CLOTHING & GEAR LIST

The Clothing and Gear list is the result of many years of staff and participant feedback. Please read and follow these suggestions and the check list closely. 

Getting Started - What We Supply & More
WHAT WE SUPPLY

North Carolina Outward Bound School provides:

  • sleeping bags
  • sleeping pads
  • shelter
  • rain gear
  • compass
  • food
  • water bottles
  • cooking equipment
  • eating utensils 

We also provide activity-specific items based on your course type: 

  • backpacks
  • rock climbing gear
  • canoes, and/or
  • sea kayaks

Please refer to the Packing List below for the items to bring to course. 

WHERE TO SHOP

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!

Please review the video How to Pack for Course Without Breaking the Bank below. 

PACKING AND STORAGE

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:  

  • Assessment of your clothing and gear with the route and the anticipated weather in mind. (Tip: save the tags from new purchases so you can return any unused items after course end.) 
  • Issue Outward Bound items you will use during course 
  • Stowing personal items not needed while on expedition such as travel clothes, cell phones, electronic devices, and wallets back into your travel luggage. 
  • Luggage will be transported to our facility and placed in locked storage until course end. Please leave any expensive or valuable items at home.

Packing List

All items should be synthetic or wool (NOT cotton or denim) unless otherwise noted.

Fabric Types/Styles to Purchase: The Packing List reflects the layering principle. It is vital that all your clothing be comfortable, quick-drying, and warm. Review our Fabrics and Layering for the Wilderness blog on the importance of fabrics.

Quantity Ranges: You may determine the exact quantity based on your personal preference and budget. You will likely wear clothing items multiple times throughout course. You do not need to bring a separate outfit for each day. 

If you have questions, please contact your Student Services Representative. 

 

Upper Body

Quantity

Item

Description/Purpose

1

Fleece jacket or pullover, medium weight

To keep you warm when not active in camp, should be warm enough to be worn alone but thin enough to fit under an outer layer like a rain jacket

1-3

Long sleeve shirt (base layer)

Worn closest to skin, snug fitting, to provide warmth

1-3

Long sleeve shirt, light weight

Button up is preferred, worn over other clothing to protect from biting insects and sun

2-4

T-shirts (synthetic)

Not cotton, athletic shirts appropriate

2-3

Sports bra

If applicable

 

Head and Face

Quantity

Item

Description/Purpose

1

Beanie

 

1

Wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap

 

1

Bug head net

Mesh material that is worn over your hat, protects your face and neck from insects

1 pair

Sunglasses with case and retainer strap

 

1 pair

Prescription eyewear with case and retainer strap

If applicable

 

Lower Body

Quantity

Item

Description/Purpose

2-3

Long pants (base layer)

Worn closest to skin, snug fitting, to provide warmth. Athletic leggings and long underwear acceptable

2-3

Pants, light weight, quick-drying

Loose fitting preferred. Will be used for hiking

1-2

Shorts, light weight, quick-drying

5" minimum inseam

5-12

Underwear

 

 

Hands and Feet

Quantity

Item

Description/Purpose

1

Gloves, light weight

For warmth and/or sun and insect protection. Water resistant preferred.

4-8 pairs

Socks, medium weight

Not cotton

1 pair

Hiking boots

Must be waterproof, have a good tread, a sturdy sole, and mid-ankle in height. Review our blog post on choosing boots.

1 pair

Sneakers or running shoes, old or used are appropriate

Used for times when you don't need hiking boots but do need a sturdy, closed toe hiking shoe. EX: running, group problem solving activities, or camp chores

1 pair

Camp/River crossing shoes

Should be quick drying, fit securly, have a heel strap, be closed-toed, and protect most of the foot. EX: Croc-style or Keen sandals. *Flip flops, slides, aqua socks, diving booties, and other soft/neoprene-type foot wear are NOT appropriate.

 

Personal Items and Toiletries

Quantity

Item

Description/Purpose

1

Prescription medication

If applicable

1

LED headlamp with spare set of batteries

Avoid USB/rechargable headlamps

1

Insect repellent

Max 4oz bottle

1

SPF 30+ sunscreen

Max 4oz bottle

1

Lip balm with SPF

 

2

Bandana

Multi-use item

2-3

Pens or pencils

For writing on course (we provide a journal)

2-5

Gallon-sized zip lock bag

For keeping items dry

1 set

Toiletries: toothbrush & toothpaste, haircare products (see Eye, Skin, and Hair Care section), Menstrual products (if applicable)

To be used during course. Max 4oz each

1 set

Toiletries: shampoo & conditioner, soap

For shower at course end. Max 4oz each

1

Bath towel

For shower at course end

1 set

Extra set of clothes for travel days

 

 

Optional Items

Quantity

Item

Description/Purpose

1

Trekking poles

Helps distribute weight while hiking with heavy packs

1

Watch with alarm

Waterproof or water resistant (no smart watches)

1

Packable camp chair

Lightweight, foldable, like a "Crazy Creek" chair

1

Camera; can be digital or disposable

Bring extra batteries, memory card, extra film, etc. as needed

1

Notebook/journal

 

1

Stationary, envelopes, stamps

 

1

A “cover up” – lightweight fabric item (i.e. a twin sheet, a sarong, or other packable fabric). Can be cotton and a repurposed item.

For discreet clothing changes and/or covering up from biting insects at night while sleeping

 

Eyes, Skin & Hair Care
Maintaining personal hygiene in the wilderness is important and is taught on every course. You will be outside while on course and won't have access to a shower or bath. You will be able to do basic cleanup every day: brush your teeth, wash your face, and comb your hair. At the end of your course, you will be able to do a more thorough cleanup.  
PRESCRIPTION EYEWEAR: GLASSES & CONTACTS

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. 

SKIN CARE 

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.

 

HAIR CARE

Here are a few tips caring for long, kinky, or curly hair while on course:   

  • Bring a comb, brush, or pick 
  • Protect your hair by covering it with a hair bonnet, silk scarf, headwrap, durag, loc tube, bandana, etc.
  • Use a bandana, head wrap, hair scrunchies, etc., to keep hair out of your face
  • Bring 3oz hair oil

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:  

  • Box Braids 
  • French Braids 
  • Feed-in Braids 
  • Cornrows
  • Faux Locs 
  • Two Strand Twists
  • Plaits 
  • Flat Twists 
Menstruation Preparation Kit

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:

  • Menstruation products such as tampons, pads, panty liners, and menstrual cups. Bring more than you would typically use. Absorption underwear is not recommended. 
  • 1 small travel pack of disposable wipes or bandana. Our instructors will teach appropriate backcountry techniques for basic cleanliness. 
  • 1 small travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer 
  • 1 to 2 extra pairs of underwear 

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. 

Medications & Medication Updates

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:  

  • Be listed in the applicant’s medical information 
  • Be approved by our Medical Screener prior to course
  • Accompany the participant on course
  • Be in the original medication container with the prescription label intact

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: 

  • Starting a new medication
  • Stopping an existing medication
  • Dosage change of an existing medication 

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.  

You must notify Outward Bound should any medical, psychological, behavioral, or legal situations occur after the application and medical review process have been completed. Certain situations may affect the applicant’s course status. 

Tick and Mosquito-Borne Disease Facts & Prevention
Please review our comprehensive information onTick and Mosquito-Borne Disease Facts and Prevention.
In preparation for your upcoming course, we remind you to adhere to the clothing and gear list. We encourage parents/guardians of our youth participants to have a conversation regarding the importance of wearing long sleeves and long pants even when hot and humid to reduce the chances of bug bites, including mosquitoes and ticks. It is crucial that all students understand the need to follow the instructions of our staff in all regards, including expectations of self-care.