MDS: Kit Review

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

Well I did it! I completed the toughest foot race in the world’, coming in 164th out of 1300 runners.

Now before I continue, this post is purely just on kit performance and tips for those who are interested in taking part in the this race. My race report will be in a separate post here.

So overall my kit performed really well and I was more than happy with it. With a decent overall finish and only 1 blister it’s safe to say my kit choices were right for me. Let’s take a look at each piece individually and if you missed my previous kit list article, check it out here. In that article you will find links to all the kit I bought.

Cap – The my race kit cap worked perfectly with the neck flap covering all the way round to the ears. However we had a very windy week so sometimes the neck flap was useless. People were wearing all sorts of caps/brands that did the job perfectly so don’t stress out too much about this one. Just get a breathable material and ideally in white.

Sunglasses – Again my sunglasses worked perfectly! £25 from Decathlon. No more needs to be said really, they were robust and sat snug on my face the whole time.

Buff – Did its job and I wore it over my neck the whole week. We also had a very windy/sandy day so I pulled it over my mouth and nose which worked well.

Top – I used a free t-shirt that I got from another race due to me not really suffering from nipple or armpit chafe. I had no problems whatsoever and I would recommend you use tops that you already have experience with. Save your money!!

Shorts – I loved these! I had no thigh rub at all! The compression liner was really great too and definitely helped with recovery. They held up well despite being like cardboard by the end. I brought them home and after a wash are as good as new! Great buy.

Socks – My Hilly Twin Skins were great, but I knew they would be as I’ve been running in them for a very long time and never had problems. I also took a pair of Smart Wool socks to change into on the last day. With me only getting 1 blister, I would say they worked well. However they worked well for ME and I cannot say they will for someone else, you need to experiment here.

Trainers – My Asics GT 2000 3 shoes did a perfect job. As I said, don’t get sucked into people telling you that one shoe works better than others. Brooks Cascadia’s are constantly being peddled as THE shoe for MdS. I met 3 people this year whose feet were in bits from wearing these shoes. I also know people whose feet were bad from wearing Asics too. Just like the socks, trainers are very individual, don’t change your brand just for this race, any shoe will work on the terrain. So you want a shoe that you have used for years and know works well. As for going a size up etc, I stuck with my normal size and felt that is why I didn’t get major blisters where some who went a ½ to a full size bigger did.

Backpack – My OMM 25l was awesome. It had pockets in the right places and more than enough room for all my gear. It sat snug and did not rub me at all and stood up perfectly to the arduous conditions. Again I scrubbed it in the bath on my return and it looks like new. A lot of people used the official MdS pack with 4 people in my tent using it. All said it was a good pack too but most got frustrated with the front pack on it. Again, test it thoroughly before you get out as some were wearing it for the first time out there!

Sleeping Bag – It got quite cold in the night and early morning. I didn’t feel any of it with my sleeping bag. The lightweight down and small packing size were more than worth the money alone. However I was so warm at night it was perfect for the conditions.

Stove – Warm food was such a morale boost so a stove was invaluable. The wind shield was a great addition to this and was needed on many occasions. However at nearly all camp sites there were plenty of rocks you could use as wind blocks. The stove, pot and spoon all worked fine and held up well.

Roll Mat – The Thermarest 2-lite foam mat did the job. It wasn’t as comfortable as an inflatable but as my tent mates will testify, they all hated the Thermarest inflatable. While it was comfy, it sounded like they were lying on crisp packets! It was so loud and noisy when they moved around on it! I think the foam option is more than adequate and the worry of punctures is not there too.

Sun cream – P20 SPF 50 is all you need. I applied it once per day and it worked perfectly. 100ml bottle more than lasted me for the week.

Wemi Wipes – Great! Really good for wiping yourself down after each day and weigh next to nothing. I had 3 tubes of 8 but could have done with an extra one.

Body Glide – I used it, but don’t think I needed it as it ran out after day 3 but I still had no chafe on days 4 and 5. Again though, that is unique to me. I would buy the bigger container as the small one didn’t last.

That pretty much sums up the main bits of kit! So what I want to do now is quickly summarise each bit and finish with some final tips and advice.

Cap – Anything will do (low priority).

Sunglasses - Anything will do (low priority).

Top – Whatever lightweight tops you already use! (Medium priority).

Shorts – What do you already use? DO they work? Use them! (High priority).

Socks - What do you already use? DO they work? Use them! (High priority).

Trainers - What do you already use? DO they work? Use them! (High priority).

Backpack - What do you already use? DOES it work? Use it! (High priority). Don’t use a pack? Have a think about what you want to take and consider the smallest possible pack. If you buy a bigger one, you will fill it!

Sleeping Bag – Depending on goals and bank balance will dictate how heavy your bag is. However you want it to go down to at least 5 degrees Celsius if not 0 degrees C.

Stove – Want hot food? Get a stove, it’s that simple. The Toaks one is a good option, but there are other ones that do the job too (medium priority).

Roll Mat – Foam is adequate but if you really wasn’t comfort inflatable is the way forward. Puncture risk is low but test it before going out! (High priority).

Sun cream – Just get the P20 stuff.

Hygiene – Wemi Wipes or baby wipes. Simple! Add to that some hand gel and use it regularly.

Anti-Chafe – Body Glide or Gurney Goo .

I just want to re-iterate the point from my previous post. Most of you will be experienced runners who have used loads of kit and know what works for you. Use it! Don’t let MdS make you think that your experience doesn’t count and certainly don’t take the FB groups advice as gospel. If someone tells you that a bit of kit is the best with regards to the running itself, trainers, socks etc it was best for THEM. Doesn’t mean it will work for you! So don’t waste hours of your life like I did getting 30 different answers to what kit I should use. I got annoyed and stressed and decided to go with my own experience and had a great race.

Trust in yourself!

Finally some last tips:

-          Know how to use a compass.

-           Have a good variety in your food.

-          Try and keep your pack under 10kg.

-          Test everything before you get out there!

-          Be ruthless with pack contents!

-          Speak to one person who has done it before, rather than hundreds. It’s a minefield of stress!

-          Practice sleeping outdoors and get used to doing admin in poor conditions for a few days straight.

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