What to Pack for Bataan Death March

Updated: Feb 20, 2020


Download a printable PDF packing list here: Packing List 


So you’re doing the Bataan Memorial Death March. Congratulations you’re about to embark on an amazing journey through the high desert that is as spiritual as it is beautiful.


Bataan has become an annual journey for me and over the last few years I have noticed two things; people are either prepared and have an amazing day or they're not prepared and they’re beyond miserable. I’m writing this so you can be like us – "The happy people."


Bataan isn’t like other half-marathons or marathons you don’t have beautifully paved streets with water stations every mile. You’re out in the beautiful high desert with rolling hills, some challenging climbs, at times high winds, and of course sand. You’re going to use muscles that you didn’t know you had and your feet and ankles are going to be challenged in ways that you don’t get on the pavement. I’m not telling you these things to scare you off, I want you to go prepared so you’ll have an amazing march.


I should mention here that Bataan has two main pack size divisions the light and heavy [click here to see all the event categories]. The light you can wear any style pack or none at all – I suggest you wear some sort of small pack. Then there is the heavy division. For this, you must start out with – and finish with a min of 35 pounds. For this, you can add either bags of rice, flour, whatever you like to make up the weight. You’ll also need a large military-style rucksack to carry it all in.


I do the women’s civilian light division so my packing list is based on that. I’m sure the personal items for heavy would be close to the same with maybe a few minor adjustments. Depending on your size and appetite you might need more or less of the nutrition/food items listed. I always take extra stuff to share on the trail with those who didn’t pack enough. You’ll know who they are cause they’ll be dragging themselves along with a glazed look in their eyes, or alongside the trail trying to work out cramps from lack of electrolytes.


The following is what I carry in my personal pack – for the full march – you may want to add or delete items as you see fit. Some of the items below contain links to show you where to find the item(s) or what they look like. You will see them as you scroll over the words.


Okay, enough chit-chat let’s get to my personal pack – packing list. You can click here [Bataan March Packing List] for a PDF print out of the list below – minus the chit-chat.


WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR PACK 

  • Pack – I use the Osprey Raven 14—I found it the perfect size for my body type and gear needs.

  • Extra socks (2 pairs) – rolled up in a zip lock bag. The zip lock bag ensures the socks stay dry and clean. I wear Swiftwick Aspire 12 – I wear them pushed down slightly until my calves start to revolt then I get the benefit of the compression when they are pulled up fully. These socks are compression.

  • Foot powder – sample size – I use Gold Bond 

  • Hand sanitizer – sample size — you’ll thank me for this one.

  • Safety pin — in case you have to pop your own blister. Hopefully, you won’t get any.

  • Baby wipes kept in a small amount in a zip lock bag. you’ll love me for this one too when you’re in a potty that doesn’t have paper or sanitation.

  • Sunblock 50 – I like to use the spray — you can burn within 15 minutes in the desert even when it’s overcast and cool!

  • Blister pads (ample supply) — I use Dr. Scholls Blister treatment pads. – I say ample supply so you can pass them out to those in need.


  • Body Glide or Petroleum Jelly AKA Vaseline (in travel size) — I pack both.

  • Cell phone – (keep an extra ziplock bag for it in the VERY off-chance it rains).

  • Cliff Shot Blocks — I carry 3-4 packs – and tend to share them when people seem to need nutrition. – I like the orange.

  • Pickle Juice – Yep! pickle juice. 2 flasks — see Surviving the Bataan Death March for more info on this.

  • PayDay candy bars (3-4) already cut up into bit size in a zip lock bag.

  • Trail Mix – I keep a small zip lock of this — I like to fill the small mini M&M tubes with trail mix and keep it handy. Flip the top open and pour it into your mouth!

  • Sunglasses — You’ll want to pull these out while on the trail.

  • Clear glasses — You’ll want to wear these once the sun starts to go down to keep the sand out of your eyes. 

  • Sports Beans – 2 packs

  • Salt replacement – I normally take tablets, but during my Ironman I discovered Base Electrolyte Salt — it was AMAZING..! It’s now my go-to. Gatorade – single-serving packs (3-4)

  • Water bottle or bladder for water. I use a bladder and then connect an extra bottle with a carabiner to my pack. I use this for Gatorade. I keep water in my pack bladder.

  • GU Energy Gel Packs — 4+ [Do NOT drink g Gatorade with gel packs — this has been known to cause stomach upset.]

  • Money..! This is for the food village. Once you hit that spot on the course you’re gonna thank me! Take $10.00 – $20.00 — this should cover you. You can also buy an extra beer at the end of the event and you’ll need cash for it.

  • Video camera. I tend to keep my iPhone for messaging etc. and use a small Kodak Playful for taking video of the journey. If yours isn’t waterproof take an extra zip-lock for it. In case you walk through or stand under the cooling sprinklers or by chance it rains. Better safe than sorry.

  • Solar Charger for your phone and camera. I don’t know what I ever did without mine. This t