HOW TO DO A MOUNTAIN MARATHON WITH A 14 LITRE PACK

Author: Sam Atkinson

Tested: Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon July 2016

With the Original Mountain Marathon coming up in October, I am beginning to think about what I hope to achieve and also if there is any more kit I need (hopefully not). Well with the latest OMM Backpack the Ultra 8 being only 8 litres. It begs the question, how much capacity do I really need?

How to do a Mountain Marathon with a 14litre pack

PACK CHOICE

With the really lightweight kit that OMM have produced I think I can do the event with just 14 litres. This may not seem revolutionary to some, but for me who used more than twice that volume last year, I am pleased and excited about this set up. When i mentioned this to Stuart Hamilton (OMM Event Director) who did point out that “my kit selections should be able look after me if i had to go static for a number of hours in an emergency.” Very sensible advice, but i felt i could put together a very small pack that provided the protection i personally needed.

I have done over 250km in the Ultra 8 so far, and it has not disappointed. It’s a rugged and tough pack weighing only 220 grams which makes it my go to pack for long runs. Due to this I knew I wanted to use it for the OMM, but doing it with 8 Litres would be crazy so combining it with the OMM Ultra Waist Pouch is a great addition. It means I have 14 litres of capacity and because the packs are separate my back can stretch and bend as normal.

How to do a Mountain Marathon with a 14litre pack

TESTING: Saunders Mountain Marathon

Last weekend i decided to test how well it worked as a setup on the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon. I know there’s a world of difference between a Mountain Marathon in July and at the end of October but it would give me a starting point and guide for improvements.

PACKING THE KIT

When using this setup I found that putting the heaver items (stove) in the Waist Pouch keeps the weight low and helps with balance over rough terrain. This also rests in the small of the back and sits comfortably on the hips. The items that reduced the capacity the most were the tent and sleeping bag and well worth investing in a lighter option to reduce the pack size. I used the Mountain Raid 1.0 sleeping bag which compresses down to the size of a couple of tennis balls and was able to fit the sleeping bag, t-shirt, leggings, shorts and socks into a 3 litre dry bag in the Ultra 8. The weather forecast was changeable so i elected to keep my waterproofs to hand in the the large mesh pockets on the side of the Ultra 8 which was really useful when the heavens open. The stove I use is called the mKettle, it’s just a simple chimney design and only boils water but it’s all you need when traveling lightweight. Here’s the full list of kit i used.

MY KIT LIST FOR THE SAUNDERS:

RESULTS

Overall this kind of setup worked well and is a good alternative to the normal pack. It gave me a lot of flexibility and freedom of movement when running additionally the easy access to the pockets on the Waist Pouch was very useful in the conditions. The pack weighed 5kg exactly and that is with me carrying both the tent and stove. The Ultra 8 weighed 3.4kg and the Ultra Waist Pouch was 1.6kg. Looking ahead to the OMM in October if we were to split the tent and stove up i would be able to get an extra layer that would be needed for the harsher conditions. Overall i think this setup is an interesting option and the freedom it provides when running makes it worth investigating further.

Thanks for reading

Sam Atkinson

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