Outdoor Education

Gear Guide

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It is NOT our goal to have parents rush out and spend a great deal of money on expensive new equipment in order for their son to participate in Outdoor Education activities. Rather, it is our hope that we can assist you in making use of existing equipment that you own or may borrow. If you are going to make new purchases, this information will hopefully assist you in making purchases that will serve your son in the future. If you have any questions about the equipment that would be appropriate for your child's outdoor education program, please contact the outdoor education office.

Introduction – Gear Guide

This guide has been designed to assist families from Grade 4–12 in making good decisions about the types of equipment to purchase and pack for outdoor education activities.

Each activity offered through the Outdoor Education Department has specific requirements and a unique packing list. Please ensure that you refer to the information letter that is provided. Below is a general packing list that applies to most multi-day trips.

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water bottle
  • Flashlight or headlamp (small)
  • Whistle (Fox 40)
  • Sun protection system (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses)
  • Rain jacket and pants
  • 1-2 Pants (nylon quick dry)
  • 1 Shorts (nylon quick dry)
  • 2 T-Shirt (polyester quick dry)
  • 1 Sweater (fleece or wool)
  • 2-3 Underwear
  • 2-3 Socks (preferably wool)
  • 1 Long underwear top (quick dry)
  • 1 Long underwear bottoms (quick dry)
  • 1 Toque
  • 1 Lightweight mittens or gloves

There are many outdoor stores in Vancouver who can assist with providing appropriate equipment. Below are some of the stores that tend to have a wide selection and staff knowledgeable about the products available.

Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC)
111 2nd Ave East
Vancouver, B.C.
06A-1100 Park Royal S,
West Vancouver, B.C.

Sleeping Bags

For most of our programs, students should have a good three-season bag that is good to at least 0°C and packs into a stuff sack. Large rectangular "summer cottage bags" that roll up to the size of a large duffel bag are not suitable. Some programs in senior grades may require a sleeping bag that goes to -7°C or -10°C.

If you are planning on purchasing a new bag, consider a synthetic mummy-shaped bag that is rated to -7°C. The advantage of a synthetic bag is that it remains warm even when wet. Down bags are great but they are expensive and must be kept dry as they have almost no insulating value when wet (this can be a real challenge on many trips).

Students involved in wilderness trips (hiking, canoeing, kayaking, snowshoeing) will need some type of compression sack in order to minimize the amount of space that the sleeping bag takes up. Look for a compression sack that also offers waterproofing for the bag.

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  • Marmot Trestles -9°C Sleeping Bag

    Marmot Trestles 15°F/-9°C Regular Sleeping Bag - Cobalt Blue
    This mummy-bag from Atmosphere is suited to almost all outdoor education activities at St. George's School.
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  • Compression Sack

    eVent Compression Dry Sack Grey
    A compression sack offers waterproofing for the sleeping bag when used correctly. These bags are available in a variety of sizes, depending on the size of sleeping bag being used.
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Sleeping Pads

When sleeping outdoors, students need insulation from the ground. A sleeping pad goes between the sleeping bag and the ground to offer protection and warmth. These come in two main types: fixed foam insulation (Ensolite, Aerolite, Rigid Rest, etc.) or inflatable pads (Thermarest). The rigid pads are far less expensive but tend to be bulky and provide less comfort. The inflatable pads are great but more expensive.

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  • Closed Cell Foam Pad

    Closed cell foam pads are the lowest-cost pads that are adequate. They are also the least comfortable.
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  • Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

    A self-inflating sleeping pad provides more comfort than closed-cell foam.
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  • Thermarest

    Thermarest is a well known brand of inflating pad.
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Clothing – General Notes

There are a few guidelines to remember when it comes to clothing for outdoor trips:

Cotton is Rotten: As a general rule, avoid cotton for all of your clothing. When wet, cotton does not keep you warm and is difficult to dry out. Instead, use wool or synthetic fabrics that will dry quickly. Most athletic clothing is made of synthetic fabrics. This includes socks, underwear, pants, shirts, etc.

Use Layers: 3 layers will help keep students comfortable and warm
  • Wicking layer: thin, synthetic underwear (tops and bottoms)
  • Warm layer: fleece/wool jacket and pants
  • Weather layer: waterproof or waterproof-breathable jacket (with a hood) and pants
Plan to dress in layers. In this way, you can stay comfortable while moving and be able to layer up at times when you stop (at breaks and in camp). On a cold day, typical layering might be long underwear bottoms and nylon pants along with a long underwear shirt, a polyester shirt, a fleece sweater, and a rain jacket on top. Wool socks, a warm hat, and wool or fleece gloves will top things off. On a warm day, nylon shorts and a polyester t-shirt might be sufficient. Even on a hot day, a cotton t-shirt will be soaked with sweat and will cause over-cooling when activity stops. It gets cool at night, so be prepared for a wide range of temperatures.

Rain Gear

All participants need a waterproof (coated PVC, Gore-Tex or Entrant) hooded rain jacket. Pants are also necessary for the trips. If you cannot stay completely dry in the shower while wearing your rain gear, it is not acceptable. Gore-Tex (or comparable) is preferred for their breathability. The students are active on trips and need breathable materials so they don't get just as wet on the inside!

School team jackets are not waterproof and are not adequate for outdoor education trips.

List of 3 items.

  • Wetskins Rain Suit

    A basic model PVC raincoat, such as this one from Canadian Tire, is the lowest-cost jacket that is suitable for most outdoor education activities. These jackets are usually hot inside because they don't breathe. Over time, activity will result in a buildup of sweat inside the rain suit.
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  • Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket

    The Torrentshell jacket is made of a base-level waterproof breathable fabric. It is good value for the money and is more comfortable than a vinyl jacket.
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  • MEC Aquanator Pants

    Good rain pants are fully waterproof.
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Footwear – Hiking Trips

On hiking trips, you will need sturdy hiking boots that provide good ankle support and are waterproof.

Some trips also require a pair of shoes for river crossings. Water booties or tight-fitting sandals are appropriate for this.

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  • Gaiters

    Gaiters are required for all coastal hikes and snowshoeing. They keep water, sand, and snow out of hiking boots. The MEC Kokanee gaiter uses an effective velcro system and a plastic strap under foot. Avoid zippers and gaiters that need to be tied using a string.
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  • Hiking Boots

    It is very important that you wear your hiking boots for several days prior to going on trip. Wearing your boots for the first time when on a trip is likely to result in blisters.

Footwear – Kayak Trips

On a kayaking trip, you need footwear that will keep your feet warm even when wet (and they will be wet!). Neoprene booties with good grip on the bottom is one option. Old runners or sturdy closed toe sandals (like Keens) with neoprene socks also work fantastic.

For kayak trips, you should also bring a pair of "camp shoes" to wear that you keep dry during the day.


Having warm and comfortable feet is important. You should wear wool socks for all wilderness activities, as they will keep your feet warm even when wet. Cotton socks are not appropriate for any activities in Grade 9 and 10.

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  • Nylon Socks

    Hikers who experience problems with blisters may wish to wear two pairs of socks: a lightweight pair of nylon socks underneath the wool socks.


Backpacks are required for all hiking and snowshoeing trips. Backpacks need to be at least 65L in size and we suggest 70L–80L. Packs also come in different sizes and need to be fitted correctly to the student. Look for a pack that has adjustment on it so that it can grow along with the student.

The shoulder and waist straps should be thick and well padded. The pack and straps should fit body contours. If possible, load the pack with weight in the store and try adjusting it to see how comfortable it is.

The best packs are simple and do not have a lot of extra compartments, zippers or attachments. These parts can fail (especially zippers!) and add unnecessary weight.

When preparing, remember that many things inside the backpack need to be waterproofed. This can be done by using smaller, waterproof stuff sacs or compression sacs inside your backpack. You can also line your backpack with a thick garbage bag or large stuff sac. Rain covers are not recommended, as they don't waterproof what's inside the bag and often get caught or lost.

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  • Gregory Stout 70 Pack

    Choose a simple pack that is appropriately fitted to your height.
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Water Bottle

Water bottles need to have a screw-on lid that fits tightly and will not leak. Each water bottle should be 1L.

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  • Nalgene Water Bottles

    We suggest Nalgene brand water bottles for durability. Water bottles should be clearly labeled with the student's name, as many of them look similar.
  • Water Treatment

    On Grade 9 and 10 trips, students are required to provide a system for treating the water that they will be drinking. We recommend the Pristine chlorine dioxide system, as it is simple, fast, and inexpensive. The tablets are easier to use than the drops.
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Dry Bags

Canoe trippers and kayakers will take a number of small waterproof bags that will fit into the hatches of the kayak or into a large canoe pack.

On the first day of the trip, carry all your various dry bags to school in a large duffle bag, which will be left behind.

Dry bags made of stiff plastic or vinyl (Seal-Line, etc.) are great for canoeing and kayaking but are too heavy and difficult to pack for hiking trips. If purchasing new dry bags, choose polyurethane-coated nylon dry sacs so that they can be used for both hiking and canoe/kayaking in the future.

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  • Dry Bags

    Recommended Products:
    MEC Weigh Lite Dry Bag: $20
    MEC Brooks Dry Bag: $10–$24
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