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You are here: Home Resources For Participants Gear Definitions and Recommendations

Gear Definitions and Recommendations

This item historically has appeared in our Registration Packets to help our Participants prepare for our programs. In this document you will find definitions about the most important gear that appears on our list as well as a few recommendations about where to buy gear locally.

Choosing the right gear can be a challenging, and sometimes overwhelming, process. Here are a few principles to remember while choosing your (or your child's) gear:
1. New gear is not important. Quality is important. Warmth can be achieved through layering of clothing. Sturdy, quality gear and clothes can even be found at thrift and consignment stores (especially gear for growing young people).
2. Light gear is important. Make sure that each piece of gear is listed on our gear list and nothing more of less. Ideally, the trail pack, including food, should weigh no more than one third of a hiker's body weight. Calculate 12 lbs. for food and group gear in addition to your (or your child's) personal gear. We recommend that a youth of 120 lbs. arrives to our basecamp with a pack of 25 lbs. or less. Trail pack weight does not include basecamp clothing, or boots. If it isn't on our gear list, please don't bring it! Rite of Passage Journeys cannot be responsible for items left at basecamp, which is where items not on the list must be left.
3. Waterproof is essential. Please spend time researching to understand the difference between "water resistant" (not useful in the rainforest!) and truly "waterproof."
4. Whether or not you'll try to get your equipment used, it's worth it to go to a gear shop, such as REI, to try on backpacks, boots, etc. The staff at gear stores are trained to help you figure out what fits you and what works -- please make use of their expertise!
If you have any gear related questions, feel free to call us. We would be happy to offer advice on good products and where to get them.

Gear Definitions


Boots are important because you will be walking for up to three weeks in those boots! These boots need to be waterproof with a gortex layer that will keep your feet dry even in rain. You need to have boots that are comfortable and will not give you blisters. Please do not compromise on the quality of boots because you will be spending a good portion of your days hiking and your comfort will directly influence your overall experience on this trip.

And PLEASE break in your boots! Wear your boots around town and on hikes months before your trip with Journeys. The more time you spend breaking them in the better your trip will be when hiking, you will spend less time on bandaging blisters.


Your backpack is the most important piece of equipment because you will be living out of it for three weeks. We recommend using an internal frame backpack. Don't compromise on the quality of the backpack because you will be hiking in all types of weather. You need your backpack to be sturdy so you can enjoy the journey.

Make sure when you try on your backpack, you can adjust it to your body size (you can have a backpack fitted at your local gear store). Please practice carrying around some gear and food to feel the weight. Choose a pack that is made for 5 days or longer and holds at least 4,200 cubic inches (65 - 70 liters). Make sure the waist band fits snugly to your hips and all the straps, buckles and zippers work.

Filtering Water Bottle

We will be traveling in the wilderness of the Olympic Peninsula, where giardia and cryptosporidium can occasionally be found in the water in streams and lakes and can cause illness if ingested.  A water bottle system that filters out these pathogens is an easy and safe way to drink water while on the trail. We are looking for a bottle that you can simply fill from the stream, then screw on the filter top.  When you drink through the top of the bottle, the water comes out filtered and safe.  Look for a bottle that filters out 99.9% of giardia and cryptosporidium.  Filtering out bacteria is good too.  Filtering out viruses is not necessary. Your bottle should weigh 8 oz. or less. These bottles cost around $25 - $50.  Some examples of systems that work well for this: 

Sawyer Water Treatment Filter Bottle,

LifeStraw Go by Vestergaard,

Aquamira Filtration Water Bottle.

(Note:  Brita and Camelbak bottles that just filter out chlorine will NOT work).

Bottles can be bought online or at REI or similar camping outlet stores.

Rain Jacket and Pants

Your rain gear is important because it provides you shelter while in nature. It protects you from being wet and allows you to enjoy being outside even when it is raining. Look for rain gear that has a gortex layer. This is waterproof and will keep you dry. Please do not compromise on the waterproof quality of your rain jacket because it will affect your overall experience in the backcountry.

Synthetic Clothing

Warmth can be achieved through layering of clothing. Synthetic clothing refers to clothing that is made of materials that keep you warm even when wet including polypropylene, fleece and pile (wool is a great natural fiber that works similarly). No blue jeans! They are heavy and take a long time to dry. Pack lightweight pants that are quick to dry.


Here is an example of layering for backcountry trips. All of these items and more are included on our gear list. Upper Body Layering includes the following: Long Sleeve Shirt, Wool Sweater, Fleece Zip Up or Pull Over Jacket, and Rain Jacket. While Lower Body Layering includes: Wool or Synthetic Socks, Long Johns, Fleece Pants, Lightweight Quick Dry Pants, and Rain Pants. And don't forget to top it all off with a warm Stocking Cap.

Loaner Gear

Journeys owns a small amount of loaner gear available for our participants to borrow. Some larger items, such as backpacks and sleeping bags, tend to be borrowed out very quickly. While our gear bank is small, we are willing to work with you to make sure that your child has the best gear possible. Here is a list of what we MAY be able to lend you:

Sleeping bags
Sleeping pads
Plastic tarps
Rain jackets
Rain pants (especially limited)
50 gallon plastic bag
Filter water bottle
Regular water bottle
Drinking cup

Long underwear tops
Long underwear bottoms
Long sleeve shirts & sweaters
Fleece jackets
Warm stocking hats


Please let us know as soon as possible if you'd like to borrow an item so that we can reserve it for you.

Here are some places that we buy gear in the Northwest:


And if you already know exactly what you want, the web can be a great source for bargains. Please do not buy from the internet without first doing research at your local gear stores -- especially with packs and boots. We recommend never buying boots without first trying them on. After your research, here are links to a few on-line gear sites that we like:


Sierra Training Post

REI Outlet

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