This post, from our Outdoor Logistics Coordinators, is a guide to packing for your DOC First-Year Trip! Enjoy!
We’re Cedar and Caroline, the 2015 outdoor logistics coordinators for Trips! We’re writing to make some very important points about packing for your First-Year Trip. You can also watch our packing video, posted here. The items you need to pack can be divided into a few categories.
Here we address some important items on the packing list that can be confusing. This is not a complete packing list. Cardinal rules: bring non-cotton clothes (no cotton T-shirts!), and remember that less is more. When it comes to socks, go for polyester or wool, which will help you avoid blisters. Do not wear cotton socks. You need a raincoat or a poncho. You need a warm layer. Do not bring a cotton hoodie. It should be a substantial wool, fleece, synthetic, or down layer.
You’re asked to bring 2 pairs of hiking shorts/pants. Athletic shorts are fine if you want to wear shorts. Here is an example of hiking pants (don’t bring blue jeans or cotton sweatpants).
You’re asked to bring a long-sleeved shirt/tight warm layer. This should be wool or synthetic.
You’ll need a wool or fleece hat:
And gloves or mittens:
The packing list for your specific trip will indicate what kind of bag or backpack you need. You’ll either bring a frame pack or a duffel bag and a daypack/small backpack, depending on your trip. If you need to have a frame pack, read on…
There are two major types of frame packs: external (cheaper, heavier) and internal (lighter, more expensive, better functioning). You can bring either.
In terms of finding a pack that’s the right size, you have two things to consider. The first is volume/storage capacity. This is measured in liters. The absolute minimum size any pack should be for Trips is 50 liters. Aim for a pack that is in the 65 to 75+ liter range. The second thing to consider is that you want a pack that fits you comfortably. Fitting a pack can be difficult, so make sure you try yours on. Your pack will probably be size “small,” “medium,” or “large.” It will likely correspond to your shirt size.
You can buy a cheap rain cover for your pack or bring a large garbage bag, which will work just as well.
Let’s talk about pack cost. Packs under $100 can come from your local army surplus store, eBay, Amazon, or Overstock.com. One example of a good external frame pack that usually runs for well under $100 used is the Large US Army ALICE.
Last but not least, if you are absolutely unable to get your hands on an appropriate pack, DOC Trips has a limited number of packs (and other equipment) that you can rent. If you would like to request a pack, please do so using this form no later than August 1st. Rental priority is given to those students receiving financial assistance, and all rental equipment will be distributed upon trippees’ arrival in Hanover. More expensive frame packs are out there, and you are welcome to purchase one although a fancy pack is NOT NECESSARY. Here are some links to pages with more information on choosing a frame pack:
Depending on your trip, you’ll either have to bring hiking boots, sneakers, or water shoes. Most packing lists also encourage a pair of “camp” shoes, which can be anything ranging from flip flops to Tevas/Crocs to sneakers.
If you’re on any trip that involves hiking, you will need hiking boots. Continue reading here. The most important things about your hiking boots (if your trip requires them) are that they fit you, they are broken in, and they provide sturdy support to your feet and ankles. If your packing list says “hiking shoes/boots,” you need something sturdier than sneakers that also covers your ankles. It doesn’t matter if they are waterproof or not.
You should have room to wiggle your toes in the front and the sides of your feet should feel snug but not compressed. Try walking around a little – your heel should not slip as you walk, nor should your toes jam against the front of the shoe. Poorly fitting shoes translate to painful blisters on the trail.
Whatever kind of footwear you end up wearing, make sure you BREAK THEM IN before heading to Hanover for Trips.
A couple of links with more information on choosing hiking footwear:
You need a sleeping bag (with a stuff sack) and a sleeping pad. If you don’t have either and can’t borrow, DOC First-Year Trips can lend you these items. Please refer to our website for more information about borrowing equipment from DOC First-Year Trips. Your sleeping bag must be synthetic or down (not cotton or flannel).
Pack it in a stuff sack lined with a plastic bag. As for a sleeping pad, you have two choices: foam (cheap, durable) or inflatable (luxurious, expensive, fragile). Example inflatable pad (left) and foam pad (right):
Toiletries: toothbrush, small toothpaste (you don’t need more than this! No razors, makeup, hairdryers, etc).
You need a flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries:
Plastic bowl and utensils (you can reuse Tupperware or a disposable plastic container with a lid rather than buying a fancy setup). For utensils a spork is awesome, but a fork and spoon from home work fine. Bowl options:
2 plastic water bottles (at least one liter each, not a small disposable water bottle):
Thanks for reading! As always, if you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Your Outdoor Logistics Coordinators