Our contributor shares the gear it took to win the Patagonian Expedition Race, a rugged 600-km, 7-day slog throughout the wilds of Patagonia, Chile.
Journey racing is all about effectivity since you don’t have the posh of time. Races final for days, and you’re all the time on the clock. So when gear prices you time — like a unfastened gaiter that retains sliding down, a caught zipper, or a damaged backpack buckle — it actually makes an impression. It could actually even value you the race.
Journey racer Chelsey Magness equipped for the Patagonia Expedition Race
This yr, we managed to pair the appropriate gear with a strong group dynamic, which helped us win the Patagonian Expedition Race.
This race has been a testing floor for ultralight gear for almost 20 years. The distinctive mixture of rugged wilderness and a motivation to go “quick and lightweight”create an occasion the place groups usually are not solely examined bodily by the surroundings, but in addition by their selection of drugs. The tough surroundings coupled with the extreme winds and difficult terrain makes it the right place to check gear, because it shortly highlights one of the best and the worst of it.
Our group, Staff Bend Racing/YogaSlackers, is understood for bringing the lightest, latest gear. And we’re extraordinarily robust on it as a result of nothing however perform issues once we’re in race mode. We don’t child our gear — scrambling abrasive rock outcrops, crossing extra wild rivers than we will rely, and charging proper via dense, fabric-rending forests.
Gear for Journey Racing
Under is an inventory of drugs that carried out above and past for us through the Patagonia Expedition Race — probably the most epic of drugs testing grounds.
Dyneema Composite Packs
Dyneema Composite Material (DCF) packs have modified our racing recreation. This material is ultradurable, hard-wearing, straightforward to restore, and completely hydrophobic. And that’s crucial half: The pack material itself doesn’t tackle water or get heavier in any respect.
So simple as it sounds, this small function is superb in environments the place wetness is inevitable. Even probably the most cautious ultralight pack job turns into pointless after our first deep river crossing if the bag itself positive aspects weight as soon as waterlogged.
Plus, the durability-to-weight ratio is unimaginable, with weight corresponding to the lightest packs and sturdiness rivaling probably the most overbuilt. These packs have survived each expedition race we’ve taken them on, together with Patagonia, which in earlier editions has managed to destroy each pack we ever introduced.
Members of our group have used and beloved each the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider (beginning at $310) and the Zpacks Nero ($199). They’ve a number of variations, as seen under.
Zpacks Nero Backpack: $199
At $199, this pack is a tremendous entry degree to DCF packs. It’s a easy, frameless pack that comes with a small part of eggshell-style foam padding for again consolation and airflow. That is simply detachable as a sit pad or minimalist sleeping pad. An enormous, mesh pocket on the again and two roomy aspect pockets give quick access to gear, meals, or water bottles, and the drybag-style roll-top closure will seal out all water in even the worst downpour.
Racers will possible need to add on the Dyneema hip pouches and shoulder pockets (further value). At 38L capability, it’s simply sufficient for a couple of days and nights in case you pack sensible and actually embrace the ultralight racing mindset. Bonus: The blue and inexperienced colours add just a little flash to the traditional DCF “soiled white.”
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Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider: $310-380
That is the pack I might maintain if I needed to trim down to at least one. And with the redesign of the hip belt pockets, it turned even higher. We’ve used the Windrider pack for the previous four years, and it’s nonetheless exceeding expectations.
Contoured hip and shoulder straps in addition to moldable metallic pack stays assist it carry heavier masses in consolation. Three robust exterior mesh pockets maintain issues accessible and permit moist garments to dry out. It’s obtainable in a number of torso sizes and volumes and may accommodate something from brief day journeys to full-on gear-intensive expeditions.
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Inov-Eight Winter Operating Tights: $130
Don’t let the phrase “tights” scare you off. This stuff have been the complete group’s (female and male) favourite piece of clothes. The sturdy and insulated materials stored the fronts of our legs shielded from all the weather and thorny bushes, however the backs of our legs might vent on the similar time. The waistband is thick and stretchy however doesn’t fall down like most of my tights, which I’ve to maintain pulling up.
These pants stayed in place and didn’t want any type of reshuffling. They have been additionally straightforward to placed on and take off over footwear because of the aspect zippers. In previous years, I’ve come again with little tiny scratches throughout my legs. However I didn’t have a single scratch on me this yr.
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Icebreaker Wool BodyfitZONE 150 Lengthy Sleeve: $110
Wool has all the time been a staple for our staff. We refuse to race within the basic lycra due to its propensity to stink and really feel uncomfortable. With wool, we will put on the identical shirt for days on finish in all types of climate. This Icebreaker Lengthy Sleeve Shirt was the right mixture of each lightness and heat. On the hotter days, the mesh paneling let my pores and skin breath. And through the colder days, it stored me heat beneath my shell or puffy jacket.
In a spot like Patagonia, it may shortly go from 70 levels F and sunny to 40 levels F and raining. With the BodyfitZONE, it was the primary time we might go for hours with out altering our layers as a result of our our bodies have been capable of self-regulate.
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Rogue Panda Designs Highline Seat Bag: $165
This was the primary yr we tried a bikepacking system. And it was superb — largely because of the streamlined, environment friendly, and lightweight Rogue Panda bike packs. We each had the Highline Seat Luggage on our bikes for all the 300 km of driving. And whereas it was all totally on dust roads, we did check it on singletrack in Oregon, the place it carried out equally as properly.
The distinctive, mild, stiff design and suspension system of the Highline bag made it in order that our tires by no means hit the bag, even on the bumpiest of roads. We have been on 29-inch race bikes, however we hear that the bag additionally works nice on mountain bikes with dropper seatposts. The outer carrying case is tough, sturdy, and lightweight, whereas the internal bag is removable and waterproof. This made it very easy and quick to get issues out of the luggage.
Ciele Athletics GOCap: $40
A hat might not appear to be an enormous deal. However once more, Patagonia highlights even the smallest annoyances in gear, and a nasty hat shortly turns into paramount down there. Fortunately, this hat went above and past. It stayed put in the course of the windiest of winds, stored my hair out of my face, and stored the solar from burning my pores and skin. It was so snug that I typically forgot that I had it on.
An added bonus was the colour. We opted for the brilliant yellow, as a result of (a) that’s our staff colour and (b) it made us extremely seen to our faraway digital camera crew.
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Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody — Ladies’s & Males’s: $299
For a lot of the race, we lived in our Micro Puffs. This jacket got here to the rescue after a really chilly river crossing and was on us from sunset to nicely previous dawn each single day. The lightness, breathability, and sturdiness of it allow us to maintain racing by way of the night time hours, which was large for us in our technique for profitable the race. It additionally stored us heat and toasty once we did cease and mattress down.
We introduced probably the most streamlined sleep package we might as a result of we knew how heat the Micro Puff would maintain us. The hood stored me heat on many ridge tops, the place the wind was ripping so exhausting it will have blown me off the mountain if it weren’t for my teammates holding onto me. This jacket is now the equal of my son’s little sleep blanky: It’s my security blanket, and I by no means need to be with out it.
Outside Analysis Revel Shell Mitts: $65
Yearly, we take a special pair of gloves right down to Patagonia considering, “These are going to be it.” But, time after time, we run into the identical drawback: They get soaked after which are heavy to hold and don’t hold our arms heat. When your palms are chilly, it’s extraordinarily arduous to do something.
This yr, considered one of our teammates introduced alongside his OR mitts, they usually have been a staff hand-saver. As one individual’s palms turned unusable, we might cross them round till all of our arms have been heat once more. They heated up arms immediately as a result of they stored them dry and shielded from the chilly winds. Any longer, these infants are coming together with us on each race.
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Nordisk Lofoten 2 ULW: $638
The Lofoten 2 Nordisk tent is claimed to be one of many lightest two-layer, two-person tents on the planet. The parents at Nordisk have been excited once we advised them we have been going to place it to the last word check within the harsh surroundings of Patagonia.
At first look, we have been all fairly fearful, because it weighs lower than 500 g and packs down smaller than my puffy jacket. The fabric, a particularly mild and sturdy new Nortech T-NY 7-denier material, appeared like it might simply tear with one out-of-place rock or twig.
Nevertheless, after a number of velocity checks of taking the tents down and placing them again up within the grass outdoors our hostel, we have been bought on them due to the simplicity and velocity of the setup.
As soon as we have been out on the course, our preliminary impression was pleasantly confirmed fallacious on the very first night time. We have been pressured to set them up on probably the most uneven floor within the strongest of winds. In the long run, all of us have been heat and dry, which led to good sleep.
Each night time after that, we put the Nordisk Lofoten 2 ULW Tent to increasingly more exams. The Lofoten handed every little thing Patagonia gave it — torrential downpours, 80mph winds, and mushy, uneven floor — with flying colours. It shortly turned our most prized piece of drugs.
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Leki Micro Path Poles: $220
The Patagonian Expedition Race is understood for lengthy, soul-crushing, leg-shattering trekking sections. We all know that regardless of how good we’re feeling once we begin off on considered one of these sections, we have to carry no less than two poles between the 4 of us.
This yr, we used them to maintain us from flying off ridges, assist us take weight off of our knees and ankles, and even check the snow pack when heading up an unfamiliar move. In comparison with different poles we’ve used up to now, these have been the lightest and smallest (when it comes to packed-down measurement).
We stored them within the again mesh of two of our packs. Each time we have been climbing up one thing steep or going throughout an extended turbal (peat lavatory) part, somebody might simply seize them and go. After which once we got here to a thick, nasty bushwhack part, the identical individual might shortly stow them within the pack of the teammate forward of them.
As a result of these will not be adjustable, it additionally took away the “slide down” impact. They held their size and power all through the complete race. That’s saying quite a bit, as we’ve had many poles snap and “die” within the wilds of Patagonia.
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Empty Peanut Butter Jar: $9 (Full Jar Worth)
Whereas not tremendous high-tech, our staff’s empty plastic peanut butter jar was in all probability the only most talked about piece of drugs for our complete outing on the course collectively. We used it to “prepare dinner” the whole lot from do-it-yourself gourmand oatmeal to mashed potatoes to couscous. All it took was emptying a bag of meals into the jar together with some water, and it was able to cross round a couple of minutes later.
It was particularly magical on the trekking legs when the bars, gels, and gummies had misplaced their appeal. Actual meals helped our tongues heal and lifted our spirits. The jar match completely in our Zpack entrance pockets. We extremely advocate getting an extended, light-weight spoon to make consuming out of the jar straightforward and mess-free.
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Petzl Sirroco Helmet: $140
In lots of expedition races, there are a number of mountaineering levels the place racers are required to put on or carry helmets. The Petzl Sirocco helmet is each extraordinarily mild (coming in at a mere 165 g) and really snug.
We wore ours for 24 hours straight just because we utterly forgot they have been on our heads. When it acquired darkish, the headlamp clip held our headlamps securely in place. The hoods of our jackets simply match over them when the temperature dropped. And once we warmed up, the various vents stored our noggins venting and funky.
Fortunately, we didn’t get to do an impression check with them. However the single piece of polypropylene and added protection on the brow and again of the top made us really feel very protected when following one another up steep gullies. The Sirocco is my new go-to helmet for climbing and mountaineering missions.
Store Petzl Sirroco Helmet
All informed, we raced for six days, four hours, and 23 minutes. Throughout that point, we slept for a mere 12½ hours and coated greater than 600 km of untamed terrain.
Crossing that end line in first place was the most effective emotions ever. It was the right combine of drugs, coaching, and perseverance. And we will’t wait to do all of it once more subsequent yr!
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