Trail runners weigh in on what to carry in your hydration pack.
Just what do trail runners carry in their hydration packs? That depends on the runner and the day. For shorter runs, or for runners who like to travel light and fast, they may only carry a handheld or wear a vest or waistbelt. But longer days and variable weather make a pack an important accessory. Brand, carrying capacity and water storage (bottles, bladder, soft flasks) depend on personal preference and comfort. As to what to carry inside, read on for tips from the pros.
The first thing on every list is water. Being self-sufficient and prepared are essential when it comes to trail running. Bring enough water for the duration of your run. For longer adventures, consider carrying a filter or purifying system for fresh water on the run. Be sure to check for water sources along your route.
Next on the list is food. Mountain Hardwear/Montrail runner Megan Lizotte carries chews for quick energy and peanut butter crackers in case her stomach needs something more. The key is to bring food you’ll eat and that works with your stomach. Martin Gaffuri, founder of Good People Run, carries three gels and one bar. Rarely does he use them, but he likes to be prepared with extra calories just in case.
Trails are great for escaping, but bringing a cell phone means you can snap pictures, let someone know if you are running late or call if you need help. But escaping on the trail also means you may not have coverage. Krissy Moehl, who is sponsored by Patagonia, makes sure she carries her phone, but usually just uses it to capture images of the view.
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Since you have the room, pack some extra clothes. Moehl recommends a hat and gloves and Lizotte is always ready with a self-stowing, lightweight rain jacket. These three pieces give maximum flexibility at a minimum weight. In addition to this list, Gaffuri adds a headband and space blanket to his pack for winter runs.
Lip Balm, sunscreen, first aid and insect repellant (depending upon your route) can make the difference between heading home or continuing over the next hill. Gaffuri also likes to carry some money in his pack. A few dollars (euros in his case) come in handy in case you end up in a town, near a store or if you’re in need of a ride.