North Carolina Outward Bound supplies the technical equipment needed for 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. Refer to the Clothing and Gear List categories below for the items you are to bring to course.
Because our courses are characterized by unpredictable weather, obtaining the proper clothing is crucial. Please bring the items on the Clothing and Gear list as described. You can find these items at camping, outdoor and thrift stores, Army/Navy surplus, outlets, and mail-order catalogs. Clothing and gear can be expensive. Shop around before you buy. Buy last year’s model; don’t worry about colors or style. Your choices should be governed by whether or not the piece of clothing or gear will meet our requirements, not if it is the best looking or newest! Many students use the following websites to shop for clothing and gear:
When you arrive for course start, you will not have an opportunity to purchase forgotten items!
Our courses are characterized by changing weather conditions; bring everything on the list. Pack your clothing and gear in a duffel bag or soft luggage container. When you arrive, you will receive the items Outward Bound provides (see “What We Supply” section). Before your expedition, your instructors will assess your clothing and gear with the route and the anticipated weather in mind. We suggest leaving the tags on any items you purchase in case you don’t pack them for expedition. Please check with the sales person to confirm their return policies. You will keep personal items such as clean clothes (for your return trip home) and valuables (cell phones, electronic devices and wallets) in your duffel or soft luggage container. These items will be stored at our base camp facility in a locked storage bin while you are on course. Leave expensive items at home.
All medications (prescription, non-prescription and over-the-counter) must be listed in the applicant’s Medical Record booklet, approved by our Medical Screener prior to course and must accompany the participant on course.
All medications (prescription, non-prescription and over-the-counter) must be in their original containers with the prescription label intact. The prescription label is documentation of the dosage directions. If possible, bring a double supply. The container should not include other medications, vitamins, etc. Do not bring non-prescription medications such as aspirin, Advil, etc., unless they are listed in your Medical Record booklet. We have a medical kit that contains these medications.
Participants will not be permitted to begin their course without their required medications OR with new medications not approved by our Medical Screener.
After your Medical Record has been approved, if you start taking a new medication, stop taking an existing medication or change the dosage of a medication, the action (s) could affect your status on course. Contact the Student Services Department with any medication changes.
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 our Intercept programs, instructors carry all prescription medications.
During travel, pack essential medications in carry-on luggage.
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.
North Carolina Outward Bound staff recommends glasses with a holding band versus contact lenses. It is more difficult to maintain adequate hygiene when wearing contact lenses in a wilderness setting. Wearing contact lenses may put your eyes at risk of infection or corneal ulcers. These conditions can develop very quickly and can be very serious. In rare cases, these conditions can cause blindness. If you do choose to wear contact lenses, bring both a backup pair of contacts and glasses. Be sure to bring enough contact lens solution and be diligent in your contact lens routine. For more information please visit the FDA website: Food and Drug Administration - Contact Lenses.
Remember – you will be outside the entire time you are on course. Keeping yourself protected against insect bites, sunburn and other types of skin irritation is important to your comfort and safety on course. It is your responsibility to follow your instructor’s directions and monitor how your skin is reacting to the environment. We don’t want you leaving course sunburned or covered with insect bites. It is clear to wilderness enthusiasts that the best protection from biting insects, bugs and sunburn is the physical barrier of clothing. Therefore, we emphasize that you bring the required clothing and gear listed. DO NOT bring “short” shorts! If you do, you are only exposing your skin to insect bites, sunburn and abrasions
as you expedition.
To protect against bacterial infections including MRSA, we ask you to consider not shaving one week prior to course start. Open hair follicles are potential points of entry for bacteria.
If you are traveling by air, be aware of TSA guidelines. To avoid TSA taking items out of your carry-on luggage (like insect repellent and sunscreen), pack these items in your checked luggage or do not exceed size specifications. For more information please visit the TSA website: Transportation Security Administration - Carry-ons
You should bring some extra money with you to course as you may encounter food and lodging expenses before and after your course. In addition, you and your crewmates are financially responsible for any lost or damaged NCOB gear or equipment. See Additional Required Items for details on how much you should bring.
Increased physical activity during Outward Bound may cause a change in your menstrual cycle.
Prepare by packing the following items even if you don’t expect your cycle during course:
Pack the above items in a large zip-lock bag. Instructors will distribute small opaque bags for discrete storage of used and unused supplies.
We practice Leave No Trace camping techniques. Therefore, we pack out what we pack in. You will dispose of any used items either during re-supplies (which occur approximately every three to seven days) or at course end.
Your instructors are very experienced in addressing menstruation care questions or concerns while on course. Don’t hesitate to ask them questions.
Points to keep in mind while planning and shopping:
Proper footwear is essential for your safety and enjoyment. Shopping for outdoor footwear can be confusing for even the most experienced hiker. You should be able to find good boots at reasonable prices. Take the following information with you when shopping.
The best boot for our terrain is a light to medium weight boot that has ankle support, leather, nylon or Gore-Tex upper, and a hard rubber lug sole (looks like a tire tread). Crepe soled boots, “approach” shoes and “trail” shoes are not acceptable. Do not buy mountaineering boots or high boots that constrict the calf. Your boots should be waterproof and comfortable.
FITTING YOUR BOOTS
A proper fit is essential. 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. Experiment with lacing the boots in different ways to get the most comfortable fit. Boots should have a snug-fitting heel to prevent excessive heel lift which can cause blisters. There should be plenty of toe room, even when walking downhill. Try your boots for fit on both an incline and a decline. Fit your boots with the socks you will wear on course. A light, wicking (polypropylene, sheer wool or nylon) sock next to the skin, combined with a wool sock, provides both cushioning and protection from friction.
TEST TO ENSURE A PROPER FIT
Fit your boots with the socks you will wear on course.
Test 1: With the boots unlaced and your toes touching the front of the boot, the boot should be large enough to place your forefinger between your heel and the heel of the boot.
Test 2: With the boot laced, your heel must be firmly lodged in the heel cup with very little lift when you walk.
Test 3: The boot should fit snugly around the ball of your foot so that when you twist your foot it does not move or slip inside the boot. Test 4: When on a steep incline, or when tapping the front of your boot against the floor, your toes should not hit the end of the boot.
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 certain your boots fit properly, make sure they are waterproofed. Some boots are already waterproofed when they are purchased; but if not, follow the sales associate or manufacturer’s recommendations concerning the type of waterproofing to purchase.
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.
It's nice to go light, but many past students also recommend bringing the following items: