Last updated 06.10.2018
This gear list is meant to help anybody who signed up for the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra or is interested in participating. It will help you getting an idea of what is needed. Products that have been tried, tested and really work well in the Yukon winter get 6 stars (******). Obviously, the list can also be useful if you participte in other cold weather 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 other input can never cater to the needs of every racer. What may work wonders for one athlete may 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.
Gear list Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra
Clothing - 1st layer
|Kwark Thermo Pro Light Tight||
||68 g (size M)||€ 64.95||******|
|Kwark Thermo Pro Light Pull-On||
||220 g (size M)||€ 74.95||******|
|Montane Primino 220 Zip Neck||
||280 g (size M)||
|Woolpower Crewneck 200||
||202 g (size M)||€ 84.90||******|
|Woolpower Long Johns 200||
||178 g (size M)||€ 79.95||******|
Advice on clothing 1st layer:
You have plenty of options for your first layer. It needs to be comfortable and should not restrict you in your movements. You will try not to sweat but sometimes it will be difficult to avoid. In those cases it is interesting if your underwear transports moisture away from your skin and dries quickly.
There are very thin and also thicker first layers. Obviously, the right choice depends on the temperatures, the impact cold temperatures have on you and your overall layering system. If you have a decent percentage of merino in your underwear it will help against odor and you won't need to change as often.
Not listed above are winter running tights. These can work well as a first layer, too. And if you are lucky and temperatures are not too low during the day it may be all you need for your legs. But be careful with cold winds. You may not feel it as much on your legs but cold wind on a non-windproof tight can easily cause frostbite.
Other things to consider are: Does the shirt have a colar with a zip? If so, does it touch skin? Does my first layer work well in conjunction with my other layers? How will I make use of the drop bags, i.e. what layers do I have with me and what will be deposited further down the trail.
Clothing - 2nd layer
|Montane Power Up Pull-On||
||270 g (size M)||
|Montane Power Up Pro Tights||
||252 g (size M)||€ 84.95|
|Montane Wolf Hoodie||
||426 g (size M)||€ 159.95||******|
|Montane Fireball Verso Pull-On||245 g (size M)||
|Montane Alpine Equaliser Jacket||
||456 g (size M)||€ 199.95|
|Montane Hydrogen Extreme Smock||
||496 g (size M)||€ 219.95|
|Montane Extreme Smock||
||1,050 g (size M)||€ 199.95||******|
|Montane Flux Jacket||
||594 g (size M)||
Advice on clothing 2nd layer:
Again, there are many options. You can of course also use a rather thin fleece (e.g. Montane Power Up Pull-On). So, some of the above like the Montane Flux Jacket may then actually be turned into a third layer.
The main focus of your second layer will likely be additional warmth. Windproofness may not be relevant, yet. However, there are plenty of second layers which already keep the wind out, like the Montane Fireball Verso Pull-On.
Breathability is still very important and you want something that transports moisture on to the next layer. Synthetic fills like PrimaLoft® are becoming more and more popular as they are warm, pack down well, are light, robust and easy to handle (there is no down that can clump) and no pilling of any surfaces. Fills like the POLARTEC® Alpha are more breathable than PrimaLoft®. Montane has quite a few jackets with this type of insulation, e.g. Halogen Alpha Jacket. It really depends on how easily you sweat if these jackets are an intersting alternative.
Thin down jackets are an option for those who have an absolute focus on ligth weight. No synthetic fill can beat down on warmth to weight ratio. And now many down products feature treated down which can handle moisture a lot better. The Montane Featherlite Down Jacket is a great example.
If you like natural fibres, merino is an option, too. Woolpower's 400 and 600 g ranges are pretty amazing. Just pack size and weight are not as good.
Clothing - 3rd layer
|Montane Minimus Jacket||
||220 g (size M)||
|Montane Minimus Pants||
||125 g (size M)||€ 134.95||******|
|Montane Sabretooth Jacket||
||745 g (size M)||
Advice on 3rd layer
The third layer has to protect you in the harshest of conditions when you are still on the move and your body generates heat. Normally this means you are looking for something that keeps the wind and snow out.
The more breathable the layer, the better. Some people may say that GORE-TEX® is not the right "stuff". It really depends. eVent® breathes better and so does Polartec® NeoShell. However, membranes like NeoShell may be so efficient that as soon as you stop, it gets cold very quickly. Whilst jackets with less breathability usually feature pit zips that help with temperature regulation. And really, you can work up a sweat in any kind of shell jacket. So, you need to decide what works best for you. And whatever you get, try to avoid sweating in your shell.
If you can put on and take off your third layer pants without taking your shoes off it will be a lot more convenient for you.
As always keep in mind how your layers work together and think about the options you have. Sometimes your third layer can of course also be used above your first layer, e.g. you are perfectly fine with your first layer (winter running tight and thin fleece) but on a lake crossing it gets a bit windy and cold. Here you may just opt for putting on your windproof pants and jacket.
The lighter you go, the less robust your clothing will be. And lightweight may result in better breathability but it may also be the total opposite. Check out the water column und breathability (so called MVTR) if the manufacturer states these values.
Never forget: no matter how many layers you wear, try to avoid sweating! This is even more so important if you don't carry any more spare clohting in your sled or on your bike.
Clothing - Extra insulation
|Montane Prism Pants||
||295 g (size M)||€ 149.95||******|
|Montane Deep Cold Down Jacket||
||1,165 g (size M)||
Advice on extra insulation
Extra Insulation you will need when you stop to melt snow, prepare a meal, need to repair something, etc. You are not moving, your body does not generate heat and you need this clothing to stay warm. This also means that there is potential trouble if you are moving and you already are wearing your warmest jacket and pants.
When chosing your warmest clothing please also keep in mind that with fatigue and exhaustion your body will need more insulation than it normally would.
You may also need this equipment when temperatures go down to extremes in order to get a bit more insulation in your sleeping system.
Do not underestimate emergencies. You may plan to avoid staying out in the cold without moving. However, circumstances may force you to do it. You may encounter another athlete you need to help, you may not find the trail due to fresh snow or may have a problem yourself.
Clothing - Gloves
|Mountain Equipment Redline Mitt||
||300 g (size M)||€ 159.95||******|
|Montane Extreme Mitt||
||115 g (size M)||€ 54.95||******|
|Montane Prism Glove||59 g (size M)||€ 54.95||******|
|Montane Power Dry Glove||21 g (size M)||€ 29.95||******|
Advice on gloves
In order to survive in extremely cold conditions you need warm, functioning hands. This goes especially for emergencies. If you need to build a fire and or light your stove and your fingers are frozen your chances to get through the situation without major problems are very slim.
Rather one glove or mitt too many than not enough!
Even with really good mitts it may happen that your fingers get cold. Chemical heat pads, which many places in Whitehorse sell, may help. But be careful if too hot these heat pads may cause other problems.
Always know where your gloves are. Secure your warmest mitts with a string to your jacket. After a bivouac or other breaks, make sure you do not leave behind your gloves.
If you bivvy take the gloves with you inside the sleeping bag.
Clothing - Gaiters
|Sea to Summit eVent® Alpine Gaiters||
||272 g / pair (size M)||
|Montane Tornado Gaiter||
Advice on gaiters
Gaiters are not a must as the MYAU should never get massive amounts of fresh snow. But even with a bit of fresh snow and drifting snow on lakes or rivers it can be nice to keep the snow out of your shoes that way. Or maybe you want to bivvy off the trail and the snow is deeper there.
In extreme conditions gaiters also bring a bit of insulation.
Breathability is useful and make sure you test the gaiters with your (trail running) shoes. Maybe your gaiters work great on boots but they do not really work with the shoes you use in the Yukon. In that case you could use trail running gaiters.
Clothing - Headwear
|Montane Featherlite Mountain Cap||
|Montane Plume Mountain Cap||
||40 g||€ 34.95|
|Montane Yukon Beanie||
||27 g (one size)||€ 29.95||******|
|Montane Punk Balaclava||
||62 g (one size)||€ 34.95||******|
Advice on headwear
What's missing here are sun glasses and ski goggles. The latter you will need if the weather is so cold/bad that all of you facial skin needs to be covered.
The head is important for the temperature regulation of your body. So, be careful not to lose your hat(s).
You need a functioning solution for the worst conditions and the real cold. Which is a challenge because as soon as you cover your mouth and nose with fabric you will start creating an ice mask. Even if there are holes for breathing in the fabric. And there is not much you can do against it apart from taking the ice off, or in case you use a neck gaiter to keep turning it.
If you wear glasses things become even more difficult. They fog up really easily when using a neck gaiter or balaclava. Day lenses may be a solution.
Problem areas are nose and cheek. You may not feel too cold but your nose and cheek already have a frostbite. And frostbite may mean your race is over even though you otherwise feel great. We offer Frost Tape and some people even just use duct tape.
ColdAvenger masks also seem to work quite well.
Clothing - Socks
|injinji® Performance Liner Crew||
|Woolpower Socks 200||
|Compressport Pro Racing Socks Winter Trail V2.1||
||66 g/pair (size T4)||€ 28.95|
|SealSkinz Thick Mid Length||
||170 g/pair (size 43-46)||€ 49.95||******|
Advice on socks
No matter what socks you go for, make sure you test as much as possible.
While moving and in "normal" temperatures a warm running sock (no examples above) may be all you need.
When it gets really cold or when you stop moving you will likely need more warmth.
The waterproof SealSkinz are not a must but these sure have worked well for a lot of participants. If you get some, test as much as you can. The fit is good but not comparable to that of a regular sports sock. So, you may want to wear running or liner socks underneath. In any case it's a thick layer and may even influence your choice of shoe size.
|Lifesystems Light & Dry Pro First Aid Kit||
||156 g||€ 26.95|
|Spenco Blister Kit||
||20 g||€ 14.95||******|
|ACME Pfeife Tornado 2000||
||10 g||€ 5.50|
Advice on first aid
Instead of buying a complete first aid kit which contains things you do not want you can of course also go by your experience and get what you really need.
You should spend some time and think about what it is you really need or how the cold impacts the contents. Maybe certain things need to be close to your body heat or warmed up to work? If in doubt ask your doctor or a pharmacist.
Like in most ultras blisters are a problem at the MYAU. Ideally you do something about it before it gets bad. If you do not know it already, find out how to prevent and treat blisters.
There is a medical team at the MYAU and they are happy to help. But they may be busy dealing with an emergency and have no time to treat every little blister. So, be prepared to deal with less compliated medical problems (and blisters are in that category) yourself. That goes even more so for when you are between checkpoints.
It makes sense to have your first aid kit in a waterproof bag.
First aid may also mean that you need to build a wood fire really quickly. Therefore, you should have different fire starters and means to light a fire with you. And it makes sense to pack these in different places.
|Bodyglide Anti Chafing Stick||
||69 g||€ 15.95||******|
|mawaii Winter FaceCare SPF 30
||95 g||€ 11.95|
|mawaii Winter LipCare SPF 20||
||15 g||€ 5.95|
|Care PLUS® Foot Powder||
||66 g||€ 6.95|
Advice on skin care
If you have the right clothing you have already done a lot for your skin care. But as is the case with any ultra, there are bound to be problems, e.g. with your feet or the harness of your sled. No matter what skin problem it's good if you have what it takes to prevent or solve it. Or at least control it.
Lotions can help but beware that if you leave it in your sled it will freeze on you.
|Primus OmniLite Ti||
||239 g||€ 239.95||******|
|Evernew Ti Alcohol Stove||
||34 g||€ 59.95|
|Primus Fuel Bottles||
0.35 l = 92 g
0.6 l = 144 g
1 l = 213 g
1,5 l = 279 g
|from € 15.95|
|Primus PrimeTech Pot Set 1.3 L||
||342 g||€ 69.95|
|Evernew Ultralight Titanium Pot 900||
||115 g||€ 59.95|
|Evernew Ultralight Ti Mug Double Wall||
||97 g||€ 54.95|
|Sea to Summit Alpha Light Long Spoon||
||12 g||€ 7.95||******|
Advice on cooking
Some try to avoid using a stove whilst others really enjoy the break and getting something hot to drink in between. But even if you do not plan on using your stove you need to know how to handle and possibly repair it.
If you have not used your liquid fuel stove in a while please test it before you leave for the Yukon. It may need some cleaning or maintenance.
Keep in mind that ideally you can keep on a thin glove while lighting your stove. If you can't have a glove on, you have to be super quick when it's really cold out.
While gas stoves are easier to handle these are not recommended at below - 20° degrees they are just not reliable. That is why these are not allowed at the MYAU.
Alcohol stoves are the easiest to light and the most reliable. Also, depending on what product you get they may be pretty inexpensive. They are just not as efficient. And that is why at the MYAU an alcohol stove is only allowed as back-up.
It's hard to say if transporting a multi-fuel stove will get you in trouble at the airport. Of course you have to clean it really well. The slightest smell of gasoline and they won't let you take it. I have heard so many stories of how it was no problem for some and others were allowed to take the bottle but not the stove and vice versa.
You do not need titanium pots and cups which are the most expensive. I just like them because they are light. But for functionality other materials are just as fine.
At the MYAU we rent out the Primus OmniLite Ti if you don't want to worry about transport or buy a stove.
|Snowsled Pulka Trail Pulk Shell||
||2.2 kg||€ 99.95||******|
|Snowsled Waist Harness (with shoulder straps)||
||600 g (size L)||€ 159.95||******|
|Snowsled Trail Pulk Hauling Shafts||
||1.8 kg||€ 184.95||******|
|Snowsled Trail Pulk Bag||
||1 kg||€ 139.95||******|
|Snowsled Trail Pulk Straps||
||285 g||€ 29.95||******|
||1.75 kg||€ 39.95|
Advice on pulk sleds
If you are not on a fatbike the sled is a vital part of your kit. If you want to save some money you can improvise and build your own hauling shafts and harness, use your own duffle bags, etc. Just make sure you really test your set-up back home. It can become a bit stressful having to deal with sled problems last mintute.
Every now and then participants prefer rope for pulling the sled. It's really up to the individual. I personally prefer hauling shafts because of stability and the easier handling on downhills.
Be prepared for repairs. Your sled or parts of it may break or come apart. Think about possible problems and make plans how you would solve them. Do you need special tools? Spare parts? Screws and bolts?
Our rental sleds are mainly from Northern Sledworks. We use these because they are still pretty light but a lot more robust. Siglin sleds of course also can be purchased. I have some here Germany and if you are from outside the EU you can get them right from the manufacturer.
If you take a duffle bag or some other kind of bag to store your equipment on the sled, keep in mind that the snow in your sled may melt and get things wet from underneath. Also, if the bag has a zip it should be a good one as small or bad zips in the cold may not work for long. And of course it were great if the bag is as light as possible.
Organise your sled really well. It can be very frustrating if you always have to look for 10 minutes before you find what you are looking for. Use smaller bags in the big bag. Color code these.
Don't load your sled to high. Keep the heavy stuff at the bottom. If you don't have the snowsled straps, get some other straps to keep your gear in place.
Participants of the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra can rent sleds and accessories. That saves money and also the trouble of getting the sled to the Yukon and back home again. Check with your airline before booking how much they charge for bulky or sports luggage.
Racelite.com Top Tipp
|1,900 g (size L)||€ 1,149.90||******|
|Exped DownMat XP 9||
||895 g (size M)||€ 219.95||******|
|Exped VBL Linger Bag UL||
||155 g||€ 69.95|
|Exped Bivybag VentAir/PU||
||600 g||€ 249.95|
Advice on the sleeping system
The mat plays a very important role as your body weight will compress the fill of your sleeping bag. So the only thing between you and the cold ground is the mat. There are many different options on the market. The easiest to handle and cheapest are the foam mats. The only problem with those is a large packed size. Not all self inflating mats or hi-tech air mats may work well for the cold. Make sure that you get one that was produced for these kind of conditions. And avoid getting humidity inside.
As for the sleeping bags, synthetic bags are getting better. But I still think for packing size and warmth to weight ratio down is unbeatable. If it were not for the price ...
If you borrow a bag from a friend make sure it still has got its full loft. If the bag was stored in the stuff sack for a long time you will likely not be able to use it.
The MYAU uses the extreme temperature rating to determine what sleeping bag can be used. However, keep in mind that at this temperature you may already have a horrible night. That is why not only your sleeping bag needs to work. And of course you can use your down jacket and other clothing to get some more insulation.
It also matters where you sleep and how you set up the place. How and where you build your fire, etc. Avoid cold spots (like lakes or rivers to rest), stay out of the wind. A fire is a good idea but be careful that your sleeping bag does not get too close to the heat. Flying sparks can also be a problem.
Some people like to have a tent. And it can work fine. However, at - 40 putting up and taking down a tent can be pretty difficult. Not every tent pole can handle these kind of temperatures. So, if you get a tent make sure it's easy to handle and made for such cold temperatures. Should you decide to use your stove inside the tent beware that most manufacturers will tell you not to do so. It can be very dangerous.
|inov-8 roclite 282 GTX
||282 g (size EU 42)||
|ALTRA Running Lone Peak NeoShell 3.0||
||337 g (size UK 8)||€ 189.95||******|
Advice on shoes
Athletes have of course already used many different shoes for the MYAU. I would say most shoes have been trail running shoes with a waterproof membrane. Choice of shoe is a very individual thing. If you easily get blisters you may want to try it without a Gore-Tex shoe but take waterproof socks. Also, there has been feedback that if temperature changes dramatically every day (so, e.g. from - 10 degrees C during the day to - 40 at night) membranes can break. Think about how you may repair your shoes. Possibly take a back-up pair into you first drop bag.
One thing is for sure, warm winter hiking boots, like some companies offer them, normally are not the best choice. When walking in them your feet will get so hot that within hours you will have the first blisters.
Whatever shoes you get, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to train in them.
When buying your shoes for the MYAU keep in mind that you may have several layers of socks and/or very thick socks. And as in any ultra your feet will likely swell up (especially during rest periods indoors).
A usefull product, certainly for the 300 and 430 miles are the Neos Overshoes. You can wear these over your running shoes. They are wind- and waterproof and do not breath. So, they also act as a vapor barrier liner keeping back body heat when it gets really cold. And the waterproofness is great when you get to a place with overflow. Overshoes are not easy to get in Europe. You can also ask Coast Mountain Sports in Whitehorse to reserve a pair in your size.
|Silva Cross Trail 5
78 g (headlamp) 152 g (battery pack)
|Black Diamond Icon||
300 g (incl. batteries)
||26 g||€ 26.95||******|
Advice on headlamps
Under normal circumstance you will be spending a lot of time on the trail at night. Especially when you do the 300 and 430 miles. So, really you do not want to compromise too much on your headlamp.
Have a close look at the range of the light and the battery life. You do not need the most powerful headlamps on the market but a certain light range is good as it will help you pick up the reflective tape on the Quest markers. The longer the battery life the less batteries you will have to take along. Thus saving weight.
I would say a very compact back-up headlamp is a must. You never know and the smaller headlamps usually are not that expensive.
Keep in mind that the race organisation wants you to use your headlamp even if the moon would actually allow you to move without light. Dog teams and our guides and other people on ski-doo need to see you. Otherwise there may be accidents.
A separate battery pack definitely makes sense. You can have the batteries close to body heat. Which will give you a much longer battery life.
Lithium batteries will last a lot longer and most headlamps are compatible with them. But do check compatibility.
|Leki Micro Stick Carbon||
||192 g/pole (size 120 cm)||€ 129.95||******|
|Leki Micro Vario Carbon||
||229 g/pole||€ 159.95||******|
Advice on trekking poles
Trekking poles for all those on foot are a great help. Especially up- and downhill but also simply when you get very tired.
They are also useful when signaling the ski-doo crew that you are bivvying next to the trail.
|Thermos Light & Compact||
||510 g (1 litre)||€ 49.95 (1 litre)||******|
|Esbit Insulated Flask||
||537 g (1 litre)||€ 24.95|
|Nalgene Bottle with insulation||
180 g (bottle)
110 g (insulation)
€ 9.95 (bottle)
€ 17.95 (insulation)
Advice on hydration
If you carry a hydration bladder have it as close to your body heat as possible, e.g. over your 1st layer but under your 2nd layer. Even if the bladder is insulated.
Very often the mouthpiece or tube freeze. So, both should be insulated. Have the tube under your arm. Keep the mouthpiece inside if possible. Blowing the water out of the mouthpiece and tube can help keeping it from freezing.
Nothing beats a thermos when it comes to keeping your water hot/warm.
You can put chemical heatpads on to plastic bottles. Coke can stay liquid for quite a while that way. But it won't last forever.
Do not underestimate your need for hydration in the cold. If you do not drink enough the risk of frostbike and hypothermia increases a lot. Not to mention all other problems that go along with lack of hydration.
If it is part of your strategy to stop and melt snow, keep in mind that this can be pretty time consuming. Melting ice is more efficient but you may not always have ice near you ...
There are many different brands available. The basic idea is of course always the same. You add boiling water to the freeze dried meal, wait some time and have your lunch or dinner. Ideally you try your meals first at home as you may not like. The problem is that it may be difficult to bring your meals with you to Canada. Some people have had no problems and others had to leave their meals with customs.
You can buy expedition meals locally at Coast Mountain Sports. But make sure you reserve the meals as otherwise there may be a shortage.
depending on brand and type of meal from about 125 g
from around € 5.50
(for main meals)
||from 100 g||
from € 4.95
Advice on food
If possible try your food at home / in training first. You may love the real food and be disappointed from the expedition meal version.
If you know that you need plenty of food during a race, take enough extra food for between checkpoints. MYAU serves good size portions but these can't replace the calories you will burn. And distances between checkpoints are loooong.
Some athletes make the mistake of eating too many energy bars and drinking too many gels. This may cause stomach issues. So plan for a good variation of snacks.
If your food has got a certain size, i.e. you need to take a bite, make sure you pre-cut it or have it close to body heat before you eat it. Otherwise it may be frozen rock solid and challenging to get it into you.
Don't just take sweet stuff. Salty food can be a nice change every now and then.
|Energizer Lithium Batteries||
||from € 7.95 (pack of two)||******|
|Silva Ranger S
|Gerber Bear Grylls Scout||
||62 g||€ 44.95|
|Gerber MP 400 Compact Sport||
|Fiskars Xtract Saw||
||130 g||€ 29.95||******|
||from 15 g||
from € 12.95
|Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack||
||from 20 g (1 litre)||
from € 9.95
|Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sack||
||from 10 g||
from 8.95 €
|Snowline Chainsen Trail||
||170 g/pair (size M)||
Advice on other gear:
As you noticed the focus on the above list is on the athletes on foot. It does not contain info on bike or xc-ski specific gear like bike, bike accessories, xc-ski, etc. But hopefully also MYAU bikers and xc-skiers will find some useful info. For info on the MYAU Fatbike by Maxx Bikes please check out the MYAU website.
Many athletes like listening to music while on the trail. Please keep in mind that you may not hear ski-doos or dog teams approaching. So, if the trail is very winding maybe rather not listen to music or at least keep your eyes open.
Don't get your sled bag too big. Otherwise, you will not improve your organisation. As always, what you want will be at the bottom ...