super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others

What’s in your trail running backpack?



Winter is fast approaching in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the most exciting things about it is the number of trail runs I intend to enter during this season. The XTERRA Winter series was one of the best things about last Winter and I’ve been missing tripping on roots and sliding down muddy trails.

I’m one of those “just in case” people who thinks it’s better to carry all your gear in and out of the bush unused than to run the risk of needing something in there and not having it. My theory has proven truthful in some cases and trail runs often have mandatory gear, to ensure runners are prepared for any situation they may encounter. I’m not sure I’ve got the perfect trail running backpack but nothing like a few good runs to show what is needed and what can be left at home. For now, here’s a rundown of what’s weighing me down in the bush:

1 – Hydration pack with bladder. This pack is just a Kathmandu one. It’s not my dream trail runner pack but it’s been doing the trick for me, until I decide to let go of the money for the pack I really want. It’s been serving me well, though. It’s a 9L pack with just enough spare room for all the trinkets I stock it with, along with a bladder full of water (and lately electrolytes like the Nuun you see in the picture).

2. (not pictured, because I forgot to take them out and can’t be bothered taking another photo) – running gloves. They’re regular running gloves by Nike, sort of like these, which I only bought because a trail run I entered listed them as mandatory equipment. During Winter, I’m always glad to have them.

3. Energy gels

4. Nuts

5. First aid kit. I’ve got a number of first aid kits at home so I gathered the most useful stuff out of them and combined them in a resealable plastic bag (to keep the weight down) for whenever I need it. Plasters (bandaids for you non-kiwis) have come in handy a number of times so I’m always happy to carry that little bag.

6. Chocolates. A trail run without a chocolate or ten along the way? Madness.

7. Ice spray. I’ve used this so many times I can’t even imagine setting out on a long run without it.

8. Whistle. Another item I bought because it was mandatory for a trail running event. Haven’t had to use it yet, thankfully, but wouldn’t want to die in the bush for lack of it. Plus, I think they cost about $2 for a pack of 3 so it’s hardly the item that makes trail running expensive.

9. Emergency blanket. I was already used to carrying this on hikes and have made it part of my trail running gear, again, after seeing it listed as mandatory for a trail run.

10. Sunscreen. Ok, that’s not always in the pack – mea culpa. But it’s a pretty important one.

11. Sunglasses. Not always, especially if you’re in dense bush, but they can come in handy sometimes. I don’t bother with expensive sunglasses anymore (once you break 4 or 5 pairs, while running, you turn to the $10 ones).

12. Road ID

13. Cell phone. Even though there are a lot of parts of the bush that have no cell coverage, it always pays to have a way of communicating with others on hand.

14. Merino layer. It’s warm and lightweight so I carry one on most runs, just in case. I usually carry a lightweight waterproof layer too, another thing I forgot to include in the photo.

Am I missing anything? What do you always carry with you out on the trails?


30 thoughts on “What’s in your trail running backpack?

  1. You forgot cigarettes

  2. Extra socks, always good to have on hand

  3. Kleenex, Chap stick, I like the GU Chomps better than the Gels, and I usually have pet pick up bags for when I have my Dog with me.

  4. Winter is not coming, I refuse to accept that. I’m sitting in my office at 6PM in my shorts. Please, no!

  5. what about one of those elastic knee-thingies (i think that’s the technical term), missy…

  6. I can’t even imagine. We are just getting over a brutal winter up here in the North and I don’t even want to start thinking of you guys going into one. I don’t run on trails a lot so never invested in a trail bag…well. I don’t run on trails for more than 10-15 miles and without someone.

    I go through bottles of sunscreen. My scalp is always getting burnt…looks really nice when it starts to peel…

    • Luckily, our winters are pretty mild in Auckland, no snow or anything (just lots of rain). Ugh, I feel for you. I’ve burnt my scalp a few times while running and usually only notice when I get in the shower and turn the hot water on… :\

  7. I think you’ve got it covered. I save those mylar film blankets they give you at the end of some races. I have one in my car and one my my running bag. Why through them away?

  8. Pingback: Confessions of a fanny pack wearer | super generic girl

  9. Great post! I am thinking of doing a trail marathon this summer in the mountains – this will help a ton!

  10. Zip tie this can be used for snapped laces, broken rucksack straps, extra loop to carry a bottle or secure items like whistle to pack straps.

  11. Reblogged this on nzmultisports and commented:
    Sounds like the bloggers’ head is screwed on with this one.

  12. I carry a few pieces of extra clothes, depending on what I’m wearing.

  13. Hey, I’ve been reading your blog for a while and have just signed up. I’m super stoked that you mentioned that you really enjoyed the Xterra trail runs. I haven’t done any of these events before but have signed up for all of this years events, super long! Crazy or not? I guess I’ll find out as the events roll around but reading your race reviews from previous events I’m definitely looking forward to them!

    A full winter of new trails, should be amazing! Kick off is next weekend with the Rotorua half at the Xterra festival, can’t wait.

    Looking forward to your next entertaining post.

    • Aw thanks, that’s so awesome! I think I’m going to suck it up and buy the whole series pack too – it’ll keep me motivated through Winter. Not as crazy as you – clearly – so probably won’t go for the super long course! Good on you!! See you out on the trails!

  14. You should get the series pack now and the free entry to Rotorua that comes with it. I’m sure it would make a great topic for your next post, “the last minute Blue lake half!”

  15. Baby Wipes!!! Good for everything…And those little Listerine breath strip things that dissolve on your tongue A) takes the sugary/nasty taste out of your mouth B) good for a distraction/pick me up as in “at least having a minty taste in my mouth takes my mind off the fact that I feel as if I’m being beaten with hammers”.

  16. Maybe slightly pessimistic but I take some cash and a credit card just in case I need to buy a lift home at the other end!

  17. Great post! I am feeling very good to find it here. I never see such a fascinating post anywhere. it is very awesome. Keep updating such posts.

  18. Always bring sunglasses for trails.
    Our 2 family trail rules
    1 always wear sunglasses.
    2 always have your hands empty.

    Nothing worse then taking a tree branch to the eye. Also I have saline drops in my trail first aid kit incase it does happen you can wash it out.

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