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 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.
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.
PLASTIC MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS
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
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.
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.
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.
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
UPPER BODY CONTINUED
WATERPROOF RAIN GEAR
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.
It's nice to go light, but many past students also recommend bringing the following items: