Head to Toe with Coach Jeff: Mountain Pack Essentials

April 16, 2024

Team Injinji Athlete Jeff Browning is back with another episode of “Head to Toe with Coach Jeff!” Jeff is gearing up for Cocodona 250 and is sharing what he brings in his pack to ensure race-day success.

In this episode, Jeff will walk you through his mountain kit essentials—everything from waterproof gear to blister prevention tools and safety devices. Follow along to learn how to streamline your race pack for optimal performance and preparedness on the trails!  

Mountain Pack Essentials Video Transcript

Hey! Jeff Browning here with a coaching tip. We're gonna talk about a Mountain kit or pack and what I carry in my pack. So, I'm in the middle of training for Cocodona 250. There is a required kit in that race much like something like UTMB and some other bigger hundred-mile mountain races that have required gear. I wanted to kind of just kind of break down what I carry in a more maximalist version down to a more minimalist version.

So, this is the 12-liter Ultra-Spice Big Bronco, one of my signature packs. And as you can see, it's a race vest that's very stretchy, has tons of pockets in it. So, I'll start in the front. I have a 500-milliliter flask on each side. So, I have 500 and 500, so a liter up front, one of Tailwind, one of water, personally, that's what I like to use. I also have in these pockets, I carry some calories. So, I have some banana chips, a gel right here. And then here I have a container of salt tabs. I have my collapsible reusable cup. And that's kind of my front.

Then in the back, I have two pockets here that have another liter of water. So, 500 milliliters on each side. I can also add a two-liter bladder to add a four-liter carrying capacity that right now I'm carrying. I'm getting ready to go for a longer run. So, I have two liters on me and I have bungees for poles, so poles are on there.

And then in the back, as you can see, this grab rim, I have everything stuffed into a waterproof, hyperlight dry bag that has just a barrel nut drawstring closure. This makes it sweatproof, basically mostly waterproof. And inside of that, I put all my kit. So that allows me just to grab this over while I can take a hike break. I can get stuff out of it, zip it back up and throw it over my shoulder, and put it back in the pack. Inside of this, I have a blister kit, which contains a little bit of roll of leukotape, a small Bic lighter, and a big safety pin. So, if you needed to pop a blister, you can disinfect it with the lighter and then drain the blister. And I also have single-use alcohol wipes so you can clean sweat and grit and clean the area. And so that way, the tape adheres as well. And then I have some blister shield patches. And that's a very basic kit. I also have a headlamp, which is a required piece for Cocodona to carry at all times.

I have an insulated pullover zip-neck jacket, very packable and light. It only weighs 90 grams. I have some Smartwool, wool gloves. I have waterproof trousers, buff, waterproof over mitts to go over my gloves, so if it is raining and I also have an extra battery for my headlamp. So that kind of shows you the basic kit that I would have in this thing.

The only other thing I could add to that in really bad weather. I might add a pair of wind pants like a Houdini pant. In addition, it's very packable, packs down to nothing. All the gear I have is very light so to fit it in a 12 -liter, I have to have super packable light gear.

You might need a little bigger pack, like a 16 -liter, if you had a lot of gear and it wasn't as light and packable. The other thing I have is a micro-down jacket as well that I could throw in this pack if I needed to.

And the last thing I have in the back, or I guess two things, I should say. One is just a waterproof, hooded, tape seams required kit jacket. So that's a full waterproof jacket. And then the last thing I have in the back is an extra flask with an inline filter cap so I can filter from streams. So that gives me water filter capabilities. The last piece - I should take this off so I can show you what there is - there is a small pocket on the inside of this pack that's a waterproof zipper pocket. In that pocket I have emergency TP, which is baby wipes. That way I can pack it out and leave no trace, just like in backpacking. I have a small thing of Squirrel's Nut Butter lube. And then I also carry, I always carry this in my kit: a small snack zip lock with an emergency blanket; my ID photocopied and laminated with my blood type and my emergency number to my wife and her phone number; and then I also have a little bit of cash. So, I have about 25-30 bucks in there that I carry at all times.

That’s kind of my full maximalist kit. The last thing that I have in this pack: there is a required spot tracker to carry. This is a prototype pocket right now, it will be on the Bronco, Big Bronco II. I have my Garmin inReach Mini, so that way I can SOS if I was in trouble. I do a lot of solo big runs and you can have (for 35 bucks a month) a pretty simple plan that you could tether to your phone. You could text when you don't have cell coverage and my wife likes that so I can text her when I get somewhere if I don't have cell coverage. I can text her 140 characters.

The other thing that I do with this is there's an annual insurance rider that I add to this plan, which means I can get E-vac'd out, and that insurance rider covers that evacuation. I do that as a safety precaution. And I do recommend that that is something that you do if you're in big kind of back country stuff, especially if you're solo. But it's even great when you're in a group because then you have that in case someone is in trouble.

Now, if I was just doing a more minimal day, I'm getting ready to go on a longer run today. We do have some weather in that area today. We're having some snow flurries. And there is a chance that the weather's getting worse today. So, one thing I would do, let's say I'm just going for a normal long run and don't need a ton of water. I might ditch the extra flasks in the back. I would have my normal food up front and one liter in the front. And then I might have just a windproof jacket or a waterproof, depending on what the weather forecast is, that would just get thrown in the back. And I'd probably carry the filter flask so I could filter water because I'm only carrying a liter.

And then I probably carry a buff and gloves, so just a very basic kit that I would throw in the back. It'd be very minimalist, maybe not even take the poles, so that lightens my pack up even more. So, now I'm down to a very minimalist setup.

That would be my mountain kit! I hope that it helps you in your big adventures this season. Go use that and use those tips in your training and your racing. Giddy up!

For more videos in this multi-part series with Team Injinji's Jeff Browning (@GoBroncoBilly) subscribe to our YouTube channel. Happy Running!