Not quite sure what or how to pack for your next Ragnar? Our Madison based Ambassador, Katie of @KatieTris, shares her packing advice with us below. Catch her at Ragnar Chicago in June!
Let it be known that I have never been a light, only the necessities, less is more, sort of packer. In fact I would describe myself as more of an “everything but the kitchen sink” sort of packer. I mean a girl’s got to have options, right?
My first Ragnar I defintely stuck to my tried and true methods of bringing a little bit of everything. I brought:
- bag of clothes (which is a topic we’ll revisit in a bit)
- bag of food (did I mention that we also had communal bags of food and an entire cooler of goodies)
- bag of food to share with the van
- bag of pre-filled water bottles
- messenger bag (the bag was overflowing with stuff because what if I received an email I just HAD to answer, or wanted to catch up on my reading, or something)
- sleeping bag, blanket and pillow
- yoga mat
- foam roller
And the truly amazing thing? I was not the one with the most gear in our van.
Ragnar is different than packing for a marathon, a triathlon, or any other race for that matter. It’s different than packing for a weekend getaway or camping trip. The bottom line is that you are spending 24+ hours living out of a van with 5 of your, soon to be, closest friends. During those 24+ hours you will be running multiple times, attempting to sleep, probably going out in public, and who knows what else.
By my 2nd Ragnar I had established my must-haves and my not-necessaries and felt prepared, but not over-packed. Everyone’s list will be a little different, but here is what I won’t leave home without:
Running clothes: Head-to-toe clean set of clothes for EACH leg I run. This is crucial as clean, dry clothes are much more comfortable and will reduce the risk of chaffing, etc.
My first time around I included a lot of extra running clothes because ‘what if”?!? I packed a warm top and running tights, in June, because “what if” it was unseasonably cold at night. I packed two shirt options for just about every leg because “what if” I changed my mind. I packed an extra pair or two of shorts because, well, “what if.” I’m a girl that likes options, but in all seriousness, I didn’t wear half of the clothes in my bag. Check the weather the day before and adjust accordingly. I can promise, from experience, that it will be ok if you have to wear the outfits you packed.
Comfy Clothes: I cannot stand to sit in my soggy workout clothes for much more than 5mins after I’m done. I found a tank top, t-shirt, yoga capris, skirt and a sweatshirt covered all my bases. And clean socks and underoos, obviously. A skirt? Is that really necessary? For me, yes. Having a longer, lightweight, skirt made changing discretely in a the backseat of a van easy and also let things air out a bit, if you know what I mean.
Shoes: 2 pairs of running shoes and a pair of sandals. It has rained at both Ragnar’s so having a pair of dry shoes has been clutch, and the sandals were a great way to stretch (and air out) my piggies between legs.
Food and Water: Obviously having a few go-to items that you know you crave post-run is key, but remember that you really are only in the van for 24+ hours. And there are plenty of convenience stores and restaurants along the way. Ragnar also has food for sale at the major exchanges (pasta dinner, PB&J, pancakes, etc). I promise there are no shortages of options along the way.
Be sure to decide as a van before Ragnar as to whether or not you will be stopping for meals so you know how much you need to bring. It’s also a great idea to bring one of those giant 5G water coolers for the van to refill your water bottles from. Same thing on snacks. Our driver made the most amazing trail mix for the van that we all grazed off of for the trip. A few sweet and salty options for the van to share is probably all you need.
Sleeping: Both Ragnars I brought something to sleep on, and neither time did I use it. I am a very good car/van sleeper, so I opted to sleep in van seat and got enough shut-eye to get me through. Had it been wicked hot that probably wouldn’t have worked out quite so well… A pillow is a must have for me, but I will likely forgo the sleeping pad and/or yoga mat and sleeping bag going forward.
I saw plenty of people setting up tents to sleep in but can’t say I understand it. When you only have a few hours to sleep do you really want to spend a portion of that putting up, and taking down, a tent? My first Ragnar there was indoor sleeping at two of the major exchanges, so getting out of the elements wasn’t an issue. My second Ragnar had indoor sleeping at one of the exchanges, but the weather cooperated so sleeping outside wasn’t an issue. Be sure to read up on what the major exchanges offer ahead of time so that you can plan accordingly.
Two things I would highly suggest are a sleep mask and ear plugs!! When you are trying desperate to catch a few zzz’s in a busy parking lot or school gym you’ll thank me for the suggestion.
Everything else: Sunscreen, bugspray, toiletries, towel, etc. Bring ’em. Books, computers, magazines, etc. Leave ’em. Every van should have at least one photographer in the bunch to capture those candid moments, but if you’re not a picture-taker don’t sweat it. Baby wipes. BRING ‘EM!
And of course don’t forget the Ragnar required bits and pieces like headlamp, taillight and reflective vest.
I’m sure that some of you are reading this somewhat mystified and awed by the amount of stuff I thought I needed for Ragnar…both on on my first trip and even my revised, trimmed down list. Packing light is second nature for some. You know the ones that manage to pack for a 2wk vacation in 1 carry-on sized suitcase? I clearly am not one of those gifted individuals. Or my clothes are bigger. Whatever the case, I’m getting better.
Bottom line is that the less stuff you have in the van the more room you have to sprawl out and get comfy for one heck of a ride!