I have always had a fairly laissez faire approach to kit and gear in the decade or so that I have been trail running.
When I entered Rhodes in 2014, however, I was persuaded to take things a little more seriously, and to invest in a few extra items of kit, in order to survive some seriously ball-wrenching temperatures.
I am grateful I took heed, given the sub-zero temps at the starting line and snow falling at the final check point.
That year I ran in thicker than normal running tights, a good quality thermal under layer, a T-shirt on top of that and a good quality rain jacket. I also had a very good pair of gloves, thick socks and a beanie or buff. I don’t recall taking any of these layers off for the entire 50k run!
For rainy trail runs, it goes without saying the rain jacket is key. Keeping the core dry and warm is absolutely imperative. It all boils down to the quality of the jacket and whether it really is waterproof.
Ultimate Direction has an award winning waterproof jacket (Ultra Jacket) which is 6 times more breathable than the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc requirement, and is 2 times more waterproof than the requirements for UTMB.
Keeping on the theme of having a warm or waterproof jacket, a hydration vest is essential. Not only will it carry water, but allow you to store any additional items of warm/waterproof clothing you may need on your run. If you're on the mountain, keep in mind that weather conditions can change within a blink of an eye, and being able to call on that extra layer or jacket is vital! Find a pack that is lightweight and has no swing motion. Ultimate Direction are market leaders with this regards, and I would recommend seeing their range of packs.
If it's wet and cold, your choice of footwear is not something to take lightly! Find a shoe that works for you, and more importantly has great grip over wet conditions. I use the Lone peak 3.0 which has a super grippy outsole for any conditions. I pair (mind the pun) that with Injinji socks - they keep my feet dry and blister free!
Keeping ears and heads warm is another important aspect, so I would recommend either a fleece beanie or a few buffs. Possibly even having some spare in a zip-lock bag, along with a second thermal inner layer to change into should you get soaked through and you’re in it for the long haul.
Cold is generally manageable in my view. Cold AND wet is just plain miserable and is to be avoided at all costs. It takes preparation and quality clothing really – never get caught short, it simply isn’t worth it.