Jamie Boulding surfing a tidal wave in Surge Narrows.

Equipment List


Download this COLT Equipment List  for the complete list of clothing and equipment you need to bring to the COLT program.

If you have any questions about how to choose or fit any of the items call the COLT office, 250-286-3122 or e-mail us at info@colt.bc.ca. For your own comfort and safety, it is important that you understand each item and its use.

It’s an extensive list. An estimate of the cost of gathering personal gear will vary widely depending upon how many of the items you already own. COLT will supply most technical and camping gear such as ice axes, crampons, stoves, tents, ropes, boats, etc.

A few words on fit

Break in footwear before you arrive. You spend a lot of time in boots and shoes; it’s worth spending time and money to get the best fit.

Layering is key. Buy outerwear big enough so you can fit several layers underneath (see layering below). But not too big, either.

Climbing shoes should not hurt or crush your toes.


Check out your local outdoor shops, or shop on-line at one of Canada’s largest outfitters:
 Mountain Equipment Co-op (www.mec.ca). 

If you are unable to acquire certain items, it is likely they can be mail-ordered on your arrival and shipped within 48 hours. If you decide to arrive without certain items, it is expected, after consultation with your COLT staff, that you order them immediately.


Layering is the most effective way to keep warm in the outdoors. Layering is a three-part process: moving moisture away from the body, insulation, and protection from the weather.


You should wear a wicking layer made of fabrics designed to move moisture away from your skin, such as polypropylene, Capilene, silk, Thermax, to name a few. Choose fabrics that are also designed to be warm when wet.


Two more insulating layers of wool or fleece. They create pockets of warm air and help to wick moisture even farther away from skin. Both wool and fleece retain their warmth even when wet.


On the outside is a waterproof, windproof, and breathable protective layer, such as Gore-tex. There are many proprietary fabrics out there, so ask questions and make sure you buy a good quality shell.


  • Underwear 1-2 pairs tops and bottoms. e.g. Polypropylene, Capilene, Thermax, Silk wool, wool/
    synthetic blend
  • T-shirts At least 2
  • Jackets/Sweaters 2 fleece jackets or sweaters. Wool shirts and sweaters are acceptable
  • Waterproof Shell w/hood Can be a breathable/waterproof materials such as Gore-Tex, or a
    completely waterproof, but not breathable material. Should be heavy duty and sturdy. Does not
    need to be insulated
  • Trousers 2 pairs. 1 pair fleece but wool is acceptable. 1 pair nylon quick dry, breathable wind
    pants,such as the MEC Rad Pants
  • Waterproof Shell Trousers Preferably with zips to enable fitting w/out removing boots
  • Shorts 1-2 pair hiking shorts, quick-drying
  • Gloves or Mittens 2 pair, either wool, fleece or polypro gloves (Windstopper fleece is excellent),
    or wool or fleece mittens. Ski gloves are acceptable, but should be heavy duty and water
  • Mitten Shells Gore-tex or coated nylon / cordura shell to be worn over mitts if your main gloves
    or mittens are not waterproof or heavy duty
  • Wool Cap and/or Balaclava Fleece is acceptable. Lightweight polypro/fleece balaclava is handy
    to wear under paddling or climbing helmet
  • Sun Hat Wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap works well
  • Swimsuit
  • Farmer John/Jane Wetsuit 3 mm neoprene suitable for canoeing and kayaking (long legs, no
  • Paddling Jacket or extra Coated-Nylon Waterproof Jacket Waterproof with tight neck cuffs. A
    drytop /wetsuit combination is best
  • Sunglasses With dark lenses that filter UV radiation. Polarized ones are best. Side flaps are
    good for early summer


  • Socks 2-3 pair good quality wool or fleece socks. 2-3 pair of liner socks (if needed for proper fit)
  • Gaiters Worn over top of boots. Coated nylon or Gore-tex acceptable. Not required it you have
    good pants or do not ordinarily use them
  • Running Shoes 1 sturdy pair for wearing in camp and around the Lodge, and short hikes to rock
    sites. 1 old pair may be used as paddling shoes
  • Mountain/Hiking boots, a sturdy pair with at least 1/2 shank and high rand are required.
    Test boots with the socks (1 or 2 pairs) you will be wearing. Boots must be able to
    hold crampons. Lightweight hiking boots are not adequate, except for the fall courses or special circumstances
    such as inability to fit other types of boots. Call us if you have questions
  • Rock climbing Shoes Your technical rock shoes, should fit comfortably, preferably with a light
    sock worn with them. They should be an “all around” shoe that is good for a variety of conditions.
    DO NOT BUY YOUR SHOES TOO TIGHT! Do not let a salesperson convince you that you should have excessively tight shoes
  • Neoprene Booties For paddling, Neoprene socks with running shoes also works very well


  • Backpack Large internal frame pack 70-80 litre capacity with large side pockets are best (less
    than 70 is not sufficient)
  • Daypack 20-35 litre capacity for day trips
  • Compression Straps 2 for fastening items to side of packs (optional)
  • Stuff Sacks 3 or more to help organise items in your pack
  • Plastic Garbage Bags For waterproofing equipment and clothing
  • Water Bottle 1 litre wide mouth Nalgene or aluminum works best
  • Headlamp Petzl-type (hands-free), with spare batteries or medium hand held
  • Pocket-knife Leatherman or Swiss Army knife with locking blade is best
  • Compass Silva Ranger type is best, Silva Type 3 or equivalent is fine. Look for sighting mirror
  • Eating Utensils Unbreakable cup, bowl and spoon. Insulated mug is good
  • Bic Lighter For lighting campfires and backpacking stoves
  • Whistle


  • Sleeping Bag Good quality 3-season, rated -15 to -10C. Synthetic filled (fibrefill, Dacron,
    Polarguard,Hollofill, Qualofill, Lite-loft) are preferred over down for our wet coastal climate. If you
    bring a down bag, it is vital it be kept dry (waterproof outer is recommended), and a bivy-sack is
    a must
  • Bivouac-Sack (Bivy) Good quality waterproof breathable sleeping bag cover with taped seams
    and insect screen. Gore-tex or similar fabric (we do many trips without tents). This is not a one
    personal tent, but many students like the bivy sacks that come with small poles
  • Sleeping Pad Closed-cell foam ensolite or equivalent. Minimum 14 mm thick. Therm-A-Rest
    pads are excellent, but also require repair kit and stuff-sack


  • Sunscreen and Lipbalm Waterproof sunscreen with minimum SPF 15. Lipbalm with sunblock
  • Personal First Aid Kit Band-Aids, blister material such as moleskin, tape aspirin etc
  • Toilet Articles Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, razor & blades, shaving cream, tampons,
  • Prescription Glasses and Contact Lenses If you wear them, bring a spare set. Contact wearers
    should bring a pair of glasses as a back up
  • Towel Bath towel and a hand towel
  • Watch: Waterproof is suggested, alarm is a must
  • Knee Pads Basketball-type to protect knees while paddling (kneeling in canoes). Optional, but
    nice to have
  • Nose-clips For practising Eskimo-rolling in kayaks-optional
  • Notebook/ Journal and Pencil Also writing paper, envelopes, pens. ‘Rite in the Rain’ notebooks
    are useful. You will be expected to take notes in order to maximize your learning
  • Duct Tape 1 small roll for miscellaneous repairs. Available at hardware or building supply stores
  • Insect Repellent
  • Snow Seal/Scotchguard To waterproof leather boots and outerwear


  • Alarm Clock Wind-up. Sometimes there will be no electricity
  • Camera and Film Waterproof or with waterproof case is suggested
  • Candle Lantern With spare candles for long nights
  • Chair Therm-a-rest or Crazy Creek type, for basecamps
  • Climbing Helmet Must be UIAA approved
  • Collapsible Ski Poles For mountain trips, advisable for participants with knee, back and ankle
  • Dry Bags/Extra Stuff Sacks/Compression Stuff Sacks and Plastic Bags For river and ocean trips
  • Expedition Sewing Kit With awl. Found in most outdoor shops
  • Gore-Tex Socks Excellent for keeping feet dry on long mountain trips in the snow
  • Gum or Rain Boots Some students feel these are essential for the cold water canoeing and
    kayaking. For summer they are nice but not mandatory. For fall, they are pretty darn nice as we
    do a lot of water courses in November. Some students may not want to purchase them, but if
    you have them, bring them. It is possible to buy cheap gum boots in Campbell River
  • Lightweight Hiking Boots
  • Pogies or thin Neoprene Gloves Hand covers for paddling (recommended)
  • Rockclimbing Harness Must be UIAA approved and in good condition
  • Small Binoculars
  • South-western Rain Hat These are great for BC weather
  • Swim Goggles For rolling practice