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. 

What We Supply

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. 

Where to Get Items

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!

Packing and Storage

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.

Your Eyes

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.

Skin Care

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

Tick 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 of our younger students to have a conversation with your child 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.

Prevention of Tick and Mosquito-Borne Disease
Tick-borne and mosquito-borne diseases are a risk throughout the Southeastern United States. Fortunately, there are prevention steps that are very effective. In the case of infection, early diagnosis aids in treatment and recovery. Students and their families should educate themselves on the risks, prevention measures, signs and symptoms. For health advice, please consult your physician.

Lyme disease is the most well-known disease spread by ticks. Lyme disease is most common in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic US and is highly unusual in both North Carolina (less than 200 confirmed and probable cases per year) and Florida (less than 100 cases per year). Other tick-borne diseases with reported cases in the areas used by NCOBS include Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Anaplasmosis. There are treatments available for these diseases but prevention is by far the best first step!

Mosquitoes are another potential vector for disease. In North Carolina, La Crosse encephalitis and West Nile virus are present but exceedingly rare. The region of Florida in which NCOBS conducts courses includes subtropical and tropical environments favorable for mosquitos. Mosquito-borne diseases found in the state include West Nile encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, chikungunya fever, and dengue fever. The state of Florida is highly active in monitoring and controlling the spread of these diseases and publishes weekly surveillance reports.

Signs and Symptoms
There are many symptoms associated with tick- and mosquito-borne diseases. Infected people may not have all of these symptoms and many of these symptoms can occur with other diseases as well. Some common symptoms of infection include body/muscle aches, fever, headaches, fatigue, rash, and joint pain. Seek medical attention if signs and symptoms of an illness appear. Tick- and mosquito-borne diseases are diagnosed based on symptoms, blood tests, and the possibility that the person has been exposed to bites. Most cases can be successfully treated with specific types of antibiotics, especially if treatment is started early. However, some people may have symptoms such as arthritis, muscle and joint pain, or fatigue for an extended period of time.


  1. Wear and use protective clothing/equipment (long pants tucked into socks, for instance). Light colors make it easier to see ticks.
  2. Use a chemical barrier. Treat clothing and footwear (long-sleeve shirts, pants, jackets, hats, and boots) with permethrin to repel and disable ticks.This treatment will last for up to a month. See the protocol for treating clothing with permethrin below.
  3. Use a chemical repellent. Apply insect repellent containing picaridin or DEET to exposed skin, following the directions on the container.These agents last only a few hours before you have to reapply them. Properly used, repellents allow people to live and work outdoors with reduced risk from insect bites.
  4. Staff will teach students to recognize ticks and remove them as soon as they are found. This is the BEST form of disease prevention. Removing ticks within 24 hours considerably reduces the risk of being infected with a disease-causing bacterium.
  5. When traveling or camping in areas with woods, bushes, high grass or leaf litter, staff and students should check themselves for ticks at least once every day.

Protocol for Treatment of Clothing with Permethrin
Permethrin is an extremely effective neurotoxin relative to arthropods (including ticks and mosquitos), does not cause significant harm to humans and, when used correctly, poses little environmental risk. The CDC and the EPA have determined that the benefits of using permethrin to prevent tick-borne disease far outweigh the risks.

General Guidelines

  • Treat clothing with permethrin in a windless but well-ventilated area, away from water sources and insect populations (particularly bees) to reduce the effects of permethrin on aquatic life and insects
  • Wear latex or vinyl gloves and a facemask or bandana over nose and mouth (aerosol application)
  • If possible, wait until clothing is completely dry before wearing
  • Treat clothing again after several washes or after a couple of weeks, according to the manufacturer’s suggestions
  • DO NOT expose cats to wet Permethrin as it affects their central nervous system. Cats can be around Permethrin-treated fabrics once the application has dried.

Additional Permethrin Information
Permethrin is an insecticide in the pyrethroid family. Pyrethroids are synthetic chemicals that act like natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower. Permethrin has been used for decades in a number of ways to control insects in homes, for agricultural purposes, and in topical treatments for lice and scabies.

Permethrin is applied to clothing rather than skin because it is deactivated on skin within 20-30 minutes,not because it is more toxic than skin-applied chemicals like DEET. It has less than 1% absorbability on human skin (DEET has 20%)4, and very few people have adverse effects from contact with permethrin (other than in the eyes). Like most chemicals, there is a small risk of harm, but the risks of tick-borne illness are far greater. Permethrin can affect arthropods (such as ticks and insects) if they eat it or touch it. Permethrin affects the nervous system in insects, causing muscle spasms, paralysis, and death. Permethrin is over 2,250 times more toxic to ticks and insects than it is to people and dogs because of their much smaller size and because ticks and insects can't break it down as quickly as mammals.


You should bring extra money to course, actual cash and other payment methods (such as a debit card/credit card), to cover any expenses you could incur. You will need money for airline baggage fees, laundry, extra batteries and any meals or miscellaneous items you choose to purchase during town visits or travel days. You may also encounter food and lodging expenses before and after your course.  You may also need to pay for replacement costs of damaged or lost North Carolina Outward Bound gear. 

Menstruation Care

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:

  • Double the amount of tampons, pads and/or panty liners you typically use during your cycle. If you use tampons exclusively, we suggest packing panty liners as well. Menstrual cups are also acceptable.   
  • 1 small travel pack of feminine or baby wipes – to be used sparingly, not for use as “sponge bath.” Your instructors will teach appropriate backcountry techniques for basic cleanliness.
  • 1 small travel size bottle of hand sanitizer
  • 1 extra bandanna (to help keep clean and dry)
  • 1 to 2 extra pair of underwear

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. 

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.

Your instructors are very experienced in addressing menstruation care questions or concerns while on course. Don’t hesitate to ask them questions.

Clothing and Gear Overview

Points to keep in mind while planning and shopping:

  • Changing weather conditions may require use of all of these items. Keep receipts and tags from new purchases so any unused items can be returned after course.
  • It is important that all your clothing be comfortable, quick-drying and warm. Fabrics such as polyester, polypropylene, fleece, acrylic, rayon, wool or name brands like Polartec™, Thinsulate™, COOLMAX®, Smartwool and Capilene are just a few favorites of outdoor enthusiasts, since they retain much of their insulating qualities when wet. There are other brand names as well. Check with a sales associate or mail-order representative. Do not bring down, denim or cotton clothing (unless otherwise indicated). Our Clothing and Gear list reflects the layering principle. 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 base layer, medium weight fleece and insulating jacket allows you to adapt to changing conditions.
  • Wearing white or light colored, loose fitting clothing keeps you cooler; in addition, they attract fewer biting insects. Dark colors are acceptable for insulating attire.
  • Cotton clothing loses its insulating properties when wet. Also, cotton does not dry quickly in the outdoors. For these reasons, do not bring items made with cotton unless otherwise noted.

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.


North Carolina Outward Bound has a supply of plastic mountaineering boots (Kolfach Degrees) for your use during the Patagonia phase at no extra charge. However, if you have any foot abnormalities, it may make fitting boots to your feet difficult. If you have feet larger than size 14 or any foot abnormalities (bunions, bone spurs, etc.), please contact your Student Services Representative. You may have to purchase your own boots. Make sure to give your boot size to your Student Services Representative.


The best boot for our terrain is a medium weight hiking boot or lightweight mountaineering boot that has ankle support, leather, nylon or Gore-Tex upper, and a hard rubber lug sole, which looks like a tire tread. Crepe soled boots, “approach” shoes and “trail” shoes are not acceptable. Do not buy high boots that constrict the calf. Your boots should be waterproof and comfortable.


Inner sole liners can give your feet extra warmth and comfort. If you choose to use an inner sole liner MAKE SURE to wear them when you are fitting your boots. If you try to use them after your boot has been fitted, they may make your boot too small. Examples of inner sole liners include: Spenco Neoprene Liner and Spenco Polysorb Replacement Insole.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Required - Clothing and Gear - Upper Body

INSULATING ITEMS: These garments are essential pieces that will provide extra warmth during backcountry travel. Both insulating pieces should comfortably fit under rain jacket and have a hood.

  • 1 light-weight synthetic fill jacket with hood - to keep you warm when you are active on cold days (Look for fills such as Polarguard 3D, Primaloft, or 3M Hollowfil); Staff Favorites: Black Diamond First Light Hoody, Patagonia Micro Puff, Patagonia Nano Puff, or Patagonia Nano-Air. 

  • 1 heavy weight synthetic or down jacket with hood - to keep you warm when not active in camp. Staff favorites: Patagonia Hyper Puff, Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka, Black Diamond Stance Belay Parka, Outdoor Research Perch Belay Parka

  • 1 medium weight fleece jacket or pullover (200 weight fleece) Comfortable, breathes well, insulates when wet. A sufficiently warm wool or wool/synthetic sweater may be substituted - if in doubt, bring two sweaters.  Examples: Patagonia R1 Melenzana) Having a hood is preferred, but not required for this item. 

    UPPER BODY CONTINUED            

  • 1 unlined nylon windbreaker (examples: Patagonia Houdini, BD Alpine Start, Outdoor Research Tantrum II)
  • 1 lightweight synthetic long underwear tops
  • 2 medium weight synthetic long underwear top
  • 1-2 long-sleeved, light colored, loose fitting, (non-cotton or cotton/poly blend) button-up shirts with collars – for sun and bug protection. 
  • 3 synthetic t-shirts
  • 2 cotton t-shirts
  • 3 sport/jog bras (if applicable)


  • 1 medium weight fleece or wool hat that covers your ears and the back of your neck
  • 1 fleece or synthetic balaclava (looks like a ski mask) to insulate the head and neck
  • 1 wide-brimmed sun hat or baseball cap
  • 3 bandannas (used to shield your head, neck or face from insects and sunburn)
  • 1 bug head net (mesh needs to be small enough to protect against no-see-ums and mosquitoes)
  • 1 pair of glacier compatible sunglasses with side shields (no goggles). At least 97% UV protection; should not allow any light to enter from the sides or below. Glacier glasses are the best option. Good sunglasses are extremely important. Snow travel without them can result in sun burned eyes and temporary snow blindness. Removable side shields make the glasses more versatile during other phases of this course. (Examples: Julbo (Tamang, Camino, Explorer 2.0)
  • Prescription eye wear (if applicable) Bring an extra pair in case of loss or damage. If you have limited vision without your glasses, bring prescription sunglasses or glacier glasses, or bring high quality ski goggles (make sure they block 97% UV) that fit over your glasses.
  • Retainer straps (make sure they fit your glasses tightly and have an adjustable strap)
  • Hard cases to store glasses/goggles


  • 1 pair of medium weight warm fleece gloves
  • 1 pair of lightweight fleece gloves
  • 1 pair of Gore-Tex (or similar) waterproof gloves (required for glacier)


  • Rain Jacket: Three-layer Gore-Tex or similar high quality waterproof breathable jacket with a stormproof hood. Reinforced shoulders will help protect the jacket from the rubbing of your backpack. Examples: Outdoor Research Furio Jacket, Patagonia Triolet, Black Diamond Liquid Point Shell. Other brand to look for are: Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, ArcTeryx, the North Face or Mountain Equipment Co-Op.
  • Rain Pants: Full zip Gore-Tex or similar high-quality waterproof-breathable pants with full side zippers. Look for reinforced knees and seat. The same brands as above are recommended.

If you own a high quality waterproof-breathable jacket and/or pants that are more than a year old, test them to see if they are still waterproof. Wear them over a dark t-shirt and dark underwear with the hood up and stand under your shower for several minutes. Make sure to thoroughly soak the entire jacket and pants, especially around the shoulders. If the items are no longer waterproof, leaks will show on the dark cotton fabric. If this is the case, treat your existing jacket/pants with a waterproofing product (available at many outdoor stores) or purchase a new jacket/pants.

Required - Clothing and Gear - Lower Body
  • 1 pair medium weight fleece pants (200 weight fleece)
  • 2 medium weight synthetic long underwear bottom
  • 2 pair of loose-fitting quick-dry nylon trekking pants (can be the type that converts to shorts)
  • 2 pairs of quick-drying nylon shorts (no “short shorts”)
  • 5-7 pairs of underwear or boxer shorts (a mix of cotton and synthetic materials acceptable)


  • 1 pair of medium weight hiking boots - over the ankle is crucial (Examples: Salomon, Asolo, Oboz, Vasque)
  • 1 pair of WET SHOES: secure fitting shoes that enclose the entire foot and have a hard sole, such as old running shoes or sneakers. These shoes will be worn when paddling and WILL get wet. UNACCEPTABLE WET SHOES:Any open toed and/or open heeled and/or open side sandals (Teva, Chaco, Keen), clog type shoes or flip flops (Crocs), Vibram 5-finger shoes, aqua socks or low cut slip-on shoes.
  • 1 pair of lightweight running shoes (to be used for running)
  • 1 pair of CAMP SHOES: The running shoes listed above may double as your camp shoe, OR you can bring a Croc-type shoe or a sport sandal. This camp shoe MUST fit securely, be closed toed, and enclose the majority of the foot. We highly recommend Crocs.
  • 4 pairs of heavy-weight wool socks
  • 4 pairs of medium weight wool socks
  • 3 pairs of lightweight cotton socks
  • 1 pair of full length gaiters that cover your boot from ankle to knees to keep snow and dirt out. Gaiters should fit comfortably over your leather boots, and must fit over the plastic boots you will wear in Patagonia. If possible, try them on over a pair of plastic boots, or buy them a little large. Must be durable. We recommend using a Velcro closure gaiter vs. a zipper closure gaiter Examples: Outdoor Research, REI, Black Diamond.
Required Additional Items
  • Passport 
  • 1 photocopy of the biometrics page (photo page) of your passport
  • Airline tickets and photocopy of each ticket or e-mail flight confirmation and 1 copy of confirmation
  • Cash, ATM card, credit card Taking money out of an ATM or changing cash at the airport is your best option. Advise your bank that you will be traveling to Argentina to avoid issues with ATM service. 
  • Prescription medication (if applicable)
  • 1 LED style headlamp with 5 spare sets of batteries (recommended) OR 1 standard headlamp with 6 spare sets of batteries.
  • 1 inflatable sleeping pad (lightweight, full length with a stuff sack and repair kit). You will be provided with a foam sleeping pad, however this inflatable sleeping pad is also crucial to keeping warm on cold nights. We recommend: Thermarest, REI, Nemo, Big Arnus.
  • 1 small bottle of insect repellent (no aerosol or wipes)
  • 1 Swiss Army type knife or multi-tool with locking blade and can opener
  • 1 waterproof watch with alarm
  • 1-2 tubes of sunscreen SPF 30+ (should be less than 1 year old)
  • 1-2 lip balms SPF 30+ or greater
  • 3 pens or pencils
  • 1 old twin flat sheet (39 x 75 inches) or sarong (55 x 57 inches) or shemagh (44 x 44 inches) to cover up from bugs on hot nights and for discrete clothing changes
  • 8” x 5" notebook
  • 1 box of gallon-sized zip lock bags (for keeping items like notebook, camera dry and clean)
  • Travel size toiletries for expedition: small toothbrush, small tube of toothpaste, comb or brush (we will provide you with biodegradable soap)
  • Travel size toiletries that will stay at base camp: shampoo and conditioner, soap, towel, toothbrush, tooth paste, comb or brush (for post course clean up.)
  • 2 sets of extra clothes for travel and town days
Optional Items

It's nice to go light, but many past students also recommend bringing the following items:

  • 10-20 nutrition bars: you will be provided with all of the food and snacks you need throughout your course; however, many students also prefer to bring their own “power bars.” Power, Cliff, Luna and Balance are all examples of bars that are great nutritional companions in the wilderness.
  • Trekking poles: Help distribute weight while hiking with heavy packs; great if you have weak ankles/knees
  • Medicated powder like Gold Bond™
  • Crazy Creek camp chair: Comfortable, but heavy. If you are bringing a Thermarest pad too, a lighter and cheaper alternative is to purchase a Thermarest chair kit that converts the pad into a comfortable seat.
  • 1 pair of rock climbing shoes
  • Camera (with extra batteries and memory card or extra film)
  • Insulated thermos, up to 1 liter capacity
  • Spanish/English dictionary or phrase book
  • 1 money belt or neck pouch for carrying valuables under clothing
  • Stationery/envelopes/stamps