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.


  • 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 thing is priceless while on the march! Start off the march with a full charge and keep it all day! When I use it, I clip it to my pack – so it’s taking a charge while I’m charging my devices.

  • Antacids – Keep a small supply of these in case your stomach decides to revolt on you.!

  • Lip balm Pain reliever. Just do it! — I keep all my “Meds” in a small zip lock bag. Any other prescription medications you may need to take during the day.

**Remember to train with your pack! You’ll want to get used to the amount of weight you’ll be carrying come event day! Also, see How to Survive the Bataan Death March & Don’t Bonk Bataan (nutrition)


Below is a partial list for the full PDF packing list [download here: Bataan March Packing List]

Everything listed above plus the following

  • Bonnie Jungle Hat — to keep the sun off your face and shoulders. Pack or Ruck – I use the Osprey Raven 14—I found it the perfect size for my gear needs.

  • Neck gator — this will help keep the dust out of your mouth and sun off your neck.

  • Wind Jacket — in 2014 it was FREEZING the morning of Bataan and if you’re out on course later in the day the winds tend to kick up and it will cool off.

  • Skull hat for the morning if it’s cold.

  • Running gloves. Boy was I happy I had these at 2014 Bataan!

  • GPS watch or watch — I like to keep track of my march stats. I use an Ironman watch with GPS

  • Headphones – you can’t listen to your music without headphones!

  • Moisture-wicking shirt for the march

  • BDU pants or other pants/shorts to wear during the march. I like the pants because the pockets give me instant access to my nutrition etc without having to drop my pack.

  • Race belt — or you can just pin your number to your shirt. I prefer the belt.

  • Headlamp – small – in case you’re out while the sun is down and before the event. It’s pretty dark in the morning before the festivities get started. Arm sleeves — I wear Swiftwick — they act as UV, wind, and cold protection. They are light and breathable enough to wear them throughout the entire march.

  • Memorial signs, ribbons, flag, etc., (have these already attached to your pack come race day.

  • Sharpie so you can write an event day message on your body.


If you are marching at Bataan, make sure to come by the Memories of Honor booth. We will be handing out our Fallen Hero Memorial Back Bibs containing the names of our fallen warriors.

  • The Bibs are FREE and are first-come-first-serve. Once they are gone, that's it...

  • You can also write a message to your fallen hero's family, and we will mail it to them after the march.

  • If you want to go one step further in making an impact on the life of your fallen hero? Bring us your unit coin, and we will mail it with your message.

  • You can also register to be part of our 2020 team and or volunteer at our booth. https://runsignup.com/Race/NM/WhiteSandsMissileRange/2020BATAANTEAMMOH


Make sure to check out How to Survive the Bataan Death March for more information.

If you would like to dedicate your Bataan in the honor & memory of a fallen US military hero, please register at Memories of Honor and we will assign you a hero.

Please share and like our Memories of Honor page with everyone you know and tag us @MemoriesofHonor on FB and #Memoriesofhonor #EveryDayIsMemorialDay on Twitter. Let’s leave no sacrifice unhonored.

Amy Cotta | Founder & Mother of SSG Zych, USMC