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Breaking Down Kilian Jornet’s 24-Hour Uphill Record Gear

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Above photo by @mattibernitz / @romsdalrando

Last week, Kilian Jornet did what he does best: crush endurance records. This time, it was the 24-hour record for vertical gain. Here’s the kit he used to do it.

The 24-hour vertical gain record is a slightly obscure, super-masochistic endeavor. It requires a skier to travel uphill and down nonstop for a full 24 hours with pretty much no rest.

And on Feb. 8, 2019, Kilian Jornet topped two records set in 2017 — Mike Foote’s old record of 61,200 vertical feet and Lars Erik Skjervheim’s newer record of 68,697 feet. Jornet climbed a whopping 77,053 feet in 24 hours.

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And while the accomplishment is incredible, Jornet himself calls it out as somewhat pointless. “Firstly, I would like to say that this is not about achieving any official record, since every person who has taken part in this has done so in different places, conditions, etc., so it’s not really possible to compare them,” Jornet wrote in his blog.

“I don’t know why I’m doing this. Probably it’s very stupid. It’s not very fun, it’s not interesting,” Jornet then says in the opening of his video, below.

But let’s all revel in this guy’s amazing athleticism for a minute.

So now that we all know that he’s a beast, let’s take a quick look at Jornet’s kit.

Kilian Jornet: Gear for 24-Hour Vertical Gain Challenge

Jornet shared his gear list with little other info on his blog. But I found it fun and informative to see what the best of the best uses on an epic uphill. I’ll break it down below. My comments are in italics.

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For transparency, Jornet is a Salomon athlete, which clearly affects his brand of choice.

  • Suunto 9 Titanium — It’s little surprise that Jornet wore a GPS watch to track his attempt. The Suunto 9 Titanium has one standout feature, battery life, that makes sense here. The brand claims it will measure exercise for up to 120 hours, more than enough for a 24-hour attempt.

  • Skis: Salomon Minim + Ultimate Pierre Gignoux binding (750g I used only one pair of skis but had others on standby in case something broke.) — You can’t get much lighter than this kit. Pierre Gignoux bindings are as simple as they get: just carbon fiber and metal pins. 

Ultimate Pierre Gignoux binding

  • Salomon Nordic poles 135cm — While most alpine touring skiers and even many skimo racers use adjustable poles, Jornet went full Nordic in his 24-hour endeavor. Given the relatively gentle terrain of the Tusten ski area in Molde, Norway, the longer, superlight Nordic poles gave him good uphill propulsion. The downhill performance was likely not a significant issue.

  • Gignoux Race boots (the same pair of boots and liner for the entire time) — Like the bindings, the Gignoux race boots are hyperfocused for light weight and speed. However, they are certainly not simple. Consider the neoprene-lined carbon fiber shell below. It has a locking walk mode for uphill-to-downhill transition and locks onto the above binding securely. And at just 17 ounces, it weighs just a tad more than a trail running shoe.

Gignoux Race boots

  • Salomon skimo suit — Because what would a race be without some spandex?

  • Salomon long tee — Jornet chose an interesting layer against the skin. The Pulse Seamless Tee is a blend of merino and polyamide, which should perform well for both comfort and drying. But, most importantly, it has no seams to cause irritation. Having run several events that lasted longer than 24 hours, I can attest that chafing can be a serious downer. Fewer seams should help on that front.

  • Salomon thin down jacket (loops 1, 2,12-37) — When it got cold, Jornet jumped in a 700-fill down Haloes Down Jacket. This one weighs just 448 grams.

  • Salomon down jacket (loops 37-51) — When he warmed, Jornet hopped over to a hybrid down softshell. The X Alp Down Hoodie mixes 800-fill-power down with softshell shoulders for more modest insulation than the Haloes jacket.

RS Pro WS Glove

  • Thin glove (change to 2nd pair after loop 37) — Jornet had a typo in his list, but the link goes to the RS Pro WS Glove, so I just fixed it. This is a windproof Windstopper glove. It’s super breathable, which is exactly what you want when exerting in cold weather.

  • Neck warmer — Jornet doesn’t specify what he wore here, but we’ve been strong proponents of neckwarmers like the Buff for years.

  • Beanie (after loop 30) — Again, Jornet did not specify what beanie he wore. I’d guess a lightweight hat that kept his ears warm.

  • Headlamp (Silva Explore 3 loops 15-37, Petzl Nao loops 38-46) — I found it interesting that Jornet changed his headlamp mid-course. Whether that was due to a dying battery or personal preference, I’m not sure. The Silva Explore 3 is a light headlamp that runs off three AAA batteries. The Petzl Nao is a much more powerful lamp, which kicks out up to 700 lumens of power.

  • Pomoca Race Pro/Grip skins (4 pairs, I had the 3 pairs I wasn’t using during the uphill at the bottom of the slope drying) — Pomoca has a few skins in its Race series, and it looks like he chose grip over glide here.

  • Sunglasses (loops 1-15) — Salomon’s light and sporty Broad Peak is a good all-around sports pair of sunglasses. No surprise here.

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