Gear Kits

Women's Ultramarathon Pack List for Running the Grand Canyon’s R3

What better way to see the world than on foot?

Curated by Rachel Davidson

Picking the perfect gear for my first ultramarathon was one of the most challenging (and frightening) tests of my packing skills to date. Even as an experienced trail runner, I knew there were serious safety concerns to consider that I hadn’t faced yet: How can I fit everything I’ll need for a 12+ hour day into a running pack? What if my gear fails me mid-run? What crucial item am I forgetting to bring?

I sweated so you don’t have to. The following kit was curated from my experience running the Grand Canyon’s Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, combining my favorite pieces of gear from that journey – and the things I would have done differently if I’d known better.

Don’t forget to test, test, and test your gear before you head out on your adventure!

Comfortable, breathable socks are crucial for an all-day running adventure. I prefer a crew length that doesn’t suffocate my entire calf, but gives my ankles protection and keeps dirt and rocks out. Carry an extra pair of these in your pack in case of emergency!

The pack + hydration system you’ll choose for an ultramarathon is arguably your most important piece of gear. This option is on the larger size of what you’d want for a 40+ mile run in terms of weight, but great for beginners who want the peace of mind of including extra essentials. It’s packed with a 3-liter water bladder, 15-16 liters of storage, and an additional external zip that unlocks extra storage. An adjustable chest strap and supportive waist strap keep the pack tight and surprisingly comfortable during your run.

Sturdy trail running shoes are the second most important piece of gear you’ll choose for an ultramarathon. You’ll want to feel confident that these can stand up to an extra-long day of rough terrain, which means you’ll want to feel comfortable – and make sure that these are broken in before your journey. Asics are always my go-to, and I found this particular model to be supportive, lightweight, breathable, and durable enough to last 46 miles without any discomfort or blisters.

These are my favorite pair of super lightweight, super durable, and easily packable trekking poles. The Distance FLZ collapse into three sections that fit easily either inside or strapped to the outside of your pack, and take only seconds to snap back into place. Trust me, you’ll be glad you brought these along during those last few grueling hours uphill.

You’ll want to pack some type of hand protection, whether from cold morning gusts or afternoon sun-baking temps. Good thing that these gloves cover both, while also featuring a perforated palm that lets out sweat and lets airflow in.

I try to carry these sleeves with me on any run when I’ll be covering long distances in super sun-exposed environments. They pack up small enough to fit in a pocket and light enough to forget about – until you need them.

Dusty, rocky, and wet climates will require you to pay more attention to your footwear. While crew-length socks do their best, I prefer to bring trail running gaiters for total confidence and total comfort throughout my ultra run.

Anti-chafing, anti-blister balm that's easy to apply and hard to forget (once you've tried it). Don't be shy, rub on generously.

This is my favorite do-it-all outer layer that compresses to the size of a sandwich. Its insulating puffiness keeps you warm in cold temps, and a weather-shedding shell breathes out moisture when you start working up a sweat. Plus, it’s super lightweight and won’t weigh you down. Trust me: Don’t leave this piece at home.

Pull these on over your shorts for a pre-dawn start, or leave them in your pack for a finish after the sun’s set. Either way, having this extra lower layer stashed away will provide peace of mind.

I’m sure there are more technical sunglass choices out there, but I’ve always loved the look, feel, and performance of my Peppers. They’re protective enough to wear them on snow or water all day without feeling a glare, and make me feel more stylish than walking into the pub with my glacier glasses on. (Hint: Yes, there is a store at the bottom of the canyon that sells beer for the brave, or lemonade that will be sure to spike your sugar levels through the last push!)

Choose a headlamp that feels comfortable. I found that this low-profile option from Black Diamond secures to your head or hat with a thick, spongy band and stays put, even after hours of knocking it around over rough terrain. Don’t forget to bring along extra batteries as well.

Another piece of safety gear you’ll never appreciate until you really need it. Pack this along and hope you won’t have to use it, at least for now.

OR’s classic Trucker, stylized specifically for runners. Details include a “Cool & Dry” headband that wicks sweat while cooling you off, all-around mesh construction that shields from sun while letting moisture out, plus a reflective logo that keeps you seen in the dark.

You can pair your First Aid Kit down to a few essentials to save on weight: Bandages, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, gauze or medical tape. Throw your moleskin and multi-tool in this pouch for an all-around adventure safety kit.

If your first aid kit doesn’t include moleskin, be sure to pick this lifesaving, blister-relieving piece in your pack.

Collecting clean water on any backcountry adventure is always a balance between what your environment demands and what your personal preference is. I find that during an ultramarathon purifying pumps can be heavy, LifeStraw bottles can be bulky, and battery-powered devices like SteriPen can fail without warning. If you have access to running water during your ultra and a filter isn’t necessary, stick with purification tablets for lightweight, quick and easy clean water access.