Atacama Crossing 2013 Gear

NOTE: July 2020

Looking back on this gear is interesting as it's an opportunity to see how my choices evolved from the Atacama Crossing in 2012 and to think about what I would use now if I was doing a stage race. The big change from the previous year was taking a sleeping mat and using the race 1.5l bottles instead of carrying bottles and refilling them in the aid stations - these were both excellent choices.

In retrospect, I know that my nutrition choices changed significantly in future stage races and I'm certain that the food shown here is not what I would take now even though it worked at the time! I also lost my small soft flask with nutrition on the first stage so I would be very careful about ensuring that my race food would be safe in future races. Finally, I used Brooks Launch shoes - a road shoe - and it worked great, but I think perhaps now I would use different shoes.

If you're interested in seeing the next iteration of my gear after the lessons from this race then you read (and watch) my gear choices from KAEM 2013.

Last year I did my first multi-stage desert race. It was a fantastic race and also a learning experience for me. I think that I did well with my gear and I recorded what worked and what didn't for future reference.

This year I have a refined approach and also some assistance (from Lafuma and Compressport) to ensure that my gear options are the best possible to meet the demands of a desert race. I have spent time in the last four months testing my new clothing and equipment, removing anything unnecessary and learning exactly what works for me.

The end result is the gear that follows.

Clothing that I'll be wearing.

My clothing for the race is bright orange and will be clearly visible this year! This gear includes:

  • Lafuma shirt
  • Lafuma cap
  • Compressport Tri-short
  • Compressport R2 calf-sleeves
  • Oakley sunglasses
  • Polar heart rate monitor
  • Gaiters
  • Socks
  • Shoes

Mandatory safety gear.

All the mandatory safety gear and personal items packed as small and as tightly as possible:

  • Blister kit
  • Multi-tool
  • Compression bandage
  • Medication
  • Sunscreen
  • Headlamps
  • Toilet paper
  • Red flashing light
  • Safety pins
  • Emergency blanket
  • Salt tabs
  • Spoon
  • Alcohol gel
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush

Food and water bottles.

14,000 calories of food and my water bottles for the race. Food is the heaviest component in my backpack at just under 4kg. The food is composed of:

  • Energy gels
  • Ensure powder
  • Rehydration solution
  • Couscous
  • Noodles
  • Chorizo
  • Parmesan
  • Olive oil
  • Cerelac

Sleeping mat, spare clothes and sleeping bag.

Sleeping mat, spare clothes and sleeping bag all in ziploc bags to keep them dry from sweat and/or rain!

Everything all laid out.

Here is everything laid out to show what it all looks like. Incredible how little is required for 7 days in the desert.

Bag packed and ready to go.

Together my packed backpack and front pouch are about 20l of space and a little over 6kg. Everything fits quite well and as the race progresses the weight and space requirements will fall as I eat my food supplies.

I love to read what other people use and have scoured the internet for blogs and resources to learn from. I have also had a few emails from competitors in this year's racing saying that the information I posted last year helped them. I'm more than happy to get into more details or answer any questions in the comments.

You might also like:

1. What I used last year: Gear for a 7-day, 250km desert race
2. My review of the gear I took last year: gear that worked and gear that didn't


Brad said...

Awesome post Daniel. I'm doing the otter trail at the end of march and while it's no endurance race the insight from your post will help me a great deal.

All the best for the race - may the force be with you! I will be following your progress closely.


Daniel Rowland said...

Hi Brad

Thanks for the comment. I've wanted to do the Otter trail for a while so I'm quite envious of you! Although I think I might pack a little more clothing and food if it weren't a race =)

I appreciate the support.

Unknown said...

Hey Daniel. congrats on your AMAZING results. I have registered for the Atacama 2014 race. My first RTP race. I have a question regarding headlamps. What would you say would be the minimum lumens to bring to have good, safe visualization of the terrain, considering I might have to run the long stage in part after sun down. Hopefully, I won't have to do that but just preparing for any eventuality. Thanks for your support.

Daniel Rowland said...

Hi Jeff


I was fortunate that I didn't need to use a headlamp during the long stage so I used a petzl tikka lamp that was only 40 lumens. If I was running again I would take the lighter and smaller petzl e-lite as the need for a headlamp around camp is minimal and an emergency type lamp would be sufficient.

However, if you think you may be running in the dark on the long stage, I would still suggest a similar lamp to what I took with about 40 lumen. The last two sections of the long stage, from checkpoint 5 at about 50km, are not technical and very easy running. From checkpoint 5 to 6 is a dirt road that is very straight and easy to follow and the last section is on a hard packed dirt road through the valley of the moon and there is nowhere to turn off the road. So a headlamp with 40-50 lumen would be enough.

I hope that helps. Feel free to ask if you have any other questions.


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Thanks Daniel - your blogs are a gold mine, and I'm so grateful to have stumbled upon your page. I'm doing the Atacama in 2016 (setting a long term goal, currently the furthest I've ever run is a half marathon!!) and I'm so keen to get training and get my gear, etc. and your page has great tips - thanks! A keen follower, now. Cheers, Shelley

Daniel Rowland said...

Hi Shelley

I'm glad that you found some useful information.

The Atacama Crossing is a fantastic race in a really beautiful place so I'm sure you'll have a great time there. The long day is quite tough and obviously the conditions on all stages are not easy, but it's not too far a stretch to work your way up to it from where you are now. The journey of getting there is a huge part of the fun for me :)

If you have any questions or doubts please feel free to ask.

All the best

Des said...

Daniel thanks for all the useful information. I'm off to do the RTP Ecuador stage race in July, so taking lots of notes. Any tips would be great if you know the area.

Des said...

Meant to ask what mat you use?

Daniel Rowland said...

Hi Des

I haven't been to Ecuador so I don't have any specific advice to give you about that race. My friend Andrew will be there and he's a stage-racing veteran so he'd be a great person to meet when you get there.


Daniel Rowland said...

I use the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xlite mattress in the small size It's great: light, compact and very comfortable.

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,
Very helpfull blog, indeed :) Can't see two obligatory items: warm long-sleeve top and waterproof jacket. Have you not brought them?
Cheers, Robert

Daniel Rowland said...

Hi Robert

Of course I had all the mandatory gear! I had a light Under Armour base layer and a Pearl Izumi cycling jacket. I think they may have been in the shop for printing before the race when I did this post (although I can't remember now).

The mandatory gear list also changes each year so it may be slightly different this year and is worth checking the most up to date version.