By Kieran Alger
Whether you're thinking about taking on 156 miles of desert sand in the Marathon des Sables, 24 hours non-stop running at the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc or something closer to home like the 100km Race to the Stones along the UKs stunning North Downs Way, these races all have one thing in common - you need super light kit.
Fast packing - the art of travelling fast and light - is a growing trend. A bit like hiking on steroids, the idea is extreme lightweight self sufficiency that lets you move fast over the trails. Lucky for tech and gear lovers that means there's loads of innovative new kit on the market to help people carry less weight without sacrificing features. From long-last GPS watches to a pot to boil up a brew, Marathon des Sables Top 100 finisher and ultra runnerKieranAlger, gives his top tips on the ultimate tech for endurance runners and fast& packers.
- Check out the best running shoes
Inov-8 Race Ultra 270
For most ultra runs or fast packing challenges you're only every going to take the shoes that you've goton your feet. That means picking running shoes that can handle the terrain you're taking on is probably more important than how much they weigh. However, if you are focusing on the grams on your feet then these lighter, 270grace version of ion-8's great Race Ultra offer both. They boasta minimal 4mm heel-to-toe drop, a nice wide toe box that helps blister avoidance and just enough cushioning to cope with stoney trails.
£110.00 | Inov-8
X-Bionic Fennec RT 2.1 Running Shirt and EVO Shorts
Inspired by the Fennec desert fox, the X-Bionic running shirt and shorts are created using a special Xitanit yarn that mimics the foxes fur, reflecting the heat even when you're striding through the blazing sun. The fabric not only helps reflect heat away from your skin but a special three dimensional weave also moves sweat to areas that need to cool down, saving precious energy you'd otherwise waste self-cooling. The shirt and shorts combo also offer mild compression and, importantly the inclusion of bacteriostatic Skin NODOR than inhibits bacteria growth, helping your kit stay fresher longer.
T-Shirt:£99.99, Shorts:£34.99 | X-Bionic
Yeti Fever Zero Sleeping Bag
The German-engineered Yeti Fever Zero claims to be the world's lightest sleeping bag. At just 280g it has to be up there. It's not just lightthough, it alsopacks down to 11cm x 18cm,not much bigger than your cooking pot. The secret to its weightlessness?A combination of Yeti'sNext to Nothing 2.0lightweight fabric, an ultra-light, tear-proof, micro-ripstop Nylon with a weight of just 20 g/m2, which is made from super-fine 7D yarn andits filling made from 900+ cuin Pure White Goose Down - the lightestdown-proof fabric in the world while a half zip shaves off vital extra grams. The comfort rating ranges from +15°CtoExtreme -1°Cbut in reality you wouldn't want to be using this in temperatures much lower than 5 degrees.
£305.00 | Yeti
WAA UltraBag Backpack
Designed specifically for the Marathon des Sables, the 20 litre, 590g, WAA isn't the lightest backpack you can buy but itis full of clever tricks to make carrying your gear far less fuss. The 270 degree opening makes it easy to get at all your kit, while the Nepalese-style head strap gives you the option to transfer some of the weight off your shoulders when you hit the steeper climbs.
There's a purpose-made storage slot for carrying hiking poles and safety flaresand a removable 4L front pouch that can add storage or be used on it's own.
Euro 189.00 | Waa
Silverpoint Jetflame lighter
You can get away with an 11.4g Bic Minibut when you're running the trails facing all kinds of conditions, getting your solid fuel stove litwitha standard lightercan be a bit challenging.The64gJet Flame Lighteris designed to withstand most winds, with a flame thatcan reach temperatures of up to 1,300 degrees. At the same time its steel body is robust and thetactile rubber paint coating makes it easier to grip.
£12.99 | Silver Point Outdoor
Iain Sinclair CardSharp Knife
Cleverly engineering a surgically sharp blade into a stashable credit card shape, the classic Iain Sinclair CardSharp knife weighs just 12g thanks to a super light Borealist polypropylene body. The curved stainlesssteel bladeis kept in place by twin Zytel sliders and a safety lock. For those after something a little more sturdy, there are slightlyweightier options cut fromaluminium.
£20-£55 | Iain Sinclair
Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite Fast & Lite Extra Small
If you're going for an inflatablematthen the NeoLite three-season is a great option. With tech that's just been updated in 2015, it featurespatent-pending, reflective ThermaCapture system to traps radiant heat while a special Triangular Core Matrix construction minimizes convective heat loss. For ultra lightweight, the 230g half size is the best betbut if you're heading somewhere colderthe added insulation from the larger sizes are also well worth the extra grams.
£230.00 | Cascada
Gram Cracker Solid Fuel Kit
Thisinnovative Gram Cracker Solid Fuel Kit takes the idea of a stove and pairs it right back to it's lightest and most basic. The kit consists of a 3g titanium solid fuel stand, two titanium side panels, a protective foilshield, three Esbit fuel tablets and a lighter. Admittedly the Cracker does work best with the added protection ofwindbreak but in places where you can dig down, add stones or you've just gotcalmconditions, this minimalist system offers the lightest way we've found to get your water boiling.
£14.95 | Trail Designs
Gerber Ultralight LST Knife
Atjust 17g, Gerber's Ultralight LST is perfect for going fast and light. A classic lock back, foldingblade, it's just68mm when closed - that's about the height of a boxto Tick Tacks- 117mm open and has a 50mm 400 series stainless steelbladethat'llhandle mostof the small stuff you'll need to do in campwith ease. If it has a drawback, it won't be much use for fending off bearsand it's almost so small it's easy to lose in your kit.
£15.99 | Gerber
Compressport Compression Ultra Race and Recup UR2 Calf Guard
Because keeping your feet in good nick is essential for longer endurance events, you're likely to carry more than one pair ofsocks. You could opt for all-in-one compression socks but if you're looking to shave off grams then you're better off with one pair of calf compression guards and multiple pairs of lighter ankle socks. The fibres of theCompressport UR2 compression calf guards,are loaded with thousand of tiny little capsules containingmuscle soothing essential oils.MeanwhiletheCompressport fibres have also been designed to help reduce themovement thatcauses muscle tears, cutting fatigue and aiding active recovery.
£34.99 | Compress Sport