One of the most challenging things about doing the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R) is the logistics of carrying all of your gear for the entire 47+ miles. While there are pump houses for water. You will need enough food for 10+ hours. And enough clothes to cover the variety of weather conditions you can face. With changes that can be as drastic as 70 degrees in the canyon while experiencing snow flurries towards the top of the rim.
Below is a complete list of the gear we carried on our R2R2R journey. I’ve noted what I would consider optional, while the rest I would consider mandatory when entering the canyon.
Nutrition & Gear List – Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon
Clothes for the R2R2R
Like with anything else on this list. It’s important to test out your clothes before wearing them on such a long run. So make sure to get your outfit ready and tested a few weeks before your run to be safe.
- Trail Running Shoes – You want something comfortable and that you have trained in. If you get new shoes before your trip, make sure you break them in a bit before the big day.
- Running Socks – Do not wear cotton. Spend some a little extra and get a pair you have time to test before your big run. I’m a big fan of these Balega running socks.
- Gators – Some may consider these optional. I don’t. A good pair of trail running gators will keep larger and small rocks, and sand out of your shoes. This becomes even more important in the desert.
- Underwear (optional/sometimes built into your shorts) – Get a brand you trust and have trained in.
- Shorts – Make sure this is a brand you trust and have trained in.
- Shirt – Make sure this is a brand you trust and have trained in.
- Windbreaker – A good windbreaker is a great way to stay warm while running. You will want to get something packable. Many fold up into their own pockets.
- Hat – You are going to be in the sun all day. A good hat is a great way to “bring your own shade” to the desert. It’s also a great way to keep sweat out of your eyes.
- Sunglasses – The sun… Make sure to protect your eyes from that big ball of fire. Get something comfortable with a high level of protection. Something polarized from the gas station can work perfect for something like this.
- Cooling Buff (optional based on hat) – A good buff can do a lot. Keeping you warm in the cooler weather in the morning or evening. While protecting you from the sun and wind during the day.
- UV Arm Sleeves (optional) – Another great layering option. Wear them to start the day to keep warm. Then protect yourself from the sun later in the day.
- Extra Socks – It’s common for runners to carry an extra pair of socks. I don’t recommend changing them unless you need to. But if you do, an extra pair is great to have.
Gear for the Rim to Rim to Rim
- Running Vest/Bag – You’re going to need something comfortable to carry your water, fuel, and gear. Make sure you test this out before you go. If you are going during the colder months and need a little more room. I recommend ________.
- 4 Water Bottles – I am all about the soft flasks over camel backs. Carry 2 liters of water on you and don’t skip pump houses. Keep it full whenever you get a chance.
- Water Filter – I’ve tried them all. And this is by far the easiest and fastest water filter for trail runners.
- Hiking Poles (optional) – Hiking poles can make a big difference on the inclines. If you are planning on using them, make sure you train with them. And you’re going to want something light and fully collapsible..
- Body Lube – This one is a must! Put it anywhere you think you might need it. And a few places you don’t. I’ve never heard a runner say they regretted using too much body lube.
- Sunscreen – Travel sized 2 pack. Make sure to keep yourself safe from the sun.
- Wet Wipes – For emergencies on the trail. There are a few restrooms. Don’t count on them having TP. Also great for wiping/disinfecting your hands etc.
- 1 Small Roll Athletic Tape – For quick fixes on the fly.
- Phone/Camera – Make sure your phone is easily accessible while moving. You are going to want to take a ton of pictures!
- 2 Plastic Bags – One to put your phone in. And one to put your money (for phantom ranch) and ID in.
- Headlamp – You will probably be starting or ending (or both) in the dark.
- Extra Set of Batteries – You don’t want to be running in the dark. But don’t worry, Amazon Makes Batteries for a great price.
- Watch – Even if you’re not tracking your run. You should always know what time it is and have some way to gauge your pace. There is a good chance your phone will run out of battery.
- Microspikes (optional) – If you are going in the winter, spring, or fall, there is a chance you will run into ice or snow on the upper parts of the rim. Remember, the temperature can differ 50+ degrees from the bottom of the canyon to the top north rim. And it’s common to go from the 70’s in the bottom to snowing at the top during those times of years.The iced over trails may become unpassible without some sort of traction.
- 1 Small Roll Athletic Tape (optional)– Great for quick fixes on the fly. If you have poles, just roll off a bit onto your pole just below the grip. If you ever need it you can re-roll it off.
- 4 long zip ties (optional)- These are cheap, light, and can save your ass on a long trail. They can be used if your shoelace breaks, to fix a pack, clothes, and other pieces of gear. This along with small roll of tape mentioned above can fix a lot in a pinch.
Food & Nutrition for running the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim
For food, everyone is different. Make sure you are bringing things you have tested out during training. Below is a list of the food we carried. Minus the sandwiches we both forgot in our hotel room fridge.
- 4 Bags Energy Beans/Jelly Beans – These are easy to eat and digest while running. The sugars hit quickly and they are very easy to carry. I like to take a mix of regular and caffeinated. Using the caffeinated towards the end of the run.
- 4 Honey Stingers – These are some of my team’s favorites on the trails. The only problem is that they don’t travel as well as other snacks. But it’s worth the trouble. They are that good.
- 2 Packs of Energy Block Gels – Another great easy way to get calories late in the run. They travel well and can be shared with other runners easily.
- 1 of each; Payday Bar, Snickers Bar, and large sized Peanut M&M’s – I have a bit of a sweet tooth if you couldn’t tell. But all of these are super filling with a lot of calories.
- 1 Lays Potato Chips Stax – The Lays Stax comes in the hard plastic containers. Perfect for the trail. And can be found in a shorter 6oz size making it even easier to carry.
- 2 Pepperoni Slider Sandwiches – Our team is a big fan of making smaller sandwiches using slider rolls with pepperoni and/or salami. The cured meats hold up well for long periods. And are high in fats and salts needed while running.
- 2 Peanut Butter and Jelly Slider Sandwiches – Small sandwiches made on slider rolls with. Peanut butter and jelly is a classic for a reason. If you leave you sandwiches in the fridge over night, place a plastic bag on your rooms door handle to remind yourself to grab them in the morning.
- 4 Mini Slim Jims – Another salty, fatty, and easy to digest snack. Slim Jim makes small version that are great for the trail. And take up almost no space at all.
- 12 Salt Pills – Salt pills are a great way to get buffered electrolytes and salt quickly and easily. These are easy to carry and should be taken every few hours.
- 8 Gatorade Mix Single Servings – Just mix with water and you have fresh water on the trail. I like using the arctic cherry so it doesn’t stain my soft flask.
- 4 Liquid IV Single Servings – Liquid IV is much stronger than Gatorade and can pack a punch. I like to take one at the halfway point and at any point I start feeling really drained late in the run. Especially when it gets harder to intake solid food.