Adventure Racing Gear Guide

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Adventure racing is known as the “new sport for the millennium.” It is the combination of two or more disciplines, including orienteering and navigation, rapelling, trekking, cross-country running, mountain biking, paddling, and/or climbing. Adventure Racing is the perfect sport for any outdoor enthusiast.

Adventure Racing is currently the fastest growing outdoor multi-sport event in the world. Those who have joined in on the Adventure Racing craze enjoy the thrill of facing unpredictable challenges, camaraderie that builds while racing with two- to five-man teams, and the multitude of lightweight gear that is readily available. In Adventure Racing, it is not uncommon to find races that can last from a few hours to several days. Races take place all over the world and range from wilderness terrain to urban streets. Adventure Racing is the perfect sport for those of you with adventurous spirits and a strong back!

Traveling light and having the right gear is essential to Adventure Racing. Outfitting for an adventure race can be an arduous process. For those just starting out, the idea of having to be prepared for multiple events can be daunting. Here are a few tips for successful outfitting.

Montrail makes a great trail running shoe for adventure racing(1) Your Feet Matter!

You must protect your feet! The number one way to prevent compromising your feet is to find the right shoe. Adventure Racing shoes must be durable and able to withstand any rigors that you may face during the adventure race. In addition, they must offer a high level of comfort since you may be spending multiple hours on your feet. RockCreek.com offers a wide variety of trail ready shoes that are ideal in a multi-day or multi-hour race. They will also be able to provide you with accessories, such as socks, insoles, and first aid kits, to keep your feet happy!

Here are a few suggestions:

Trail Running Shoes

Montrail does not fake fit. Their revolutionary Integrafit system has been praised by many Adventure Racing addicts. Put simply, Integrafit is the shape that surrounds your feet in Montrail boots and shoes. Montrail used data collected from nearly a million pairs of men’s and women’s feet, measuring the three dimensional shapes and considering how feet move, to design footwear that fits up to 80% of the population. It is through this dedication that Montrail is able to offer to the public outstanding shoes designed for whatever outdoor adventure you might be getting into. Montrail’s shoes are frequently represented at races and are outspokenly amongst the favorites.

If you are just getting into Adventure racing, look into the Montrail’s Vitesse or Hardrock Trail Runners. Both of these shoes are a lightweight, explosive option geared to not only protect your feet from the rigors of racing, but they also guarantee unyielding comfort that will last through any length or style of Adventure racing.

Salomon lives and breathes action sports. Their dedication to providing you with the most technologically advanced gear is unprecedented. Salomon’s mission is to, “provide pure products for action and outdoor sports enthusiasts around the world to fuel their instinct.”

The XA Pro 3D trail running shoe is an excellent choice for adventure racers everywhere. The XA Pro 3D Shoe by Salomon offers solid support on rugged terrain which is appreciated by a multitude adventure racers and trail runners. The XA Pro 3D features breathable mesh uppers, Kevlar Quickfit asymmetrical lacing, triple-density EVA midsoles, and 3D Advanced Chassis technology. These shoes will keep your feet happy through some of the most rigorous races. These shoes will allow you to take yourself to the next level with comfort in mind.

Socks

Dry feet will make or break your day. Time is precious when you are racing, and having to stop to change out socks or repair a blister can be extremely costly. Socks are essential to any outdoor event, and no one is more knowledgeable in this area than Smartwool. They combine modern technology with prehistoric fashion. Smartwool fibers have the unique ability to absorb moisture as a vapor but repel it as a liquid. These fibers help to regulate your body’s internal temperature, while keeping you cool when it’s hot and keeping you hot when it’s cool.

Smartwool socks are great for adventure racingSmartwool socks will withstand everyday wear and tear as well as any adventure race challenge. If you’re new to racing look at Smartwool’s Adrenaline socks as a great choice for racing comfort. These socks are not only extremely light and comfortable, but they also offer all of the advantages of wool and will prolong the possibility of getting a blister. If it is too late and a blister has formed, check out Rock/Creek’s Blister Medic First Aid Kit by Adventure Medical Kits. These first aid kits will provide you the means to repair your feet on the run.

If you are having trouble finding the right fit in shoes or if the shoes that you have are not offering enough comfort, then you should look into getting insoles for your shoes. These insoles will provide the much needed aid that you are looking for in those multi-hour adventure races. Rock/Creek offers Superfeet. With Superfeet insoles in your shoes, your feet are constantly being supported. These insoles also help balance the way the your weight is distributed onto your feet. Instead of your feet collapsing inward and stressing the surrounding muscles, joints and ligaments, Superfeet helps you move the way nature intended. In a long race your body is already in enough discomfort, why make your feet suffer as well?

(2) Always Wear Outerwear!

Being outfitted in the right outerwear is essential, especially while you are racing. www.rockcreek.com offers a wide range of available outwear choices to assist in any condition that you might experience during an adventure race. One thing to keep in mind when selecting the right outerwear is to decide what it is you truly need. Look ahead at the extended forecast before you start to pack for the race. Weight is an issue and a good place to shed a few ounces is in your outerwear choices. Look for outerwear items that are lightweight and geared to be used in outdoor activity settings. These items typically exhibit a formfitting style construction with a breathable material.

Here are a few suggestions:

Softshell

Softshells are rapidly gaining in popularity. They offer the most movement and are made with stretch fabrics that move with you during exercise. While they’re not quite as impenetrable as hard shells, a good soft shell jacket will give you plenty of protection from precipitation while giving you maximum breathability. The Arc’Teryx Accelero Pullover, for example, is both an ultra-light soft shell and a truly aerobically inclined garment. Arc’Teryx Dry Web breathes and blocks wind and rain; a soft brushed lining makes it comfortable enough to wear all day, and a precisely engineered fit helps it look great. This jacket will keep you both dry and cool during a multi-hour adventure race. Lightweight, the Accelero will stuff nicely into any race pack and go virtually unnoticed until it is needed. This pullover would be great if you are headed to a race where the weather is going to be uncertain. You will be able to race with full confidence in Arc’Teryx Accelero Pullover.

Windshirt

Breathable and quick to dry, a good wind shirt is a necessity for active travel. For example, Patagonia’s Houdini Jacket comes complete with a drawcord hem, and then it stuffs into its own chest pocket when not in use. A Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish on Patagonia’s Houdini Full-Zip sheds water. If you are headed to a race where you are certain that it is going to be dry and windy, then the Houdini Jacket is just what you are looking for. This Jacket packs nicely deep inside any race pack and is available for quick release if the weather turns sour.

Hardshell Jacket

Adventure races often require waterproof jackets. Hard shell jackets offer the highest level of protection from the elements. Hardshell fabrics include the now ubiquitous Gore-Tex or Marmot’s PreCip fabric. The Beta SL Jacket from Arc’Teryx is a great hardshell which incorporates super-lightweight fabrics with minimalist features. The Beta SL Jacket delivers reliable protection during unexpected stormy weather. Look to the Theta as the perfect addition to any outerwear collection. This jacket will keep you dry and warm in even the most adverse racing conditions.

Waterproof Pants

In most races you will be required to carry pants with tapered seams. The Mountain Hardwear Synchro Pant provides superior weather resistance in a sleek, technical package. Conduit™ Soft Shell laminates hold wind and water on the outside while it keeps warmth on the inside. Weather protective exterior taping and a lightly brushed inner deliver performance and style. As another great option, you should be sure to check out Marmot’s PreCip Pants.

Gloves

Gloves are a must for adventure racing; if you can’t move your fingers you won’t be able to navigate the course. The Mountain Hardwear Power Stretch Glove provides added insulation to the thermal performance of your thin-skinned shell. It is also perfect on its own for mountain biking, XC skiing or camping. The four-way stretch design encourages finger dexterity without compromising comfort. If you are looking for versatility, the Power Stretch Glove is a great choice. This glove is extremely lightweight and can be easily packed into any race pack. Mountain Hardwear’s Power Stretch Glove will provide extreme comfort and functionality for not much money. This is a great addition to any adventure racer’s wardrobe.

Trekking Pants

The Paramount Convertible Pant by The North Face is the ideal trekking and adventure travel pant that converts to shorts for optimum versatility. The advantage of racing in convertible pants is that in a multi-hour adventure race you are able to change from shorts to pants without stopping to change. If the weather gets cool all you have to do is convert the shorts to pants. These pants offer large gear pockets, quick drying material, and ultraviolet protection (UPF) 30+. Also, check out Mountain Hardwear’s Mesa Convertible Pant.

Base Layer/Underwear

Smartwool’s Lightweight Crew is a classic crew does not bind or choke, this is your second skin, the foundation layer to build the most effective layering system possible. The high-quality merino wool fibers wick and evaporate to help you stay dry and comfortable. Quickly and efficiently, it mechanically moves moisture away from your skin and then spreads it out to evaporate on the surface of the fabric. In cool weather, this base layer provides a lightweight, moisture removing option that is ideal for Adventure racing conditions. The stretchy Patagonia Cold Track Light Pant has a smooth face that layers easily, and is wind- and abrasion-resistant. The inner Capilene polyester knit dispels moisture and feels soft and plush against the skin. The Cold Track Light Pants are sized to accommodate 5 percent shrinkage. These tights would be great at an adventure race where you are moving all day in cool damp conditions. Extremely lightweight, these tights provide an extra active layer that can help keep your legs warm in whatever weather is thrown your way. You have enough to worry about on race day, make sure your warmth is not one of those worries. Also, look at other Patagonia Capilene and Silkweight base layers as alternative options.

Trail Running Shorts

The Infinity Long Short is specifically designed by Pearl Izumi to meet your needs while running. They are made from a PI Light II Ripstop fabric, and they feature laser perforated side panels giving you the breath ability you need. The Infinity Long Short’s internal key pocket and back envelope pocket allow you to keep things convenient while out running. The 7″ inseam of the Infinity Long Shorts provides a comfortable length, while other features allow the breathability and lightweight functions that are necessary to enjoy your run. The advantages of having a longer short as opposed to a shorter short is that a long short, in Adventure style racing, provides more protection from underbrush and other obstacles that might want claw up your legs.

Wicking Tee

The North Face Flight Series features a Men’s Short Sleeved Vitesse Fuse Tee. This shirt offers Vaporwick material that pulls moisture from your body and distributes it to the outside of the piece keeping you cool and dry. While you are preparing for Adventure racing, keep in mind that you are racing with a team. Racing all day can lead to a very sweaty smelly racer. With North Face’s Primus Tee not only do you get an excellent lightweight wicking shirt, but you are also graced with a smell guard to ensure that your teammates will still be your teammates at the end of the day. For another great wicking tee, check out Mountain Hardwear’s Wicked Tee.

Fast & Light Pack

When searching for a pack look for one that is lightweight, comfortable, and has pockets that are easily assessable. The Deuter Race X Air II is a compact and sleek pack for fast and light tours. The proven Air-Comfort-System with mesh shoulder straps, keeps your back cooler and drier. This lightweight pack is ideal for Adventure racing. Designed for rigorous outdoor activity, the Race X Air II is the perfect fast pack for multi-hour adventure racing. Dueter also makes hydration day packs that can easily be used for Adventure racing. The AC Light 15 offers the same Air-Comfort-System with an additional hydration bladder option.

Hydration Pack

The Rogue Hydration Pack from CamelBak provides roadies with 3 bottles worth of hydration and is definitely the best choice for your next century. External reservoir access means refill is easy. In addition, a secure pocket holds the contents of your seat bag. This hydration pack would be best utilized in a shorter adventure race, where not as much gear is needed to be packed. This is an extremely lightweight hydration pack that also features the ability to transport additional water bottles or equipment. Also, checkout Deuter’s Hydro EXP Hydration Packs or GoLite’s Beat Hydration Pack.

(3) Other Essential Gear

Watch/Compass

Having a good watch can make your break your race. When you are racing against the clock, make sure that the clock is on your side. Rock/Creek Outfitters offers numerous watches and accessories, but for adventure racing your best choice is probably Suunto Watches. The Vector and T4 watch are also excellent choices for any level of adventure racer. These watches offer the availability of an optional compass, heart rate monitor, and altimeter.

Paddling Gear

In most adventure races you are going to find yourself confronted with an aquatic obstacle. Do not let paddling be your poorest event. When first starting out Adventure racing look to purchase a good paddle and a good life jacket. As you advance in Adventure racing the type of boat that you are paddling becomes more important. Rock/Creek is here for you and can easily help you select the right boat for whatever aquatic adventure race activity you will be competing in. Feel free to call our boating staff anytime for questions or comments. They can be reached at (423) 265.1836.

Here are a few suggestions:

Paddles

The Kalliste is Werner’s foam core touring blade. The Kalliste Carbon’s mid-size blades and foam core profile offer the best combination in a quiet, light, and powerful paddle. Optimizing both forward and feathering strokes, the Kalliste’s foam core creates a unique profile that enters and exits the water exceptionally quiet while adding buoyancy for a lighter feeling stroke. A neutral bend guides the wrists into natural alignment with the shaft, reducing unwanted strain. The unique index along the grip area creates comfortable hand contact, maximizing your ability to control the stroke while maintaining a light grip. This paddle is also available in a straight shaft. For Adventure racing there are not many better paddles than the Kalliste. For sea kayaking or canoeing, this paddle can be utilized for any distance or water conditions. The ability to take it apart into two pieces or on some models four pieces makes it easily portable. Extremely lightweight and durable, this paddle will be able to stand up to anything your adventure race is able to throw at it. (kalliste paddle)

PFD

A great PFD for adventure racers everywhere is the Rio Bravo. The Rio Bravo has a slightly lower profile than many other PFDs; the short front and back panels won’t hinder mobility. The side-panel construction puts a gusset of fabric between front and back and lets you adjust the vest to your body with a close and secure fit. Shoulder pads are long for comfort on all-day floats. A lash tab keeps a knife within easy reach, and you can stash essentials in the two generously sized stretch-mesh zip pockets (with internal D-rings). With the Rio Bravo you get the comfort and reliability of a front-zip entry vest. This jacket is perfect for Adventure racing. Not only does the design allow you to move freely in the boat, but it is also lightweight and has multiple pockets for easy map storage. Also be sure to check out Astral Buoyancy Co.’s Aquavest 300 Rescue Vest.

Helmets

Most races will require you to bring a helmet for the paddling portion of the race. Rockcreek.com offers a wide variety of boating helmets for any type of water condition. One helmet that we recommend is the Strutter by Sweet Helmets. This is the only helmet that doesn’t look and feel like one. The Strutter is inspired by the most functional headwear of all time, the American baseball cap. It’s safe, super slim, comfortable, and looks cool. Safety is the main priority of Sweet Helmets and even though the Strutter might look and feel like a piece of clothing. The visor will ensure that the sun is kept out of your eyes as you blister across the water. Sweet’s Tepex carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic shell is an industry first, and protects the skull like nothing else, offering equal or better protection.

Boats

Rock/Creek offers a wide-range of kayaks that can be used in Adventure racing. Companies like Necky Kayaks and Perception offer excellent models that will benefit you while racing. Feel free to contact Rock/Creek Outfitter’s boat store to check for availability and to answer all of your boating questions.

Climbing Equipment

Typically, in Adventure racing, if ascending and repelling is involved the race director will provide you with a very detailed list of items you are required to bring to the race. Rock/Creek should be able to satisfy whatever climbing equipment needs you might encounter. Their wide selection of ascenders, carabineers, ropes and harnesses will leave you with plenty of options. Please feel free to stop by any of Rock/Creek’s stores for help in climbing gear and accessories. You can also visit our climbing website www.climbinggear.com.
Cycling

The bike leg is one of the most infamous portions of an adventure race. Although Rock/Creek does not carry biking gear, it would be best for any new comer to the sport to consult their local bike shop about what bike might be best for their budget and style of racing.
Navigation

Navigation is one the most crucial aspects of Adventure racing. Rock/Creek carries a wide variety of navigation instruments as well as maps and GPS systems. Rock/Creek offers numerous trail maps and topography maps, such as National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated Maps. Also, be sure to not forget to purchase a waterproof map case in the event you encounter something your map won’t be able to withstand. Rock/Creek offers a map case by Sea to Summit that works extremely well in Adventure racing settings. Although most courses do not allow the use of GPS, be sure to check out rockcreek.com’s excellent GPS and Navigation instruments.
Illumination

When it gets dark, the race does not stop. In multi-hour adventure races the ability to see in the dark is crucial. Even after the lights go out, you will still have to navigate and race along a very technical trail. Rockcreek offers a wide variety of lightweight headlamps that will be able to illuminate any adventure race. The Myo 3 Headlamp by Petzl offers both a powerful Xenon halogen beam for long-distance lighting (up to 90 meters) and three super-bright white LEDs for close-proximity lighting (up to 25 meters). The Myo 3 provides a powerful, even and adjustable white light, with long light duration. This Petzl headlamp is a single light source for multiple uses. The advantage of this headlamp in an adventure race is the different lighting levels. Lighting conditions will change in a race and the ability to adapt to these light variances is critical to your adventure racing success. Rockcreek.com also offers Headlamps from Black Diamond.
(4) Race-Specific/Optional Gear

Optional gear for any adventure race might include a knife, stove, trekking poles, sleeping bag or sunglasses. Rock Creek offers all of these items and will be able to outfit you for whatever adventure race you plan to take on. Here are some suggestions:

Knife/Multitool

Most adventure races require you to carry a knife. In adventure racing, a knife can quickly become your best friend. There is no better knife for the job than Spyderco’s 79mm Rescue Knife. Spyderco offers smaller knives such as the 79mm Rescue (formerly known as the Rescue Jr.). A smaller equivalent of the Syderco’s 93mm Rescue Knife is the SpyderEdge VG-10. They both have a flat saber-ground blade, but the SpyderEdge VG-10 blade ends in a sheep foot safety tip. For smoother thumb rotation we enlarged the Spyderco Trademark Round Hole, which in turn creates a prominent hump to position the thumb on while cutting. The FRN waffle textured handle is available in indigo blue, black and safety orange with an ambidextrous, tip-up pocket clip. This knife is lightweight and will virtually disappear into any pack until it is needed.

Stove/Cook System

In an adventure race, no one has the time to wait for water to boil. JetBoil is the first in a revolutionary new line of Personal Cooking Systems that offers a fast and simple solution to cooking in the outdoors. Integrating burner and cookware, JetBoil’s design relies on a fast and efficient proprietary heat transfer system. Gone are the days of tippy stoves, clunky campware sets, and choking down gorp for days on end. This light, compact, and expandable system allows you to quickly adapt to the situation whether you’re going solo or with five of your friends. The JetBoil is the best option for adventure racing because no one has the time to sit around and wait for the water boil. JetBoil will have your water boiling in less than 90 seconds and have you back to the race in no time. Also, check out JetBoil’s lightweight accessories that can make backcountry cooking all the better.

Trekking Poles

Trekking poles will take some of the weight off of your legs and help disperse the weight into your arms and shoulders. In an adventure race this is ideal. After spending hour on your feet, finding some relief for those tired legs sounds extremely appealing. Rock/Creek offers a wide variety of trekking poles by Leki and Black Diamond geared for adventure racing.

Sleeping Bags & Pads

When searching for a sleeping bag for adventure race you are looking for two things: warmth and lightweight. Marmot’s Trails sleeping bag is the only choice for warm weather racing. The bag itself is made of Micro DriClime lining microfiber version of DriClime with a softer hand and warmer initial touch. If you racing in a colder climate, look at our large selection of sleeping bags from Marmot, North Face and Mountain Hardwear.

Sunglasses

Sunglasses are a must for any race. Whether you are racing in flat light conditions or you need the advantages of polarized lenses on the water, Oakley sunglasses can offer the best optics for any situation. The Half Jackets XLJ by Oakley are their first dual-lens eyewear with interchangeable lenses. This chameleon style lets you adapt instantly to any light condition. When the sun fades or flares, switch to a new set of optional lenses and change your entire point of view. Accented with true metal icons, the lightweight O Matter® frame includes Unobtainium® earsocks and grip anchors. The open-edge design extends your vertical field of vision, and each set of optional lenses retains the peripheral clarity of XYZ Optics®. You should also be sure to check out Rock/Creek’s deep inventory of Native Eyewear and Smith sunglasses.

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