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
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 criteria below, you are welcome to bring it with you. Your instructors may ask you to use Outward Bound gear in lieu of your own if it does not meet our criteria below.
If you do wish to bring some of your own gear, here are the standards for what may be acceptable
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:
Necessary for sun protection; full brimmed hats do not work well with backpacks.
Wool or fleece beanie that can be worn under a helmet.
Should maintain warmth and be weather resistant. To wear in colder temps.
KN95s or N95 To be worn when social distancing isn't possible, and as requested by COBS staff.
Sports bra should be able to provide support in physical activity.
|3-4||Short Sleeve T-Shirts||
Outermost shirt, must be comfortable during walking, hiking, and other course activities
Long Sleeve Base Layer
|Base layers are the first layer of clothing to provide warmth while absorbing and evaporating sweat to keep student warm and comfortable.|
|1||Long Sleeve Mid Layer||
Worn on top of baselayer for insulation. Soft, long sleeve technical fleece, (hood optional). Lightweight, compact, and moisture wicking.
|1||Long Sleeve Shirt||
UPF materials are recommended. Loosefitting, long sleeves. Long sleeve button up shirts and sun hoodies also work to keep you warm and provide sun protection. UPF materials are recommended.
This is a puffy, lightweight jacket with a hood to optimize warmth. Will be worn as outermost layer in dry conditions.
Should be waterproof, not water resistant. Should be helmet compatible and loose fitting as to go over all you other layers of clothes.
Comfortable underwear for physical activities. Cotton underwear is recommended for sleeping (bring at least one pair).
Athletic shorts that wick moisture and dry quickly.
|1||Pant Base Layer||Base layers are the first layer of clothing to provide warmth while absorbing and evaporating sweat to keep student warm and comfortable|
Medium weight, loose fitting pant; These will be your most used pants.
|1||Insulated Pants||These pants can be down, fleece, or synthetic insulation full side zips on these pants are useful in the backcountry. For keeping warm at camp on cool days and evenings, great for layering.|
|1||Rain-Shell Pants||Should be waterproof, not water resistant. Should be loosefitting as to go over all you other layers of pants. Lower leg zippers recommended.|
|Basic wool hiking sock; crew to ski-length socks|
The most essential piece of gear that you will purchase. Must be waterproof, have good tread, a sturdy non-flexible sole, and at least mid-ankle in height. Consult "boot document" for more information.
* Please see this blog on choosing boots for more guidance.
This will be your dry, comfortable, camp shoe. It should be somewhat lightweight and sturdy.
SPF 30 or greater. For courses 15 days or longer, consider bringing a small bottle to carry and a larger bottle to resupply from.
|SPF 30 or greater|
Must be a cream or lotion. 2-4 oz., plastic container. Products with Picaridan or DEET (10 - 35%) are most effective.
|4-6 oz. per week for dry feet and hands|
Travel-size toiletries for basecamp use.
Choose the method you are most familiar with and bring extra supplies. Regardless of your choice, take into consideration that you will have to pack out all waste. Menstrual cups produce less waste. If you’ve never used a menstrual cup, we recommend you try it before course. If using tampons, consider a non-applicator tampon to reduce bulk and waste.
For extra cleaning and hygiene.
|1||Towel||For showering at basecamp.|
Large duffle bag or suitcase for travel to and from course.
|1||ID & Insurance Card||
Bring your card if you have insurance. The actual card is preferred, but a copy of the front and the back of the card will be okay. Store in ziplock bag.
Bring extra if intended to use for backcountry hygiene including as a pee rag.
|1||Sunglasses with keeper strap||
Sunglasses with UV protection. For winter, or courses expected to travel significantly on snow, peripheral coverage and dark lenses are important to protect from the additional sun glare.
|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
Two wide-mouth 32 oz. water bottle. A hydration bladder is not recommended for river courses or sections with freezing temperatures.
LED headlamp with extra batteries - lithium batteries recommended.
|2||Prescription Medications including Asthma Inhalers||
THESE MUST BE DECLARED DURING THE APPLICATION PROCESS. Bring medications in original containers (name, dosage, and instruction labels should be listed). Bring a ziploc bag for storage. Bring two sets of medication in case original is lost or damaged.
Digital and water resistant recommended.
Large Zip-Lock Plastic Bags or Stuff Sacks
|Heavy duty to protect cameras, etc. from sand and water|
Travel to and From Course:
|Travel Money & Snacks||
Extra cash and snacks are recommended for travel days and unexpected expenses such as luggage fees, bus fare, etc.
Emergency Contact Numbers for Travel Delays
|Carry a copy of the COBS phone numbers to use in case of travel delays|
|Clean Clothes||Please bring a set of clean clothes for your travels home.|
|1||Vest||To be worn as an extra layer for core body warmth.|
|Stamps and Envelopes||If you would like to send mail, bring your own stamps and envelopes. Store it in a ziplock bag.|
|1 pair||Gaiters||COBS provides a basic pair of gaiters. Higher end gaiters may provide more coverage and may be easier to use.|
|1 pair||Hiking Poles||COBS provides basic poles. You may bring your own pair if you prefer.|
|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||Insulated cup||½ liter size, maximum. Nice for hot drinks.|
|1||Toys, Instruments, Books||
You are welcome to bring hacky sacks, frisbees, musical instruments, and other fun stuff. You will only have access to these items for certain, limited times.
|1||Cell Phone & Charger||
You will have a chance to use your phone at course start and end.
Recommended if you are a light sleeper.
|1||Inflatable Sleeping Pad||
COBS provides an insulated foam pad. If bringing an inflatable pad, it must be lightweight, and have appropriate R-value for the cold. Patch kits required if bringing an inflatable pad.
|1||Portable Chair||Crazy Creek and REI are popular brands. Must be lightweight and packable/rollable. No chairs with legs can be brought.|
|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.|
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.