Load Out: 2021 Mammoth Sniper Challenge

For anyone wanting to ruck with a heavy pack, camp outside and shoot guns with a buddy, the Mammoth Sniper Challenge might be for you. You can read a little more about the event itself here.

Many hours, days, weeks and months are spent by competitors getting their gear and themselves ready for the match. The saying “ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain” is certainly applicable when you have to carry everything 30+ miles in a few days. Because of this you’ll see teams put different priorities on what is carried along.

My load-out was similar to the 2020 loadout, but made a few changes with some lessons learned and adapting to the weather. The weekend started right at 60 pounds including the rifle, up about 10% from the prior year. For 2021, I was again the primary shooter for our team.

Guns and Related Gear

Rifle: PROOF Research Conviction rifle in 6mm Creedmoor. This rifle is their lightweight tactical type rifle featuring a carbon fiber composite barrel finished at 24″ long and carbon fiber stock to save on weight. For 2021 I was experimenting with some weights in the stock for balance, adding about two pounds over the normal configuration. The rifle was equipped with a SilencerCo Omega suppressor, MDT CkyePod and ATACR 7-35×56 F1. In total my rifle weight just shy of 16 pounds. I brought three of the Magpul AICS magazines to cut weight with the polymer bodies.

Our secondary rifle was similarly configured but chambered in .223 and without the additional weight. Having similar rifles is beneficial for adapting to shooting positions and in the event of partners having to swap rifles. Finally, with both of us running suppressed it’s very easy to communicate with each other and not have the concussion beating on us while in close proximity.

Scope: Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 F1 with Mil-XT reticle. While a bigger and heavier scope than others on the line, going with the high-end glass is essential for finding and engaging targets. We had varied weather conditions but I never had trouble finding targets. As with any Nightforce it likes to get dirty and get beat on, delivering performance when we needed it.

Rifle Ammo: 6mm Creedmoor loaded with Hornady 6mm 110gr A-Tips at 3045 fps.

Pistol: Staccato P in 9mm. While adding an extra pound or so over the Glock setup, I wanted to bring it as I had been shooting it more over the past year (check out A 2011 Life). There were some harder pistol shots in prior years and I expected similar for 2021, so I brought the 2011 to hopefully save time and rounds fired. Three of the 140mm magazines came along, as well as a Safariland ALS holster and an HSGI belt mounted Taco pouch.

Staccato P

Pistol Ammo: We had stashed some of the same Federal aluminum cased 9mm as the prior year and brought 90 rounds a piece along. I ended up firing 60 rounds for the match.

Other Shooting Kit:

  • Binoculars – Leica HD-B 3000, with laser range finder. Binos are beneficial when looking for targets by engaging both eyes, as well as having a little more magnification than a standalone rangefinder.
Greg finding targets with the Leica’s
  • Shooting Bag – Armageddon Gear Gamechanger bag with Git-Lite.
  • Kestrel 5700 Elite with Applied Ballistics – the Kestrel was loaded and trued up with our ballistic profiles. While we had written data, it was handy for double checking density altitude changes.
  • We dragged along a compact Really Right Stuff tripod with an Anvil head, which came in handy for a few stages this year. While you don’t need a tripod for Mammoth, we believe there are enough reasons to bring one along.
A tripod does come in handy, but it’s not essential.
You have to decide if the weight is worth it.
  • Mayflower/Velocity Systems arm board with written data for 0 and 1500 ft Density Altitude, along with spare Rite In The Rain note cards, a pen and grease pen. This is handy for recording stage info and using while on the clock finding targets or otherwise.


My pack was the same used last year, a Mystery Ranch Sawtooth 45. The 45 liter bag is stuffed full at step-off, but they get easier to manage as food is eaten and ammo is expended. The rifle was secured vertically with Kuiu rifle straps/harness on the outside. My rear bag was carried on top and secured with the rifle straps, and I had my quilt in a dry-bag secured at the bottom.

Sleep Stuff

  • Tent – After Mammoth last year we changed our tent to the Hyperlite Ultamid 2. It utilizes hiking sticks for the center pole, and being a 4-man sized tent gives us room to spread out sleep gear, regular kit to dry out when wet and even a little space to cook and eat. We also have a half insert for our sleep side.
    • 20 ounces for my half of the tent weight
Home, Sweet Home
  • Sleep System
    • I ran the same sleep system as before, an Enlightened Equipment quilt. Mine is a custom optioned model being extra wide and a 10-degree rating. With the colder weather this year it was comfortable to sleep in.
      • 30 ounces plus 3 ounces for Outdoor Research dry bag
    • My pad was an Exped inflatable Winter HL with the slightly higher R value for insulation. The Expeds have a neat inflation bad that basically makes an air pocket, then you push it into the pad for inflating. This makes inflation an easy and quick job.
      • 22 ounces with carrying bag and inflation bag
    • I learned between Mammoth and the Bushnell matches last year that I needed a good pillow. I found a Sea to Summit that was 2 ounces but very comfortable to sleep with.

Clothes/Personal Care

Clothes and personal items brought along will change with the weather. Since Georgia can be mild to chilly in January, you really can’t plan a perfect load out until the week of the event. This year the forecast was wet and 40s for the first day, then down to about 30 degrees at night and warming to 50s and 60s during the day. That kind of weather means layers.

  • Clothes
    • Kuhl Silencr Softshell convertible pants – I like using softshell pants as they don’t absorb water nearly as fast as others, and have a little wind resistance to them. They are also pretty quick to dry out when they do get wet. I’ve been using these pants for a while and like the pocket locations for being able to use on the clock and while rucking (like stashing gloves and a beanie as you warm up).
    • Thermal underlayer and shirts – I’ve got an assortment of these, but basically brought lightweight versions. When layered this worked well for the cold, but wasn’t too hot during the day. Having a second shirt was nice to swap when one would get wet with sweat.
    • Arcteryx LEAF Cold WX Hoodie – this was one item I splurged on for weight, as it’s an almost 2 pound jacket. However, it was totally worth it. When wet and cold it didn’t take long to warm up on day 1, and at night and early morning it was handy when setting up/tearing down camp.
    • Socks – multiple pairs of socks are very beneficial for keeping your feet going. I also brought a heavier pair to sleep in which were quite nice on the chilly nights.
    • Grid fleece – this was my extra layer for during the day, adding an extra layer of insulation
    • Gloves – I had a pair of Mechanix insulated gloves but never used them other than to handle a hot cup from cooking
    • Beanie – I had a lightweight Outdoor Research beanie, a fleece beanie and a down beanie, all of which got used. The OR was good for waiting for rucks and getting started, but fits easily in a pocket. The fleece was nice waiting at stages, and the down was my dry backup for at night.
    • Rain jacket – Rain jackets/hardshells are great for both moisture and wind protection. This year it was needed for both and my surplus ECWCS jacket worked well.
    • Shoes – I used the same shoes as last year, a pair of Salomon X Ulra 3s. They performed as they should, keeping my feet going across the terrain and conditions.
  • Personal Care items
    • I kept everything managed in a Mystery Ranch zoid bag, including:
      • Extra strength Tylenol
      • Camping toothbrush and toothpaste
      • Wet wipes
      • Micro-fiber towel (handy for drying off after a ruck)
      • Travel stick of deodorant/anti-perspirant
      • Battery Charger and 3” cable
      • Head lamp

Food/Cooking Kit

Nutrition is one of the keys to performing well at Mammoth. Our plan of large snacks all day worked well before, so we setup to do it again. Packaging each days main meals, plus supplemental snacks and energy boosts helps stay on track. With the cold it was actually harder to eat as much as the prior year, and we ended up with a couple meals left…however we did have more small snacks than before and consumed nearly all of them.

Day 2 food assortment

Last year we ran out of fuel on the second night. However with some practice we got better at our insulating and shielding of the fire, ensuring we made it to the final ruck before the canister burned the fuel. We both had Snow Peak stoves and a 4oz fuel canister, which worked for heating food and hot beverages. One thing is certain in the cold, finding your stash of hot chocolate packs in your bag can brighten the mood when you’re feeling a little down!

Cooking Kit, the extra cup was great for heating up a brew while the food was re-hydrating.

We both brought titanium cups in addition to our cooking cups, which was nice for having extra water to drink or mix up a brew. Using Hyperlite Repacks, we repacked our freeze-dried food into 1-qt Ziploc bags to save about a pound of weight and gain flexibility in where we could stash our food bags. The Hyperlite bag fits the Ziplocs and has insulation, so that once the water was heated we added it to the Ziploc, stirred and waited.

Parting Thoughts
From physical training to gathering equipment and practicing with your gear, a large part of the Mammoth Sniper Challenge is preparation. Ultimately the match itself is the end of months of getting ready and putting your decisions to the test. You don’t have to have the expensive and ultra-lightweight kit to succeed. Instead take the time learn about and use what you have and get in a little better shape.

We stepped off with about 60 pounds of gear, guns and food a piece, purposely bringing a little bit extra this year for various reasons. In the end, these decisions mostly worked out for us and were worth the weight. However, as the rules state, if you want to carry it feel free to bring it, you just have to decide if it’s worth carrying 30+ miles.

Crossing the finish line!