Introduction - Gear Guide
This guide has been designed to assist families from grades 4 - 12 at St. George's School 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)
130 West Broadway
604 872 7858

Unit # 1140, 6551 No. 3 Road, Richmond, BC

Sleeping Bags
For most of our programs, students should have a good three-season bag that is good to at least 0C 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 -7C or -10C.

If you are planning on purchasing a new bag consider a synthetic mummy-shaped bag that is rated to -7C. 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.

Marmot Trestles -9C Sleeping Bag

This mummy-bag from Atmosphere is suited to almost all outdoor education activities at St. George's School.
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Outdoor Research AirPurge Compression Sack

This compression sack from Outdoor Research also 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.

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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Reactor 3.8 Sleeping Pad

The Reactor sleeping pad is the MEC version of the Thermarest line of products. It comes in a variety of thicknesses. We suggest the 3.8 version.
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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 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.

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 Hydrofoil 3 Pants

These pants go with the Hydrofoil 3 jacket.
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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.

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 trip is likely to result in blisters.


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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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.

MEC Moque Boots (High)

These are an inexpensive option for kayak trips. They work well with a wetsuit and will keep feet warm. They are not worn with any socks.
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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.

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. Or, you can line your backpack with a thick garbage bag or large stuff sac. Rain covers are not worth it as they don't waterproof what's inside the bag and often get caught or lost.

MEC Forge 75 Pack

This pack is very simple and meets the needs of most hiking trips. It comes in three sizes based on the length of the back. Read the instructions on the MEC website to determine the correct size of pack required.
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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. 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.

Carry all your various dry bags to school on the first day of trip in a large duffle bag or ikea 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.

Kayakers must not have dry bags larger than 20L, as they don't fit inside the hatch of the kayak.

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

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