The Gear I Ran 500 Miles With – What Worked And What Didn’t - Outdoors Magic

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The Gear I Ran 500 Miles With – What Worked And What Didn’t

Fresh from his successful attempt to run up all 189 of Wales’ mountains in a single, self-supported trip, our editor reflects on the kit he had with him – what helped and what turned out to be a hindrance

I can’t tell you how good a feeling it was when I arrived at Conwy Castle after running a marathon a day for three weeks straight – and taking on at least 100,000 feet along the way for good measure. Let’s just say, almost a week later and I’m still buzzing from it, in more ways than one. 

As you’d expect, I came to understand the capabilities of my kit to a very in-depth degree, with some items becoming temporarily as precious as a family heirloom and others not even making it to the finish with me. Here are the items that were up to the task and the items that, let’s just say, won’t be coming on any more runs with me. 

Haglöfs L.I.M Jacket

Rating: 9/10

I’ve used plenty of waterproof jackets in the past that have left me down when things got really wild. Fortunately, this lightweight option from Swedish-brand Haglöfs became something I could really trust to do the job for me. In the latter stages of the trip, when the very wet, windy and cold conditions arrived with a bang, it stayed on almost permanently throughout each day. I could happily run in it during long and strenuous ascents without feeling clammy and uncomfortable, and the hood and protective collar did well to keep out the rain – even the sideways stuff.

There was just one downside, which was that I found the rain could seep into the chest pocket, making it a risky place to keep my phone, unless it was in one of the sandwich bags I’d pick up along the way. In the end, I found the best place to store it was in the chest pocket of the jacket I was wearing underneath. 

Read the full Haglöfs L.I.M jacket review.

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Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon Poles

Rating: 10/10

Photo: Chris Johnson

Absolutely invaluable. I wouldn’t have completed the run without these. That total ascent (and the brutal descents) really did require the extra support of poles. I don’t think my knees would’ve coped without them and I wouldn’t have been able to get over some of the injuries I had either. Then there were the river crossings, extremely long sections over bouldery-rocky mountain plateaus and the days spent pushing my way through thick heather or bracken, all times when I was glad to have that extra stability.

What’s more, at just 400g (a pair), they were in no means a liability and not once did they collapse on me, which can’t be said for the Komperdell poles I hiked the Cambrian Way with a few years ago.

Read the full Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon review.

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Saucony Peregrine 11

Rating: 4/10

I had a bad experience with these unfortunately. The grip was impressive, whether that was on wet rock, grassy slopes or muddy tracks, and I think the cushioning served me well, but they had one major flaw, which was that they had a removable layer of PU underneath the insole that would be constantly creeping up and out of the shoe at the ankle. Having to stop twice a day to take the shoes off to sort these out quickly became infuriating.

I had very bad issues with blisters and my big toes got infected due to the nails constantly digging into my flesh. I’m not sure I can put the blame entirely on these shoes there, but then again, those aren’t problems I’ve had before.

Read the full Saucony Peregrine 11 review.

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Montbell Seamless Down Hugger

Rating: 6/10

Before even setting out, I knew that taking Therm-a-rest’s super light Vesper down quilt with me for a September/October challenge was playing with fire, that’s why I’d briefed my partner Hannah on what back up option to send out should I decide I need it. It took me just four days to send the flare up. The Vesper quilt just didn’t bring the levels of warmth that I needed each evening and keeping draughts out became a constant battle. 

The Montbell Seamless Down Hugger that was parachuted in did the job at first, and without much of a weight penalty either, but by the end of the challenge, even that wasn’t doing it for me. The last few nights were very, very cold. 

Read the full Montbell Seamless Down Hugger review.

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Therm-a-rest NeoAir Uberlite

Rating: 7/10

At just 250g and with my past experiences with it being all positive, this was one of the first items on my list before the trip. I was happy with its performance and don’t regret taking it, but I would say that I wasn’t totally comfortable on it and I suffered from a creeping hip pain each night. I’m a side sleeper and it’s more of a mat for those who sleep on their back I think.

Read the full Therm-a-rest NeoAir Uberlite review.

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Jetboil Stash

Rating: 9/10

I can’t fault this. It’s a truly excellent bit of kit. Stopping to make myself a warm coffee or tea was to some extents vital at points but it would also be crucial that I wasn’t paused for too long as the cold could creep in and my legs might stiffen. Fortunately, the 3-minute boil time of the Stash meant I never had any issues there. And at 200g in weight it wasn’t much of a burden in the pack.

Read the full Jetboil Stash review.

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Six Moon Designs Flight 30

Rating: 10/10

Another item that didn’t let me down. The expanding volume was essential for the variations in supply availability and it always managed each load well.

I found that the fit needs to be pretty precise in order for it to be comfortable while at a running pace and that involved almost constant tweaking of the harness straps, but that wasn’t much of an issue as it could always be done on the fly. I would like to see a version with a more weather resistant fabric – there’s probably something out there that I’m not aware of to be honest. 

Read the full Six Moon Designs Flight UL 30 review.

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Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo

Rating: 3/10

For the first week or so, I loved Six Moon Designs’ single skin tarp tent, the Lunar Solo. I found it easy to pitch, its low weight was a huge help in the daytime and it was sturdy and reliable in strong winds. But when the rain arrived, my feelings towards it changed drastically.

The issue seemed to be a combination of unmanageable condensation and gaps at the seams, particularly right at the top of the tent. After one particularly wet night, I pulled on my insulated jacket to find it completely drenched. Further inspection revealed that all the rest of my kit was sodden too, with puddles gathered around my sleeping mat. 

A day later, I was passing through Maentwrog where, as luck would have it, Matt Jones lives – he’s one of the gear reviewers for this very title. Fortunately, he was able to send me off with his Vaude Lizard Seamless. Now that’s a much heavier tent than the tarp I’d been carrying, but at 1.4kg it’s still firmly in the lightweight category. For the rest of the trip it made for an incredibly reliable sanctuary from the elements. In fact, I’d go so far as saying that it’s one of the best tents I’ve used.

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Rating: 9/10

Although I had a paper copy of my route stored in my bag, I actually relied on digital navigation for this entire trip. I had the whole thing planned out on the komoot app which I had downloaded onto my phone. Did it work well? Yes, very well. I found it easy to operate, I was able to view my location and the route ahead even with my phone offline and on flight mode (to save battery) and I could make any necessary tweaks to the route for the next day while in my tent. 

One thing I noticed before the trip was that komoot can be really handy for finding routes that aren’t marked on Ordnance Survey maps. Arenig Fawr is a good example, it was only via komoot that I was able to establish which options I had for getting to the top.

View the full 500-mile route:

Haglöfs Spire Mimic Jacket

Rating: 9/10

I know that I said that my waterproof jacket was excellent but there’d still inevitably be some ingress at the collar on the really wet and windy days – I think that tends to be a given with waterproof jackets to be honest. It’s for that reason that I’m very, very glad to have opted for this synthetic insulated jacket over a down filled one. OK, the fill got wet, but at least it still kept me warm. And it always dried up remarkably quickly. 

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Other Items

Biolite power packs – 8/10
I could always rely on at least three full phone charges from each of these. No bad things to say.

Bridgedale Ultra Light T2 Merino Sport – 4/10
I didn’t get on with these very well. Once wet, they’d stay wet, whereas the pair of fully synthetic Teko socks I’d brought with me (which I’ve owned for about six years!) had a much faster drying time and just felt more comfortable to pull on each morning. Towards the end the Bridgedales were binned and I just ran in the one pair of Tekos day after day!

Katadyn BeFree – 7/10
I only had a dodgy stomach once on this trip and I’d hazard a guess that was more to do with the Fridge Raiders chicken bites I’d eaten rather than this water filter failing. After all, they’d been in my backpack for two days. Probably around 90% of the liquid I took on was filtered from puddles, ponds and streams using this so it was obviously a big part of the trip. The flow rate wasn’t so quick/smooth towards the end, even despite my best efforts to clear out the filter, so I’m marking it down a little for that reason.

Nemo Fillo Elite Ultralight – 10/10
This was the first time I’d taken a pillow with me on a long-distance trip and I have no regrets. It was excellent and felt like no burden at all. It was quick to inflate and pack away, comfortable and I really liked the sticky pattern on its base which prevented it from sliding about on my mat.

For More Like This:

James Forrest On The Kit He Used For A Three Peaks FKT

What I Wish I Knew Before My First Big Trek

How To Keep Warm When Hiking In Winter



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