Gear I love for alpine running

Gear I love for alpine running

If you’ve read my prior post, then you already know that I’m unabashedly feminine in my approach to mountain clothing. I spend more time in smelly mountain clothes than anything else, so it’s got to look good, or I won’t wear it. If you get squirmy at the thought of talking about how a pair of technical skinny pants makes your butt look good, then you might want to scroll on through to the next post.

Alpine running system

Let’s dig into it. Rock and alpine climbing are my summer go-to activities, but last summer, alpine running started to occupy a lot of my time and I’m a big fan of in-a-day backcountry scrambling missions that might otherwise take two or even three days. When speed is paramount, I don’t want to carry around extraneous weight, so I’ve narrowed the ideal system down to the basics.

Top half

I pair the Y Not Bra under the Sparrowgrass Top. The Sparrowgrass is probably my all-time favorite MEC active t-shirt. I have – get ready for it – five of them in five different colours. Made of polyester, wool and spandex, it’s the best of all worlds because it doesn’t carry memory stink! The loose silhouette is always flattering no matter how many lemon basil scones I’ve downed, and it stays well ventilated while I sweat. I also like how you can see the spaghetti straps of the bra under the scoop neck of the top.

I am generally a very warm person, so I only need a simple wind layer to keep warm. I throw on the Farpoint Jacket (it packs into a tiny little pocket so you barely notice it when stowed). On summer alpine missions, the coldest element is always the wind. With a barrier between your skin and the wind, you’ll stay reasonably warm while you move.

When I stop for a quick bite or a summit photo, I throw on the Spicy. This jacket might be the single most important piece of gear in my whole kit. At 210 grams and made of 850-fill-power down, it’s one of the most cutting-edge pieces MEC has ever made. Ridiculously light and ridiculously warm for its weight, it’s absolutely one of the lightest down jackets on the market.

Gear I love for alpine running

Bottom half

When I’m running for much of the day and also scrambling on coarse rock, I prefer to wear tights. They wick moisture while I sweat, and don’t restrict movement while I scramble. The best feature of the Agility Tights might be the waistband. It’s wide, with a little extra flattering detail. I’m also partial to the fabric gathering around the ankle, which just makes them cute.

Accessories: gloves, pack, bottle, glasses

Like I said, I’m a very warm person – except for my extremities. I struggle to keep my hands and nose warm, so I travel in the mountains with a lightweight pair of gloves and headband. The Waterproof-Enough gloves are simple and I can scramble around on a glacier without turning my hands into wet, cold prunes. I’m also a big fan of a headband, which doubles as a sweatband when I’m burning calories, and as a nose warmer on early, frosty mornings.

I use the MEC Travel Light Pack series packs for alpine running, alpine climbing, and everything in between. They’re light and simple. The 40-denier nylon isn’t super-durable, but the for the price and weight savings, they totally work for me.

For alpine running missions, I never carry much water, as I’ll be jumping across pristine mountain creeks all day. I use a 750ml HydraPak Stash Bottle, or sometimes one with even less volume. They’re compressible, so if you decide to forego a backpack, you can easily carry one in your hand while you run, or stuff it into your pants or bra while you scramble.

I’m a huge fan of Julbo glasses. I feel like a superstar wearing them. Maybe it’s because they’re designed in France and have a certain “je ne sais quoi.” The Julbo Breeze glasses are my choice for mountains as they have a small frame but wide lenses for maximum coverage. The photochromic lenses change from dark to light depending on the environment. In trees, the lenses are light for good visibility, on a glacier they’re dark for protection from the strong reflected sunlight.


I do most mountain running in my Scarpa Rapid LT. They’re a hybrid running /approach shoe that incorporate sticky rubber, high traction treads, durable composition and a running shoe last. I wore my current pair for the whole season of last year and still haven’t worn them out.

Necessary extra

No mountain running system would be complete without my most cherished and necessary piece of equipment, my iPod Shuffle. I don’t go on any adventure where I anticipate a little suffering without the ability to blast Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber to help get me through.

Want more from Sarah? Follow her on Instagram @sarahleannehart or read her 2013 and 2015 Gear I Love posts on her blog: As It Happens

Sarah Hart
Sarah Hart

MEC Ambassador and former staffer originally from the GTA. Lover of all things climbing, she now calls Squamish home.