Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM)
The South African Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) is a seven-day self-sufficient race covering 250km of sandy desert and rocky, mountainous outcrops. One stage of 80km is run over a complete day and night. Competitors carry everything they need for seven days on the move: food, sleeping bags, warm clothing, and cooking equipment. The overnight camp facilities provide shelter, drinking water, and an open fire, but that's it! So with a typical pack size of 10–12kg and temperatures in the day of 35-45 Celsius and a chilly 4 Celsius at night, the right kit selection is vital.
Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon Sleeping Bags
The two PHD sleeping bags which are most suitable for the KAEM are the Minimus and the Minim 400. The Minimus excels at saving weight and bulk in your pack, while the Minim 400 ensures secure warmth if the temperature dips.
The Minimus has been used below zero on many occasions, but mostly in competitions where only one or two nights camping were involved. The KAEM is much longer and the argument for extra comfort (Minim 400) is strong.
There is a third bag, the Ultra K, which is a choice for the extra-competitive or the hardy: it is the lightest bag of all, but you may have chilly nights. (Combining a sleeping bag and down-filled clothing can, however, be used to good effect.)
The basic figures for the standard models:
|S-bag||TOT (Min Temp)||Weight||Packed size|
Hght x Diam (cm)
|Minimus||5||41||465||16||21 x 13||255|
|Minim 400||-5||23||670||24||28 x 17||315|
|Minim Ultra K||8||46||330||12||21 x 13||285|
- TEMPERATURE RATING: Put simply, these are the temperatures at which you should be able to get a night's sleep in normal circumstances. For fuller details about the TOT rating see this Technical Briefing.
- LINERS: A liner will add to the insulation if you choose the Minimus or the Ultra K, but want more warmth. As always it is a trade-off between the extra weight and bulk and the warmth you gain (maybe 2C). Silk liners at 140gm probably give the best value.
- CLOTHING: Thermals (if you are taking them) and/or other clothing obviously help to keep you warm. If choosing the Minimus or the Ultra K, an Ultra Down Vest K at 150gm is an optional addition for minimal weight.
- FABRIC OPTIONS: The Minimus and Minim 400 come as standard with M1 outer fabric. MX and Drishell are the other optional outers for these two bags. MX is our lightest fabric and reduces the total weight by about 18gm. Drishell is highly wind/water resistant and adds about 40gm to the total weight.
- ZIPS: None of these bags has a zip. Zips are an option, but most competitors don't ask for one. A short zip with draft tube adds about 50gm (2oz): a full zip and tube adds about 110gm (4oz). Zips also add to the packed size.
- PACKED SIZE: PHD stuff sacs tend to be on the loose side. All these bags can be compressed further in your sac, particularly the Ultra K.
Figures for Fabric options:
|S-bag||Materials||TOT (Min Temp)||Weight||Packed size|
Hght x Diam (cm)
|Minimus||MX outer||5||41||447||16||21 x 13||275|
|Minimus||Drishell outer||5||41||505||18||21 x 13||285|
|Minim 400||MX outer||-5||23||652||23||28 x 17||336|
Down Clothing selection
The use of down clothing as a layering system while in your sleeping bag and for wearing around camp is a good option for ultimate weight saving and provision of warmth. The ultra range of clothing was designed with this need in mind. The Ultra Vest K weighs only 150gm, which is lighter than most T-shirts, yet it will give real warmth up to approximately –5c. The Ultra Pullover K is, for the same reasons, another good option. At 230gm it's about half the weight and bulk of a conventional fleece jacket and 100% windproof as well. Also consider the new Minimus trousers and Minimus socks, which can add considerably to the performance of your sleeping bag.
The next Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon will take place between 26th October - 5 November 2017.