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
If you DO wish to bring some of your own gear:
Here are our minimum standards for what MAY be acceptable for a few common items.
If you bring your own equipment, it will be inspected by your instructor at the beginning of your course. If it does not meet our standards you can store it in a secure location during your course.
Head & Hands:
|1||Warm Hat||A warm hat that will be used for when things get chilly. Can have ear flaps. No cotton.
|1+||Sun Hat||Should have a good brim to at a minimum cover your face like a baseball cap or can have a brim all the way around for added protection. Should be made of softer material so it can fold easily if needed.
|1+||Lightweight Gloves or Glove Liners||A lightweight glove that is the first layer for hands and worn snuggly against the skin. Rubber coated gloves work well and can be found inexpensively in hardware stores.
|2+||Long Sleeve Sun Shirt||Loose, lightweight, and light-colored for sun protection. Instructors prefer old oxford or button down men's dress shirts from thrift stores. A long sleeve cotton shirt is ok.
|6+||Wicking Short Sleeve T- Shirts||This t-shirt is made out of quick-drying fabric that moves moisture away from your skin and allows maximum airflow. Cotton t-shirts are ok for additional shirts, but each participant should have at least 4 quick dry shirts to use in any conditions.
Inner Layers: fits next to the skin
|1||Lightweight long underwear set||
You will need a top and a bottom. This is your base layer meaning this goes next to your skin and you will wear more layers on top.
This is a good online resource: http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/underwear.html
|8+||Underwear: Quick Drying||Quick drying underwear is usually a blend of Nylon and Spandex, that breathes well, moves moisture away from you and dries quickly. 4 pairs should be Quick Drying for the river and canyons, the rest can be cotton.
|4+||Sports Bra||Should have the proper support for athletic activity. Can be worn as a swim top with quick drying shorts if a swimsuit is required. You do not need to bring a swimsuit if you plan on using this combination.
|1||Expedition-weight/Heavyweight Long Underwear Top||This top is your second or third layer depending on what is required. Needs to be a bit bigger to fit the previous layers underneath.
Outer Layers: fit over inner layers
|1||Raincoat & Rain Pants||All rainwear must be 100% water proof, not water resistant! Rain jackets should also include a hood. Breathable fabrics highly recommended. Breathable Options include: Any Gore-Tex jacket or breathable coated fabrics like the Marmot © PreCip or Phoenix Rainwear, REI Ultra Light or Kulshan Rainwear are suitable examples.
($150+ for the pair)
|1||Fleece Jacket||A heavy weight fleece jacket with a full length zipper. It has good breathability, making it a good choice when insulation is needed during vigorous, highly aerobic activity. Dries quickly when wet.
|2+||Quick Dry Shorts||
Lightweight nylon fabric wicks moisture and dries quickly. Board shorts and running shorts can work well and double for use on the river. Pockets are always nice.
|1+||Quick Dry Pants||Lightweight nylon fabric dries quickly and resists pilling, and is easy to pack away in a backpack or dry bag. Should be loose fitting as to aid in movement. Keep in mind, our course areas can be abrasive to clothing: make sure you bring pants that are tough, or that you won’t mind getting ripped up during your course.
|3+ pairs||Liner Socks||Lightweight, flat-knit provides a close fit for a protective second skin that prevents blisters. Should be worn under heavier socks to prevent blisters. Need to be at least crew-height.
|6+ pairs||Mid-weight Hiking Socks||These socks are worn on top of the liner socks. At least need to be crew-height. A variety of midweight to heavyweight socks will suit you best to find your personal preferences in our course areas. No cotton, wool works exceptionally well, even when wet.
|1 pair||River Shoes||River sandals such as Teva or Chaco sandals are ideal. Vibram ‘5 finger’ shoes are also a good option Any boating shoe must have an ankle or heel strap. These shoes will be wet daily. Old sneakers will also work great. Flip-flops, Clogs, Crocs, and Aquasocks are NOT acceptable.
|1 pair||Running/Approach Shoes||Virtually every course requires two pairs of shoes; one to hike in (your boots), and one to wear around camp. Camp Shoes should be lightweight sturdy running or approach shoes. Many courses have a Challenge Event at course end that may involve running so sturdy runners are preferred versus fashion or skateboarding type sneakers. An old pair of running shoes will work.
|1 pair||Backpacking Boots||Backpacking boots are the most popular off-trail boots sold today. This category of boots used to be known as Medium-weight Hiking Boots. These boots have shock-absorbing composite rubber soles, innovative injection molded mid sole/shanks/plates and soft, yet supportive, leather uppers characterize this category of mountaineering/backpacking footwear. Through the use of state of-the-art materials, it is now possible to purchase a boot that is at once relatively lightweight, comfortable, supportive, and weatherproof and requires only a moderate break-in period. Medium-weight boots are offered in a wide variety of brands and models and work well for moving with full backpacks. VIBRAM (OR SIMILAR) SOLE REQUIRED. NO JUNGLE/WORK BOOTS. ($102+) These are good resources: https://www.cobs.org/lib/file/manager/Boots/Boot%20Information%202020.pdf http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hiking-boots.html|
|1||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.|
|2||Sunglasses with keeper strap||Dark and sturdy, need to bring a keeper strap with them. Essential to protecting your eyes in a highly reflective environment! Bring 2 in case you lose, scratch, or break one.
|2+||Personal Hand Sanitizer||Two 3oz bottles plus a larger 16oz to refill during the course.
|1||Digital Oral Thermometer||Used to check temperature.
|2+||Fabric Face Masks||
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. Should be washable, consist of at least 3 layers of fabric and securely cover the mouth and nose. N95s can also be brought to supplement washable masks. Refer to mask document for more information.
|20+||Disposable 3-ply surgical masks||To be worn when an additional layer of protection is necessary.
|1||Sarong or unfitted twin cotton sheet||A sarong is a large length of fabric that is often used for sun protection while rafting. It has many other uses as well. If you are unable to find a sarong, an unfitted twin cotton sheet also works just as well and is typically very easy to find at a thrift store.
|1||Small headlamp and 4 extra sets of batteries.||This is a hands free flashlight. It is either a LED or halogen headlamp that uses a minimum of three volts (two or more AA- or AAA-batteries). Bring four extra sets of batteries. Headlamps with a red setting are preferable because they preserve night-vision, save battery power, and do not attract flies.
|1||Watch with alarm||Inexpensive, durable, & waterproof. You will be responsible for waking yourself up on time!
|2||Water Bottles||Wide-mouthed and durable—Nalgene, Sigg, and Klean Kanteen make quality water bottles—NO DISPOSABLE BOTTLES. Each should hold 32 oz. for a minimum total capacity of 64 oz. Good hydration is very important in the dry climate. Screw top lids are better than ‘sippy-top’ lids since the bottles will frequently come into contact with river water.
|2-4||Bandanas||This all-purpose piece of cotton absorbs sweat, cleans off trail-grime and offers a multitude of other camp and trail uses. Females should bring 4 bandanas.
|2+||Glasses or contacts, if needed||Contacts are ok, but present major challenges in the field. Please also bring 2 pairs of your eyeglasses as backups.|
|2||Insect Repellant||Medium size, in an unbreakable bottle—no spray cans. Products with Picaridan or DEET (10 - 35%) are most effective.|
|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.|
|6||Large zip-lock plastic bags||Heavy duty to protect things from sand and water.|
|2 sets||Prescription Medications including Asthma Inhalers||THESE MUST BE DECLARED DURING THE APPROVAL PROCESS. Please bring these to course start even if you think they are unnecessary. Please bring in their original containers and a Ziploc bag for storage.|
|2||Sunscreen||Waterproof, SPF 30+ (Approximately 16 oz bottles)
|1||Lip Balm||With SPF to protect from the sun.
|1||Toiletries Kit||Toothbrush, toothpaste, small biodegradable soap, comb or brush, (deodorant, shampoo, and makeup are unnecessary.)|
|Feminine Supplies||Please bring an ample supply as changes in diet, altitude, & fitness level can unexpectedly bring on your period. We are a Leave No Trace organization so tampons such as OB that do not have plastic applicators are recommended as it reduces the amount of trash being carried out. A Diva Cup is also a great reusable option. You are welcome to bring pads if that is the system you are most comfortable using. If you have any questions please contact your course advisor or instructor.|
|1||Moisturizing Lotion||Your hands and feet will thank you after weeks in arid environments (approximately 12oz bottle. )
Travel to and From Course
|-||Travel Money or Snacks||The first day is often long. Have cash to buy snacks along the way or bring food with you. There may be unexpected travel expenses such as luggage fees.
|1 set||Clean clothes for the trip home||Please bring a set of clean clothes for your travels home.|
These are NOT required and you will be fine without them. Please only buy them if you plan to use the items again after your course or you think they will be of great assistance to you while on course (you may be asked to leave these behind depending on weather and space available in your backpack or dry bag).
|1||Wet Wipes||Unscented. All items must be packed out.|
|1||Backpacking Water Filter||COBS treats water with Aquamira, bleach, or by boiling. If you prefer a water backpacking filter you must bring your own.|
|1||Portable Chair||Crazy Creek and REI are popular brands. Must be lightweight and packable/rollable. No chairs with legs can be brought.|
|1||Camera||Each patrol will have a COBS provided camera. If bringing your own, keep in mind the bulkiness and level of care needed to maintain the camera.|
|1||Hydration Bladder||You may being a hydration bladder as long as you bring a hard sided wide-mouthed, 32 oz water bottle. Do not bring on river courses.|
|1||Synthetic Insulated Jacket (Puffy)||Synthetics are water-resistant and will dry quicker than down and retain warmth even when damp.|
Items not Allowed on Course:
Weather During Your Course:
Expect summer daytime temperatures in the mountains ranging from 60-85 degrees with nighttime temperatures ranging from 35-50 degrees. On the river, daytime highs will generally range from 80-100 degrees (pro-tip: avoid dark colors since they absorb more heat) with nighttime lows ranging from 50-60 degrees. Despite these recommendations of what is “normal weather,” our course environments are characterized by unpredictable weather—snow and freezing weather as well as 105 degree heat are all within the realm of possible weather during the summer, although rare. Please bring everything on this list since weather patterns can change quickly, especially over the course of 50 days through varying elevations. Once you arrive at course start, your instructors will update you on current weather patterns and what clothing will be appropriate.