You don't need to bring camping gear like sleeping bags or backpacks. You will need to bring personal clothing, a few toiletries and footwear. Each course has a specific clothing list that will be provided to you. If you already own camping gear and would prefer to use it for your course please check your clothing lists as to what is appropriate. Outward Bound does not allow cell phones, ipods or tablets on courses. Your instructors will carry emergency communication devices. We ask students not to bring emergency response technology; it can complicate or compromise Outward Bound's emergency response.
Packing for Wilderness Travel
Wilderness travel means you can and, for your comfort, should carry a lot less than when you travel in the regular world. Most experienced wilderness travelers will tell you that they bring about the same amount of stuff on a three day trip as they would on a three week trip.
Our clothing list is based on layering; dressing in several light layers rather than one heavy layer allows you more flexibility as the weather and exertion levels change. When shopping or packing, it is a good idea to try on all you clothes at once. Ideally you would be able to wear all your "layers" at once.
Staying Warm with Layering
First Layer: usually called the wicking layer (long underwear, liner socks and gloves) - Moisture is the enemy of warmth. Sweat from physical activity like backpacking, paddling or climbing is your body's attempt to cool itself off. Synthetic long underwear pulls moisture away from your body so your sweat won't cool you down too much and make you cold. This layer is worn next to your skin. Cotton items retain moisture and exaggerate sweat's cooling effect.
Second Layer: usually called the insulation layer (fleece tops, socks, fleece pants) - This should be thick fluffy sweater or jacket that will trap and store the heat your body is producing to keep you warm. This layer is worn on top of the first layer. There might be more than one component of the "insulating layer" like a medium weight fleece and a heavier top.
Third Layer: usually called the wind/shell layer (jackets, pants, rain gear) - Finally, adding an outer windproof layer makes sure that the wind does not steal all that built up heat. The third layer is worn on top of the first and second layers.
You don't need to buy all name brand clothing (Patagonia, The North Face etc.). You can shop at Army Surplus Stores, second-hand outdoor stores like the Wilderness Exchange or Play It Again Sports. Another good place to shop is Sierra Trading Post.
Traveling to Course Start
Arrive to the course start location dressed in clothes that you will wear on the course. Courses are packed with physical activity right from the start so it is important to arrive prepared. We strongly recommend the layering technique and have provided a clothing list with your enrollment packet. An example of what to wear would be a short sleeved shirt, shorts or pants, boots or sandals and have a long sleeved shirt or jacket close by. To aid in acclimatization to high altitudes, be sure to drink plenty (3-6 quarts) of water the day before your course.
As a precaution against the airlines losing your irreplaceable items, please carry or wear things on the plane like your boots, socks, long underwear, prescription medications and contacts/glasses. If your luggage does get delayed, be fully prepared to begin your course and spend the night outdoors. Please check-in everything else. When you arrive on the course, you will pack your trail gear into a backpack provided by Outward Bound.
Air Travel for Teens
Most airlines offer or require that you purchase an unaccompanied minor service which ensures that your child is boarded onto the aircraft, chaperoned during connections, and turned over to the appropriate person upon arrival at their final destination. Each airline has their own policies, rates and services offered so please check with the airlines. Fees are typically $150 and must be paid at the gate each way so make sure your child can pay the return flight fee at the airport gate on the way back. If you purchase the provision you will need provide the airline with the name and phone number of the Outward Bound staff member that is picking up the student.
Outward Bound staff will be at the meeting place at least two hours before the published meeting time. For unaccompanied minors or teens arriving earlier we make every effort to arrive at the same time as the earliest arriving student but can only guarantee staff at the meeting place two hours prior. Please carefully review the travel information provided for the course as traveling to/from course outside of our recommended travel times will likely leave your child without supervision or anyone to meet them.
Courses for 14-16 year-olds or younger will have start times that allow same day travel. Some courses require an overnight stay prior to course. In the event that a 16-18 year-old courses requires an overnight stay, please consult your Course Advisor for information. We do not typically offer supervision prior to the appointed meeting time.
What if I have a travel delay getting to my course start?
If an unavoidable travel delay occurs every effort will be made to get the delayed student on the course. Please call your Course Advisor as soon as possible so that we can facilitate the pick up unless otherwise stated on your travel sheet.
Outward Bound does not call family members to confirm the students' arrival on course and we do not typically provide updates mid-course or confirm that travel home will happen as planned. Under no circumstances will we leave a meeting place without accounting for every student expected and will call families if a student is not accounted for or if outbound travel has markedly changed.
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