Last updated 13.10.18
 
This gear list is meant to help anybody who signed up for the Marathon des Sables or is interested in participating. You will get an idea of what is needed. Products that have been tried, tested and really work well in the desert get 6 stars (******). Obviously, the list can also be useful if you participte in other desert events or in case you are planning a tour you do yourself.

Prices often change with every season. So, my apologies if the recommended retail prices sometimes are not up to date.

Please keep in mind that a list or general input can never cater to the needs of every athlete. What may work wonders for one person could be absolutely useless for the next. If you go into an extreme environment you should always test your clothing and gear.

Last but not least, the below list is not complete. There will be kit, clothing or other items you need/want that are not on this list.

Equipment List Marathon des Sables

Clothing - Underwear

F-Lite Megalight 140 Men's Boxer
  • 3D-seamless construction
  • very light breathable and comfortable
  • dries super fast
  • anti-bacterial treatment
35 g
(size M)

€ 19.95

******
X-Bionic Energizer Summerlight Boxer
  • prespiration is used for cooling
  • top quality and excellent functionalitry
  • anti-bacterial treatment
 

SALE:

€ 29.95

******

Advice on underwear:

  • Obviously underwear for a run in the desert should be as thin and breathable as possible.
  • There is a lot of good functional underwear on the market. It needs to be comfortable and should help you avoid skin irritation. Even on very long training runs you should notice that no seams are bothering you. But even the best underwear at some point may fail to totally prevent irritated skin - in those areas you should try to prevent the problem with additional precautions (see skin care further down).  
  • Since you may not have a new set of underwear for every day it helps if the product has got some form of anti-bacterial treatment.
  • Some people also like to have compression in their underwear, e.g. like it is the case with the Compressport Underwear Trail Running Short V2.

Clothing - Tights/shorts and shirts

RaidLight STRETCH RAIDER Short
  • comfortable waistband
  • quick drying
  • 2 mesh pockets on the sides
  • also available as a women's version

105 g

€ 49.95

****** 
X-BIONIC Running Fennec EVO Pants
  • perfect body climate management
  • light compression
  • reflects sun rays
  • anti-bacterial
  • also available as a women's version
   € 89.95 ******
Salomon S-LAB EXO Half Tight
  • supports your muscles
  • very comfortable
  • to be combined with other Salomon layers
77 g

€ 129.95

 
2XU ICE-X Compression Short
  • Compression and cooling
110 g

SALE:

€ 79.90

******

Compressport Trail Running Short V2
  • 100% trail running
  • many great features
  • great compression and comfortable waistband
  • there is also a very light overshort available
114 g € 109.95 ******
X-BIONIC Men's Fennec Running Shirt
  • THE desert running shirt
  • reflects the heat
  • anti-bacterial
  • also available as a women's version
 

SALE:

€ 109.95

******
2XU ICE-X S/S Top
  • reflects the sun's UV rays and cools
  • anti-bacterial
  • also available as a longsleeve shirt
125 g

€ 69.90

 
Compressport Trail Running Shirt V2
  • just like the short tigth it features many interesting details
  • automatically increases oxygenation during intense effort
152 g

€ 99.95

******
Instinct Sensation Ice Shirt
  • another shirt with cooling fabric and many good features
  • very long front zip for extra and quick cooling
 

SALE:

€ 59.95

 
RaidLight Long Sleeve Desert Top
  • especially made for the desert
  • protects you from sun and sand
  • unisex
105 g

€ 84.95

******

Advice on clothing - tights/shorts and shirts

  • The above does not include the option of shorts and short tights combinations which now are very popular and depending on details perfectly fine for any desert race.
  • In general you have plenty of options. If you prefer to go with short sleeves due to weight reasons, keep in mind you will need more sunscreen. Alternatively you can take arm sleeves but again these will add weight, too.
  • If you go for long tights or long sleeve shirts, these should be made for hot temperatures, i.e. incorporate some kind of cooling effect.
  • Apart from that, the same rule as always applies: It needs to be comfortable! Have a very close look at the seams on your shirt and how these work with your backpack. And also your legwear solution should help prevent any rubbing or skin irritations for as long as possible. Unfortunatley, you will only find out if you do a couple of very looong training sessions. As often clothing is perfectly fine for 4, 5 or more hours. Maybe only after 8 or more hours you will get a better picture.

Clothing - 3rd layer and bivouac

Montane Lite-Speed Jacket
  • extremely light and windproof
  • very small packing size
  • additional weather protection through hood
  • also available as women's version
  • if you want you can go even lighter with the Montane Featherlite 7 Jacket (48 g) but it also means less robustness and less features
147 g
(size M)

SALE:

€ 99.95

******
RaidLight Tyvek Jacket
  • not really "cool" looking but it's cheap, light and does the job
  • not for running but great for emergencies or for the bivouac
88 g

€ 24.95

******
RaidLight Desert Pants
  • like the Desert Top it was made for desert ultras
  • windproof, breathable and very light
  • very comfortable
74 g

€ 84.95

 ******
RaidLight Tyvek Pants
  • as Tyvek Jacket above
70 g

€ 39.95

******
Berghaus VapourLight Hypertherm Reversible Race Smock
  • extemely light, insulated smock for the cold desert nights

156 g (size L)

SALE:

€ 149.95

 

Advice on 3rd layer and bivouac:

  • For the 3rd layer and your clothing for the bivouac it depends on how sensitive to cold you are. At night temperatures can drop quite a bit in the desert. And if you are exhausted and/or have not eaten all that much you are bound to feel the cold even more. Ideally you get in touch with desert race veterans and talk to them how they experienced the cold in the respective desert and what clothing they used to deal with it.

Clothing - Other

RaidLight Sahara Cap
  • light, breathable and with a removable neck protector
60 g

€ 24.95

****** 
WAA Sahara Cap Marathon des Sables
  • desert cap with MdS design
70 g € 19,95  
RaidLight Desert Mini-Gaiters
  • especially developped for desert running
  • with hook & loop attachment
60 g 

€ 34.95

******
injinji Socks
  • help prevent blisters and friction between toes
  • as liner or on their own
  • different models available

 

 from € 12.95 ******
Wrightsocks
  • unique double layer socks
  • a lot of friction takes place between the two layers of the socks and thus helps prevent blisters on your feet
  • different models available - from thin to thick and low to high
  from € 16.95 ******
cep Running Compression Socks
  • compression socks help you run longer with less tired legs and feet
  • also great for recovery
 

from € 49.90

******

Advice on clothing - other:

  • Obviously protection from the sun is an important thing to keep in mind when running through the desert. For your head various brands offer products. The important thing is not to forget your neck. With RaidLight Sahara Cap you can remove the neck protection if you want. Also a cap for the desert should allow for ventilation and be breathable.
  • Blisters on your feet are one of THE major problems in desert ultras. Injinjis are great socks that can help prevent blisters and friction between toes. Also Wrightsocks and cep compression socks can help - Wrightsocks because they are double layer and compression socks because they do stay in place at all times. No matter what set-up you go for, test it as much as possible.
  • The best socks are not of much help if you get sand in your shoes. RaidLight makes special desert gaiters. These are also great because you can remove them at any time. You may need a cobbler to put the velcro on your shoes in a professional way and you need a shoes that actually gives you the space to put the velcro on (e.g.if you had some form of rather open mesh it may be a bit tricky). 
  • PLEASE NOTE regarding the cep socks: Some years back a customer gave us the feedback that after some days he could not wear his compression socks anymore because his legs were swollen too much. I don't know if that had anything to do with him wearing the socks or if it would have happened anyway. But it goes to show you that something that works for one athlete does not necessarily work for the next one, too. Where it is possible without having too much weight with you, have a back-up plan.

Sleeping system

Yeti Passion One
  • quality made in Germany
  • lighter and smaller is almost impossible
  • temperature limit (men) +12° C
  • several sizes available
Alternatively there is also a warmer Passion Three (Temperature limit +3° C and 465 g in size M, from € 459,95)
265 g (M)
320 g (L)
€ 369.95 (M)

€ 389.95 (L)
******
Cumulus Lite Line 200
  • really great value for money
  • temperature limit of +4° C
  • Cumulus also offers sleeping bags with 300 and 400 g filling - in case you want it warmer
535 g

€ 229.95

 

Klymit Inertia X-Frame

  • incredibly light
  • innovative design
  • the smaller Klymit Inertia X-Lite is even lighter (173 g without pump)

258 g (without pump)

300 g (with pumpe)

€ 94.95 ******
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
  • more warmth per gram weight than any other mattress
  • 6.3 cm thick
  • size: 51 x 168 cm
  • packed size of 23 x 10 cm
  • not self inflating!
Please note: if you want to save even more weight, there is a smaller size (51 x 119 cm and 260 g); and there is also a larger size available
340 g  € 174.95 ******
Therm-a-Rest Z-LITE
  • 2 cm thick and very compact
  • 51 x 183 cm
  • size folded: 51 x 13 x 14 cm
  • to further reduce packed size and weight you can cut parts off it
410 g

39.95 €

****** 

Advice on sleeping system:

  • You need to find the right compromise between comfort/warmth and low weight/small pack size. The lightest available product is not necessarily the best solution for everyone. If you are cold at night, you will not recover well. In that case it will not really help you if you saved 200 g in weight. So, reconsider before going straight for a down bag with only 150 or 200 g down fill. These make only sense if you know you don't get cold easily. If in doubt go for a product with 300 g down fill.
  • Keep in mind that you will be exhausted at night and thus get cold more easily.
  • Some extra warmth you can also get by using an emergency blanket (but it's not fun as it is very noisy) or by using a liner - anything from a silk liner to a warmer synthetic liner like the Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor. But the latter only makes sense if you have enough space and the extra weight and volume is no problem. 

Backpacks

RaidLight Ultra Pack Desert
  • 20 litres main compartment plus 4 litres font pack
  • many years of experience went into developign this desert running backpack
  • large amount of great features

630 g (backpack)

300 g (front pack)

€ 149.95

******
WAA Ultrabag 20L
  • the official MdS backpack
  • very well designed - specifically for MdS and other desert ultras
  • great front pack system (very stable)
575 g (backpack without accessories) € 189.00 ******
Aarn Marathon Magic 33
  • probably the best front pack solution on the market today
  • plenty of space (if 20 litres is not enough for you)
  • great and innovative load carry system that takes strain off your shoulders
  • also available as a 20 litre version
1,140 g (incl. Balance Pockets)

€ 229.95

******

Advice on backpacks:

  • Test your backpack as much as possible and also with the type of load/weight you will have during the race.
  • Make sure you distribute the weight in the best possible way - between front and back (if you have a front pack) and within the main compartment heavy items to the bottom.
  • The fabric of ultralight running backpacks is really good these days but by no means as robust as for example in a heavy duty hiking or mountaineering pack. So, please keep that in mind when packing (with pointed items) or when putting your backpack on the ground and using it to sit or lean on (both not recommended).
  • Frontpacks are great. Some do not need any extra work or adjustments. Others may require some creativity to attach them more firmly.

Hydration

RaidLight Hydration Bladder
  • advantage: this bladder has got two holes on top which fit perfectly to the attachment points in RaidLight backpacks
  • disadvantage: re. overall quality there are better products on the market (that also have a larger opening for easier filling and cleaning)
  • there is also a bladder available specifically for the RaidLight front pack
1.5 litres
(160 g)

2.5 litres
(200 g)

€ 29.95

******

CamelBak Crux
  • as far as quality and reliability are concerned there are no better hydration products on the market
  • slight disadvantage: just like the RaidLight baldder this product does not have the largest opening

from 200 g

1.5, 2 or 3 litres

1.5 litres = € 34.95
2 litres = € 39.95
3 litres = € 44.95

 
Platypus Big Zip LP
  • extra wide opening for easy access/filling
  • hydration tube can be detached
  • very good quality
2 Liter (160 g)

3 Liter (170 g)
2 Liter = € 34,95
3 Liter = € 36,95
******
RaidLight EazyFlask
  • a great alternative to the classic drinking bottles
  • more comforable and less noise
  • similar flasks available from several brands
54 g

€ 19.95

 

RaidLight Bottle Holder
  • great addition to your backpack
  • can also be used with other brands (straps are approx. 8 cm wide)
  • 750 mll bottle included
40 g  (without bottle)

€ 21.95

******

Advice on hydration:

  • It is a great advantage if you have easy access to your hydration while on the move, e.g. with bottles in bottle holders or hydration bladders that are separate from the main compartment.
  • You need to find out if you like the RaidLight solution where the bladder compartment is on the outside on the back; in theory it's not the best place for this weight to be.
  • It makes sense to not just have a bladder as you likely will want to also drink electrolytes which is easiest do to in a separate flask/bottle.
  • Bottle holders on the straps of your backpack can be a great solution. However, every now and then we also get the feedback that the bottles are a bit high up and that the tube on the bottle is "in your face". So, check it out. A solution may be to take a smaller bottle or flask without a tube.

First aid

Lifesystems Light & Dry Micro First Aid Kit Waterproof
  • this kit is very light and does not only keep out water but also desert sand
  • there is also an even light Nano Kit available (95 g)
135 g 

€ 19.95

 

Lifesystem First Aid Dry Bag
  • water proof bag with roll top closure
  • if you want to "create" your own first aid kit
50 g € 9.95 ******
Coghlan's Acrylic Mirror
  • mandatory for the desert
14 g

€ 3.95

******

Care Plus Emergency Blanket
  • 2 sides: one against the cold and the other against the heat
57 g

€ 4.95

******

Care Plus Venimex

  • often part of the mandatory gear for desert ultras
  • the quality of the Care Plus Venimex is a lot better than the Extractor Suction Pump but it is also a lot heavier
134 g

€ 19.95

 

Extractor Suction Pump
  • very light
32 g (without box) € 21.95 ******
Fastex Signalling Whistle
  • does not weigh much but can save lives - must have item for any running adventure
7 g

€ 1.50

******

Advice on first aid:

  • Of course it's always best if you try to prevent any problems. Especially when it comes to blisters (see also skin care). If you are not experienced yet, talk to desert veterans. It's well worth it as small problems can turn into big ones an end your race.
  • The use of venom pumps in case of a snake bit is not necessarily always recommended. If in doubt ask the race organisation and also familiarize yourself with the desert fauna.
  • Important bits for a first aid kit you can also buy individually and thus come up with your own set. It certainly makes sense if you have an old first aid kit and just some items are missing.
  • In a complete set that you buy there may also be things that are not necessary (and thus weight and volume you do not want). Or items that don't work when it's very hot? If in doubt talk to your doctor or a pharmacist.  

Skin care

Body Glide Anti Chafing Stick
  • THE classic anti chafing stick
69 g

€ 15.95

******
Care Plus Foot Powder
  • Powder for which helps to keep your feet dry (and thus prevent blisters)
66 g

€ 6.95

******
Spenco Blister Kit 2nd Skin
  • great kit for blister prevention and care
20 g (without packaging)

€ 17.95

******
Mawaii Sun Care SPF 50
  • specifically formulated for outdoor activities
93 g (75 ml)

€ 19.95

 

Advice on skin care:

  • As already mentioned above, with the right skin care you can prevent a lot of potential problems or at least keep them at a level where it does not mean your race is over.

Cooking and cutlery

Esbit Solid Fuel Stove Titanium
  • smaller and lighter is almost impossible
11.5 g  € 13.95  
Esbit Pocket Stove small 90 g (plus tablets you need)

€ 10.95

****** 
Esbit Cookset for Solid Fuel
  • made from aluminium
  • great value for money
  • small packed size

197 g

€ 29.95

******
Evernew Ultralight Titanium Mug Pot 500 (ECA266R)
  • 550 ml and super light
75 g

€ 69.95

******
Sea to Summit AlphaLight Langer Löffel
  • great for eating right out of expedition meal bags
12 g € 7.95 ******
Light my Fire Spork 9 g

€ 1.99

******

Advice on cooking:

  • Test everything at home. Your pot may not work well with your stove and it would not be nice to find out about that in the desert. Also, a very tiny stove means less overall stability. You need to check if you don't mind that.
  • As you can see above, light equipment is not always expensive.
  • If your pot has a lid your set-up is more efficient (i.e. you need less fuel).

Shoes

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
  • made for Ultra Trails
  • good cushioning, alround outer sole
  • robust
  • wide toe box
  • also available as women's version
343 g (EU 42)

SALE:

€ 129.95

******
La Sportiva Akasha
  • comfortable, well cushioned
  • for the longer distances
  • a bit less "hard" than the Ultra Raptor
330 g (EU 42)

SALE:

€ 129.95

 
Altra Lone Peak 3.5
  • 0 mm drop
  • wide toe box
255 g (UK 8)

SALE

€ 139.95

******

Advice on shoes:

  • The number 1 rule is that your shoes need to be comfortable and have already some km on them. Do not experiment with anything new on short notice and make sure you have done some long runs/hikes in the shoes you intend to wear. Just because a shoe works well for 4 hours does not mean it does the same after 6, 8 or more hours.
  • When you pick the size keep in mind that your feet will likely swell. Hard to say by how much and I am afraid only the true experience will tell.
  • There should be enough material that allows for the attachement of the velcro for the desert gaiters.
  • If you will not only run but also hike long distances during the MdS keep in mind to also train hiking. Your shoes may be great for running but when you hike something may come up that you don't like.
  • Deserts are hard on shoes. Make sure you have some basic repair material with you (needle, thread, tape, a bit of wire).

Headlamps

Silva Trail Runner 3
  • reaches up to bis 65 m and has got 250 lumen
  • lasts 90 hours in the economy mode
121 g (incl. batteries)

€ 69.95

******
Petzl Reactik +
  • reaches up to 110 m and has got 300 lumen
  • very comfortable headband
  • great light beam
  • as an accessory you can buy a battery compartment that runs with regular batteries
115 g (incl. rechargeable battery)

€ 99.95

 
Petzl e+LITE
  • great back-up headlamp
26 g

€ 26.95

******

Advice on headlamps:

  • The energy mode which most headlamps have is often all you need and it will help you save battery life - which means less batteries needed and less overall weight.
  • If you intend to use lithium batteries, check if your headlamp can actually operate with these.

Poles

Mountain King Trail Blaze
  • super light but not as robust as heavier poles
  • packed size of 36 cm (120 cm pole)
  • now also available in two different Carbon versions
138 g (120 cm)

€ 99.95

 ****** 
Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ
  • very light and robust
  • compact (packed size of 37 cm) and extended grip zone
  • height is adjustable
  • also available in aluminium and fixed length version (which means a bit more weight but also less expensive)
 177.5 g (105 - 125 cm)

€ 149.95

******
Leki Micro Trail Pro
  • if you like a Nordic Walking type pole
  • super high quality
195 g

€ 149.95

 

Advice on poles:

  • Poles can be very useful in the desert - especially if you do not just run. They take away strain from your knees and help you keep a better posture.
  • Packed size and weight make the Mountain King an interesting option. But keep in mind that light poles like this also are less stable. The grip is very minimalistic and you do not have the option to adjust the height. 
  • Beware: if you use poles for a very long time (and do not do that in training) you can get blisters or other issues with your hands/joints. Re. blisters Trail Running gloves can help.

Food

Peronin
  • innovative liquid food - specifically produced for expeditions
  • gefriergetrocknete Expeditionsmahlzeiten
from ab 100 g

from € 4.95

****** 

Advice on food:

  • Not listed above (as we have not translated the products for our English shop) are freeze dried expedition meals which probably make up for most of the food eaten at the MdS.
  • As with gear it is recommended to test all food as well. You may like a certain foods but be disappointed about its tase in the form of a freeze dried meal. And since food is so important - also for your motivation - it is never good to have surprises.
  • If you know your body burns a lot of calories be careful to take enough food with you. It's tempting to save weight but it's no good doing an ultra on an "empty stomach".
  • Athletes often make the mistake to take enormous amounts of energy gels and bars. This can cause stomach issues.
  • A common feedback is also that people next time will take less sweet stuff. So, make sure you have a variation of tastes, including salty.

Others

Silva Ranger S Kompass
  • great mirror compass for the MdS and other adventures
58 g

€ 44.95

******
Gerber US1
  • extremely light knife
  • 6.6 cm long and very sharp blade
32 g

€ 31.95

****** 
Gerber DIME
  • high quality and very useful mini-tool
65 g

€ 34.95

******
Leatherman Tool Style
  • Minitool with scissors
23 g

€ 29.95

 
Packtowl UltraLite
  • for basic washing
  • there is also an even lighter Packtowl Nano (from 17 g)
ab 21 g 

from € 12.95

******
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack
  • very light water-/sandproof dry sack
  • for organising your backpack
  • also available as a Nano version (from 16 g - 2 litres)
from 20 g (1 litre)  

from € 9.95

******
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sack
  • extremely light stuff sack
from 10 g  

from 8.95 €

 
Uni Tissue
  • Compressed non-woven viscose-cotton tissu
  • Super small and light
26 g (8 towels)

1 towel without packaging = less than 1 g

€ 1.50

******

Advice on other gear:

This list is not complete. We are looking forward to any feedback and are happy to add products we do not sell (yet) if you strongly recommend them.