5 Trail Race Essentials

I'm getting ready for my 4th trail race of the year tomorrow (Pisgah Mountain 23k), so I'm putting together my essential trail race items. No matter what brands or products you prefer, I think these are some key categories for a casual trail racer.

1. Trail race hydration & nutrition

This is a big category, but GU Roctane makes it easy for me since their mixes are hydration and nutrition in one. For the past two years I've been using a hydration vest with 2L reservoir, and the combination really works well. The vest also has pockets for phone, tissues, lip balm, sunglasses, etc.

SUMMIT TEA is delicious.

2. Trail race skincare, including SPF

Long-distance running usually means chafing where fabric rubs skin for mile after mile (or where skin rubs skin, ouch). I prepare with anti-chafing balm in key spots. Sunscreen is also a very good idea.

3. Bandana and/or trail race headwear

I hate the feeling of sweat dripping down my face. I carry a bandana in my hand (or tucked into my hydration vest if I'm not too sweaty) to literally mop my brow during a race. Also, think about whether you'll need a hat (for shade or for warmth), neck gaiter, gloves, and so forth.

4. Trail race camp chair

I learned this the hard way after races where I'd want to socialize and eat delicious food, but was SO tired of being upright. Bring a chair! Here's my setup after the Vegan Power 25k last June: water, vegan pizza, and super comfy chair. (Thanks mom for the Christmas gift!!)

5. Complete change of clothes including comfy shoes

I assume I will be soaking wet at the end of a race (from sweat or from pouring water over my head or both). There is nothing more delightful than stripping off the grimy race clothes I've worn for hours and slipping into something clean and dry. Loose slip-on shoes are also heavenly. Bonus: Bring a damp washcloth or sports towel for a little faux shower in the back of the car, or ideally in a spacious restroom right by the finish line.

Do you have essentials for the trail--races or hikes? Please share in the comments!

Enjoy these last few days of summer!