Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the store located?
What are the hours of operation?
I live far away, do you have an online store?
Do you do free shipping?
What exactly is "Mountain Running?"
What exactly is "Fastpacking?"
What equipment do I need for Mountain Running?
What equipment do I need for Fastpacking?
How can Sage to Summit help me find the right footwear and equipment for mountain activities?
Is the Eastern Sierra a good place for Mountain Running and Fastpacking?
Where are some good places to go for Mountain Running and Fastpacking in the Eastern Sierra?
What are the top local mountain race events in the area?
Are there local, professional guides that lead Mountain Running or Fastpacking outings?
312 North Main Street
Bishop, CA 93514
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Compared to most other mountain sports, Mountain Running is a minimalist sport, not requiring many gadgets. The gear you use depends primarily on the mountain range, local climate, your abilities/desires and the nature of the route.
Shoes - Footwear is one of the critical choices, for obvious reasons. For mountain running on trails, choose a trail runner as they are more durable, and have better traction and rock protection. If you will be rock hopping on talus, scrambling on exposed rocky ridges or smooth rock slabs, choose a trail runner with extra sticky rubber that will give better traction. If you will be traveling on scree or snow, consider a 3/4 or high-top trail runner, or add a gaiter designed to work well with running shoes. If you are in a moist, wet, very rainy, or snowy environment, a gore-tex lined shoe is recommended, but in most other cases, a breathable and quick drying shoe is usually lighter, more comfortable, and works fine. Regardless of your terrain and geography, be savvy and figure out in advance if you require a shoe with more support, more cushioning, more motion control, or a simply a minimalist shoe with less of all of the above. And above all, get a good fit! Consult with a trained shoe fitter or certified pedorthist to help you make informed footwear choices.
Socks - Technical socks are good at transporting moisture away from the skin, stay in place on the foot, and minimize the rubbing that causes blisters. Nothing is more likely to ruin a day in the mountains.
Base Layers - Technical, lightweight mountain running clothes are essential for controlling your personal climate. Shirts, pants, underwear, and shorts need to allow freedom of movement, provide support where necessary, and discourage any chafing, but at the same time still offer some wind and sun protection. They should be made of quick drying fabrics, so they will not become heavy with moisture and will be warmer if the weather comes in. Some like to wear garments that provide compression for increasing performance and recovery.
Outerwear - Protection from the elements is essential for comfort and well-being in the mountain environment. Wind, sun, rain, and snow are realities that must be planned for. On the other hand, the old mountaineer's saying is: "carry enough gear to bivouac, and you WILL bivouac." Modern technology has given us super lightweight, compressible, yet durable and protective outerwear. When one is moving fast with an increased metabolic rate it is not always necessary to carry 100% waterproof "hard shells." In fact, this type of outerwear will generally make you more moist from sweat than from the elements in most Mountain Running conditions. Fabrics like Gore-tex that claim to be both waterproof and breathable, may be one or the other but not both, practically speaking. Water resistant (usually coated with water repelling compounds) and breathable jackets and pants for high velocity activity is generally adequate for protection, breathe well, dry quickly, are ultralight and comforatable for moving, and cost less.
Handwear - Light fleece or softshell gloves, or even compressible shell mitts, can be invaluable on a long cold run. Weight and bulk generally increase with warmth and durability. A watch or other timekeeper is important for executing an effective trip plan. Watches can be integrated with an altimeter or GPS for increased functionality.
Headwear - More than 80% of heat loss is from the head. At the same time, overheating has a powerful reduction effect on performance. Light fleece hats have good temperature comfort range and stow easily in a pocket. Head wraps like "Buffs" are extremely versatile and lightweight. Synthetic sun hats with visors are critical for protecting from sun on the face and/or neck and reduce strain on the eyes. Sunglasses that protect from the full UV spectrum are critical for comfort, and prevent snowblindness, at higher altitudes and brighter environments. They should have good coverage, yet be breathable so as not to fog when active. For running in the dark an ultralight headlamp is key.
Hydration - Dehydration is a major performance killer in the mountains. What kind of hydration system you choose depends on many factors: location, elevation, weather and climate, length and intensity of trip, availability of drinking water sources on route, personal fitness and physiology, and personal preferences. Options include: hand bottles - for easy access to water on the go, without the weight of it on the back and shoulders, bottles strap comfortably onto the hands; hydration bladders - for easy access to water that is carried on the back and sipped from a tube, allows hands to be free and integrates well into a pack that carries clothing and other items; and hydration belts - worn around the waist, it keeps bottles easily accessible, allows hands to be free, and takes weight off of the shoulders, putting it all on the waist. Unless you know that the mountain water is safe for drinking, you may also want a lightweight portable water purification system with you to drink water from lakes and streams. This will enable you to carry less water, which is heavy, about 2lbs per Liter.
Fuel - Nutritional products engineered for optimizing performance are designed to be taken before, during, or after exertion. They can be used on their own or mixed with water and comes in powders, gels, blocks, nuggets, bars, and pills. These are convenient and easily digested endurance and recovery foods and supplements proven to have great effects on training and athletic performance. In between mountain running outings and these engineered products, we recommend eating as many whole, local foods as possible for optimal nutrition. Our friend Adam Kelinson, chef, endurance athlete, and author of The Athlete's Plate: Real Food for High Performance has written a book on this subject with some great and easy recipes and suggestions.
Sun Protection - Hat, sun protective clothing, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, etc.
Trekking or Nordic Walking Poles - Some long distance mountain runners like to have 1 or 2 trekking poles to provide some additional propulsion on uphills and traction on loose ground. Poles may reduce leg muscle fatigue and impact on the joints, especially on descents. On the other hand, using and carrying poles demands carrying more weight and arguably expending more energy overall in typical low-angle mountain running terrain. Poles can be very handy for stream crossings and for uneven terrain requiring additional stability where use of hands cannot be easily employed. Ultralight trekking poles fold up like tent poles are of fixed length. Telescoping trekking poles are adjustable and a bit heavier and sturdier. Nordic walking poles are of fixed length (longer) and have a wrist strap and feel similar to Nordic ski poles.
Navigational Tools & Technique - Unless you know the route well, Mountain Running requires some level of navigation. Trip planning and navigation courses are offered by many mountain guide services and outdoor schools. The primary tools for navigation are: topographic maps, compass, altimeter, and GPS. You can obtain paper topo maps or computer programs that allow you to print custom maps on your home printer. Compasses are very useful when traveling off of obvious trails and in low terrain visibility obscured by clouds or forest cover. An altimeter is one of the most useful tools as it provides a known point of elevation that can be referenced on the map and in the terain. GPS units are smaller and easier to use than ever before and provide invaluable information about your current position, as well as where you have been, and where you are going. Which tools to bring will depend on the level of navigation that could be required on your route.
Ultralightweight Emergency Kit - Ask yourself what would happen if you twisted an ankle or blew a knee late in the day and far from the road. Getting benighted unexpectedly can lead to an epic that puts you in great discomfort or risk. An immobile night out in the open could be life-threatening in some situations, but it is impractical carry a comfy camp on a mountain run and still have the same level of enjoyment and nimble freedom of movement. Consider carrying a few of these lightweight emergency items that won't affect the experience too much, but could make a big difference in an emergency:
- Shelter - Just a light piece of stretched nylon can make a huge difference. Carry a small SilNylon Tarp and some light cordage, or even a small mylar bivy sac for just in case.
- Extra insulating layer - Good for rest breaks up high and for an emergency overnight.
- Extra food/water - for just in case.
- Headlamp - lightweight emergency style.
- First aid kit - consider carrying a small, lightweight kit to be able to treat, splint, or package likely injuries such as broken bones, tweaked joints, soft tissue injuries, hypothermia, blisters, chafed areas, etc. Wilderness first aid training is a must for anyone going into the mountains more than an hour or two.
- Firestarter - Some way to light a fire to keep warm overnight and signal to rescue parties your exact location can be crucial.
- Communication device - In a real emergency, a communication device like a cell phone, SPOT messenger, satellite phone, or UHF/VHF radio could be a lifesaver. Ounce for ounce there is arguably no more effective device to facilitate survival in the mountains when things go badly and outside assistance is needed.
Well first of all, see What equipment do I need for Mountain Running?
Fastpacking requires carrying a larger and heavier pack than Mountain Running because Fastpackers plan to spend multiple days in the mountains. There are several reasons why multiple days usually means more weight:
1. Food is relatively heavy, and Fastpackers must carry it with them, often for several days in advance of when it is eaten.
2. For trips of more than a couple nights in length it generally saves significant weight to carry a lightweight cooking kit with dehydrated food that requires hot water to reconstitute rather than carry heavier food that is not dehydrated. Cooking kits are certainly necessary if the only source of drinking water is by melting snow. Cooking kits come in many styles and stoves may burn liquified gas, alcohol, solid fuel, or wood. Above treeline, collecting wood fuel is often not an option. Eating utensils and a bowl to hold food or drinks may be a necessary part of the kit.
3. Multiple planned overnights, in non-emergency, generally demand additional camping comfort/survival items such as a sleeping bag/quilt, sleeping pad, functional shelter, additional clothing layers, lightweight toiletries, bug repellent, animal-proof food storage systems, etc.
Footwear for Fastpacking is the same as for trail running. Some prefer a stability oriented trail running shoe or shoes with more ankle support due to heavier pack weight. It is possible, with the right equipment choices, to travel very light, fast, and far in the mountains while Fastpacking.
Sage to Summit's staff does not just geek out about mountain gear in the shop over espresso. We actually go to the mountains. Not just once in a while, but almost daily. This gives us first hand knowledge of what works and what doesn't. In addition, Sage to Summit staff is regularly given footwear and equipment to test drive on their own personal outings. Staff is regularly trained by product representatives and local experts on product details, shoe fitting, fitness, running technique, and mountain travel. Karen Schwartz, Sage to Summit founder is a certified pedorthist (professional shoe fitter) able to effectively fit and modify footwear and insoles to accommodate individuals. All staff has been trained extensively by her to give the best possible service. Most of all, we are friendly and always eager to help you dial in your systems for whatever high paced mountain endeavor you have planned. Come on by and let us do for you what we do best!
The Eastern Sierra is a super-mecca for Mountain Running & Fastpacking. Here's why:
- Weather and Climate - The Sierra has more sunny, stable, high pressure days than any major mountain range in the US. It's California after all, and the Eastside is the drier side of the mountains. The sun is strong at our latitude and temps are relatively warm. This allows us to go very light in the mountains in all respects.
- Geography - The Sierra is about as long as the entire high Alps chain. Bishop is in the center of the Owens Valley at the foot of the High Sierra, also known as the Range of Light. The town is also situated at the foot of the White Mountains on the other side. On both sides the mountains rise to above 14,000 feet, more than 10,000 feet above the valley floor. The Owens Valley is therefore the deepest valley in North America, and Bishop is at the heart of it all. Great relief means great diversity of climates and terrain types. The Owens Valley has been serendipitously protected from overdevelopment since the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power made their historic land grab to obtain the water rights necessary to develop the city. Although the deal tragically dessicated the Owens Lake, it also helped to ensure that much of the beautiful valley and adjacent mountains would remain preserved and undeveloped.
- Geology - The Eastern Sierra is a mix of colorful ancient rock folded and faulted alongside shimmering, younger granitic rock. The rocks of the Sierra are beautiful to walk, run, and climb through. So much rock in the Sierra is solid and conducive for scrambling and climbing to amazing summits.
- Trails and Trailheads - Thanks to mining and water history, and public agencies, there is a wealth of mountain roads that access the length of the Eastern Sierra. Some of these roads rise up 6-7000 feet from the valley to the trailheads. There are hundreds of desert roads and trails in the valley as well, all of which have excellent mountain views. Mountain running can be easily enjoyed year round in the Eastern Sierra. Not many mountain locales can make that claim.
- Wilderness - The Sierra includes vast expanses of National Park, National Forest, and Bureau of Land Management wildernesses. This allows for wild and pure interactions with nature and the mountains. There are many access points for experiencing wilderness and the trails are extensive.
Our Eastern Sierra Mountain Running Guide is a great resource for selecting a Mountain Run. For fastpacking there are many books and resources for sections of the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails. Contact us, or better yet strop by the shop, and our staff is happy to discuss itineraries and logistics with you. The Sierra Mountain Guides office is another great information source that is always eager and available to help Fastpackers in the area.
Check out our >Local Races page for a complete list!
Yes! Sage to Summit works closely with Sierra Mountain Guides, a locally based international ski and mountain guide service based in the Eastern Sierra. SMG offers exciting Mountain Running adventures in Yosemite and in the European Alps. They offer Fastpacking throughout the Eastern Sierra and Yosemite National Park as well.