Grand to Grand Ultra

The Grand-to-Grand Ultra is a high-desert, self-support footrace crossing Arizona and Utah and starting from the north rim of the Grand Canyon at 5344 feet (1629 meters) and finishing on Grand Staircase at an altitude of 8698 feet (2651 meters). The course covers approximately 171 miles (275 km) spread over 6 stages with its long stage in the middle (Stage 3). The mileage is divided up in the following way: 31, 27, 52, 26, 26, 8.

Although the race takes place mostly in the high desert, overnight camps are typically at altitudes of between 5000 & 6600 feet so it can still get cold at night. Competitors need to carry their kit with them so, as always, a balance needs to be struck between what you’re reasonably prepared to carry and the warmth you need.

Down Sleeping Bag selection

The kit list requires a sleeping bag, with or without liner, which is capable of withstanding temperatures of 0°C. The most obvious choice from our main range therefore would be the M Degree 250, with a Typical Operating Temperature (TOT) of 0°C.

If you sleep cold, the M Degree 300 is even warmer. Otherwise, the Superlight bag from our Design Your Own Sleeping Bag site allows you to create a bag of exceptionally low weight to your own specifications.

S-bag TOT (Min Temp) Weight Packed size
Hght x Diam (cm)
°C  °F gm oz 
M Degree 250 0 32 390 14 21 x 13
M Degree 300 -3 26 445 16 21 x 13

Additional points:

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 see this Technical Briefing.

LINERS: A liner will add to the insulation, but as always there is a trade-off between the extra weight and bulk, and the warmth you gain. Silk liners add roughly 2°C but only weigh around 140g so they’re a popular choice. If you’re particularly concerned about cold, our K Series Filler Bag is 100g heavier than that but will add 10°C.

CLOTHING: Thermal baselayers obviously help to keep you warm, and lightweight warm layers such as our Wafer clothing boost the performance of the bag considerably. See the Clothing section below for more details.

FABRIC OPTIONS: These bags comes with 7X superlight outer fabric as standard. Hypershell is a highly wind/water resistant optional outer, adding about 15gm to the total weight

ZIPS: 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. A further option is the footzip which only adds about 10g (⅓ oz). See this technical briefing on sleeping bag zips.

Clothing selection

The kit list specifies a warm mid layer, for cold days or at camp in the evening. The Wafer Ultima Jacket and Pullover provide warmth down to about freezing point, but weigh just 185g/155g respectively. If you really tend to feel the cold, then the Ultra K Jacket or Pullover have also proved popular, offering a fantastic level of warmth at what is still a very low weight. They have a TOT of -5°C but nevertheless weigh just 240g or 225g respectively.

Some opt to take a light synthetic vest/gilet too. Like the Wafer clothing, the Sigma Vest has a TOT of 0°C but, thanks to its synthetic Primaloft insulation, it’s far less moisture sensitive than down: you can wear it to boost core body warmth when running in the cold without being concerned about perspiration saturating it.

All the above clothing can be worn inside a sleeping bag on colder nights. If Wafer Trousers and Wafer Socks are also worn to create a Sleep System, the performance will be quite significantly enhanced, despite a weight gain of only 175g. A full set of Wafer clothing (jacket, trousers and socks) will add 5°C to the temperature rating of your sleeping bag and, when you wriggle out of your sleeping bag in the morning (or the night), you will experience far less of a temperature drop to shock your system! And please, don’t underestimate the importance of the down socks! Cold feet are a quick and simple way to an uncomfortable, interrupted night (and a sluggish, groggy next day).

The next Grand to Grand Ultra starts on 22nd September 2024: