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

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. 


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. 


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.

Types of Fabrics to Bring

Our Clothing and Gear list reflects the layering principle. It is vital that all your clothing be comfortable, quick-drying, and warm. 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 shirt, a fleece layer and a jacket allows you to adapt to changing conditions.  

Points to keep in mind while planning and shopping: 

  • Changing weather conditions may require the use of all of the items on the list. However, keep receipts and tags from new purchases so unused items can be returned after course.
  • Most athletic/fitness clothing will be appropriate for course.
  • Check clothing tags to confirm fabrics details.
  • Fabrics such as polyester, nylon, fleece, acrylic, rayon, wool, or name brands like Polartec™, Thinsulate™, COOLMAX®, Smartwool, and Capilene are a few favorites of outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Cotton clothing loses its insulating properties when wet and does not dry quickly. For these reasons, do not bring items made with cotton unless otherwise noted.
  • Also, not bring denim or down clothing (unless otherwise indicated). 
  • Wearing white or light-colored, loose-fitting clothing keeps you cooler and attracts fewer biting insects. Dark colors are acceptable for insulating attire.

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.  

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. 


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.



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.
Check List: Upper Body Clothing
  • 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. 
  • 1 medium weight synthetic long underwear top
  • 2 long sleeved loose fitting shirts, cotton button down, sun hoodie, fishing shirt
  • 3 synthetic t-shirts
  • 3 sport/jog bras (if applicable), one can be used for swimming


  • synthetic, fleece, or wool beanie hat
  • 1 wide-brimmed sun hat or baseball cap
  • 1 bandanna (used to shield your head, neck or face from insects and sunburn)


  • 1 pair sunglasses
  • Prescription eye wear and/or contacts (if applicable). Bring an extra pair in case of loss or damage. If you have limited vision without your glasses, bring prescription sunglasses.
  • Retainer straps (make sure they fit your glasses tightly and have an adjustable strap)
  • Hard cases to store glasses


  • 1 pair wool gloves (for warmth, in the event of inclement weather)
Check List: Lower Body Clothing
  • 1 medium weight synthetic long underwear bottom 
  • 2 pairs of quick-dry, loose fitting nylon trekking pants. One pair to be worn during the day that will get wet.  The second pair is for the evening and stay dry.
  • 2 pairs of quick-drying nylon shorts. Avoid “short shorts” as these types of shorts become very uncomfortable when sitting in a canoe or kayak.
  • 5 pairs of synthetic, quick-dry (not cotton) underwear or boxer shorts


  • 1 pair of wet shoes (see Additional Footwear section for important information on what is acceptable)
  • 1 pair of camp shoes (see Additional Footwear section for important information on what is acceptable)
  • 2 pairs of medium weight wool or synthetic socks
  • 2 pairs of lightweight synthetic socks

Check List: Additional Items

FOR POST COURSE CLEAN UP: Travel size toiletries that will stay at base camp: shampoo and conditioner, soap, towel, toothbrush, tooth paste, comb or brush 

  • Up to $50 cash - for travel incidentals or for lost/damaged Outward Bound gear  
  • Prescription medication (if applicable)
  • 1 LED style headlamp with 1 spare set of batteries (recommended) OR 1 standard headlamp with 3 sets of spare batteries and one spare bulb. Avoid halogen bulbs to prolong battery life.
  • 1 small bottle of insect repellent (no aerosol or wipes)
  • 1 waterproof watch with alarm
  • 1 tube of sunscreen SPF 30+ (should be less than 1 year old)
  • 1 lip balm SPF 30+ or greater
  • 1 small bottle of foot powder (Gold Bond is highly recommended.)
  • 3 pens or pencils
  • 1 sarong (55 x 57 inches) or shemagh (44 x 44 inches) or twin flat sheet (39 x 75 inches) to cover up from bugs on hot nights and for discrete clothing changes
  • 2-4 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)
  • 1 set of extra clothes for travel days
Optional Items

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

  • Crazy Creek camp chair (AVOID camp chairs with metal parts or legs, as these do not work well in a marine environment)
  • Camera (with extra batteries and memory card or extra film)
  • Nylon shell windbreaker
Additional Footwear & Their Uses

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.

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. 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.

Wet Shoes: A shoe that encloses the entire foot, has a hard sole and fits securely to the foot is the ideal wet shoe for our marine environment courses. An old pair of running shoes or sneakers is an example of a wet shoe that is often used by both students and staff. These are the shoes you will paddle in and they will get wet. Examples of unacceptable wet shoes include aqua socks or thin neoprene water shoes; flip flops; or any open toed, open heeled, or open sided sandals like Tevas, Chacos, Keens, Vibram 5 Fingers, and Crocs.