Ragnar Relay packing tips and advice

Ragnar Relay Packing List & Tips

Ragnar Relay packing tips and advice

The important stuff to pack for team Breaking Ragnar…

In just two weeks I’m running a Ragnar Relay (Adirondacks) for the first time, and I’m excited and nervous and don’t really know what to expect.  To ease those nerves, I focus on things I can research and control – like packing!  In fact, the final spark that made me start this blog was all the helpful packing advice for the Ragnar Relay that I found online – lots of good advice, but I felt like it was scattered, and I wanted to compile it in one spot.  So, here’s my Ultimate Compiled Ragnar Relay Packing List, annotated! [EDIT:  FOR POST-RACE, UPDATED PACKING LIST, PLEASE VISIT HERE.]


This list assumes you’re running a standard Ragnar, not an ultra (so 3 legs, not potentially 6 legs).  Also, post-Ragnar I will let you know what items I found essential, what I thought I could have done without, and which items I wish I had.


In general, the two main tips I found were (1) not to overpack & (2) to be organized. The van gets crowded with all the people and stuff, and it sounds like you don’t end up using much stuff besides your running clothing and baby wipes.  A soft-sided duffle or backpack is recommended (no luggage with wheels – too bulky).


Everyone said to pack each running outfit in a separate gallon ziplock bag (socks, undies & bra, bottoms, top) & write LEG 1, 2, 3 on each bag with a sharpie – that way you can grab & go quickly, and post-run you can put sweaty clothes back in the bag along with some baking soda to combat odor until you get home to wash them.


As for food, each van can decide if/when you stop for meals, and it sounds like there are opportunities along the Adirondacks course, so the snacks are for fun but many people reported not eating as much as they thought they would.


Also, the Adirondacks are dark at night – and a lot of the roads don’t have street lamps.  So a decent headlamp is important, and make sure your flashing/reflective gear is comfy if you’ll have a long run in the middle of the night.  I bought a couple of Vizlet lights which weigh almost nothing (compared to those traditional red blinking lights with 2 AA batteries).  The Vizlets are thin and magnetized and can snap on to your hat or even the neck of your shirt without bouncing around.


Another tip was to have assigned duties for each person in the van. Jobs can rotate but it assures you’ll have a couple people on each duty.  For example, each van could have a –

  1. Van “Captain” – overall coordinator of van and between vans
  2. Navigators (2) – helps driver with directions, knows where & when to meet each runner
  3. Photographer – captures the memories (otherwise you might forget to take pics!)
  4. Food & Bev directors (2) – makes sure you have enough water/food, keeps van organized & clean


Without further ado…  THE LIST!


  • Running shirts – 3 at most and remember, you will be getting a tech (short sleeve) Ragnar shirt at the starting line, so you could count it as one shirt that you don’t have to pack
  • Running bottoms – 3
  • Running shoes – 1 or 2 pair
  • Running socks – 3 pair
  • Sports Bra/Undies – at least 3 pairs each
  • Hat/visor for rain or sun (the bill of the hat/visor also helps keep the headlamp from falling down) – 1 or 2 hats, depending on how much you sweat
  • Non-running shirt to wear in-between runs in the van – 1 or 2 comfy shirts (can always wear the next running shirt, too)
  • Non-running bottoms to wear in-between runs in the van – something comfy like sweats or yoga pants
  • Non-running shoes – something to air out your feet and that you can be comfortable in and shower in
  • Warm jacket or sweatshirt – it will be cool at night
  • Rain jacket/windbreaker
  • Costume items – anything fun you want to run in or cheer in!

Safety Gear (required) – check that all work and batteries are good

Running Accessories – Keep in one separate ziplock bag with night safety gear for easy of finding in van before each run

  • Handheld water bottle/water belt/Camelbak/SPI belt – whatever you normally use when running
  • Watch or GPS
  • Road ID – for your shoe, in case of emergency
  • Sunglasses
  • Hair ties/hairbands
  • Ipod & headphones
  • Phone numbers of all teammates & maps of your legs of the run – in a small ziplock bag, a “must carry” when running (other people sometimes remove course markings and runners get lost, so reviewing your segments and having little maps to carry with you are an excellent idea)
  • Cell Phone – see above – you should pre-program your teammates numbers into the phone, and you can photograph or screenshot the legs of your run – but hard copies are advised in case your phone dies
  • Cash – small bills (in general people said to have a decent amount of cash in small bills for food and drinks and random stuff you’ll want to buy at kiosks and stuff along and at the end of the course)


  • Cell phone – yeah, don’t forget this
  • Cell phone car charger & cords
  • Water bottle – something you can refill from the van’s large water supply (so you don’t have a million empty bottles floating around) – this is my favorite water bottle for refilling and tossing in my purse as the locking mechanism is very secure, but it also pops open easily and has an easy drinking spout (no wide mouth to splash you, no straw to get dirty).
  • Camera – can have one “team camera”
  • Body Glide/anti-chafe – I like Blue Steel Sports
  • Toiletries – your standard travel toiletries, pared down to a minimum (toothbrush & paste, small soap & small shampoo, etc.)
  • Sunblock – see my post for more on sunblocks
  • Chapstick with SPF
  • Deodorant – deserves its own line-item because of the whole “36 sweaty hours in a van” thing
  • Towel – for showering and also to sit on in van (so the seats aren’t gross)
  • Ear plugs & Sleeping Mask – highly recommended if you want to get any sleep at all
  • Small pillow – inflatable camping pillow?
  • Small blanket or compressed sleeping bag
  • Any medicine you need
  • Any prescription glasses/contacts you need
  • Food & Drinks – specific stuff you’ll need, e.g. GUs/gels/sport chews, special snacks, special protein powders or electrolyte tabs, etc. and any special snacks you’ll want (e.g. for me it’s Pop Tarts & Bonk Breaker bars)


Kit for Van – One Kit per Van (so everyone doesn’t have to bring everything, also helps with organization – amounts below are per van)

  • Race bible in binder – 1 per van required
  • GPS unit – another tip I heard was to pre-program all the exchange points into the GPS so you can just select them when it’s time to find your runner (could be very helpful when you’re tired at night) – the locations can be found at the Ragnar website under each leg
  • First Aid Kit for blisters, cuts, etc. (include Vaseline, rubber gloves, bandaids and antibacterial cream/spray, ibuprofen, aspirin, Tylenol, tums, immodium, , tweezers, scissors, day time cold medicine, cough drops, moleskin, tampons/pads)
  • Safety pins – several
  • Flashlight – 2 handheld
  • Colgate Whisp one-time use toothbrushes (no water required)
  • Hand sanitizer – 1 large pump bottle
  • Toilet paper – 1 roll
  • Kleenex – 1 box (especially handy if it might be cold outside and warm inside, which always makes my nose runny)
  • Trash bags – 1 box (for trash, ground cover, emergency poncho, etc.)
  • Zip lock bags – 1 box quart & 1 box gallon
  • Sharpie marker
  • Duct tape – 1 roll
  • Shoe anti-odor and drying spray – 1 can (optional)
  • Baking soda – 1 box
  • Baby wipes – at least 2 tubs per van, unscented – for on-the-go “showers” and general freshening up, cleaning hands, etc.
  • Bug spray – 1 bottle
  • Febreeze – 1 bottle (optional)
  • Van window markers/decorations/sidewalk chalk
  • The Stick (massage stick)/Foam roller
  • Snacks for the group – bananas, apples, nuts, pretzels, Twizzlers, granola bars, PB and J, etc. & gum
  • Drinks – powdered sports drink mix, water (purchase water on the road)
  • Soft-sided cooler – for semi-perishable foods (optional)
  • Water cooler – very optional, if someone already has one you can fill with ice and water and use it to refill bottles (otherwise can just pour from gallon jugs)
  • Cups & paper towels – 1 roll towels, a few cups


Whew!  It seems like a lot, and my pile of supplies is already taking over a lot of my living room, even though I haven’t finished gathering everything yet.  It will be an endurance packing relay as well!


Have you run Ragnar?  What packing tips do you have?  Share in the comments!

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