Are you getting ready for your first Outward Bound course?
If your answer is yes, you’re probably wondering about what equipment you should bring with you. ?
Well, you’re in the right place! In this post, we’re going to answer the most common questions about outdoor equipment and, hopefully, solve all your doubts!
Outward Bound Croatia courses include outdoor and wilderness activities, which include situations very different from what you’re used to from an everyday, urban life. Nature can always surprise you with unexpected scenarios. Wind, rain, mud, and hot or cold weather will be some of the elements you’ll encounter out there and for which you’ll want to be ready.
As long as you select and use your equipment the right way and follow your instructors’ recommendations, you should be able to master every challenge you encounter and get the most out of your Outward Bound experience.
In this article, you’ll learn everything about the outdoor equipment you’ll need on our course, what each piece is for and how to use it correctly.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”
When you’re spending time in the outdoors, you’ll need some protection from the natural elements, such as rain, snow, wind, or sun.
Most importantly, you’ll want to stay warm and dry.
This can be a difficult task, considering that when you’re being active in the outdoors, you usually sweat. With rainy and cold weather, and a 20 kg-backpack on your back you’ll easily feel cold and hot at the same time. Additionally, there’s the danger of sun-burn, even in winter.
In other words:
Depending on the weather and activities you’re engaging in, the different clothing combinations are countless.
To make things easier, we present you the “Three-layer Principle” which can help you to choose and use your gear the right way.
What’s the Three-Layer Principle?
The Three-layer principle is a way of dressing by using several pieces of clothing on top of each other. Each layer has a different function, use, and characteristics. The correct combination of these three layers will let you be prepared in any weather situation.
1. First Layer – The Inner or Base Layer:
This layer is the closest to your body, so be sure that the fabric feels comfortable on your skin. It’s important when you sweat that the moisture evaporates from your body as fast as possible, and your skin stays dry. When you’re tired, and you stop to take a break, you don’t want to have your clothes soaking wet.
In cooler seasons, this layer also serves to keep you warm.
For ensuring this functionality, the best materials are the ones that move moisture fast to the outer surface and then dry quickly. Synthetic materials such as polyester or microfiber are a good option.
Cotton, on the other hand, is not at all recommendable. It absorbs moisture easily and is very slow to dry, which will keep your skin wet for a longer period of time, and you’ll get cold.
2. Second Layer – The Mid Layer:
The most important function of the middle layer is to provide the necessary insulation and keep you warm. For this layer, you can use more than one piece, making it easier for you to use the correct combination.
With experience, you’ll get better at using this layer, taking off and putting on pieces of clothing to regulate your own body heat.
As a good second layer, fleece is one of the most classic and recommendable options. You can find fleece jackets of different thickness, which you should use depending on the season. There are so many different designs and price ranges available, everyone should be able to find something that fits their needs.
A down or synthetic fiber jacket or a softshell is a great option for very cold environments. Cotton, as with the first layer, if you’re being active, will absorb the moisture and make you feel cold.
3. Third Layer – Shell Layer:
The last layer will be the most important one when things get ugly. ?
The function of this layer is not to let wind and water pass through to the inside, so the second and first layers stay dry and warm and accomplish their task.
A quality shell-layer balances between breathability and water-wind resistance. It’s also a good idea for your shell to have vents that enable rapid dispersal of excess warmth when you’re being active.
There are many different options for third layer membranes out there that differ largely in price and usability.
The best-known one for its quality and functionality is Gore-Tex. However, you should know that its price is going to be according to its high-level performance. That’s why we don’t ask you to have the most advanced third layer jacket there is. The only thing you need to make sure is that it’s waterproof.
You’re not going to wear the third layer all the time. There’s no need to wear a shell layer when you’re hiking and there’s no rain or wind at all. The moisture from your perspiration won’t be able to get out, and your other layers and skin will get sweaty and wet.
Now you see why the three-layer principle is so important to keep in mind during your adventure in the outdoors.
It’s multi-functional and applicable in many different weather scenarios:
- If the weather is wet and cold, you’ll wear all 3 layers.
✔️ Total protection against wind, rain, and snow
✔️ Staying dry from the inside
- If the weather is dry but cold, you’ll wear the 1st and the 2nd layer.
✔️ Staying dry from the inside
- If the weather is wet and warm, you’ll use the 1st and the 3rd layer.
✔️ Protection against moisture from outside
✔️ Staying dry from the inside
- In case of high temperatures, you’ll wear only the 1st layer.
✔️ Staying dry from the inside
Keep the layers you are not using in a dry and easy-to-reach place in your backpack.
The type of activity you engage in will also be a factor in deciding what layers to wear, additionally to the weather conditions. As we mentioned before, with time and experience, you’ll become an authentic professional in handling the layers. ?
Outdoor and Hiking Shoes
Now that you know how to protect your body against the elements, it’s time to turn your attention to your feet!
If you think that outdoor clothing is complicated, brace yourself. The number of options that there are on the market when it comes to outdoor and hiking shoes is straight overwhelming.
But don’t worry, we’ll try and make selecting the right pair a little easier for you.
Here are the basics characteristics that you need to mind when choosing your hiking shoes:
When you’re in the outdoors, it’s not uncommon to bump your foot against a rock, root, or other things out there. That can be painful or even dangerous for your feet, especially if you’re not wearing the right footwear.
It’s because of that the shoes you use in the outdoors need to protect your feet from the front side and from the backside. That way, both your toes and your ankles are going to be safe. That’s also the reason why we will always recommend you to wear closed shoes on a hike!
In the next paragraph, we’re going to talk about the sole, another important thing to consider when thinking about your safety in outdoor activities.
Stability and grip
When passing through wild areas, your hiking shoes should help you master that challenge without dangerous falls or injuries. To be able to do so, the stability and grip of their soles need to be good.
Try to find hiking shoes that you feel comfortable and stable in. When walking, you should feel them amortize your weight. Since often during a hike, you’ll be wearing a heavy backpack, it’s good to also try on the boots in the store with some weight on your back. Jump, move, and walk on different surfaces to find the ones that suit you best.
Probably the most important about your outdoor shoes is that they need to be suitable for dry, wet, rocky, and muddy terrain. That’s also the reason why you shouldn’t wear football, basketball, or running sneakers on a hike. They are often slippery and could, therefore, lead to a dangerous fall.
The stiffness of the sole is another thing to consider since it protects your feet from getting hurt when walking on rocky and sharp paths.
You’re already aware of all the elements that you’ll encounter in the outdoors, aren’t you? Well, water is the one that’s most controversial: it’s equally dangerous as it’s life-saving.
During a hike, you might need to pass through puddles, creeks, little rivers, or wetland areas, and, as for the rest of your body, for your feet, it’s crucial to stay dry.
Try to find a pair with some type of waterproof membrane that allow your feet to breathe and, at the same time, stop the water from getting inside.
Because of their lack of breathability, snow boots or rubber boots are not recommendable to wear on a hike.
On an OBC course, you’ll wear your hiking shoes for many hours, especially during the expedition. If you haven’t chosen the right ones, at the end of the day, you won’t be able to wait to take them off.
Therefore, try to find the balance between comfort and the previously mentioned characteristics. This is important simply because it’ll let you enjoy the course more.
Also, a badly fitting shoe can cause blisters or otherwise hurt your feet. The pain and discomfort in your feet can easily make you stumble and fall.
When it comes to socks, you can apply the lesson from earlier on:
the Three-layer principle.
For the first layer that’s directly in contact with your skin, you want to use a material that leads the moisture away from your feet and makes you feel comfortable. Choose the correct size and thickness according to the season.
Don’t use socks with many seams. They might leave you with itchy feet or blisters.
Now you know all about what outdoor equipment to bring to your Outward Bound course!
You can use this post as a reminder when packing your bag for the course.
Once again: You don’t have to buy the most expensive equipment you’ll find in the shops. First, check out your and your friends’ and family’s wardrobes and see if you find everything you need for your OBC course there.
If after that you’re still missing some crucial pieces, you might want to have a look at the offer in some second-hand shops or shops with sports-equipment.
Just make sure to get ready for the adventure!
We would love to hear about your experiences with outdoor equipment.
? Leave us a note or any question you might have in the comments-section below!