Packing Up

Gearing up for a Cascadia Course is an important event and if you are new to outdoor expeditions it will be the first lesson in your course.  While on a course your first priority is to take care of your basic needs – for example, keeping warm, safe, clean and comfortable. As you become an experienced backcountry traveler you’ll develop your own standard gear list for each activity you pursue ie rafting, river kayaking, backpacking or sea kayaking. 

Procuring Your Gear

Inevitably some questions will come up as you assemble and pack up for your course.  We highly recommend you give us a call if you have questions or need some coaching as to what specific product to choose.  Feel free to email us with your questions or simply give us a call. 

Before we get to specifics,  here are some general guidelines for you to review:

1.  Don’t pack the kitchen sink.
Please try and avoid bringing anything that is not on your packing list.  However, small musical instruments can be great entertainment on trail, as can a deck of cards – be creative, but mindful that you will be carrying all your gear and that extra item will affect pack volume and weight.
2.  Layering and Warmth
Warm clothing and layers listed may seem unnecessary, but once you gain higher elevations or experience a weather change or a cold, windy night you will appreciate having your warm, windproof and waterproof gear ready to wear.
3.  Minimizing Your Gear Expense
Cascadia School realizes the expense involved with procuring outdoor gear so we will outfit you with the specialty items to help minimize your expenses.  Such items include:  tents, water proof bags, water shoes, wet suits, kayak splash jackets, and safety helmets -- they are all included in your tuition.  You want your clothing and equipment to be durable, but you don’t necessarily need top of the line.  Sometimes basic and less expensive options perform just fine.  Consider buying used gear, shopping at a thrift store, or borrowing some of the gear you need.  Shop outdoor gear discount sites and save up to 50%.
4.  Break in Your Boots
We can’t emphasize this enough.  Blisters caused by boots not broken in can result in severe discomfort or may even cause you to leave a trip early!  Wear your boots at home and take several long hikes carrying a pack with weight in it prior to your course.  Note:  your boots are a critical piece of gear.  If they are not sturdy or don’t fit with at least a liner and wool sock, we won’t let you use them.  If you have any doubts about boots please give us a call.
5.  Label Your Clothes and Gear
Use a Sharpie Permanent Marker and write your name and phone number on your stuff.
6.  Be Prepared
In case your checked luggage doesn’t arrive on time we recommend you wear your boots on the plane and take your sleeping bag, prescriptions, and toiletries as carry-on luggage.  Remember to pack your knife in your checked baggage.
7.  Laundry
During your course we’ll provide you time to do laundry. A couple 13 gallon plastic bags come in handy for your dirty laundry.


Upper Body Layers

Fleece or Insulated Jacket  (1)
This top insulating layer should be a Polartec 200 or 300 fleece jacket or insulated jacket that is lightweight and reasonably compact.  
Insulated Vest (1)
Down or synthetic insulation.  Make sure it’s compactable.
Long Sleeve Base Layer (1)
Synthetic light or mid-weight long underwear top of polyester, Polartec , or merino or smart wool
Wind Shirt (1)
A lightweight, breathable, nylon wind shell either anorak (pull over)or full-zip style. This must be large enough fit over the above mentioned insulating layers.
Rain Jacket (1)
A sturdy, roomy waterproof (not water resistant) jacket with a hood.  Must be large enough to fit over all of the above insulating layers.  Ponchos are not acceptable.
Long Sleeved Shirt (2)
Flannel type work shirt
T-Shirts  (3)
1 synthetic, 2 cotton
Winter Stocking Cap (1)
Synthetic or Wool

Lower Body Layers

Fleece Pants (1)
Synthetic Long Underwear or fleece pants
Jeans or Pants (2)
Rugged, well built pants or jeans
Hiking Shorts (2)
Loose fitting nylon athletic or river shorts.  No cotton.
Wind Pants (1)
Breathable nylon wind pants that are roomy enough to fit over all lower body garments.  Zippered legs will help you slip your pants on over your hiking boots.
Rain Pants (1)
Coated nylon waterproof (not water resistant) pants. Breathable fabric such as GoreTex and H2NO are preferable and work as both wind and rain layer.
Underwear (5)
Briefs or boxers, sports bras (women)
Socks (5)
Three pair of thick wool or synthetic blend socks (smartwool) made for hiking.  Two pair of lighter weight sock liners (polypropylene or Capilene “wick dry” socks).
Boots (1)
Sturdy boots with good ankle support.  Vibram soles and proper fit are critical for backpacking.  Break your boots in and waterproof them before bringing.

Camp Shoes (1)

Running, tennis, or cross-training shoes in good condition to wear around camp and on short day hikes. 
Sports Sandals (1)
These must have a heel strap.  If you do not have sport sandals, your camp shoes will work fine.

Bathing Suit (1)

Towel (1)
Medium size cotton towel or synthetic camping towel


Camping Equipment

Sleeping Bag and Stuff Sack
We recommend a compact sleeping bag (synthetic) that is rated to 25°Fahrenheit or less. Your sleeping bag should compress into a stuff sack which can then be cinched down to 12-20” in length.
Sleeping Pad / Thermarest
A full or ¾ length mattress pad that is inflatable or made of closed-cell foam. It should be compact, lightweight.  Pack it in a nylon storage bag.
Day Pack
Your day pack can be used as a carry-on and will be used for day hikes. This can be a very basic backpack but it should have two shoulder straps (not a satchel or messenger bag) and should big enough to hold your lunch, two water bottles, some food, some extra clothes, wind shirt or rain gear.

Water Bottle
One 1-liter water bottle

Headlamp & Extra Batteries
Optional:  Consider lithium batteries (long lasting) for your headlamp
Insulated Mug with Lid
To be used for hot drinks
Sunscreen and Chapstick
4oz tube with SPF 30 or greater
Optional: sturdy case
Useful for a variety of purposes
With visor
Prescription Glasses and Contact Lenses
Bring spare glasses or contact lenses.  Contact lens wearers should consider bringing a pair of glasses as backup.
Prescription Medicine / Vitamins
Please declare on your medical / health history form
Personal Hygiene Articles
Toothbrush, tooth paste, comb/brush, nailclippers, feminine hygiene products
Instant Hand Sanitizer
2oz bottle, alcohol-based is preferable
Notepad, Pen or Pencil
Small, lightweight
Digital Camera, memory chip, batteries (optional)
1-4 gig card. Compact with protective case.
Insect Repellent
A small bottle or tube.  No aerosol spray cans.
Plastic Bags
Ten large 1-gallon ziplock bags and two 33 gallon plastic bags. The ziplock bags are used to organize and waterproof your gear and small items. The bags are used to line your pack and to wrap your sleeping bag and pad.
Spending Money
$25/week in cash or with a debit or ATM card
Book, Pocket Knife, Fanny Pack


Washington Summer Youth Programs, Oregon study abroad programs, Alaska Wilderness Camp, Costa Rica teen tours

Family/Teen Travel

Pacific Northwest Trip

Alaska Graduation Trip