’ll need to sacrifice. And vice versa. “I opted for comfort. I took a mat, and the front part of my bag is my pillow,” said David Carr last year, a British man whose bag weighed 9.5 kg at the technical check (without water). The same went for Kim, an American: “I made sure that my clothes and sleeping bag were warm, because the first time I came I was too cold at night.”
Choose what’s right for you!