In recent years, gear lists for Expedition races have been fairly straightforward. Ever since the last Patagonian Expedition Race, we haven't had much opportunity to think creatively about our gear choices. In the past, before packrafts gained popularity, we would always bring them to races and use them whenever possible. We'd eagerly examine the Patagonian maps, searching for any way to incorporate them into our strategy, fully aware that they could either make or break our race. But that was all part of the fun.
The Faroe Expedition Race rekindled feelings of excitement, risk, the unknown, and adventure that we hadn't experienced in a long time. When we saw pictures of the Faroe Islands, we immediately knew we had to participate. In fact, so many of us on the team were enthusiastic about it that we ended up sending two teams! We affectionately called this race our "soul race" for the year, emphasizing that it was more about the experience than the outcome. While we always approach the starting line with our best selves, overall, we felt that this race was about immersing ourselves in the unique environment.
While the actual race course was amazing, we were disappointed that so much of it got canceled. However, being race directors ourselves, we know how much work it is to put on a race of this nature. Add in the fact that the RD was not a local, and it becomes 100 times harder. We are very grateful for both Steffan and Lars, as with out them, we would have never gone to this place. And sometimes, when your performance or the race was not up to your desires, it gives you even more hunger for the next race. In the end both of our teams learned so much and about team work and adapting. We are so proud of us for keeping our drive and desired to race high through penalties, sudden course changes and more. In the end Team BendRacing/4HF got 3rd place and Team BendRacing/SkinDoctor got 6th place.
Rather than go into detail on all of that, we thought we’d focus more on the gear we used! As many of our followers and friends know, we all love pushing the limits. This race proved to be an amazing testing ground for some ideas we’ve had in the team think tank for a long time! See below for some of our most stand out gear pieces for this race.
But first, below is a little video, because sometimes it's just the better way to get the feeling of the race across to you:)
“Wait!? Why is that one the gear list for an adventure race!?” - this was our thought too.
One of the initial standout gear requirements on our checklist was either a GoreTex top and bottom or North Face's Future Light. After thorough research across various GoreTex products online, North Face's Future Light Chamlang top and bottom emerged as the clear choice. It not only proved to be the lightest option but also exceptionally breathable, a critical factor in endurance racing. Admittedly, we were a bit apprehensive about donning such high-performance gear during the race, but the Race Director insisted. And, as it turns out, he was absolutely right.
Upon our arrival in the Faroe Islands, the rain began and seemed unrelenting for the first few days. This presented the ideal opportunity to put our gear to the test, and we were astounded by how effectively the Future Light garments kept us dry and comfortable even in continuous rainfall.
Ironically, during the actual race, the weather turned out to be surprisingly pleasant, limiting our chances to fully evaluate the gear in action. However, post-race, we subjected the gear to an extreme test during the world's largest water fight in the Klaskvik harbor. (video of this coming soon!) Half of our group wore Kokatat semidry drysuits, while the other half sported the Future Light top and bottoms. After an hour-long water battle against massive water tank boats (where we were thoroughly soaked), those wearing Future Light remained completely dry underneath, in stark contrast to those in the drysuits who were wet from neck to waist (water got down our necks).
While we do consider the Future Light pieces a bit over kill for many other adventure races, we now think of them as a crucial and essential gear choice for epic weather races such as Faroe and the Patagonian Expedition Races. In places where the weather can be unrelenting, we will definitely be reaching for them because they could be the very reason why we can keep going in such crazy, awesome wet weather!
After the race logistics planner was released, we quickly identified what we believed to be the race's "crux." The longest leg, and the one where we would have to carry the most gear, was the packraft trek leg. This challenging section featured a staggering 5809 meters of elevation gain over a 47 km stretch, making it the most technically demanding part of the entire race.
Projections indicated that the fastest completion time would be around 24 hours, with the slowest estimated at 48 hours. As many are aware, our team has a strong penchant for traveling as lightly as possible. We're always eager to find ways to cut weight, even if it means taking calculated risks. For this leg, we devised a plan to paddle with three people in one MRS Barracuda double raft and tow a single-person raft behind us. When we presented this unconventional idea to MRS, they didn't merely label us as crazy; they also provided us with two boats to put our concept to the test.
Just two days before our departure for the race, the Surveyor Solo and tandem rafts arrived. With the single raft weighing in at 2.4 kg (for the white Solo) and the Surveyor tandem at 8.8 pounds our decision was unanimous. After a brief test on the river, our excitement soared, fully aware that this could either be a significant success or a monumental failure. It was undoubtedly a risk to introduce entirely new rafts to a race, especially ones that had only undergone a few minutes of testing. However, their incredible lightness far outweighed any concerns.
While the packraft leg was regrettably shortened, we were still able to execute our plan. Both rafts paddled exceptionally well together, albeit at a slightly slower pace compared to the Barracudas. However, the weight savings we gained far exceeded the slight delay in paddling speed. The Surveyor rafts inflated quickly, tracked effectively, and, most importantly, were remarkably lightweight compared to any other rafting setup available. Testing them in the sharp barnacle and rock-laden environment of the Faroe Islands was a bit stressful at first. Each entry and exit required extra caution. Nevertheless, as we hoisted them onto our backs and hiked up and over multiple mountain passes, any initial concerns quickly dissipated.
Mountain biking stands out as one of our team's favorite disciplines. We spend a significant amount of time on our bikes and thoroughly enjoy optimizing them for both weight and comfort. In adventure racing, we've also embraced the challenge of simplifying our systems. Part of this puzzle involved finding a bike seat that allowed us to ride without a chamois. To our surprise, we stumbled upon Infinity Bike Seats, a choice favored by RAM (Ride Across America) riders. With their extensive experience of non-stop riding, their opinions carried significant weight.
Upon my first ride with an Infinity Bike Seat, I felt a bit apprehensive as it was unlike any other seat I'd tried before. It felt like a hammock for your butt, and it was notably wider than what I was accustomed to. However, after several 3-hour rides without developing any saddle sores, I was hooked. I never thought I could comfortably ride with just underwear and a pair of shorts, but with Infinity Bike Seats, it became possible. For adventure racing, I appreciate the comfort they provide, the way they cushion my tush, and the convenience of not having to change between disciplines. While they may be on the expensive side, the investment is undoubtedly worthwhile, and you won't need to purchase another pair of bike shorts. Our team loves the AX1 model, but I highly recommend reaching out to them; they are responsive and incredibly helpful.
When it comes to adventure biking and bikepacking, the team at Rogue Panda has mastered the art of keeping everything securely attached to your bike while ensuring a smooth ride. For a long time, I struggled to find a way to carry anything on the back of my bike. Regardless of how I rigged it up, it either interfered with my back tire or became too unwieldy. When I approached different companies for solutions, their response was often, "I'm sorry, but you're just too small." My rebuttal? "Yes, I am, but smaller folks should be able to carry gear and embark on adventures too."
Finally, after several years, Rogue Panda contacted me with a solution. I was thrilled. The Faroe Islands race was the first true test, and it exceeded my expectations. It was easy to install, allowed me to quickly access my dry bag, and required minimal fuss. The best part? It's incredibly lightweight, stable, compatible with all dropper posts, and perfect for those with shorter legs or limited tire clearance. It was a dream come true, and now the entire team is eager to get their hands on one!
This year, our team made a collective decision and invested in our first full set of custom shirts and O-pants. It marked the first time the entire team reached a consensus on clothing choices. After years of experimenting with different fabrics, we settled on Noname. They create exceptional clothing pieces ideal for orienteering, bushwhacking, and biking. Their "terminator" O-pants and "Miller Mesh long (or short) shirt" are not only breathable but also highly durable. The shirt easily layers with a fleece or pairs well with arm sleeves, while the O-pants perform admirably as a single layer across a broad range of temperatures. During the Faroe race, most of our team wore the full set (both top and bottom) throughout, even during the biking legs, as they work wonderfully over bike shorts or on their own (paired with the Infinity bike seat)!
For over a decade, we've relied on Angelina's Skin Doctor for our feet and hands to prevent blisters and infections. It's proven itself time and again. However, during our time in the Faroe Islands, we discovered another use for it. The harsh and constant wind left our skin feeling raw and almost sunburned after just one day. I started applying it to my cheeks, lips, and nose after sunscreen, and within a few hours, my skin felt soft again, even though I was still exposed to the elements. We're eager to use it atop snow-capped peaks this winter before descending into powder bowls. If you'd like to try it, use the code Bendracing10!
In the Faroe Islands, you can drink water directly from the numerous flowing streams and rivers. While we all brought our favorite Hydrapak filter bottles, many of us started refilling whenever we crossed a stream. The speed bottles fit perfectly in our front pockets, while our bike bottles, filled with four-hour fuel, fit nicely in the side pockets of our USWE packs. I particularly loved using the long straw, which made drinking a breeze, and the new speed-fill cap, which facilitated quick refills.
For many years, Dan and Jason have relied on Four Hour Fuel as their primary calorie source, especially during long endurance paddle races. It's packed with fast-acting carbs, boasts a natural and mild flavor, and includes salt, amino acids, and protein. In short, it's an incredible endurance superfood. The rest of the team joined the Four Hour Fuel train as they brought it along to more expedition races, and we found ourselves frequently asking for sips. I hopped on board during the Wembo 24 Hour World Championships last year, consuming 16 hours of the banana chocolate flavor and wishing I had brought more. It was easy to drink, easy to digest, and left me feeling satisfied without being overly full. I fell in love and now rely on it for about 70% of my calories during expedition races!
The Leki Neo Trail FX One SuperLite trekking poles proved to be invaluable during our race in the challenging terrain of the Faroe Islands. Their super-lightweight design, durability, and ergonomic grips made them the perfect choice for navigating steep ascents and descents, rocky paths, and unpredictable weather conditions. These poles provided the stability and support we needed while maintaining our agility, allowing us to conquer the rugged landscape with confidence and speed.
On the big trekking sections there were many possibilities to get cliffed out. To help make sure we were staying on our route during the dark hours we brought along Fenix's PD36 Pro. It features a turbo lumen mode of 2800 lumens and it can then throw this 380 meters! Thanks to the PD36 Pro, we were able to light up the cliffs and make sure we could go up and down safely! It is also the most durable and lightest flashlight we have found. It is waterproof, dustproof and impact resistant. And with a 5000 mAh battery that can last for up to 42 hours, we never had to worry about recharging it or carrying a spare battery for the entire race!
We hope you enjoyed our gear break down.
Thank you all for your support and love. We are truly so grateful for all of you!!