Marathon des Sables kit – Sleeping bag

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the most important bits of kit for the MDS is the sleeping bag. It’s important partly because it’s mandatory, partly because it’s so obviously vital for comfort and getting rest between the days of running, and partly because it could easily be the heaviest and bulkiest single bit of kit you carry. Go to an ordinary camping shop and even one of the better three-season sleeping bags is likely to weigh over 1.5kg. Even some described as ultra lite weigh 800-900g. That’s not so much for a hiker, but for a self-supported run it’s a big chunk of your weight, not to mention an awkward bulk to pack in your bag.

So, for the MDS as well as self-supported running in general, I was after something seriously small and light, but without breaking the bank. Arguably the best option for those criteria is the OMM mountain raid, famous for being incredibly light, packing up smaller than a jacket, and coming in at well under £200.  Initially I was going to buy the 1.0, which has 40g and 60g Primaloft fill, but after a useful chat with a friend who ran it last year and took the 1.6 which he said ‘just about’ kept him warm, I decided to go for that. It’s slightly heavier at 450g but also a bit warmer with 60g and 100g fill, and still packs down incredibly small.

One potential issue is that they are famously short and can be uncomfortable for anyone over 6′. I’m 6’1″ so this did slightly put me off and, having tried the bag out, I can see that having the hood over my head is going to feel pretty cramped. On the other hand I’m generally happy enough wearing a hat to keep my head warm, and I don’t mind sacrificing a bit of comfort for the light weight and reasonable price. Aside from that, it’s made from high quality materials and is relatively water resistant. The Primaloft feels incredibly thin and it’s hard to believe the bag would keep me warm, compared to the big, padded, soft sleeping bags I’m used to. However, it’s about a quarter of the weight and as long as it can beat the chill of a desert night, or an autumn run in southern England, I’ll be fine. There’s always the option to sleep in warm clothes or even use my fleece liner if I think cold is going to be a real problem.

The plan is to do a couple of overnight runs in the next few weeks to try it out but, if I’m happy with it, this’ll be my MDS sleeping bag. 

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