Please bring everything on the required clothing and gear list, but do not feel like you have to buy everything new. Many of these items can be found second hand at thrift stores, consignment shops, and online like eBay and Facebook Marketplace

Getting Started

Packing for backcountry travel is all about packing light and practically. Every day, you will be carrying all your gear, food, and water. So the lighter your load, the more comfortable you'll be! That's why we ask that students bring everything on the required gear list (and whatever you'd like to bring from the optional items list), but nothing more. 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.

Important Packing Information

  • Pack your clothing and gear in a duffel bag or suitcase. You will keep personal items such as clean clothes for your return trip home and valuables (cell phones, electronic devices, and wallets) in this bag while you are on course. Please leave unnecessary or expensive items at home.
  • Once you arrive at base camp, your instructors will help you pack for backcountry travel. They will assess your personal gear, the group gear you will be required to carry, and help you adjust your pack as needed. 
  • We encourage you to leave the tags on any items you purchase for this course. That way, you may return these items if you do not use them on your expedition.
  • Please bring everything on the list! If you have questions or concerns, we encourage you to reach out to your course advisor.


  • All prescription medications must be listed in the applicant’s medical record, must be approved by your course advisor prior to course, and must accompany the participant on course. Participants may not be permitted to begin their course without their required medications OR with new medications not approved by your course advisor.
  • All medications (prescription, non-prescription, and OTC) 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.

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.

Equipment Provided by Outward Bound

Gear that Outward Bound Provides

Outward Bound provides all other equipment that is not included on the required packing list. 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

  • Sleeping bags – need to be made from synthetic materials (down fill is not appropriate for our courses) and have a 20-degree or colder warmth rating.
  • Sleeping pads – can be ¾ to full size in length. They can be closed-cell foam or inflatable. If you bring an inflatable pad please also bring a patch kit. Remember, inflatable pads often weigh considerably more than closed-cell foam pads.
  • Backpacks – need to have a minimum capacity of 6,000 cubic inches, comfortably carry 45-60 lbs, and be an internal frame design.

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.

Layering Principles


  • First layer—This layer is worn next to your skin. Synthetic and wool materials are best for this layer.
  • Mid layer(s)— This is the insulation layer. Think thick tops, leggings, wool socks, and fleece jackets.
  • Outer layer— This is the layer that will protect you from the wind, snow, and rain. Outer layers are completely waterproof not just water resistant.


  • Hard Shell: Waterproof and windproof, generally worn when it’s raining, snowing, or really windy.
  • Soft Shell: Water and wind-resistant. Not waterproof but more breathable than hard-shell.
  • Fleece: Great insulator and dries quickly.
  • Wool: Natural material that, unlike cotton, keeps you warm when wet.
  • Synthetic: Almost anything else but cotton! Acceptable non-cotton options are wool, capilene, poly-propylene, polyester, fleece, acrylic, rayon, Polartec, Thinsulate, COOLMAX, and nylon.

Still confused? Check out this video about fabrics from our friends at NCOBS.

Required Clothing and Gear

Head & Hand Layers:





Baseball Cap

Necessary for sun protection; full brimmed hats do not work well with backpacks. 


Warm Hat

Wool or fleece beanie that can be worn under a helmet.


Lightweight Gloves

For sun and bug protection.


Buff or bandana

Personal preference. 


Top Layers:





Sports Bra

Sports bra should be able to provide support in physical activity.


Short Sleeve T-Shirts

Basic synthetic layer that should be comfortable for both active and passive times on course. One cotton t-shirt for sleeping is optional.


Long Sleeve Shirt

UPF materials are recommended. Loosefitting, long sleeves. Long sleeve button up shirts and sun hoodies provide the best sun protection.


Long Underwear Top

Synthetic or wool, light to mid weight long underwear top. Important base layer, provides warmth and wicks sweat.


Rain Jacket

Should be waterproof, not water resistant. Should be helmet compatible and loosefitting as to go over all you other layers of clothes. 


Mid-Weight Fleece

Breathable insulation for aerobic activities and provides insulation when wet.



Bottom Layers:






Comfortable underwear for physical activities(synthetic or wool). Cotton underwear is recommended for sleeping (bring at least one pair).



Athletic shorts that wick moisture and dry quickly.


Hiking Pants

Medium weight, loose fitting pant; These will be your most used pants.


Long Underwear Bottoms

Synthetic or wool, light to mid weight long underwear bottoms. Important base layer, provides warmth and wicks sweat.


Medium Weight Fleece Pants

These pants are useful in the backcountry. For keeping warm at camp on cool days and evenings, great for layering.


Rain Pants

Should be waterproof, not water resistant. Should be loosefitting as to go over all you other layers of pants. Lower leg zippers recommended.


Footwear Layers:





Hiking Socks   

Basic wool hiking sock; crew to ski-length socks


Thick Hiking Socks 

Important for very cold days, sleeping, and being at camp. Make sure new boots are fitted with the thickest 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. * Please read this blog on choosing boots for more information. Leather boots are NOT recommended for this course.


Camp Shoes

Comfortable shoe to wear around camp, should be lightweight, crocs are a great option (no flip flops).


River Shoes

Must be secure with sturdy sole and heel strap (no crocs or flip flops) and comfortable for short hikes. Chacos, Tevas and old sneakers are all excellent.







Waterproof Sunscreen

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

SPF 30 or greater. Important to protect from cracked lips.


Moisturizing Lotion

Important for desert conditions, even if you don't usually have dry skin! 4-6 Oz. per week.


Toothbrush & Toothpaste

Travel Size toothpaste can help save room and weight in a backpack. No electric toothbrushes.


Menstrual Products

Choose the method you are most familiar with and bring extra supplies. Many instructors and students who menstruate have had success with Menstrual Cups, if you've never used one, we recommend trying it before the course. If bringing a menstrual cup, make sure to bring appropriate sanitation supplies. In our experience, pads are more difficult than tampons in a river environment but can be managed. It's also worth noting that all waste is carried out, so bringing low-waste options (like non-applicator tampons) is worth it.


Personal Accessories:





Duffle Bag

Large duffle bag or suitcase for travel to and from course. 


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.



If you menstruate one will be used as a pee rag. Bandanas can also be helpful around camp for general use and extra sun protection.


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.


Prescription Eye Wear + Extra Glasses and/or contacts

Contacts – bring extra pairs Glasses - Ensure these are compatible with your sunglasses. Bring an extra set in case of damage or backup.


Water Bottles

Hard sided water bottles that can hold at least 32 OZ. each. Must bring TWO, this is one of the most essential items!



LED headlamp with extra batteries - lithium batteries recommended. 


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: 





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

Optional Items

Optional Items:

Quantity Items Description
1 Stationary/
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 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.
2+ Ear Plugs

Recommended if you are a light sleeper.

1 Crazy Creek Chair  

Crazy Creek and REI are popular brands. Must be lightweight and packable/rollable. No chairs with legs can be brought.

1 Bug Shirt Good options are usually mesh with a hood for protection from bugs. **CHECK WITH COURSE ADVISOR ABOUT COURSE CONDITIONS**
1 Small Towel For drying off in the backcountry +/or possible campground showers. This could be a hand towel or a small pack towel.
1 Belt Easily adjustable synthetic belt. Something that will fit smoothly under your backpack hip belt. Check to see if any of you bottom layers require a belt.
1 Insect Repellant Must be a cream or lotion. 2-4 oz., plastic container. Products with Picaridan or DEET (10 - 35%) are most effective. Ask Course Advisor about bug conditions.
1 Wet Wipes Unscented. All items must be packed out. 
Items Not Allowed

Items not Allowed on Course:

  • Electronics—cell phones, iPods, etc. These may be brought on the plane or bus but will need to be stored at the base before going into the field.
  • Deodorant, makeup, shampoo, conditioner, perfume, cologne, etc.
  • Illegal drugs, any CBD/THC products, alcohol, vapes, tobacco products of any kind, and nicotine. 
  • Any prescription drugs not cleared by your course advisor.
  • Weapons of any kind.
Weather During Your Course

Weather During Your Course:

Expect temperatures between 60°F -100°F during the day and 35°F -50°F at night. Weather in unpredictable in the desert, which is why it is essential to pack everything on the required gear list. Please check the weather prior to your course for Moab, Utah at to have an idea of what to expect. Once you arrive at course start, your instructors will update you on current weather patterns and advise you on what clothing will be appropriate. Pro tip: bringing light-colored clothing is a great way to stay cooler!