Gear is a fickle thing, everyone has their own personal preferences. The one thing that is universal however when it comes to having the right gear is that you ALWAYS want to make sure you purchase QUALITY gear. You don’t just want something that’s going to get the job done, you want something that will last you a lifetime, or if it’s an item like shoes, for more than a few long runs. Quality gear will make it through the long haul. When you invest in purchasing gear for the Death Race, it’s a pretty hefty investment, especially if you are starting from scratch. The upside? This race is a gateway to so, so, many more activities.
When it comes to all the gear you purchase, just make sure you’re finding yourself some quality gear. No matter which piece, and there are a great many pieces of gear that you already know and expect when it comes to the Death Race, Rucksack, Clothing, Shoes, etc., make sure you get quality. Most of the big name companies have incredible warranties and/or return policies, I’ve had experience with REI, Patagonia, Black Diamond, Altra, Goal Zero, Osprey and more and all have stood behind their products. Make sure whatever it is you’re buying is backed by a company that believes in their products.
With that said, there are items that are not as essential for making it through the Death Race but having them could be the difference between finishing and DNF’ing your race. These are the types of items that you mostly learn about through your past experiences which lead you to find a solution to the problem that made you seek them out.
When it came to the Death Race and this will apply to any endurance event, over and over I saw the condition of a person’s feet be the difference between a finish and a defeat. Those who were able to keep their feet blister free, and dry often won the day. After years of practice, I found a formula that always works, Trail Toes being the key item. When combined with Injinji socks (great for warm events, I don’t recommend toe socks for cold weather endeavors) your feet will stay blister free and you’ll end up with a happy ending. Having these special items will give you the advantage you need to finish the Death Race. Gear up, and good luck!
This stuff is incredible, Trail Toes is a specially formulated silicon and beeswax based product designed to protect your feet and body from abrasions, blistering, and chafing that can result from Death Racing and other extreme athletic endeavors. I use this before all of my runs whether they are 3 miles or 75. Full disclosure: I am sponsored by Trail Toes, but I wouldn’t work with them if I didn’t believe in them, their product is absolutely incredible and has helped me keep my feet active year round. If my feet can survive 67 hours of Death Racing without any blisters, then this stuff will save your feet from pretty much anything you put them through. Stop letting your feet prevent you from enjoying the outdoors, get Trail Toes.
When it comes to enhancing your blister proofing formula, adding a pair of the Injinji toe socks into the mix can certainly add a certain level of comfort knowing you’ll be that much more likely to walk away without any sort of painful abrasions, while great on their own when combined with Trail Toes, it’s a recipe for happy feet. What makes these socks so good is the separation and protection of each toe provided by the fabric. By keeping the skin from having the chance to rub against itself you drastically reduce the risk of blistering. I rarely run without a pair of Injinji on my feet.
SteriPEN Water Filtration
It’s basically required at this point to have some sort of water filtration for the Death Race but from what I have found you want to have something that is fast, easy, and efficient. It’s rare that you get a solid moment, and even when you do, it doesn’t mean you’ll be somewhere convenient for sourcing water. With that said, When you do find a nice stream to gather your water from, you’ll want a fast and simple way to filter and purify it for safe drinking. From what I’ve used and found, those Lifestraw and iodine tabs are great and all and some of those pass-through filters are good too but they all seem to often be cumbersome.
My favorite method for purifying my water whether I’m on a mountaineering trip in the Cascades or running in an Ultra Endurance event like the Death Race is by utilizing UV light. With the SteriPEN Adventurer Opti, Ultraviolet UV-C light rays safely sterilize clear water by destroying 99.99% of protozoa, including Giardia, Cryptosporidia, bacteria and even viruses. This easy-to-use device also protects you from risks that cause botulism, cholera, dysentery, and typhoid.
To use the SteriPEN Adventurer Opti you just press the button to activate it, place the glass tube in your water container and then, stir. The lamp will turn off and an indicator light will signal when your water is purified, it’s pretty fantastic and it takes less than a minutes to purify up to 1.5 liters of water. The device works with containers that have a minimum opening of 1.75 in. diameter (i.e. Nalgene wide-mouth bottles or most hydration bladders). Want to read more about the SteriPEN, read my review about this product.
If only I had this item back in 2013 during my second attempt at the Death Race, then maybe I would not have wound up puking my brains out and catching a parasite that gave me a bacterial infection for a week that I had to kill off with penicillin. Trust me, get this. It’s worth the money to not spend a week vomiting and dry heaving because you didn’t take the time to purify your water.
Real Food vs. Bars/Gels
Okay so it may not exactly be gear, but it’s something you’ll be carrying along with all of your gear. Bringing real food is going to make you feel a million times better than any energy goo, powder, gel, bar, or whatever concoction some lab came up with to “fuel” you through your events. Trust me, real food goes a long way. Think mashed avocado or trail mix, or clementines or stuff like that. I’m a big fan of a good sandwich or even cold pizza sometimes, wrapped in aluminum foil and you can totally make it work. Just make sure you eat these things early on and save any bars, like the Clif Builder’s Bars I used to eat, for the later parts of the Death Race event.
Let’s be honest, because of how these events go and all the effects of what you’re putting in you to sustain your calories – refer to the above to avoid this need as much as possible – you’re probably going to need some Imodium tablets at some point. If you don’t end up needing them it’s not like it took up a lot of space or added a whole thing of weight. Just throw a couple of these in a Ziploc bag along with any other medicine, such as Aleve, or any supplements you may take. Remember it’s always best to be prepared for the worst.
Compostable Wet Wipes
In the event shit does hit the fan, yeah, I’m totally going with the pun, you’ll want a safe way to wipe yourself clean. While compostable toilet paper is essential, even more so are compostable wet wipes, because let’s be honest, when you’re running up and down Bloodroot Mountain without shoes and chopping wood and working up all kinds of swass, you’re gonna need something a little nicer on the goods and these compostable wet wipes are your best bet. Remember LNT (Leave No Trace) principles and don’t forget to bring a blue bag to pack that shit out, sorry not sorry for the continued puns. Take care of your bum, you don’t want to be the person that decides to DNF because you didn’t wipe well enough and end up chafing your bum-crack.
These are probably one of the greatest investments you can make for you and all of your Death Race gear. Dry sacks will keep your gear separated and categorized however you see best fits you and it keeps everything inside nice and dry. The added protection is perfect for any of the unexpected times when your ruck might end up in a duck pond or a river or a lake at the Death Race. You never really know when it’s going to happen, but you’d be stupid to think it’s not going to happen. It’s going to happen. Your ruck will end up in the water. Best to have all your valuables safely packed away in one of these dry sacks. Organize your gear, and protect it. It’s a win-win.
Neck Gaiter – Buff
Pretty much one of the most versatile pieces of clothing gear you can possess for pretty much any and all outdoor adventures. If you don’t already own one of these neck gaiters, what the heck are you doing when you go outside? Jokes aside, I’ve personally found these to be super useful during any and all endurance events, especially in my Death Race experiences. It serves as something to warm your neck, to keep hair and sweat out of your face, to act as a wrist wrap that you can wipe sweat off your face with, as all kinds of headwear, it’s seriously awesome and I love having one on me for almost all of my outdoor adventures now. I highly recommend picking one up and learning all the ways you can use it. You can thank me later.
I can’t even begin to tell you how vital these little mini pocket toothbrushes are. Wisps are probably one of the best items you can have on you after you’ve spent the past 52 hours hauling rocks up Bloodroot Mountain, traversed a river, and rolled around in a goat pasture. Giving your mouth that quick refresher, you have no idea how good it feels. With these you can quickly change your entire day by giving your mouth a good brush, and the wisps make it easy to do on the go. Just make sure you pack it out, no leaving these on the trail.
The most important item on this entire list, Amazon Prime, I cannot even begin to tell you how often Amazon Prime saved my butt when I didn’t have the time to go find some last minute gear list items that they decided to add to the list for a Death Race and many other endurance events for that matter. With Amazon Prime, I could almost always find exactly what I needed for the event and have it at my house within 2 business days. It’s a lifesaver for endurance athletes with super busy schedules. That’s why I have ads on the side panel, it’s something that has truly helped me overcome many obstacles, I’m certain it will help you too.
Remember it’s important to always be prepared for the unexpected when it comes to the Death Race, the more prepared you are for any whirlwind they throw at you, the better off you’ll be. These are just a few of my favorite items for conquering the Spartan Death Race, but ultimately it’s up to you to go on some adventures and figure out what works best for you.