Desert Kit List: Packs & Hydration

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Back Packs, Front Packs and Hydration Systems

The backpack is one of the most important items you will buy and it is also compulsory (though it would be difficult to get away without one anyway!). In addition to the weight of the pack, which in our opinion it is far too easy to become obsessed about, you also need to look at how well it fits you, how comfortable it is running with it, whether it alters your running style and what the capacity of it is to make sure it fits your needs. We typically advise backpacks of 20l to 25l for MdS, with or without a front pack depending on preference. For races that demand more compulsory equipment such as 4Deserts, you may need to look at 25l-30l to fit it all in.

You do not need a front pack but ideally, you need to be able to easily access running snacks, toilet tissue, hand sanitizer and sun cream without taking your pack off. Good packs have pockets on the waist belt or on the bottle holders to cover this. We strongly recommend that you try different packs side by side – ideally running with weight loaded – to find the best model for you. We offer this service in our shop. See the table below for an overview of popular packs.

When it comes to hydration some people prefer a bladder system over bottles. This is fine of course though we would recommend bottles due to them being easier to refill at checkpoints, easier to keep clean and it is also easier to know how much water you have left. Some races, like 4Deserts and Big Red Run, require you to carry the capacity to hold up to 2.5 litres of water. A good way to meet this requirement that saves space and weight is to take a Platypus Soft Bottle as a spare water carrier.

What type of water bottles you pick is personal preference and most bottles will fit most packs. Elisabet’s favourite is the Raidlight Classic flip top bottle due to its simplicity. It’s quick to refill at checkpoints and very little can go wrong. Many people prefer to drink from a straw and the Raidlight Press to Drink bottle is the best seller in this category.

Soft bottles are increasing in popularity. We think they are a bit fiddly to refill at checkpoints and less durable than hard bottles. A punctured bottle is the last thing you need during a self-sufficient multi-stage race!  However, if you are willing to make that compromise they are very comfortable to carry and “slosh” less than hard bottles. Popular options with good capacity include the Raidlight 600ml soft bottle with straw and the Hydrapak 750ml soft bottle.

See our full range of bottles here.

Product Weight Front Pack Compatible Race Mid Pack Cross the Line Comments
Ultimate Direction Fastpack 25 555g No. (Mobile pocket available) Very comfy vest style pack that is great for women. Elisabet wore its predecessor in MdS 2015. One of the best sellers.
Ultimate Direction Fastpack 35 710g No. (Mobile pocket available) The larger version of the Fastpack is for those who favour comfort and feel the need to pack a lot. It has one bottle on the front and one burrito pocket. We think the smaller version is better for MDS even though this is a great pack!
Ultimate Direction Womens Fastpack 20 560g No. (Mobile pocket available) Womens specific version of the Fastpack 25. The zip-down main compartment gives total access to your gear quickly and easily. It has a burrito pocket on the front but will fit 2 x hard bottles comfortably.
Ultimate Direction Womens Fastpack 30 625g No. (Mobile pocket available)
Raidlight Responsiv 24l 290g Yes (sold seperately) This is a minimalist pack that comes in different sizes so that you can get the perfect fit. The cinch system stops this pack from bouncing. A firm favourit
Raidlight Revolutiv 24L 250g Yes (sold seperately) A lightweight pack perfect for MDS! Worn by the winners in 2019. Built for racing and so lightweight.
Salomon XA25 443g No A great pack. There are multiple compartments available on this pack, especially the large waterproof pouch. However, the XA25 has more of an elongated shape so can come up long especially on slight frames.
OMM Phantom 25 480g No Lots of adjustments can be made to this pack to make it perfect for you. Lots of pockets. Perfect for midpack or walkers.
OMM Classic Team up with the front drink bottle pouches. Need to keep items to a minimum as on the smaller side.
HOKA ONE ONE TOR 30l 490g No Light and simple. Bottles sit a bit lower and towards the sides of the body. Side adjustment with velcro. Good pockets on shoulder straps. More suited to long backs.
Raidlight Front Pack 120g Perfect for carrying nutrition etc. Can carry a bottle of water. Attaches to the Raidlight Responsiv 24L
Raidlight Front Bladder 1.5l Yes Made to fit Raidlight’s front packs.

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