I took part in an adventure expedition event recently in Norway, called the IGO N60 Norwegian Challenge, a 4-day 4-discipline adventure across the wild Norwegian mountains. We experienced some very cold weather with winds up to around 70kmh, so it was even more important to nail down the kit I was going to be using for this. Also, given the multi-discipline aspect of the event, items would need to be versatile. The following outlines all those different items I used for the event.
Snow Marathon Kit List:
Trainers – Salomon Speedcross 4 GTX – £125 – I was struggling until just days before the event what trainer to use for this snow marathon stage. I was contemplating using just my regular non Gore-tex trainers, but in the end decided this was too risky, as snow / water could get in. I also needed some great tread to afford good grip in the soft snow. So I opted for the Speedcross 4 GTX. They weigh 330grams, which is on the lighter end of the scale for a full Goretex trainer – some get near the 400 gram marker, and you’ll really struggle to find one weighing less than 300grams. They do have a 10mm drop which is the highest I have ever been (normally go for around 6mm), but that didn’t prove a problem. These also have a pretty aggressively gripping sole, with large ribs – the run I was using them for included around 2,000 metres of running up and down snow covered hills, some very steep. The trainers were fantastic. I wore them for a couple of short 5km runs prior to the event to break them in a little. On the day itself, they devoured the 40km run – I didn’t slip once, no water/snow got in, and my feet were exceptionally comfortable with no rubs / blisters. I wore them around the camp in the evenings, and right after the event for our weekend of relaxing, and have been wearing them back in London since – a great trainer, and I kinda like the wacky colour too!
Base Layer – New Balance Heather SS Tech T – £22 – a great fitting base layer tee, super comfortable and deals with the sweat really well. A good wardrobe staple for the whole year.
Mid Layer – Falke Men Zip Shirt Light – £60 – long sleeve shirt is a fantastic base or mid layer. I wore it over a thin technical t shirt (the NB as per the item above), and it performed so well. I used this same layering approach for every stage, including the snow marathon run stage (circa 4 hours out on route). The conditions were cold and saw freezing gusts of around 60kmh making for a well sub zero wind chill factor. But wearing just the t shirt and this Falke Shirt as the outer layer throughout the run, it was just perfect. Fits really well and doesn’t restrict movement in anyway. Top recommend.
Outer Shell Jacket – Inov8 AT/C Stormshell Waterproof Jacket – £150 – weighing in at a mere 150grams, this is a fantastic option if you are looking for a waterproof, windproof and super breathable top. It is in ‘smock’ style, so the zip comes down just a short way from the neck, but I find this actually an advantage and improves the performance of the piece. I will be using this frequently on an on-going basis.
Shorts – Montane Trail 2SK Shorts – £65 – a good all rounder short, and I wore these over the top of the full length tights underneath for a little extra insulation.
Boxer Shorts – BB Active Perfomance Shorts – £20 – I never thought I would get so attached to a pair of boxers, but these really are brilliant!! I wore the same pair constantly all week (never came off!), and to be honest I might have continued wearing the same pair on into the weekend (5 or 6 days), and I could have kept going, but thought I should draw the line at that! They fit really well, perform well with sweat, comfortable and I would have a shelf full of these, and no others, if I could have my way..!!
Running tights – Salomon Aigle Long Tight – £45 – a nice option for providing the legs with just that little next to skin insulation and keep the wind chill off. They provide little warmth, as they are mostly constructed of polyester, but this wasn’t what I was looking for in them, as of course running fast would then have meant over heating, so they were just the job.
Hat – Norrona Falketind Powerstretch Beanie – £29 – this was the perfect thickness and weight to use for the more physically demanding run where a thicker beanie option would have been too warm.
Gloves – Norrona Falketind dri short gloves – £79 – these were a great option for all-round use. They are not thick, but they are waterproof, windproof, breathable and lightweight. They were just the job and a top recommend.
Socks – Falke RU 3 Running Sock – £15 – These are Falke’s thickest option running sock, and find a nice balance between a ski/hiking sock which is very thick, and your conventional running sock which would be too thin and lightweight for the demands of a snow marathon. These performed really well. I would advise getting the size bracket smaller than you fit in to. My shoe size is 44 (UK 11), and the size of ’44-45′ (UK 11-11.5) I had were just a smidgen big, and the size ’42-43′ would have been better.
Gaiters – Mountain Warehouse Ankle Gaiters – £10 – these are only basic, but did the job and kept out the snow with the help of some tape on the top to keep them snug against my shin.
Rucksack cover – Vaude Raincover – £15 – on the first day of the event, it was actually raining, so it was prudent to carry a waterproof cover for the rucksack, to ensure any spare layers / items in the backpack didn’t get wet.
Sun Glasses – Rudy Project Tralyx – £134 – I used this for the Wadi Rum Ultra marathon and have used them a lot for all other training, sports in the 7 months since then. This is a fantastic sun glass. You can remove the lens and clean / swap for a different one, and they hardy and can be thrown around too. Normally I find sunglasses don’t fit me too well, but these do and really grip your face well so don’t move around.
Watch – Suunto Spartan Ultra Black HR – £559 – I have previously always used a Garmin watch for tracking running and sports I do, but this time I used the Suunto Spartan. It has a good clear display with everything clearly visible, and the touchscreen gives added functionality. It had a different sport mode for each of the 4 disciplines I was taking part in – ski touring, x-country skiing, biking and running – so the fields displayed on the pre-set data screens all had appropriate information on them. Make sure you have this watch fully fully charged, as found it required juicing up part way through the event. A good piece of kit.
Water Reservoir – Camelbak Crux 1.5L Resevoir – £20 – I have never used a water reservoir before, and I must say I am a fan! It is super easy and quick to fill up, and little features like the tube can be disconnected from the bladder real easy (whilst full of water) make this the best one to get. Also, this Crux is the new version, whereby it delivers 20% more water when you such the mouthpiece, so you can quench your thirst even easier and quicker.
Insulated Drinking Tube – Crux Insulated Drinking Tube – £12 – having wind chill of probably near -15 degrees celsius at times, it is important to ensure the tube you use is insulated, as it will freeze up and you won’t be able to access the water in the bladder (which obviously doesn’t freeze as it’s in the backpack near your back which keeps it warmer).
Dry Bag – Sea2Summit 8 Litre Lightweight Drysack – £11 – keeping items you didn’t want to get wet in here, this did just the job!
First Aid Kit – Assorted bits and bobs –
Ski Touring, X-Country Skiing & Fat Biking Kit List:
The following are the 6 items I switched in, and replaced some of the items from the above outlined kit.
Jacket – Norrona Lyngen Hybrid – £259 – I wrote about this item in detail in a separate article on my blog (check it out here). This jacket is the absolute business, and is my top recommend out of every bit of kit I had – it’s a must buy, and will be useful across all 4 seasons too given its super breathability and ventilation options too.
Base Layer Tights – Falke 3/4 Tights Wool Tech – £60 – I used these for the x-country ski, ski touring and fat biking stages underneath the Montane pants as the outer layer. They were brilliant – the 3/4 length meant my sock didn’t double up too far over them providing a thick area which could cause issues for your boot. They gave just the right insulation coupled with dealing with sweat and heat really well. A top bit of kit for sure.
Socks – Falke SK4 Wool Ski Sock – £17.50 – Of the 4 socks in this range designed for skiing use (so they’re thicker than the running socks I used above), this is the second lightest option. With a merino wool mix, it’s great at wicking away sweat, but keeps your feet toasty warm even when super cold!
Mid Layer – Norrona Super Hoodie – £110 – I am such a huge fan of this brand, and this item completely lives up to it. It fits so well and performs beyond expectation. This is a great lightweight item for any winter activity, super versatile and I’ll be using this one year round.
Pants – Montane Super Terra – £130 – I got these at the beginning of the winter, and used them for hiking over new year, and ended up using them for the x-country ski, ski touring and fat biking stages. They were really great – they’re windproof, water resistant, have great ventilation options up the side of the leg for when you get hot, and hard wearing and durable with the extra thick black material on the knees, bum and inside ankle.
Hat – Lyngen Powerstretch Pro Beanie – £40 – I had this as my second option beanie – it is slightly thicker and offers more warmth than the other Norrona beanie outline above. A great bit of kit.
All in all, every piece of kit outline above was really great. There was never a moment when I felt under equipped, and wanted for more.