2019 SAC Gear Review and Weights
For most normal people (other than team Fuller/Steinbach) gear and the weight you have to carry is a big part of the Sniper Adventure Challenge. While it certainly is a competitive advantage to have a light pack there is no real mystery to getting towards the light side of pack weight. This is just *MY* perspective. Please keep in mind there are many other people who have different perspectives on how to best prepare for the Sniper Adventure Challenge, and the event also changes every year. If you just found this post and want to know more about the race, read more in 2019 Sniper Adventure Challenge extreme shooting race in another article here.
Match Required Gear
The 2019 Sniper Adventure Challenge required that teams carry a list of required gear. This list changes from year to year, so be sure to check the Competition Dynamics website for the most up to date list. My list is going to be paraphrased – here is a link to the 2019 Required Gear page at Competition Dynamics website. If I understand the rules correctly, ALL required gear must be carried by the competitors with them for the entire match.
Team Required Gear
- 100′ of rope (capable of hauling 100lbs)
- Cache bag
- GPS with batteries
- 6 AA batteries (normally for the issued radio)
- $100 radio deposit
Individual Required Gear
- Climbing Gear (Helmet, 2 locking carabiners, ATC belay device, harness)
- Eye & Ear protection
- 1 poncho or tarp (sturdy enough to carry a casualty)
- 1 hydration system 3L min capacity
- 1 headlamp, tactical light or utility light + extra batteries
- 1 emergency strobe light ( 250,000 peak lumens and a rate of between 40 and 60 flashes per minute required)
- 1 red flashing strobe bike light (worn during darkness)
- 1 reflective belt worn around pack
- 1 emergency space blanket
- 1 compass (not digital nor wrist compass)
- 1 firesteel fire starter or magnesium block
- 1 survival mirror
- 1 pack of water purification tablets or water filter
- 1 whistle (must be accessible on person – not in pack)
- 1 watch accurately set to local time
- 1 trauma kit (details below)
- 1 first aid kit (details below)
- 1 ID packet for both team members
Shoes – 24oz
For quite a while now, I have been extremely happy with Altra shoes. I started with the Superior’s and ultimately ended up with King MT’s which are trail running shoes. I have several sets and use them during training all year, and use the same shoes in the match. The Altra running shoes have a wide foot shaped toe box which fits my feet nicely. I prefer the zero drop and low cushion after having tried quite a few different shoes over the years.
I run dirty girl gaiters to keep crap out of my shoes. They are extremely light weight and minimalist.
My feet are hot, so I deal with sweaty feet in the race and during training, so based on a running coaches advice, I punch a bunch of holes all through my shoes to provide a LOT of ventilation. That works extremely well for me – try it with your old shoes if you have the same issue.
Socks – 1oz – 2oz
This year I ran the Drymax Hyper thin socks with PTFE “Blister Protection” for extra protection against blisters. The worked well for me, I also use the Injinji toe socks pretty frequently but since I don’t tend to have a blisters between my toes. However I take a LOT of socks in the match – and stow several pairs of spares in the cache bag. Keeping at least 1 pair of the Injinji toe socks can help if you start to get rubbing of a nail or blister between the toes.
I also like the features socks they fit really well, and the Smartwook PHD socks. Just make sure you test your shoes / socks in training to verify they work for you before the match.
Pants – Outdoor Research Ferrosi
For most of the prior years I have been running one pant and pretty happy with that. I have historically used the Prana Brion Pant (7.6 oz). It is stretchy, durable and light weight. I typically run 1 size smaller waist for the race since somehow I tend to lose mass during the Sniper Adventure Challenge.
However in 2019 I tried Outdoor Research’s Ferrosi Patns. These pants are GREAT! Durable and bit less stretchy than the Prana pants, but much lighter, and very breathable. I am a Ginger guy – so I need something to keep the sun off me, if I could wear shorts I would, but these are the next best thing!
Shirt – 4.3 oz (saved 4oz)
In prior years I have used Patagonia’s Tropic Comfort Hoody (8.3 oz) which is fairly light, and UPF 50 sun protective. However I decided to try out the Outdoor Research Echo Hoody when Patagonia stopped making the Tropic in white.
I am super glad I decided to try it. The Outdoor Research Men’s Echo Hoody is WAY lighter (4.3 oz), and incredibly breathable. I prior years the Patagonia had some annoyances. When the wind would blow (it is Wyoming right) the hood would pop off my head even though I buttoned the neck button. The OR Echo Hoody didn’t blow off because it was so breathable that the wind doesn’t even move the hood. VERY breathable. I won’t switch back – and I bought a couple extra so I don’t have to worry about missing out if they decide to stop making these.
Rain/Cold – 6.3 oz + 5.6 oz
You never know what the weather is going to be like. This year we miscalculated and got hit by a massive but short lived thunderstorm. Very heavy rain and wind on the first day. I really wish I hadn’t left my Outdoor Research rain pants in the cache bag…
At least I had my 6.3oz super lightweight and waterproof rain jacket made by La Sportiva the Hail Jacket. My upper body was nice and dry while my shoes were very squishy and filled with water…
I always want to focus on light weight products whenever I can, and keeping warm is no exception. My favorite high activity “sweater” to keep warm but with high breathability is actually a Patagonia baselayer. The Capilene Air Hoody is extremely breathable but warm and very light weight (5.6 oz).
I use this during winter training, and its always with me, even during high altitude summer training since the weather in Colorado changes in the blink of an eye.
Attack Pak – 4.5 lbs (72 oz)
I have run the same type of backpack since my very first Sniper Adventure Challenge. I run the Bison Kit from Attack Pak. This pack is everything I want in a pack for the volume I need at the Sniper Adventure Challenge.
- Extreme customization
- Separate belt and pack
- Hydration pouch storage
- Easily handle rifle and pistol carry
- Low volume and LIGHT WEIGHT (72 oz in stock form)
- Lots of structure to carry 40-60lbs
- Easy to lighten
I run a chest right I made up myself out of odds and ends to keep some items close at hand. I keep my map, pens, snacks, the team radio and my knife in my chest rig.
Carbine – JP Rifles
For a lot of years, I ran the JP Enterprises RR-JP15ULR in stock form. This is the JP Ultralight rifle and weighs 5.5 lbs as you order it from JP. This rifle performed extremely well in prior years, but I had some magazine issues and was looking for a bit longer barrel in 2019.
So, in 2019, I decided to run a JP Enterprises RR-JP15-CTAC with an 18″ barrel. It was a bit heavier (about 1lb) but I felt it would perform better. I was very happy with the performance this year, and will be running a similar configuration with a bit lighter furniture in 2020.
I run a Walther PPQ M2 Navy. It works very well, is very low maintenance and simply works aways – even when the mag well gets completely filled with dirt.
Andy Reinhardt (contact him on Facebook) makes my light weight kydex holster, it rocks.
In prior years I have seen competitors carrying 60+ lb packs. Our packs in 2019 were both around 38lbs, and here is the gear I carried, and how I got to that weight. Here is pretty much my pack as I ran it at the 2019 Sniper Adventure Challenge. I train with my own Yaesu radio since I have a Tech
license as a HAM radio operator. I try to train as much as possible with the exact gear I plan to use in the SAC so I get used to the equipment and I can adjust throughout the training season. The main component is the pack itself. I use the Attack Pak Bison Kit. Alex over at Attack Pak is great to work with, and these packs are proudly built in Colorado! I have used a variety of other packs for many different purposes, but after evaluation the Attack Pak is still the lightest while being the most functional for carrying my Rifle, Pistol and other gear needed for the race. I think the “dry” weight of the pack is 4.5lbs, and if you actively try to slim it down as I do, you can get the pack weight to around 3.5lbs. The pack I ran this year is sort of a prototype so you may notice slight differences to the pack on the Attack Pak website. Reach out to Alex if you have questions about the differences, and to get something specific to you. One of the main features of the Attack Pak is that everything is very modular. Since I really spend a lot of time messing around with my gear, I love this feature. I run some Blue Force Gear pouches for magazines, navigation equipment and snacks. I use a cut up Minus chest rig that I have heavily modified as a super light weight check rig. I tied up a couple of bungees at the last minute to hold my map – which worked out pretty well. I weighed several holsters for my Walther PPQ M2 Navy, and decided that the 303Arms custom holster made for me by Andy Reinhardt was the lightest and most secure. Reach out to him for a light but durable holster that can attach to your pack belt. I split my gear up into groups, sort of based on the required gear list from Competition-Dynamics.
- Trauma Kit
- First Aid Kit
- Survival Gear
- Extra Stuff
I try to carry all this gear in dry sacks. The Attack Pak is pretty weather resistant, but since we are often in the water at these matches it makes a lot of sense to keep the gear dry in dry sacks and to help manage the chaos of storage. If possible I try to color code my dry sacks so my partner or I can quickly reference the correct sack if needed. I ran out of colors so blue ends up being a lot of things.