March training is going well, apart from this really cold weather. I’m trying to build my mileage slowly and steadily to get my leg better. That means cross training on a bike and all this snow is meaning I’m not getting as much time training as I’d like.
For my birthday I got a key bit of equipment for Marathon des Sable – my pack. I wanted to get this early on as it is the key bit of equipment, other than footwear, that can make the trip comfortable, or not. Bedding in time with this is really important.
I’d done a bit of research, I have a long back and I wanted something with easy access to front pockets so I can keep feeding easily. This is quite a unique set of requirements. The pack needs to be lightish, able to take 7 days of food, all the cooking and sleeping gear, mandatory kit (venom pump, first aid) and a few luxury items.
I’d tried a few packs from the normal contenders and one way or another there was something niggling. In the end I tried on an Aarn pack, and despite it having a fantastically complicated strap system it was really comfortable.
I’m a big fan of simplicity, especially when things can break. The idea of having to stitch, or bodge something back together in the middle of the desert isn’t massively appealing. However, being made in New Zealand I’m pretty confident that the kit will work really well, I haven’t had heaps of time with the pack yet, nor have I taken it out loaded up, but that will come pretty soon and I’ll write more.
I’ve settled for a Mountain Magic 33, probably a little bigger than I actually need, but the strapping system means that whether the sac is full or empty it carries just the same. So as I eat most of what I’m carrying I can reduce the pack size and stay comfortable.
I am a little worried about some of the cording on the front pockets, but I’ve got some time to hack it better, and that will probably involve some Sugru too. Mountain Marathon events will give me a chance, to load for multiday, run, camp, repack and generally get the pack to fit me well. I’m interested to see how the ventilation works-going to save me a really zitty back if it does!
To read more about some of the unique features of Aarn packs it’s worth having a read on their website.