Updated: Dec 5, 2021
The start signal for the Engadin Ultra Trail will be given in about 4 months. Therefore it is time to evaluate a well-fitting backpack and train with it.
After looking at trail shoes and poles, today we turn our attention to the backpack. Anyone taking part in the Engadin Ultra Trail must wear a backpack (see chapter 6.1 of the regulations). The rest of the compulsory equipment is stowed in it. In a later article we will take a closer look at the other compulsory equipment.
There is a wide range of backpacks. Make sure you look for a TRAIL backpack! This is because it is lighter than an ordinary mountain backpack and has special straps to keep it tight while running. There is nothing worse than a backpack that "dances" on your back and can also cause abrasions to your shoulders and back.
Although bike backpacks are also lightweight, they do not necessarily have the same devices as trail backpacks because they serve a different purpose.
Depending on the distance, there are different requirements for the backpack. While a small backpack with a capacity of 2 litres (or even a fanny pack with bidon and net for rain jacket and small items) is sufficient for the ET16, the EUT102 requires considerably more space to accommodate, for example, the headlamp, overtrousers and personal provisions.
It is therefore worth estimating the required volume first. The backpack models are labelled with a number corresponding to the volume, for example 2 for 2 litres, 5, 10, and so on.
The next step concerns the shape: Fanny pack, waistcoat or daypack? Here we recommend going to a specialist shop to try out the different models. The backpack may fit differently depending on shoulder width, chest circumference or back length.
It is also important to consider whether you prefer a water bottle or a hydration bladder for drinking. Water bottles are available in various designs: from the classic bidon to the soft flask of 0.5 or 0.75 litres. They can be stored in nets on the sides of the backpack or at the front at chest level. The hydration bladder is stowed inside the backpack on the back and has a larger capacity of up to 2 litres ; the disadvantage is that the backpack has to be taken off to refill it. Here it is important to look at the distance between the aid stations and estimate your own drinking needs.
Once you have made your choice, you can get used to the useful "stranger" on your back. Run the first training sessions with a half-empty backpack. This corresponds to the volume towards the end of the competition. This way you can check how well or tightly the half-empty backpack fits. Once you have got used to this, you can train with the "starting weight".
As soon as the temperature allows, run in competition clothing. This way you can recognise possible pressure points in time and, if necessary, look for another solution.
According to the famous motto: no experiments on race day! I wish you a good choice and lots of fun on the trails!