The complete Trail Runner’s equipment: Accessories
Trail runner’s gear is serious business. Now it’s time to talk about accessories which, in trail running, are anything but accessories: These are the items you won’t be able to do without!
Here’s a list of the must-haves for running in the mountains.
1. A backpack
First rule: you should buy one that is smaller than you might think. The bigger the backpack, the more it ends up filling up with unnecessary things. but how small? An 8 to 10-litre backpack is ideal, but the real difference lies in them having several pockets, with and without zipper. Clearly, we are talking about a backpack for short distances, up to 60/70 km: if we are talking about ultra-trails or two-day excursions, it is obvious that this changes things, because the minimum equipment required increases.
What you can’t miss in this case are the water bottle pockets (we’ll talk about them in the hydration section), a large main pocket and other pockets, with at least one watertight pocket for valuables such as car keys, credit cards and some cash. Of course, an emergency whistle is also a must.
Another important feature of the backpack is the possibility of attaching the pole holder.
The difference between road and trail running is that, in the latter case, you may find yourself in sudden emergencies and miles away from the first shelter. Therefore, hydration plays a fundamental role.
Basically we have two options.
- Camel bag: the bag that fits in a backpack pocket and from which you drink through a small tube. There are those who appreciate it and those who do not. It is very comfortable because it is placed in a place where the weight is distributed very well but, for example, there is no way to realize how much liquid is left in it.
- Bottle: there are those to be carried in the hand, or those to be placed on the chest or those to be put in the backpack pockets specific of the backpack. The only fundamental rule is that you must absolutely not use cycling bottles! Two half-litre silicone flasks are much better: to get the water out, you will have to squeeze the nozzle with your teeth, thus avoiding any accidental spillage. In addition, since it is a soft bottle, it will reduce in volume as the water is drunk, and this will immediately indicate the amount of water remaining. Finally, after the first sip, the air will also come out of the flask, so that the remaining liquid does not bubble up.
3. A cup
The trail runner cup is the evolution of the old metal hiking cup. We recommend buying a hypoallergenic silicone cup, which is very light.
Some would say that they are an extra add-on, for us they are not. The sun is an ally, but it can create problems on long rides: remember that Baldini, in his own words, won the Olympics also thanks to the use of glasses, which helped him to keep his face more relaxed and, therefore, to expend less energy.
You can call them whatever you want: sticks, poles, posts. There are those who love them and those who hate them, and often those who hate them are because they don’t know how to use them properly. The advantage of poles is undeniable: they protect your back and knees, and allow you to expend much less energy. There are tutorials on how to use them, but a friend’s advice is even more helpful. Remember to always hold them with the tips forward and down, if you hold them in your hand (exactly as you do with an umbrella). Other runners will thank you for it.
But what kind of poles should you buy? Fixed ones? Foldable ones? Telescopic? Adjustable or fixed length? Curved? Everything is very subjective and the answer comes after many tests. The telescopic ones are usually more fragile but are comfortable, while the non-folding ones must always be held in the hand, but are light and inexpensive. In short, each have their pros and cons. Then there are the curved ones: some people love them, and they also have a strap that allows them to be worn across the shoulder, in the form of a shoulder bag.
6. A watch
There are many, all of them very good: there is no need to describe them here. But what we want to tell you is that the watch is an indispensable accessory, because we cannot do without altimeters and maps. Maps, above all, can help us in very complicated situations.
7. Arm Warmers
Highly recommended: it is often enough to cover a small part of the body to feel good all over. Plus, they take up very little space, so why not?
The extremities are the first thing to get cold, so the glove is a necessary accessory. A word of caution: If you run in heavy rain, you should consider really waterproof gloves to avoid feeling a lot of pain in your hands.