As a 13-year veteran of the sport of adventure racing, Kyle Peter has quite literally gone to the ends of the Earth for his sport. During that time, the Oakland, California resident has taken part in more than 140 events, including over 25 grueling expedition length races. Over the past four years, his Team Adventure Medical Kits (formerly Team Technu Adventure Racing) has racked up more than 20 first places finishes, and has taken home the USARA National Championship in 2013, 2014, and 2015. The team also finished 3rd and 4th in the AR World Championships in 2013 and 2014 as well.
Recently we had the chance to touch base with Kyle to find out how he prepares for a race, what gear is crucial to success, and what he’s most excited about in terms of outdoor adventure.
Gear Institute: Hey Kyle! Great to chat with you, and thanks for taking some time to connect with us. Can you tell us what you’ve been up to recently?
Kyle Peter: Our 2015 season is pretty much wrapped up after going undefeated prior to heading to the Adventure Racing World Championships in the Pantanal of Brazil to finish off the year. We had very high hopes of improving on our top 5 placements from the past 2 years, but ended up coming in 8th in a very strong international field. The race took place in what is essentially the world’s 3rd largest swamp, so to prepare I spent the majority of my training time in the boat as we knew we’d be paddling for hours on end. We also had to battle some thick vegetation, as a machete was part of our mandatory gear list (that was a first for me!).
Other than that, I’ve also been very busy preparing for 2016. We will be racing in Belize, California, New Zealand, Wyoming, Colorado, Georgia, and Australia for sure.
GI: Sounds like a busy schedule ahead for next year. Can you tell us what pieces of gear you never leave home without?
KP: One of my favorite pieces of gear is the Garmin Forerunner 920XT GPS watch. Although GPS devices are banned in adventure races, I am completely addicted to recording my training and sharing performance analysis on Strava. The ability to upload via Bluetooth to my phone is key, as I don’t always want to open my computer. My rides, runs, and paddles are all on Strava before I even finish my recovery drink.
I also rely on my Altra Lone Peak shoes. After 13 years of running 1,000’s of miles with a heavy pack, my dogs have completely flattened out. I tried going to a larger shoe size, but the heels were too big. Then I found the Altra’s with their wide natural ‘footshape’ toe box. Blisters are a thing of the past, and the sore feet…well they still get sore, but that’s more likely to happen at hour 20 instead of hour 4.
I’m a big fan Perfect Bars too. I admit that I’m fully addicted to these things. My favorite flavor is Almond. I pretty much eat one a day. They are stored in the refrigerator, but can go without refrigeration for up to 10 days, so they are fine to take out on expedition races. Their texture is soft and moist so they go down easily when I am working hard and huffing and puffing. The majority of my fuel during a race is straight up sugar (Gu’s Chomps, junk food) but the Perfect Bar gives me the fat and protein my body needs for the multi-day races.
A few months ago I picked up GoPro camera and I’ve been having a blast taking action shots during my trainings and posting them to Instagram. Believe it or not, my teammate – who is a professional photographer – told me the best mount for it was my mouth! The head acts as a stabilizer and is the perfect location to capture the action. So I picked up The Pro Standard Grill Mount which fits comfortably in my mouth and can also be used as a tripod, hook mount, and clamp.
GI: And what gear from your sponsors has become indispensable over the years?
KP: The Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight &Watertight .7 is awesome. This first aid kit comes out more than we would like when racing hard through exotic locations. The UL&WT .7 is a waterproof and lightweight kit that we take on all of our adventures to patch us up. Good for about 2-4 people for 4-7 days. It’s bright yellow too so it’s easy to find in a pack during an emergency situation.
The Survive Outdoors Longer Escape Bivvy is a must-have as well. When racing non-stop for 5+ days we don’t have the luxury of standard backpacking tents and sleeping bags. In years past we used to sleep in basic heat reflective blankets, have a fitful “night’s” rest of 2-3 hours, and wake up soaking wet and bone chillingly cold. Now we carry the 8.5-ounce Escape bivvy that reflects body heat, keeps out the elements, and is breathable. It helps us to recover better during our sleep periods, and wake up dry and ready to tackle the next leg of the race.
The new Leki Micro Trail Pro trekking poles have quickly become a favorite piece of gear as well. I am a strong believer in the benefits of using trekking poles for sure. These bad boys are coming out in the spring of 2016, but I have been fortunate enough to test them this fall. They are 100% designed for the trail runner or fast packer, and utilize the easy in/out system that Leki cross-country ski poles use too. The also have the added benefit of being able to collapse down small enough to fit into a running pack as well.
I’m a big fan of the OutThere USA AS-3 pack too. The AS-3, along with its smaller and larger siblings, are designed specifically for fast action hikers and runners. It is loaded with features to enable the user to access its contents without having to slow down or even remove the pack. This is our go-to pack for race legs that are over 12 hours in length. The features I like the most are the “beaver tail pockets” on the shoulder straps, the hip belt water bottle holders, hip belt pockets, the 6 external mesh and nylon pockets, and the “on the fly zipper” to access the main compartment of the pack without going through the top.
GI: Do you have any good outdoor tips that you’ve learned while racing that may be of interest to our readers?
KP: Here’s a handy tip. I make my own water treatment by emptying out the tiny size Visine bottles and filling them up with household bleach. I then put 5 drops of the bleach into each litter of water that needs to be treated. It is a very inexpensive and lightweight way to treat water. I have been using this method for the past 5 years to treat water all over the globe with absolutely no issues. Bleach is recommended by the USA EPA as one of three methods to disinfect water for drinking.
GI: In terms of outdoor adventure, what has you really excited right now?
KP: Alpacka Packfafts. Packrafting has been around for a long time, but has really gained popularity over the past few years. It is essentially paddling in a boat that you can deflate and carry in your backpack. This sport opens up huge new opportunities to adventurers. Hike up valley, float back to the car. Bushwhack to a remote mountain lake or river and go for a paddle in a remote setting. In Brazil we had to traverse a very wet area and were sometimes presented with many options for hiking around or paddling across to get to our ultimate destination. A packraft makes those choices a possibility.
Thanks Kyle! We appreciate your insights. Good luck in the 2016 adventure racing season.