Frequently Asked Questions
- What does the program involve?
- What activities will we do?
- How fit do I need to be?
- Will I learn how to rock climb?
- Is it difficult?
- Will I be safe?
- I have asthma, could I do a course?
- Can I be contacted whilst on a course?
- I am over 40, can I still enroll in a Summit to Sea course?
- What's the food like?
- Where can I find clothes required for the course?
- Obtaining clothing
- What happens to items I don't use on a course?
- How do I keep warm on a course?
- What type of rain jacket do I need?
- How do I know if my rain jacket and/or over pants are waterproof?
- Do I need over pants?
- What type of fabrics should I consider when buying clothing?
- How do I choose a good pair of hiking boots/shoes for my course?
- Do I need to break in my boots?
- What type of socks do I need?
- How do I care for my feet prior and during a course?
The program is expedition based, which means you will hike to a new campsite daily. You will be carrying a backpack containing your clothing, sleeping gear and water as well as some of the shared group equipment including food, cooking items and shelter.
You will participate in a variety of safe and exciting outdoor activities that vary from location to location and may include: rock climbing, caving, abseiling, rope courses and water activities. Please be fully aware that all of our locations offer different opportunities for adventure and your particular course activities will ultimately be determined by the environmental features of the location and the prevailing climatic conditions of the season. Expect the unexpected!
You don't have to be a fitness fanatic or an outdoors expert to take part in an Outward Bound course but you will need to be in basic good health. Many participants find the demands of a course quite challenging, so the more prepared you are, the more you will enjoy it.
We will instruct you on how to safely complete this and other challenges according to your ability. The adventure activities are used as tools on your journey of self-discovery. What you learn will depend on what you put into it.
All activities and challenges are not beyond the capabilities of anyone who is willing to try. We work on the principle of "challenge by choice" - it's up to you how far you want to challenge yourself, we'll be there to encourage and support you.
Safety is the number one priority at Outward Bound Australia. Our highly trained staff make sure all activities adhere to strict safety guidelines that we have developed over the past forty plus years. Our methods and practices are monitored and reviewed internally and by a Safety Review Team comprising senior Outward Bound staff from schools around the world and industry leaders.
Yes. Medical conditions such as asthma should not prevent you from participating in an OB course. Just make sure you complete the medical form and provide as much information as possible. All instructors are trained in Wilderness First Aid and have been specifically taught how to deal with these and other conditions in the bush. Make sure you bring extra medication just in case it gets lost or damaged.
In an emergency we can get messages to you while you are on course. You won't have any access to a phone unless it's an emergency and please do not bring your mobile phone (it probably won't work anyway!). We create a "place apart" and encourage you to take a short break from today's amenities - you'll be surprised at how easy this is!
Yes. We have no upper age limits, the age brackets are a guide only. We just ask that anyone aged 40 or over has a medical checkup prior to course.
It's great! On course you'll be very active so we have developed a food system high in carbohydrates. Nutritionally balanced ingredients are provided for groups to use their creativity in preparing food in the bush. We accommodate vegetarians and most other special diets.
Some of the gear in the list provided is available through our Trek Inn mail order store and through Mountain Design stores.
Many suitable items can probably be found in the old clothes bag at home. Alternatively army surplus stores and opportunity shops are great sources of cheap durable clothing. Some items (eg thermals) may need to be purchased from a specialty store such as Mountain Designs. Mountain Designs offer Outward Bound participants 20% off the retail price of Mountain Designs branded products, and 15% off other brands in store, on presentation of the gear list prior to course or your discount flyer mailed to you at the time of enrollment. PLEASE NOTE: Discount does not apply to sale items.
Items not used on expedition will be stored for you until the end of the program.
The clothing you have closest to your skin will influence whether you feel warm or cold, in wet and/or cold weather conditions. The “warmth” of any particular piece of clothing relates directly to how much moisture it can absorb. Think of your clothing in three layers. First Layer: its function is to keep the skin dry. If your skin is wet, you will lose heat, and hence feel cold as your body dries. Your skin can be kept dry if you use clothing that effectively absorbs and transports the water (perspiration, rain or river) away from your skin. Woollen or polypropylene underwear is recommended for its drying or “wicking” capabilities Second Layer: its function is to insulate. The greater the insulation required, the more garments should be used. Fabrics that absorb minimal water will be the warmest. Woollen jumpers (sweaters) and Polar Fleece are both effective for insulation. Outer Layer: its main function is to provide protection from the cold, wet and/or windy weather. A good quality waterproof jacket is therefore an essential item of personal clothing.
Your Waterproof Jacket needs to form a waterproof outer shell over your clothing.
- Have a good hood
- Be waterproof
- Reach at least halfway down your thighs
DO NOT BRING:
- Ski parkas or quilted jackets (they are not waterproof) “Showerproof” spray jackets (they’re not waterproof either)
Try sucking air through the material of the jacket, if air can get through, so can water. “Goretex” and “Japara” are two waterproof materials that breathe, i.e. allow water vapour (and air) to pass from the inside to the outside; but do not allow water to pass from the outside to the inside. This will stop your inner clothing from becoming saturated with perspiration. Some nylon and proofed nylon jackets are adequate and cheaper, but if you anticipate wearing your jacket after the course, it is worth purchasing good quality.
It does depend on the location and length of your program, but for most courses it is not essential that your over-pants are as waterproof as your jacket. Inexpensive uncoated or lightly coated nylon will be suitable for many courses. It is important that over-pants “breathe” to allow perspiration to escape. Plastic and PVC over-pants are unsuitable.
Polypropylene & Chlorofibre Will only absorb a small fraction of its weight in moisture and is excellent as an insulating layer worn next to the skin. “Thermal” underwear has the ability to “wick” (pass moisture through them away from the skin). They also have the advantage of being extremely light and do not irritate the skin. Be aware that some items sold as Thermal Underwear are made from cotton and are unsuitable for Outward Bound courses. Wool Will absorb up to 1/3 of its dry weight in moisture before it feels wet and is therefore a good insulating fibre. Wool will still keep you warm when wet and also has the advantage of being fire retardant. Make sure that woollen items are at least 70% wool. If wool is specified in your gear list, the garment should be light and able to fit underneath your pullovers. A close weave is more windproof and medium weight wool is usually sufficient. Cotton Will absorb up to 25 times of its dry weight in moisture. Hence cotton is useless where insulation is required in wet/cold conditions. Where cotton is specified in your gear list, it is because it is cool in hot weather or where you may be sweating. Synthetics Synthetic materials are generally unsuitable for Outward Bound courses. Synthetic fabrics absorb water and feel cold when wet. They also burn and melt easily.
If you are buying boots for the course, do it as soon as possible to allow sufficient time to break them in. Cheaper boots are adequate for course, but if you will use the boots after course, we recommend a higher quality boot. You will find boots come in a variety of fabrics and does come down to personal preference, staff at the outdoor equipment stores will be able to provide more details about the shoes, the fabrics and their suitability for an Outward Bound program. When trying them on, wear the socks you will be taking on the course.
With the boots laced firmly, go through the following procedure and let the answers be your guide:
- Are your big toes 0.5cm from the end of the boot?
- Can you move your toes freely? Boots that are tight around the toes are cutting off circulation and may cause cold feet in winter and/or blisters in summer. You may need a wider boot.
- Stand with your weight on your new boots. Does the ball of your foot feel pinched? If so, try a larger pair.
- Does the back of the boot hold your heel in place when you walk around? If not, rubbing up and down will cause blisters. Try a smaller pair.
- Firmly kick the toe of the boot into the floor. If your foot slides in the boot, and your toe touches the end, the boot is either too long or too wide.
- Lean forward on to your toes. Is the boot flexible and lightweight enough to allow for comfortable walking?
DO NOT BRING:
- Elastic sided boots, riding boots, or canvas jungle boots - they don’t provide enough ankle support.
- Desert boots, smooth or leather soled boots- inadequate grip.
- Very old boots - as they may fall apart. If you are using older boots, you may find that insoles are useful to cushion the tread. Look at types that do not flatten on bearing weight, but allow free evaporation and insulate the boot from the heat of the ground. Insoles, whether fixed or removable should be as smooth and ridge free as possible. These are not essential if you have new boots. Steel-capped boots may be uncomfortable for long walking expeditions. If you already have a pair, check they will not cause you problems before deciding to use them on the course.
Properly fitted, well broken in boots will help to avoid foot problems during your course. Start your course with “broken in” boots. The heavier or more rigid the boot, the longer the break-in period you will need. The best way to break-in your new boots is to wear them every day for four to six weeks before the start of the course.
Socks should preferably be of medium or thick wool, or wool blend. The quality and fit of socks are important in order to avoid blisters. Wearing two pairs of socks helps prevent blisters as the friction occurs between the two socks and not against your foot. Polypropylene or chlorofibre socks may be warmer as an inner sock for cold weather courses.
DO NOT BRING:
- Nylon - perspiration is not absorbed so feet get hot and wet.
- Stretch socks - toes get cramped and feet get hot.
- Toe Nails: These should be cleanly cut with no ragged edges. Avoid cutting them too short or down the lateral sides of the nail. Any damaged or in-growing toenails or painful calluses should be attended to prior to commencement of your course.
- Blisters: Blisters are caused by friction and pressure and can be a problem on course. The best way of avoiding them is to eliminate the cause! Wearing a thin pair of cotton socks under a medium pair of woollen socks is a good way to reduce friction. Another preventative measure is to bring and use Moleskin or Leukofoam tape, which is available at chemists.