By Brent Freedland
When you sign up for a running race, it’s pretty simple: grab your shoes, your watch, and maybe a hydration vest and a bit of fuel, and off you go. Course marshals aren’t stopping you mid-course to check whether you have a triangular bandage in your first aid kit. You don’t need to create a gear closet, renovate your garage, or buy a new house to accommodate your growing gear collection.
At first, adventure racing can be daunting, as you realize that assembling and packing your gear for a race can take as long as the event itself.
But fear not! It’s not as bad as it seems, especially at the entry level. Here, we’ll consider the gear list for The Trilogy Adventure Race, a typical, beginner-friendly race hosted by the New York Adventure Racing Association. Below you will find the required gear list with some commentary concerning each item, what to consider when tackling your first race as it pertains to equipment, and an explanation for why an RD would require something you might not have or think you need.
*This article is not intended to do a deep dive on specific gear or promote any specific companies. There are plenty of gear reviews, comparisons, and reports out there. For additional ideas on gear, join online discussion boards such as the Adventure Race Discussion Group for community feedback.
Equipment to be provided by participants
Full-Time Mandatory Personal Equipment:
Each team member must possess these items at all times.
Full-Time Mandatory Team Equipment:
Each team must possess these items at all times
Mountain Biking Personal Mandatory Equipment:
Each team member must possess these items at all times during mountain biking sections of the competition.
Mountain Biking Team Mandatory Equipment:
Each team must possess the following at all times during mountain biking sections of the competition.
Paddling Personal Mandatory Equipment:
Each team member must have the following while paddling.
Paddling Team Mandatory Equipment:
Each team must supply the following
Suggested Gear (Not Mandatory)
Additional Gear Considerations
While the above list represents a typical beginner race, here are some additional items commonly found on a simple gear list. Twelve-hour and even 24-hour events might require a bit more than what is covered in this article, but not much. Expeditions will increase the requirements.
Every race is different, and every RD publishes their own required gear list. A race in a cold environment will demand different (and likely more) equipment than one in a warm-weather climate. A six-hour sprint race will generally require less gear than a 24-hour one. There is no doubt that the more you race and the longer the events you compete in, the more gear you will have to accumulate. In addition, to some degree the quality of gear plays a role in how competitive you can be. Top teams have invested significantly in lighter gear that allows them to travel lighter, be more efficient, move faster, and preserve their bodies for longer.
That said, as noted above, when starting out, you can get creative and likely dig something out of a closet or borrow something to keep costs low. When you are ready to commit to the sport long-term, start thinking about investing in better gear and then prioritize your needs, budget for bigger purchases, and take advantage of holiday wish-lists. Most experienced racers accumulate gear over the course of years. Few are taking out a second mortgage to upgrade or buy everything all at once. And plenty of seasoned vets will also tell you that the most expensive, lightest, high-end piece of gear is not necessarily what you want or need for this sport in the first place.
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