Well, we’re back with the final installment in our series of adventure racing gear reviews. If you missed the other parts, here they are: Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV. Now, on with the show…
This could be the most essential piece of clothing that you’ll ever buy. I mean, let’s face it. You want to take good care of this area, right? I thought so. These boxer briefs are great. They fit perfectly, there are no seams to chafe you, they wick moisture better than anything else I’ve tried, and they dry uber-quickly. I wear these on all of my long training rides or runs and on all of my races.
What the…??? These might be the weirdest looking “shoes” in the world, but they are great. First, I’d recommend reading Born to Run. This is an awesome read, and it will help explain why these shoes are so great for you biomechanically. I love to lift weights and do some metabolic conditioning in these shoes, and they are perfect for when I do some TRX suspension training. I also do some trail running in them. However, don’t buy a pair and immediately start doing all of your training in these. You’ll hurt yourself since you’ve been wearing heavily padded shoes your entire life. Slowly start working these into your training, and you can thank me later. On top of all of that, they are a great conversation starter. You’ll get stopped many times to explain what they are. Check ’em out.
Ever had a water bottle leak all over your backpack? Yeah, me too. It’s not fun. Well, you don’t have to worry about that anymore if you switch to these water bottles. They have a locking mechanism that guarantees no leaks. I usually carry two of these with some e-fuel mixed in them in my pack along with a hydration bladder full of plain old H2O. This combo has worked amazingly well for me to keep me hydrated and cramp-free. And I’ve never had a Podium bottle leak – EVER. They even make an insulated version for your cold-weather training and racing, or if you hate when your water gets too hot during the summer. So try out a bottle or two for mess-free hydration.
Your feet are your most valuable tool during an adventure race, so making the right shoe choice is crucial. Every foot is different so make sure you try on several different kinds of shoes. My favorite is a pair of Salomon XT Wings. They are light enough for racing yet beefy and sturdy enough for bigger guys and every day training. The traction is great, they breathe well, they’re durable, and they look great. I LOVE the lacing system. You don’t need to tie these shoes. You simply pull them tight and lock them in place. This is perfect for quick transitions between the biking and running legs. Try out a pair and see for yourself.
No matter what you drive, there is probably a Yakima rack that will work perfectly for you. I have the Yakima Double Down 2 Hitch Mounted Bike Rack, and I love it. It folds down easily, and it holds the bikes securely. When not hauling bikes, the top part of the rack folds down so it isn’t sticking out needlessly. No complaints at all with this rack.
Casey has the Yakima Swing Daddy Hitch Mounted Bike Rack that holds four bikes. As the name suggests, this rack swings completely out of the way so that you can access the back of your vehicle easily. It, too, allows you to fold the top part of the rack out of the way when not hauling bikes. It’s a great rack.
Zip ties, sometimes called cable ties, are essential for adventure racing. You don’t really know you need them, until you need them. Did that make sense? There are thousands of uses for zip ties. We helped a lady finish a mountain bike race by zip-tying her pedal back onto her crank. My brother recently broke the zip ties holding his bike cables to the top tube. I had a couple zip ties in my pack, and he was back in business in no time. If you break a buckle on your pack, zip ties can help you out. Seriously, why wouldn’t you carry some of these. They weigh practically nothing, and their uses are unlimited. Pack some zip ties on your next training session or race, and rest assured you’ll be prepared.
Well, that wraps up our ABC’s of Adventure Racing Gear and Equipment series. We hope you enjoyed it and found it useful. Let us know if you have any recommendations for gear in the comments section. We’re always willing to try out something new.
It’s been quite a while since our last installment, but here we go again with part IV of our series. And if you want to check the other three parts out, here they are: Part I, Part II, and Part III. Now, let’s continue…
This is my favorite headlamp – hands down. Yes, it is bigger than the Petzl e+Lite, but it is MUCH brighter. I take the e+Lite when I’m over 90% sure I’m going to finish an adventure race before dark. If it is a longer race, or if it’s a race where I know I’ll be in the dark (like a dusk to dawn race), then I always take the Apex. The 3-watt super-bright LED is perfect for night navigation. Whenever you get close to a checkpoint in the dark, you just turn on the spot light to the high setting, and start looking for the reflective tape on the marker. When on high, the spotlight throws a beam of light farther than anything I’ve seen (especially in this price range). I also use the Apex on my helmet for mountain biking at night in conjunction with the Princeton Tec Corona on the handlebars for a perfect bike-lighting system. For other tasks that don’t require maximum lighting, the 4 ultra-bright LEDs are perfect. The super-bright spotlight and the ultra-bright task light both have a high, low, and flash mode. The Apex is waterproof, and of course it comes with Princeton Tec’s lifetime warranty. At less than $60, this headlamp is one of my top choices. Get yours right here.
The Smartwool PhD Quarter Socks are our go-to socks for adventure racing. They breathe well. They wick moisture well. They are warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot. They look good. They feel good. They don’t stink, even after a long day of racing. I just love these socks. In cold weather, I put a pair of these on over the Injinji Socks mentioned in Part II of this series. This is a perfect combination. Be sure to pick up a pair.
This is my backpack of choice for almost anything I do outdoors. It is just the perfect backpack for adventure racing, and I use it on day hikes, orienteering races, mountain bike rides and races, and even trips to the zoo with my kids. I’ve used it for 12 hour adventure races in the summer as well as the winter. If you find you need a little bit more room for longer races then you can always go with the Golite VO24 which is about 60% bigger than the Rush Backpack. Both of these packs can cinch down tight when you don’t have them stuffed completely full. They both also have hip pockets for food, compass, chap stick, etc. And when you really need to carry some extra gear, both packs have a big stretchy pocket on the back with some elastic compression straps where you can secure anything from bike shoes to a helmet. These packs are nearly indestructible, really lightweight, and super functional. I could go on and on about these packs, but the bottom line is I always recommend them to friends who are just getting into adventure racing. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
There may be fancier compasses out there, but this is my compass of choice for adventure racing. It has never let me down. It’s simple design makes it easy to use. You can easily adjust the declination, the bezel and needle glow in the dark, and there is a magnifying glass built-in to help see small features on the map. The scale at the end of the compass corresponds to a 1:24000 map scale (one of the most commonly used scales in adventure racing). This thing is indestructible. The lanyard is great for keeping the compass around your neck, which is where I wear mine. When heading out to the great outdoors, I don’t leave home without this baby. If you want an affordable, reliable, and durable compass that’s easy to use, then get one of these.
One thing I’ve noticed is that many beginning adventure racers (and some experienced racers for that matter) lack upper body strength and endurance. Sure, they can run and ride all day long, but once they get to the fixed ropes or get in a canoe, they fall apart. Well, the TRX can whip you into shape. If you are on the fence about adding some resistance training to your program for adventure racing, then you need to hop off of that fence and try the TRX. You can get an amazing, total body training session with the TRX from the comfort of your own home. It can also be taken outside and attached to a tree, a pole, or a secure railing. You wouldn’t believe how many different exercises you can do on this piece of equipment. It is the perfect thing to start a home gym, because it is all you need to get started. Later, you can always add dumbbells and some free weights. If you already have a home gym, then this can add some much needed variety into your training.
Check out this video of me doing one round of a brutal workout on the TRX in my basement. It might look easy, but if you watch it to the end, you’ll see that it nearly killed me – and I loved it!
The TRX also offers a door anchor to take with you wherever you go (no more “I can’t get a good workout in at the hotel” excuses), a ceiling/wall mount to install in your home, and now they even offer the Talon Trainer which focuses on finger, wrist, and grip strength (perfect for climbers). This is truly a remarkable piece of equipment that anyone who is serious about their training should own. Get your own TRX, and take your racing to the next level. I simply love mine and use it at least twice a week.
So that’s it for today. When you’re done reading this, be sure to check out the last piece in this series – Part V.