Packing for Backcountry Travel
Backcountry travel means you can and, for your comfort, should carry a lot less than you do in the regular world; most experienced backcountry travelers will tell you that they bring about the same amount of gear on a three-day trip as they would on a three-week trip.
Your COBS Packing List:
What to Wear While Travelling:
We recommend you wear course clothing and boots while travelling and bring all essentials (prescription meds, insurance card copy, cash) in a carry-on. This will minimize the inconvenience in the unlikely event your luggage is delayed in transport. Being dressed for course will also further the efficiency on your first day, especially since front country bathrooms and private changing areas are rarely available.
Gear that Outward Bound Provides
Please note Outward Bound provides all other equipment including but not limited to sleeping bags & pads, backpacks, camp gear. There are no additional fees for the use of our equipment. If you have your own equipment and it meets the below criteria, you are welcome to bring it with you. Please be aware that your instructors will assess it for appropriateness and may ask you to use Outward Bound gear in lieu of your own if they do not find your gear adequate for your particular course.
If you DO wish to bring some of your own gear, here are our minimum standards for what MAY be acceptable for few common items
Information on Rain Pants and Jackets**
After footwear, rainwear is the most critical part of your clothing system. It can make or break your experience. If you have to cut costs elsewhere to invest more in rainwear, we recommend doing that. In general, you get what you pay for in rain gear.
All rainwear should be a WATERPROOF AND BREATHABLE fabric, not merely water resistant. It must have a hood. Gore- Tex, a brand name fabric that many manufacturers use, comes in differing layer amounts, from 1 to 3-layer. 3-layer is the waterproof version, and the most expensive. For this course, 2.5 layers or 3 layers are recommended. Many companies make their own version of this waterproof, breathable fabric that is of high quality. For example, REI uses
eVent; Patagonia uses H2no; and The North Face has Hy Vent. Please call your course advisors if you have any questions regarding proper rainwear for your course.
Here are some examples of acceptable rain jackets, and approximate retail prices.
• Patagonia Torrentshell - $129
• REI Rhyolite Jacket - $189
• Outdoor Research Foray Jacket - $215
• Outdoor Research Clairvoyant Jacket - $325
• Marmot Knife Edge Rain Jacket - $225
Here are some examples of acceptable pants, and approximate retail prices.
• Marmot Precip Pants - $100
• Patagonia Torrentshell Pants - $99
For more rainwear info: http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/rainwear-how-it-works.html
Head & Hand Layers:
|1||Baseball Cap or Visor||
Necessary for sun protection; full brimmed hats do not work well with backpacks.
Wool or fleece – no tassels or brims as it must be able to fit under a helmet.
Should be insulated and weather resistant. To wear when the temps are a little colder when hiking and in camp.
|2+||Face Masks - Fabric||
To be worn at course start, during social distancing, during travel days, while preparing food, while in close proximity to others, and when requested by COBS staff.
Synthetic or Merino wool materials recommended. Camisoles with built-in bra are a great cold-weather option.
|3-4||T-Shirts - Synthetic & Cotton||
Merino wool or synthetic t-shirt for use as a base layer during physical activity. Synthetic and/or cotton tees for travel and basecamp days.
Long Sleeve Base Layer
|Thin, skin layer, synthetic or merino wool shirt.|
|1||Long Sleeve Mid Layer||
Medium weight wool or expedition weight Capilene®/ 100 weight fleece, etc. (REI=$) (Patagonia=$$)
|1||Long Sleeve Shirt||
Loose, light colored for sun protection at rock days, on the river, or in the canyons. Button up or pull-over sun hoodies; cotton or nylon materials are ok. UPF materials are suggested for individuals more prone to sunburns. (Thrift Shop=$) (Black Diamond/Patagonia=$$)
|1||Fleece/Softshell/Thin Puffy Jacket||
200 or 300-weight fleece; or a thin synthetic puffy jacket. Options for this layer provide a variety of warmth-to-weight ratios, durability, and costs. A hood is recommended. (REI Hyperaxis Fleece=$) (Patagonia Nano Puff=$$)
700 or 800-fill expedition weight, synthetic or down, thick puffy jacket with a hood. (Rab/Outdoor Research=$) (Patagonia/Black Diamond=$$)
|1||Waterproof, Breathable Rain Jacket||
This layer should have a Gore-Tex or other waterproof coating that stops outside moisture from entering; must fit over all your other layers including a helmet. **See more detailed notes on rain gear (REI or Outdoor Research=$) (Patagonia/Black Diamond=$$)
For males, we recommend briefs or boxer briefs. For females, we recommend at least one pair of cotton nighttime underwear for breathability. Synthetic, quick drying underwear for daytime activities and cotton for sleeping. (Nylon/Spandex=$) (Wool=$$)
Quick-drying, athletic shorts; for potential swimming days, and river sections. Lightweight nylon fabric wicks moisture and dries quickly. Board shorts or running shorts work well. Pockets are always nice. (What you have already or Thrift Store=$) (REI=$$)
A durable pair of pants for use at rock camp. They should be loose fitting. These pants will get torn up a bit due to the rough nature of rock climbing. Thrift store pants will do just fine and Cotton is okay.
|1||Base Layer Bottoms||Thin, skin layer, synthetic or merino wool pants.|
|1||Quick Dry Pants||
Lightweight, quick-drying, nylon fabric that packs easily. These are loose fitting for ease of movement. Course environment can be rough on clothing. We recommend pants that are semi-durable, or that you won't mind getting torn. (Thrift Store or REI=$) (KUHL or Patagonia=$$)
|1||Medium Weight Pants||Mid-weight wool or fleece pants – for keeping warm at camp on cool days and evenings. (REI=$) (Smartwool=$$)|
Medium weight, nylon & polyester, hiking pant; This item will be one of the most used items you bring - for hiking, climbing, hanging out in camp, etc. (REI or Outdoor Research=$) (KUHL or Patagonia=$$)
|1||Rain-Shell Pants||Similar to your rain jacket, this layer should have a breathable, waterproof coating that stops outside moisture from entering; must fit over other pant layers and ideally has lower leg zips for easy on/off without removing boots. **See more detailed notes on rain gear. (REI or Marmot=$) (Patagonia=$$)|
Medium-weight Hiking or Ski Socks
|Wool or Synthetic - base hiking sock; ski socks are nice because they pull up to the knees and provide extra warmth|
|For Rock Camps, around camp, and travel days|
The most essential piece of clothing or gear that you will purchase.
* Please see the additional boot document for more guidance.
|1||Rock Climbing Shoes||
COBS will provide a basic model. The classic rock climbing shoe is a close-fitting shoe built with suede leather or a suede and fabric combination upper that is sewn or bonded to a smooth "sticky" rubber sole. Super tight performance fit shoes are not appropriate for Outward Bound courses. The shoe should be snug, with little to no extra room, but make sure this shoe feels good on your foot, because you will spend long days in them. Velcro, Lace-up, or Slip-ons are great. It may help to ask a sales person for a "multi-pitch trad style" shoe rather than a "bouldering" shoe. (La Sportiva Mythos=$)
This will be your dry, comfortable, camp shoe. It should be somewhat lightweight and sturdy. (old pair of running shoes=$)
SPF 30 or greater. For courses 15 days or longer, consider bringing a small bottle to carry and a larger bottle to resupply from.
Lip Balm or Chap Stick
|SPF 30 or greater|
2-4 oz., plastic container. Products with Picaridan or DEET (10 - 35%) are most effective. *No sprays or aerosols.
|4-6 oz. per week for dry feet and hands|
Travel-size toiletries for basecamp use.
Choose the method you are most comfortable with such as pads, menstrual cups, or tampons and include extra/supplemental supplies. Many of our staff love a reusable menstrual cup (MeLuna, DivaCup or Lena), because it reduces the amount of waste that will need to be carried. If you’ve never used a menstrual cup, we recommend you research and trial it before course. If using tampons, consider a non-applicator tampon to reduce bulk and waste that needs to be carried. Feel free to contact your course advisor with any questions. Regardless of your choice, we are able to share practices for managing periods and supplies in the backcountry and provide all the supplies to manage waste.
For extra cleaning and hygiene.
|1||Towel||For showering at basecamp.|
Large duffle bag or suitcase for travel to and from course with. Bag should be big enough to contain all of your personal items.
|1||ID & Insurance Card||
If you are covered under any medical insurance, please bring your card. The actual card is preferred, but a copy of the front and the back of the card will be okay. Store in ziplock bag.
This all-purpose piece of cotton absorbs sweat, cleans off trail-grime and offers a multitude of other camp and trail uses. 1-2 extra for female students on longer courses.
|1||Sunglasses with keeper strap||
Sturdy & dark wrap-around sunglasses for adequate protection from sun and wind. We recommend a higher quality pair for backpacking in the mountains and river travel, and a cheaper pair for daily use in the canyons and at rock camp.
|1||Prescription Eye Wear + Extra Glasses and/or contacts||
Contacts – bring extra pairs, as well as a backup pair of glasses. Glasses - Ensure these are compatible with your sunglasses, or bring prescription sunglasses. Bring an extra set in case of loss or damage
Wide-mouth 32 oz. water bottle. A hydration bladder is not recommended for river courses or sections with freezing temperatures. Please come hydrated to course start! (Nalgene=$) (Klean Kanteen=$$)
|1||Headlamp w/ Batteries||
LED headlamp with extra batteries - lithium batteries recommended. (Black Diamond or Petzl=$$)
|2||Prescription Medications including Asthma Inhalers||
THESE MUST BE DECLARED DURING THE APPLICATION PROCESS. Bring 2 sets in their original containers and a ziploc bag for storage on the trail - Please bring these to course start even if you feel they are unnecessary.
Must have alarm. Water resistant recommended.
Large Zip-Lock Plastic Bags
|Heavy duty to protect cameras, etc. from sand and water|
|2+||Personal Hand Sanitizer||
Minimum of 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer contained in 3 oz bottles. Plus a larger 16oz to refill if your course is 15-days or longer.
|1||Digital Oral Thermometer w/battery||Small and lightweight for daily temperature checks.|
Travel to and From Course:
|Travel Money & Snacks||
For longer courses and when traveling from afar, extra cash and snacks are recommended for first and last days of course, as well as transition days. Consider unexpected travel expenses such as luggage fees, bus fare, etc.
Emergency Contact Numbers for Travel Delays
|Carry a copy of the phone numbers to use in case of travel delays (from the travel and itinerary document)|
|Clean Clothes for the Trip Home||Please bring a set of clean clothes for your travels home|
|1||Travel Insurance||COBS strongly recommends purchasing travel insurance to protect you in the event of an emergency cancellation or early medical departure. Please speak with your course advisor for details.|
|1||Vest||Fleece or other synthetic material – to be worn as an extra layer for core body warmth; some people love them and others do not.|
|1||Stationary, Stamps & 2 Pens||Bring stamps and envelopes if you would like to send mail. Consider pre-stamping and pre-addressing them before course. Put in a zip-lock bag with paper and pens|
|1 pair||Gaiters||COBS will provide a basic pair of gaiters. Higher end gaiters are nice to have and are easier to use. Tall gaiters recommended for mountain sections. Ensure they're fitted over your boots. (Outdoor Research or REI=$$)|
|1 pair||Trekking Poles||COBS provides basic poles for all backpacking sections. You may choose to bring your own pair if you experience knee problems, want more stability on the trail, or have trekking poles you prefer to use. Spring-loaded, adjustable length poles provide the best versatility and comfort.|
|1||Camera||Most people bring small, digital cameras or disposable 35mm cameras. Large cameras (SLRs, for example) are heavy, bulky and difficult to protect in the backcountry. Bring multiple cameras if disposable. If bringing a non- disposable camera, consider taking extra precautions like putting it in a Ziploc bag or Pelican hard case to keep out dirt and sand.|
½ liter size, maximum. Can be really nice for mid-day hot drinks.
|1||Toys, Instruments, Books||
You are welcome to bring hacky sacks, frisbees, musical instruments, and other fun stuff - just know that for all or some parts of the course you may not have access to these things.
|1||Cell Phone & Charger||
You may have opportunities to use your phone and listen to music, or use during travel to and from course.
Recommended if you are a light sleeper.
|1||Inflatable Sleeping Pad||
COBS provides an insulated foam pad. Inflatable sleeping pads provide more comfort and lumbar support. Must be a lightweight, backpacking pad, with the appropriate R-value for the cold. If electing to bring an inflatable pad, please bring a patch repair kit. (Therm-a-rest=$$)
|1||Crazy Creek Chair||
Crazy Creek and REI are popular brands. No chairs with legs can be brought! Must be lightweight and packable/rollable
|if owned||Climbing Gear: Helmet, Harness, Belay Device, or Climbing Chalk Bag||
COBS provides basic models. If you already have your own, bring them. If you are sure you will continue to climb after this course, you may want to go ahead and invest in these items. If you are new to climbing, we recommend getting your instructor's advice about this gear. (Black Diamond/Petzel/C.A.M.P.=$)
|1||Water MicroFilter||COBS disinfects backcountry water with Aquamira, bleach, or by boiling. If you prefer to filter your drinking water and wish to bring your own, it must be effective at filtering both giardia and cryptosporidium. (MRS SweetWater/Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter=$$)|
Items not Allowed on Course:
Weather During Your Course:
Expect temperatures ranging from 40-80 degrees (Colorado) with nighttime temperatures ranging from 15-40 degrees. Despite these recommendations of what is “normal weather,” our course environments are characterized by unpredictable weather. Please check the weather prior to your course for Leadville, Colorado at www.weather.com to have an idea of what to expect, but please bring everything on this list since weather patterns can change quickly.