North Carolina Outward Bound School supplies the technical equipment needed for your, course. Depending on the course activities, we provide backpacks, canoes, sea kayaks, rock climbing gear, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, shelter, rain gear, compass, food, water bottles, cooking equipment, and eating utensils. Please refer to the Clothing and Gear List below for the items to bring to course.
Because our courses are subject to unpredictable weather, obtaining the proper clothing is crucial. Please bring the items on the Clothing and Gear list as described.
First, shop your closet or those of your family or friends - you might have many of these items already. Then start planning what you may need to buy, leaving yourself time to find sales or free shipping.
Many students shop for clothing and gear from the following retailers:
Plan ahead! When you arrive for course start, you will not have an opportunity to purchase forgotten items!
When packing, use a duffel bag or soft-sided luggage (if available) due to limited storage space at our facility.
When you arrive, your instructors will facilitate a process we call “duffel shuffle” that includes:
Our Clothing and Gear list reflects the layering principle. It is vital that all your clothing be comfortable, quick-drying, and warm. Several layers of light clothing keep you warm and can be adjusted to changes in both weather and activity. For example, wearing a long sleeve shirt, a fleece layer and a jacket allows you to adapt to changing conditions.
Points to keep in mind while planning and shopping:
Participants will not be permitted to begin their course without their required medications OR with new medications not approved by our Medical Screener.
All medications (prescription, non-prescription and over-the-counter) must:
Your medication container should not include other medications, vitamins or supplements. If possible, bring a double supply.
Do not bring non-prescription medications such as aspirin, Advil, etc., unless they are listed in your medical information. We have a medical kit that contains these medications.
Medication updates that occur after applicants are cleared to participate could affect their status on course. Please update the Student Services Department with any medication changes such as:
For participants on youth courses, our instructors carry all prescription medications, with the exception of birth control and emergency medications such as EpiPens or rescue asthma inhalers.
For participants on adult (age 18+) courses, we encourage participants to store their medication(s) container(s) in a zip-lock bag for protection. Pill sorters are not recommended.
Please bring your prescription eyewear to course and any applicable backup options. For glasses a retaining band is necessary to prevent loss during an activity.
For participants who wear contact lenses, you must bring your prescription glasses as back up. Be sure to bring enough contact lens solution so you can be diligent in your contact lens routine while out on course.
Please be aware that the use of contact lenses in the backcountry does carry more risk than when at home. A great level of diligence and hygiene is required in ensuring you do not damage your eyes.
You will be outside during your course. To maintain your health and comfort, the best protection from biting insects, skin irritation and sunburn is a physical barrier of clothing. Bring the required clothing and gear listed – it's essential to your comfort and safety.
It is your responsibility to follow your instructor’s directions and monitor how your skin reacts to the changing environment. Let them know if you encounter skin concerns before they present a barrier to your participation.
If you are traveling by air to your course, please review the TSA Carry-on Requirements for liquids.
Here are a few tips caring for long, kinky, or curly hair while on course:
Before course, consider putting your hair in a protective style, allowing enough time for your head to adjust prior to the start of your Outward Bound course. Be sure that your protective style will fit underneath a helmet. Suggested protective styles include:
Increased physical activity during Outward Bound may cause a change in your menstrual cycle. Prepare your menstruation kit using a zip lock bag even if you don’t expect your cycle during course.
Items to include:
We practice Leave No Trace camping techniques. Therefore, we pack out what we pack in. Instructors will distribute small opaque zip lock bags and small stuff sack for your individual storage of used items.You will dispose of any used items either during re-supplies (approximately every three to seven days) or at course end.
Your instructors are experienced in addressing menstruation care questions or concerns while on course. Don’t hesitate to ask them questions.
Proper footwear is essential for your safety and enjoyment. Take the following information with you when shopping for boots. The best boot for our terrain for backpacking courses is described as:
Do not bring:
FITTING YOUR BOOTS It is essential that your boots fit properly and are comfortable. You are unlikely to judge this walking around a store. Some retailers will allow you to purchase your boots with the understanding that if you wear them indoors for several hours and they do not feel comfortable, you may return them. Fit your boots with the socks you will wear on course.
BREAKING IN YOUR BOOTS Begin wearing your boots long before your course starts. Wear them around town and at home as much as possible every day for several weeks. You should put 10+ miles on your boots to break them in, walking on both level and rough terrain. If you start feeling any hot spots, treat them immediately using moleskin to protect against the hiker’s worst enemy: the blister! Be kind to your feet.
WATERPROOFING YOUR BOOTS After you are confident your boots fit properly, make sure they are waterproofed. Some boots are already waterproofed when purchased; but if not, follow the sales associate or manufacturer’s recommendations concerning the type of waterproofing to apply.
It's nice to go light, but many past students also recommend bringing the following items:
Hiking Boots: The best boot for our terrain is a medium weight boot that has ankle support; leather, nylon or Gore-Tex upper; and a hard rubber lug sole (like a tire tread). Crepe soled boots, approach shoes or trail running sneakers are not acceptable hiking boots. Do not buy mountaineering boots or high boots that constrict the calf. Your boots should be waterproof and comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Camp Shoes: A Croc-style, fast drying sandal with a heel strap is the ideal camp shoe for our courses. Your running shoes may double as camp shoes but be prepared for them to get wet, as camp shoes often serve as your stream/river crossing shoe. Camp shoes must fit securely to the foot, have a hard sole, be closed-toed and enclose the majority of the foot. Crocs and Keen sandals are ideal examples of camp shoes that can also be river crossing shoes.
River Crossing Shoes: A Croc-style, fast drying sandal with a heel strap is the ideal river crossing shoe for our courses. River crossing shoes must fit securely to the foot, have a hard sole, be closed-toed and enclose the majority of the foot. Crocs and Keen sandals are ideal examples of shoes that can be both a river crossing shoe and camp shoe.
Running Shoes: Running is a course component on most of our courses. A sturdy pair of running shoes with a supportive sole is ideal for running in the mountain terrain. These should be shoes you feel comfortable running in on pavement, gravel roads and trails. Barefoot running or minimalist style shoes are inappropriate for these areas.
Wet Shoes: A shoe that encloses the entire foot, has a hard sole and fits securely to the foot is the ideal wet shoe for our marine environment courses. An old pair of running shoes or sneakers is an example of a wet shoe that is often used by both students and staff. These are the shoes you will paddle in and they will get wet. Examples of unacceptable wet shoes include aqua socks or thin neoprene water shoes; flip flops; or any open toed, open heeled, or open sided sandals like Tevas, Chacos, Keens, Vibram 5 Fingers, and Crocs.