Shoes and gear – a skyrunner’s mini guide
In the mountains, speed means safety: the ability to move quickly in the face of an oncoming storm or to have to descend rapidly due to hypoxy can be decisive issues.
Variable temperatures, terrain and altitude all require products that are technical, light, thermal, breathable and elastic that protect without restricting your movements and hence, speed. Skyrunning has helped to revolutionise this concept.
Trail running shoes with a good grip and a protective upper to resist water and snow are a must.
What to wear? In certain races, some items are compulsory: like full-length tights or long, microfibre pants, a long sleeved top or cyclist’s top with pockets in the rear for a lightweight windproof jacket. Sunglasses, a headband, or gloves may also be listed as compulsory accessories. Ski poles are usually an optional.
Ordinary road running gear – shorts and singlet – is acceptable in shorter races in warm climates without too much altitude.
The list of compulsory race material is indicated in the race brochures and in the rules for each race.
In training at high altitude, never leave without a windproof vest, tights or microfibre pants, hat and gloves. Away from marked courses an altimeter/compass is useful to take a GPS. Don’t forget a water bottle and energy bars.
Technical fabrics and lightweight trail running shoes are continuously evolving – the whole kit has lightened from 3 kg when skyrunning started in the early 90s – to less than 1 kg. Shoes and equipment are featherweight and functional.
Shoes are most important for performance and safety. The following is a selection of the various models from various brands. The list includes only shoes evaluated as good ***, very good ****, best in test ****° or suitable for high-level performance °°°°.