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. 


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.