Hydration / Hydration / Lifestyle / Ragnar / Running Gear / Trail Running

What to Pack for a Ragnar Trail Race

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I completed my first ever Ragnar Trail race in Tahoe a few weeks ago. I am not a person who loves camping or sleep deprivation, so the idea of packing for an overnight race that involved camping was particularly intimidating to me.

We put together two teams mostly made up of members of our chapter of She Runs This Town. Most of us had never run a Ragnar race before. Some of our members were avid campers, while the rest of us were kind of reluctant. Our speeds and abilities on the trails varied widely. Overall, it was a fantastic experience that I am looking forward to repeating every once in a while.

Below is the list of items that I found to be essential for the Ragnar Trail Tahoe weekend, some that I wish I had brought, plus some of the team items we had available that just made sense. Hope you find this list helpful as you prepare for your Ragnar Trail race.

Ragnar Trail Packing List – Must Haves

Hydration Vest, Hydration Belt, or Handheld Water Bottle

Ragnar races aim to be sustainable, so you need to provide your own water vessel while you are on the trail running your loops. While I don’t normally bring water on my 6-7 mile runs, on the Ragnar trails at Tahoe it was a must. Even though the weather was mild (low 70s) the sun was absolutely brutal. Add a challenging terrain plus altitude and you get the perfect recipe for dehydration.

I brought my Osprey Dyna hydration vest along for all my loops and it worked perfectly. I had room for a Honey Stinger waffle (which I didn’t end up needing), my cell phone, and an extra headlamp for my night run.

Female trail runner with legs covered covered in dirt posing on trail at Ragnar Trail Tahoe.
Me after tripping and falling on a very flat and beautiful portion of the green loop at Ragnar Trail Tahoe.

Multiple Running Outfits

This one may seem really obvious, but plan on having at least three running outfits (sports bras and all) for you to wear. If you’re going somewhere with huge temperature swings like Tahoe or Rainier, bring one more pair of pants or shorts than you think you will need and do the same for long sleeve shirts. Plans can change quickly, and your planned sunset night run could turn into a 10pm run depending on how your team does throughout the day. I ended up having to do some last minute outfit and weather math to figure out which shirt/bottom combo would work best for my night run and my last loop of the day. Don’t let that be you!

Electrolytes of your choice

Water is great, but electrolytes are heavenly and absolutely necessary after all your runs. If you’re doing a race at altitude, I highly recommend that you drink electrolytes throughout the day, even when you are not running. Remember: hydrate or die-drate! Personally, I’m a huge fan Nuun Sport and I brought some Nuun Vitamins and Nuun Immunity for good measure.


What can I say about sunscreen at Ragnar Trail races that isn’t obvious? You are going to be outside for two days. Sunscreen is not optional. Wear a good sports sunscreen and reapply often. Make sure to bring some SPF Lip Balm as well.

Running Lights

There is no way to avoid running a night leg at Ragnar Trail, so don’t forget to come prepared. I did a training run with some of my teammates a few weeks before the event and quickly realized that the headlamps I was planning on bringing were woefully inadequate. I purchased this AVANTO Pro Clip On Running light to clip to my waist and it was a game changer. It gave me incredible visibility during my night loop and was very comfortable. It is rechargeable, so you don’t have to worry about replacing batteries. The manufacturer claims the battery life is six hours, but I can’t attest to it. For one night loop at Ragnar it was beyond sufficient.

Speaking of running lights, I also brought along my Noxgear Tracer360 running vest. It fit well over my hydration vest and lit me up like a Christmas tree. The few runners that passed me during my night run commented that they were happy to have a very visible runner to follow to confirm that they hadn’t lost their way. I bet the bright fluorescent light also scared away a few bears and mountain lions.

Insulated Water Bottle and Mug

I brought two insulated water bottles for my Ragnar Trail race: one for water and one for electrolytes. I left them out in the sun at camp for hours at a time and would always find cold water or Nuun the next time I went to get a drink. This Takeya Actives Insulated Stainless Steel water bottle did the trick.

You’ll also want an insulated mug to transport the free coffee, hot chocolate, and hot water offered at the Ragnar Trail races. You’ll definitely want a hot beverage to warm up your body after your night run.

Portable Charger

Two days in the woods taking lots of photos and videos to document your fun times with friends…you’ll want to be able to charge your phone easily. This Anker PowerCore worked perfectly. I charged it fully at home (make sure to use the two cables for faster charging) and it quickly recharged my phone several times. I don’t think I even used up half the battery.

Shokz (formerly known as Aftershokz) Bone Conduction Headphones

When running on single track trails it is very important that you hear runners (and wildlife) around you. Shokz OpenRun Conduction headphones are perfect since they let you listen to your music or podcasts while leaving your ears open to other sounds.

Folding Camping Chair

Ragnar trail races involve lots of waiting around, so a comfy, lightweight chair is a must-have for resting and chatting with your teammates. This Kijaro Camping Chair is compact and supports up to 300 pounds.

Two pairs of trail running shoes

Trail races are infamous for water crossings, and Ragnar trail is no exception. Soggy shoes are the absolute worst, so come prepared with an extra pair in case your shoes aren’t dry from the previous loop. My Altra Lone Peak shoes were great for this race and dried very quickly in between loops.

Ragnar Trail Race – What I Wish I Would Have Packed

A really moisturizing lip balm

The combination of the altitude, wind, and sun at Ragnar Tahoe made my lips really chapped. While I had an SPF 50 lip balm for sun protection, my lips still became horribly dry which meant that it really stung to apply the SPF 50 lip balm. Next time I’ll be bringing an eos lip balm as well for layering and for nighttime use.

Cozy onesie pajamas

I thought there would never be a time and a place for me to own or wear some kind of costume onesie pajamas and then I did a Ragnar trail race. As I sat there shivering during the sunrise or late at night I found myself completely jealous of the folks who looked all cozy in and comfortable in their onesies. While these are not a must have, you won’t regret bringing yours if you’ve got them.

A puffer winter jacket and other cold weather gear

The Ragnar Tahoe race took place in July, so of course I did not think to pack a winter jacket. Big mistake. If you are racing anywhere at altitude, be prepared for the nights to get really chilly. I also wish I would have had a beanie and maybe some lightweight gloves.

Ear plugs

I naively thought that by camping in a tent by myself and leaving my snoring husband at home I would be able to get some good sleep. I was wrong. Turns out that during Ragnar races there is always some sort of noise coming from either the neighboring tents or the loud music from the finish line. Ear plugs are probably the one item I would absolutely bring along next time.

Sleeping bag liner

I found myself being a little too chilly at night even though my sleeping bag is rated to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. I wish I would have had a sleeping bag liner like this one to add an extra layer of coziness. Bonus is that the liner is easier to wash than the sleeping bag.

Ragnar Trail – Team Items that Just Made Sense

EZ-Up Canopy

The EZ-Up canopies we brought along for our two teams were absolute lifesavers for us. They were easy to set up, lightweight, and provided a good gathering space at our campsite with shade.

Lots of tarps

Tarps are great for protecting your sleeping tents from any sort of twigs or rocks. They also work great for creating a space in your campgrounds for stretching and foam rolling. We also used them to create walls for our EZ-Up canopies.

Collapsible wagon

The gear drop at the Tahoe Ragnar race was around 1/3 of a mile away from the campsite. Eight people’s (well sixteen for us) worth of gear and food for several nights is very hard to haul without extra help. We brought two collapsible wagons along and they made the hauling process a lot easier.

I’d love to hear from other fellow Ragnarians: what was the best piece of gear you brought along for your race? Anything else you wish you would have brought?

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