Disclaimer: I am running for the WAA Ultra Equipment team, that obviously have an impact on the gear I use but I’ve tried to look at other brand's offering to found the lightest options available. I’m referring to the UTMB list but most Ultras now have a similar mandatory gear list.
The weight listed is for my own personal pieces so the weight is probably a few grams lighter than the weight listed by the brand because I’m wearing a size small and I have a tendency to trim down my gear...
First it’s important to put the mandatory gear list aside for a moment and think about what you would need if you were on your own on the same course and in the same conditions. Keep in mind that you could have an accident and have to spend time not moving in a mountain environment. So bring all that plus all the item left on the mandatory gear list.
I am not a specialist in mountain safety and I decline any responsibility if you freeze to death on your run. My pack for UTMB last year weighted under 1 kilogram (without food and water). Here's my list:
The cheapest option is to use your everyday phone. However smartphone are usually heavy. If don’t plan on taking beautiful pictures and post them on social media during your race, you don’t need a smartphone.
I use a simvalley MOBILE 2in1.
22g / 30€
Minimum 150 ml. Just cut a box of juice. It’s about 8 grams. Please note that the popular Salomon softcup is only 125 ml so if are you using it you are cheating!
8g / 1€
I prefer bottles in front over a water reservoir to have a better weight distribution and faster refills. The lightest and cheapest option is to use two simple plastic water bottles. Soft Flasks are the most comfortable but they are heavier, expensive and tend to leak. Rigid bottles are also heavier and they may hurt your ribs.
I use two basics 500 ml water bottles.
36g / 1€
Two torches with replacement batteries for each
If you have a crew or a well placed drop bag, the best is to carry two emergency headlamp like the Petzl e-lite and use your bigger headlamp only for the night. One of the e-lite with spare batteries is probably lighter than your spare battery so if you can go through a full night with your headlamp don’t carry an extra battery.
One of my e-lite is bright enough to move safely in the mountains. I would lose time going downhill but maybe not so much if I use both headlamps at the same time. The new version of the lamp is a lot brighter with 50 lumen.
62g / 50€ (2 e-lite with spares batteries)
During the night I use a Armytek Wizard Pro V3. It’s Antoine Guillon choice so I’m sure there aren’t many better headlamps in terms of lumen per gram... At $95 it’s also decently priced. I ran trough the night at last year UTMB alternating between the 165 and 390 lumen intensity on one single battery.
136g / $95
Antoine must have missed one... At half the weight (65g) and with a better battery life, the Stoots HELKA is probably the best option out there. The lamp is made in France and cost 125€.
Minimum 1.4m X 2m
46g / 5€
An emergency bivvy is heavier (about 100g) but it may be more effective at keeping you warm and in a worst case scenario it could save your life.
There’s probably one attached to your bag.
Adhesive elastic band
Cut it to the minimum length.
The lightest and cheapest would probably be white sugar but dried raisins is the way to go. It’s about the same calorie to weight ratio than gels but way cheaper. Eating food at the aid station is also a good way to save money and carry less weight. Burning your own body fat is also an option.
Waterproof and breathable jacket
Because very cheap waterproof options are never breathable it’s hard to go cheap on that one... I’m using the Ultra rain jacket from WAA.
159g / 189€
At 134 g the Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On is the lightest I’m aware of. It cost £190 (215€) which is quite a bit more than the WAA option and I definitely prefer to have a full-zip on my rain jacket despite the few extra grams.
Long running trousers
If you wear knee high socks, a pair of capris will do because together they “cover the legs completely” but remember: style trumps weight. Only wear high socks if you feel great in them.
I use the WAA Ultra light pants.
59g / 79€
Warm midlayer top
Here UTMB gives you two options. I prefer the combination of light layer (110g) and a jacket than the heavier (180g) layer alone. I use my finisher price from last year X-Alpine because it exactly the minimal weight and surprizingly warm. It's a Compressport ON/OFF multisport long sleeve shirt in combinaison with the WAA Ultra light jacket.
110g / CHF 99 (long sleeve)
80g / 89€ (jacket)
Any 180 grams layer would be a lighter and probably cheaper option. However, I like to carry the light jacket in my pocket so I can quickly put it on and off. Buying a jacket one or two size bigger allow you to put it over your backpak.
Once again Montane seems to win the weight game with their Featherlite 7 Jacket which is listed at only 47 grams! It is expensive at £100 (114€) and doesn't have a hood... I can tell you that I was happy to have a hood on my jacket at last year Hong Kong 100!
Cap or bandana or Buff
Half a buff is enough.
I have a lightweight one from WAA.
Warm and waterproof gloves
It can be two pairs. Dish washing gloves are fine for the waterproof ones. I tend to get cold hand quickly so this is the first item where I would go with an heavier option in case of cold weather forecast.
59g (for the two pairs)
I use the Ultra Rain pants from WAA.
98g / 129€
The Salomon S-lab hybrid pants are not fully waterproof but if they are accepted, they are the lightest option I’ve seen at 80g. Based on the UTMB gear FAQ, they wouldn't be accepted. The rain pants have to be waterproof it's the breathability that doesn't seem to be important for them. Anyway a 200€ price tag is a lot for a pair of pants you will rarely use!
It’s not on the list but you have to carry all that stuff... I use the WAA Ultra-bag pro 3L. It’s big enough to carry everything listed here so I don’t think anyone needs more than a 5 litre bag even if the go very safe and carry a small puffy jacket or a gore-tex vest...
139g / 59€
The Salomon S-lab sense Ultra set is listed at 110g but cost 120€... At least for that price you get two comfortable and practical soft flasks. However, I owned one of these in the past and I found that the fabric tend to strech with time... Also the large back pocket can't be securely closed and I prefer to have a zipper like on the WAA pack so I'm sure nothing falls off.
Also not on the obligatory list but it’s on the “very strongly recommended” one. The cheapest and lightest is to go without poles. However if you’re looking for light and cheap poles I would recommend the Gipron 310 Mont-Blanc. The aluminum version is listed at 160g per poles and is only 70€. I use the carbon version of these. They are more expensive but only weight 110 grams each!
110g / 175€
The cheapest and lightest option is to go barefoot.
In conclusion, I can say I definitely have the best sponsor! The lighter options are rare and you always have to spend more money for gear who often lack useful features. If you want to go superlight without spending too much, WAA Ultra Equipment is definitely the right choice!
0g / 0€