Thursday, 17 April 2014

Mountain gear checklist -staying safe on the mountain

Mountain running requires careful planning. There are certain items of gear that are essential for keeping safe on the mountain. Likewise long trail runs also require gear. Weather conditions can turn quickly and you need to be prepared to make alternative arrangements and/or turn back if necessary.

It is a wise idea to firstly have a plan in place in terms of where you are going, estimated time of how long it will take and a map of where you intend to go. I like to have a gear checklist and bag packed ready to go.

One of my favorite runs in the Northern circuit at Central Plateau and whenever I run there I carry appropriate safety gear. Think about staying out over night if you get injured or unable to complete the journey. Think about what gear you would need to survive overnight.

Gear checklist:

a.     Backpack that is comfortable and straps are tight

b.    Personal medications – if you are allergic to bees or have any medical issues be sure to bring your own medication.

c.     Thir HEAD band – this is essential for keeping you warm around your ears. I pull mine over my face as my nose gets cold.

d.    Spare pair of socks in case you have a fall and get wet

e.     Waterproof trousers

a.     A whistle is a good idea because

b.    A head lamp with spare batteries in case you underestimate the time it takes you to finish. You do not want to be caught out in the bush or mountain with no lights.

c.     Survival blanket - I’ve used my survival blanket a few times on trail runs of less than 3 hours and also on the mountain.  I usually take two of these.

d.    Capacity for 2 liters of water, I carry a hand held bottle and another two soft flasks which overall has around 1.2 liters of water, however I carry capacity for two liters, such as a larger snap lock bag which I can fill up with water if necessary.

e.     Base layer – thermal top x1 or x2

f.       Thermal bottom trousers

g.     Shorts or long tights or pants – if the weather isn’t looking good go for marino.  No denim cut offs or jeans. (I have seen a lot of people where these).

h.    Fleece that is warm (I prefer a zip Northface fleece as it is easy to get on and off, especially if it does get hot)

i.       Wind and rain proof jacket

j.       Sunglasses and sun cap, extra sun block

k.     A map and or compass.

l.       Gloves x2 – Marino and thermal

m. Full first aid kit – consisting of strapping tape, plasters, bandage, scissors and pain relief.

n.    Spare Water. Check where possible streams are and whether you can drink from the streams. You can also fill up water bottles at huts and so plan where those stops are. You are the only one that knows how much water to drink.

o.    Food – enough for 8 hours and a snap lock bag for rubbish. I find it ideal for taking gels.

My tips on staying safe:

·       Check the weather conditions and plan your route. Don’t be afraid to turn back if the weather looks bad.

·       I will run solo if I know the area reasonably well. For example, I would run the Northern circuit once or twice in the dark as I feel like I know the area. However If I do not know the area I do not like to run for too long. It is advisable to run or tramp with other friends though that isn’t always possible. If you are running or tramping alone be sure to tell someone where you are going and try not to deviate from that plan.

·       Check your gear. If you are going in a group, perhaps buddy up with someone in the group. Do not go off alone of leave that person behind. Recently in January I did the Northern circuit in a group and ended up running with a friend and we stayed together during the course of the day.  Check with your friend that they are drinking enough and how they feel periodically.

·       Put on clothes before it is too late – do not wait to put on a base layer of wind proof jacket until the weather conditions turn, if you are starting to feel cold put the clothing on. Tucking clothing in can help keep you warm.

·       Keep a positive frame of mind. There will be tough times when you are running all day or tramping. Take regular breaks even if they are short. However in cold conditions it is a good idea to keep moving.

·       Eat enough food to get you through the day. I usually aim on consuming around 50 grams of carbohydrates per hour to ensure that I am getting enough energy. I try and space it out every half an hour and do not usually consume anymore than that as I feel sluggish. You may like to set your watch to beep every half an hour as a reminder to eat and drink. Believe me hours can go by otherwise as if you are like me I find that I can feel in a meditative state while running and forget the necessities such as eating.

·       Do not rely on anyone else for clothing or essential gear and be self reliant. It is your safety that is paramount and the last thing you want is for a search and rescue team to be called out because you have gone unprepared. That is not to say that I have always been totally prepared, which is probably why I am writing this brief blog. I also find it useful to test out the equipment on shorter runs to ensure that it is fit for its purpose and works for you.

Contributor: Kate Townsley of Kori Kita


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