Logo_Outdoor Leadership

Experiential | Rigorous | Adventurous Christ-Centred | Leadership Driven

Our culture deeply needs Christ Followers to provide leadership and hope to an unstable world. Now that might sound more overwhelming than inspirational!

God has, however, created you for good works (Eph 2:10) and will supply all you need to do so. (Phil 4:19).

Wherever you are in your journey, we’ll support you with:

  • A positive Christ-centered community and a rich Biblical Education.
  • Well facilitated and transformational adventures in biking, climbing, canoeing, skiing and more.
  • Training in universal leadership skills such as communication, decision making, conflict management and more.


Come join us at our “leadership incubator in the Canadian Rockies”!

For over 20 years, the Explore Program has cultivated Kingdom leaders prepared for a variety of vocations.

Available as a 1 Year, 2 Year and 4 Year Degree Program. Students can also major in Business and minor in Outdoor Leadership!

Certificate

The Explore Program is a leadership incubator in the Canadian Rockies.

In just one school year, spend 14 weeks in the mountains at Frontier Lodge developing leadership skills like communication, decision making, problem-solving, and conflict management. Receive expert coaching in 6 different outdoor sports, and come away certified in Search & Rescue, Adventure Medicine, and more.

Diploma

Deep discipleship and rigorous leadership development lie at the heart of our highly experiential outdoor leadership program.

Completing this 2 year diploma will prepare students to be competent and effective outdoor instructors, and equip them to take the “Professional Mountain Bike Instructor” course at the end of the year.

Bachelor

In our four year program, spend at least 28 weeks in the mountains at Frontier Lodge honing leadership skills like communication, decision making, problem solving and conflict management. Continue your development in outdoor sports through our Alpine Skills Course, our 21-day Backpack Expedition in Death Valley National Park (USA), your Wilderness First Responder certification, and more.

Mountain Biking Classes

At Frontier Lodge

1 - Introduction

We will take you through 4 basic building blocks skills for you to safely and effectively ride a trail.

2 - Safety

Before starting, let’s see if you are ready to go by checking some simple but essential safety items.

3 - Stability

Stability is a fundamental skill for mountain biking. In this section, you will see how to achieve stability by improving your position and balance.

4 - Front wheel lift maneuver

A maneuver allows you to protect yourself and your bike when passing through obstacles over the trail.

5 - How to brake properly

Learn how to brake without skidding or endo your bike. Using these techniques, you will get the most performance out of your hydraulic braking system.

6 - How to get over dropoffs

This is a fundamental skill for riding safely on the trail. You have to know how to come upon abrupt features like a log, rock, drops, etc…

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Dennis Landon

PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Do you have questions? Let's chat...

Christian Experiential Education

with Dennis Landon

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Certificate

Intercultural Application:

Asia has a rapidly growing interest in outdoor adventure. Our optional course “Adventure Tourism in a Cross Cultural Context” is offered every 2 years and introduces students to Tibetan China, the Himalayas, and unique applications for outdoor leadership training.

Our first year features:

  • 14 weeks at Frontier Lodge in the Canadian Rockies, taught with an experiential learning format
  • 14 weeks on Prairie College Campus focused on Bible and a classic college experience
  • 50 Days of outdoor adventure experience and training including: backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, ice climbing, whitewater canoeing, winter survival, backcountry skiing, Search and Rescue, and more
  • Specialized training in Experiential Education Methods, Conflict Management, Leadership, and more
  • 4 Outdoor Leadership courses integrated with Biblical principles, focused on preparing students for transformational and transactional leadership
  • 6 courses focused on Biblical and Theological knowledge and application
  • Guest lectures from professionals ranging from airline pilots to ministry leaders to corporate leaders
  • Fully accredited Certificate in Outdoor Leadership
  • Industry-standard certification courses in Search and Rescue, Wilderness Medicine, Field leading, and more.
  • Regular, individualized coaching and mentorship
  • Student practicums where students use their skills and run adventure programming for outside groups


Leadership Skill Development:

  • Decision Making
  • Conflict Management
  • Group Debriefing: Learning from Experience
  • Responding to Failure
  • Relationship-based Leadership
  • Teaching Lessons & Bible Studies
  • Communication

Diploma

Optional trip to Western/Tibetan China. The course is called “Adventure Tourism in a Cross cultural context” and is offered every other year.

Other special features of the program

  • Significant amounts of time spent in the Canadian Rockies
  • One on one coaching and feedback
  • Intentional integration of wilderness training, experiential education and the Bible
  • Large amounts of student leadership opportunities

Bachelor

Intercultural Application:

Asia has a rapidly growing interest in outdoor adventure. Our optional course “Adventure Tourism in a Cross Cultural Context” is offered every 2 years and introduces students to Tibetan China, the Himalayas, and unique applications for outdoor leadership training.

Other special features of the program

  • 28 weeks spent in the Canadian Rockies
  • A 21-day Backpacking Expedition to Death Valley National Park, California, USA
  • Alpine Skills Course
  • Expert guest lecturers
  • Special focus on becoming an “Excellent Kingdom-Focused Instructor”
  • Learn how to write teaching objectives and lesson plans, and deliver experientially-based lessons
  • Many real-world leadership opportunities in both backcountry and frontcountry
  • One-on-one coaching and mentorship
  • Customized internship placements with international options


Leadership Skill Development:

  • Decision Making
  • Conflict Management
  • Group Debriefing: Learning from Experience
  • Responding to Failure
  • Relationship-based Leadership
  • Teaching Lessons & Bible Studies
  • Communication
  • Risk Management
  • Curriculum Design
  • Logistics and planning for outdoor expeditions

What Makes This Program Different

The Explore Program is a leadership incubator in the Canadian Rockies.

In just one school year, spend 14 weeks in the mountains at Frontier Lodge developing leadership skills like communication, decision making, problem-solving, and conflict management. Receive expert coaching in 6 different outdoor sports, and come away certified in Search & Rescue, Adventure Medicine, and more.

Spend the shoulder seasons on Prairie College Campus. In Prairie’s classic college setting, deepen your faith through classes about the Bible, Theology, and the Global Church.

For over 20 years, the Explore Program has cultivated Kingdom leaders prepared for a variety of vocations. 

Explore is offered through a partnership between Prairie College and Frontier Lodge

What Makes This Program Different

Deep discipleship and rigorous leadership development lie at the heart of our highly experiential outdoor leadership program.

Explore provides an environment that empowers people to lead and influence others for the Kingdom of God. Through wilderness-based team adventures, integrated biblical education and real leadership opportunities, students will discover more about who God is and their role in His redemptive work.

Building off of their first year experience, second year students have the opportunity to dive deeper into their understanding who God is by expanding their own leadership capacity, academic biblical studies, and advancing in their own outdoor skills with an emphasis on becoming “excellent, Kingdom-focused outdoor instructors.”

In Explore 2, students take significant responsibility in the planning, execution and facilitation of outdoor experiences, which include numerous outdoor-focused teaching practicums, and culminates in a 21 day backpacking trip in Death Valley, California.

Completing this 2 year diploma will prepare students to be competent and effective outdoor instructors, and equip them to take the “Professional Mountain Bike Instructor” course at the end of the year.

What Makes This Program Different

We emphasize student leadership experience, experiential education, Bible integrated with experiences, and significant time in a wilderness-based non-traditional campus setting.

In our four year program, spend at least 28 weeks in the mountains at Frontier Lodge honing leadership skills like communication, decision making, problem solving and conflict management. Continue your development in outdoor sports through our Alpine Skills Course, our 21-day Backpack Expedition in Death Valley National Park (USA), your Wilderness First Responder certification, and more. Also build specialized knowledge regarding the design and application of experiential education curriculum, and your personal skills as an excellent instructor.

Complete a vetted, personalized internship suited to your goals and interests. Internship placements range from locations in Canada to overseas locations such as New Zealand, Swaziland or China.

Continue to spend the shoulder seasons on Prairie College Campus where you will expand your knowledge and discernment of the Bible, participate in classic on-campus life, and participate in on-campus leadership.

You will take courses from guest lecturers that range in experience and expertise. We have former military SERE instructors, commercial pilots, business executives, and camp directors come and teach portions of our upper level courses.

Students interested in minoring in Outdoor Leadership and majoring in Business will complete two years of Outdoor Leadership (which include the Alpine Skills Course and the 21-day Backpack Expedition), and then go on to finish their business courses with a more business-oriented internship.

For over 20 years, the Explore Program has cultivated Kingdom leaders prepared for a variety of vocations.  Explore is offered through a partnership between Prairie College and Frontier Lodge.

Certificate

Bible and Theology Major (12 credits)

NT 112-13 Reading the Gospels and Acts
OT 112 Reading the Torah
ST 100-01 The Christian Life
TH 100 Introduction to Christian Theology

Arts and Sciences Core (6 credits)

HF 111 Thinking and Writing
SS 170 Christianity in the 21st Century World

Outdoor Leadership Major (12 credits)

OL 104 Introduction to Experiential Education (1.5 credits)
OL 116 Wilderness Advanced First Aid (1.5 credits)
OL 134 Outdoor Leadership (1.5 credits)
OL 151 Outdoor Programming (1.5 credits)
SC 140 Health and Wellness
SC 143 Outdoor Winter Pursuits

For course descriptions, see our catalogue here.

Diploma

Bible and Theology Major (24 credits)

NT 112-13 Reading the Gospels and Acts
NT 221 Reading Paul’s Letters
OT 112 Reading the Torah
OT 221 Reading the Historical Books
OT 343 Reading the Psalms and Wisdom Literature
ST 100-01 The Christian Life
TH 100 Introduction to Christian Theology
TH 210 The God of the Gospel

Arts and Sciences Core (12 credits)

HF 111 Thinking & Writing
SS 170 Christianity in the 21st Century World
SS 210 Introduction to Psychology
SS 261 Leadership Foundations

Outdoor Leadership Major (24 credits)

OL 104 Introduction to Experiential Education (1.5 credits)
OL 116 Wilderness Advanced First Aid (1.5 credits)
OL 134 Outdoor Leadership (1.5 credits)
OL 151 Outdoor Programming (1.5 credits)
OL 215 Wilderness Competencies
OL 224 Expedition and Outdoor Leadership
OL 231 Recreation and Business Management OR
OL 332 Philosophy of Group Facilitation
OL 248 Teaching Through Adventure
SC 140 Health and Wellness
SC 143 Outdoor Winter Pursuits

For course descriptions, see our catalogue here.

Program Courses

Bible and Theology Major (45 credits)

BT 409 Word and World
NT 112-13 Reading the Gospels and Acts
NT 221 Reading Paul’s Letters
NT 351 Reading Hebrews to Revelation
OT 112 Reading the Torah
OT 221 Reading the Historical Books
OT 343 Reading the Psalms and Wisdom Literature
OT 453 Reading the Prophets
ST 100-01 The Christian Life
TH 100 Introduction to Christian Theology
TH 210 The God of the Gospel
TH 313 Creation to New Creation
Bible and Theology electives (9 credits)

Arts and Sciences Core (36 credits)

AS 400 Integrative Seminar
HF 111 Thinking and Writing
HF 231 History of Western Civilization I
HF 232 History of Western Civilization II
SC 140 Health and Wellness
SC 143 Outdoor Winter Pursuits
SC 230 History and Philosophy of Science
SS 170 Christianity in the 21st Century World
SS 210 Introduction to Psychology
SS 261 Leadership Foundations
Arts and Sciences elective
Arts and Sciences elective 300 level

Outdoor Leadership Major (33 credits)

CM 370-73 Outdoor Leadership Internship I – IV (12 credits)
OL 104 Introduction to Experiential Education (1.5 credits)
OL 116 Wilderness Advanced First Aid (1.5 credits)
OL 134 Outdoor Leadership (1.5 credits)
OL 151 Outdoor Programming (1.5 credits)
OL 231 Recreation and Business Management
OL 248 Teaching Through Adventure
OL 332 Philosophy of Group Facilitation
OL Technical/Certification course
OL elective 300 level

Electives (6 credits)

For course descriptions, see our catalogue here.

Certificate

  1. Explain basic positional and non-positional leadership theory and practice its application.
  2. Express principles of experiential education and practice in controlled applications.
  3. Describe basic method and principles of facilitation and practice their applications with a group.
  4. Reproduce proper backcountry skills necessary for participation in a successful and safe backcountry trip.
  5. Employ the skills necessary to effectively participate in a wide range of basic outdoor adventure skills at a basic competency level with intermediate abilities in at least one skill.

Diploma

  1. Formulate and apply his/her own theory of both positional and non-positional leadership and are able to duplicate themselves as leaders.
  2. Plan, lead and teach experiential education programs.
  3. Appraise methods and principles of facilitation and utilize principles to carry out effective facilitation of a group.
  4. Utilize and teach proper backcountry skills for leading a successful and safe trip for a less experienced group.
  5. Demonstrate  instructional competence in a minimum of one outdoor adventure activity in addition to year one and two competencies.

Bachelor

  1. Explain basic positional and non-positional leadership theory and practice its application.
  2. Express principles of experiential education and practice in controlled applications.
  3. Describe basic method and principles of facilitation and practice their applications with a group.
  4. Reproduce proper backcountry skills necessary for participation in a successful and safe backcountry trip.
  5. Employ the skills necessary to effectively participate in a wide range of basic outdoor adventure skills at a basic competency level with intermediate abilities in at least one skill.

Certificate

Our graduates have applied their educations in a wide variety of fields ranging from real-estate to summer camps, and identify their leadership training in Explore as a significant professional asset.

Our graduates have been successful in positions such as:

  • Disaster Relief Staff for Samaritan’s Purse
  • Activities Coordinator for community outreach centres focused on vulnerable populations such as the homeless
  • Executive Directors at camps and outdoor centres
  • Recreation managers for large city recreation centres
  • Activities Coordinators for charter schools
  • Summer camp program director and manager positions
  • Guiding positions for the City of Edmonton and Yamnuska Mountain Adventures
  • Pastoral and Youth Pastor positions
  • Small group facilitator in mental health facilities.

Many students and graduates also volunteer at community fire departments and search and rescue agencies in rural Alberta. 

Indirect application of our leadership and outdoor training have prepared graduates for leadership positions in fields such as engineering, language survey (missions), real-estate, healthcare and business. 

Interested in Outdoor Leadership and Business? Students can major in Business and minor in Outdoor Leadership!

Students go on to complete future education:

  • Masters Programs in the areas of Leadership, Theology, Divinity, Spiritual Direction, Experiential Education, Business and Not for Profit Administration.
  • Professional Guide Training with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.

Diploma

Career possibilities as a result of the program

  • Program director for camps
  • Program staff for camps
  • Program director or staff for Recreation/Adventure Centers
  • Adventure Therapy Staff
  • Introductory adventure guiding positions

The vast majority of graduates who wish to work in their field find meaningful work soon after graduation. Jobs that graduates have gone to do are:

  • Program Managers are various camps
  • Executive Directors at various camps
  • Recreation managers for large city recreation centers
  • Activities Coordinators for charter schools
  • Activities Coordinators for schools, homeless shelters
  • Guiding positions for the City of Edmonton and Yamnuska
  • Pastoral and Youth Pastor Positions in Churches
  • Small group facilitator in Psychiatric Facility
  • Leadership roles in various organizations and businesses including Healthcare, Education,  and Real Estate.


Students can go on to complete future education:

The Diploma in Outdoor Leadership sets students up to complete either the BAM OL (Bachelor of Arts in Ministry in Outdoor Leadership) or the BBA in OL (Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a minor in Outdoor Leadership).

Additionally, students can easily go one to complete other degrees at Prairie such as the Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies or other Bachelor of Arts in Ministry degrees.

Bachelor

Careers after Outdoor Leadership training:

Our graduates have applied their educations in a wide variety of fields ranging from real-estate to summer camps, and identify their leadership training in Explore as a significant professional asset.

Our graduates have been successful in positions such as:

  • Disaster Relief Staff for Samaritan’s Purse
  • Activities Coordinator for community outreach centres focused on vulnerable populations such as the homeless
  • Executive Directors at camps and outdoor centres
  • Recreation managers for large city recreation centres
  • Activities Coordinators for charter schools
  • Summer camp program director and manager positions
  • Guiding positions for the City of Edmonton and Yamnuska Mountain Adventures
  • Pastoral and Youth Pastor positions
  • Small group facilitator in mental health facilities


Many students and graduates also volunteer at community fire departments and search and rescue agencies in rural Alberta. 

Indirect application of our leadership and outdoor training have prepared graduates for leadership positions in fields such as engineering, language survey (missions), real-estate, healthcare and business. 

Interested in Outdoor Leadership and Business? Students can major in Business and minor in Outdoor Leadership!

Students go on to complete future education:

  • Masters Programs in the areas of Leadership, Theology, Divinity, Spiritual Direction, Experiential Education, Business and Not for Profit Administration.
  • Professional Guide Training with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.

Recommended packing list for the Explore Program at Prairie and Frontier Lodge.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE

You do not need to buy all of your winter wilderness clothing and gear prior to arriving for Explore. After fall rotation, you will know better what you need for winter rotation. The program director, interns, and other staff will be able to help guide you in picking out the best products. So although we do, recommend that students purchase the majority of their fall wilderness equipment prior to their arrival at Prairie, we do not expect students to buy all their winter gear before arrival at Prairie. It is better to spend less than more before you start Explore.

Frontier Lodge Gear Rental

Equipment such as backpacks, sleeping pads and sleeping bags can be affordably rented on a per-semester basis at Frontier Lodge. To reserve items on the gear rental program, submit your request by August 1 to guarantee availability.

What Gear Do I Need?

General

  • Bible and personal journal
  • Bedding for single bed (pillow, sheets, blanket, etc) Frontier Lodge does not provide bedding so make sure you bring all the bedding you will need.
  • 2 Towels
  • Toiletries
  • Any medication (please notify the Explore Director)
  • Optional: Alarm clock 
  • Laundry bag (At Frontier Lodge the laundry facilities are a 3 minutes walk from the cabins so having a laundry bag is much more convenient)
  • Laundry detergent (you can buy detergent powder from Frontier Lodge or you can bring your own)
  • Extra spending money (Debit/Credit card) – CDN.
  • Optional: Camera 
  • There is very limited and slow internet at Frontier Lodge. If you are wanting and/or needing to do more than the bare minimum on internet, look into a phone plan with more data. If you want to watch shows online, download them before you go to Frontier Lodge as the internet will not be able to support any kind of streaming.


School Supplies

  • Journal
  • Note taking supplies (pens, pencils, highlighters, whiteout, stapler, binders and note paper) *
  • Optional: USB Flash Memory Drive 
  • Laptop Computer


Clothing

  • Casual wear for fall and winter
  • Sunday clothing
  • Running shoes 
  • A pair of slip-on shoes for the Lodge (crocs, flip flops, slippers, toms etc.)
  • Athletic clothing (for running, hiking and swimming)
  • Wilderness Clothing Shell top layer (ie. Goretex or equivalent) Must be waterproof and breathable (waterproof bottoms is optional)
  • Insulating Layer (top & bottom) such as fleece, wool and/or down vest/jacket
  • Base layer (top & bottom) synthetic/wicking long underwear
  • Gloves (3 sets) waterproof & warm ski gloves/mitts for winter, mid weight with leather palm for belaying/active use in winter, fleece/wool liner pair
  • Toque/Beanie
  • Gaiters: Waterproof protection to cover the top of your boot and lower leg so moisture doesn’t get in (optional)
  • Socks: Insulating (ie. wool/synthetic) and liners (ie. polypropylene), at least 2 pairs of each
  • Hiking boots: Leather can be water-proofed, broken in. Suitable for 5 day fall trips on mountainous terrain
  • Winter boots, insulated for winter trips
  • Durable water shoes or neoprene booties for canoeing and river activities. (If you want, you can just use an old pair of sneakers)
  • Backpack Cover: To protect your pack from the elements
  • Optional: Down Booties, to keep your feet warm around base camp on winter trips


Wilderness Gear

  • Backpack: For trips up to 5 days, 65-80 L/4000-5000 C.I.
  • Day Pack: For day trips, 30-40 L/ 1800-2300 C.I.
  • Sleeping bag: Approx. -20 to -10 C or -4 to 14 F. Note: A fleece liner is a cheaper option to add warmth to a bag
  • Sleeping pad: such as Thermarest or closed cell foam pad
  • Head lamp
  • Optional: Buffs
  • Water container(s): equivalent to 2 litres (ie. Nalgene bottles). Make sure that these seal when shut and do not leak
  • Whistle, lighter, pocket knife
  • Optional: Compass get one that can be used for orienteering
  • Bowl, plate, mug, fork, spoon, knife for backcountry meals (Don’t skip on this one!)
  • Optional: trekking poles (strongly recommended for those with any joint problems)


Optional Miscellaneous Items

  • Musical Instruments
  • Personal Sporting Equipment (ie. Mountain Bike, back-country skis, etc)
  • Small cooking stove
  • Tent
  • Bike Shamois (bike shorts)
  • Cell Phones
  • Hydroflask or Yeti to avoid water freezing during winter rotation
  • Climbing harness, climbing shoes, and climbing gear
  • Frontier Lodge is a very remote location (closest city is 1 hour and 15 minutes away). Stock up on snacks and anything else you might need for the 7 week rotations at Frontier.


Notes

  • Frontier Lodge supplies technical equipment and group gear such as canoes, skis, harnesses, camping stoves, tents, etc. It is not necessary to purchase your own.
  • The Explore Program has a packed schedule while at Frontier Lodge. It is best to wait on making weekend plans until you are able to get your hands on the Explore schedule.
  • You may wish to drop off or ship some of your belongings straight to the Frontier Lodge:

       PO Box: Frontier Lodge
       Box 1
       Nordegg, AB
       T0M 2H0, Canada.

  • Please put your name and “Explore” in the address line. Shipments must be properly marked and sealed. Parcels may also be mailed to you throughout the year as needed.


A Tip For Purchasing Gear

If you are looking to be economical in your gear purchases, keep in mind that the “essential equipment” (backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, hiking shoes and a waterproof rain shell) is important to buy for comfort and durability. Other items like hiking clothing do not need to be expensive and can even be purchased at thrift stores!

At the bottom of the page we have also included a list of online gear resources, some of which offer good discounts on outdoor equipment.


Information About Equipment

Layering of Clothing

Layering of clothing is important, as it allows you to quickly adapt to weather conditions by adding or removing layers. It is important to purchase layers that serve one purpose (insulating, moisture wicking, waterproofing etc.). Adding and removing layers is key in maintaining comfort and adapting to weather.2

  • Base Layer: Layer of clothing that sits right up against your skin (ie. long underwear top and bottom and personal undergarments) The base layer must be capable of wicking moisture away from your body, allowing it to evaporate and keep you dry. For your base layer to perform most effectively it should be form fitting rather then baggy. Materials commonly used include polypropylene, polyester and silk. A really good option for base layer shirts are fitted merino wool shirts (you can get these at Costco for $15.00 to $25.00)
  • Insulating Layer: Keeps your body warm in cold temperatures. Again, it is important that the material be somewhat capable of wicking moisture away from your body. Materials commonly used to insulate include: fleece, wool, down, and other synthetics like polyester and polypropylene. Just remember, no cotton! Wet cotton is unable to insulate your body and will not dry quickly. Other materials like fleece and wool, retain most of their insulating value when wet and dry very quickly. Down is a great outdoor insulator because it packs down small and insulates very well. The only problem is that it does not insulate when wet and dries very slowly.
  • Shell Layer: Protection from nature’s elements of wind, rain and snow. The last layer is the shell layer. It is important to have a waterproof and breathable shell that is capable of keeping you dry in rain and snow and is also able to breathe, allowing your body’s moisture to escape, therefore, keeping you dry. Materials commonly used in a shell include Gore-Tex, Triple Point, or other waterproof and breathable materials.


Hiking Boots

There are many types of boots on the market made by different companies. Consider the following when making your purchase:

  • Comfort: When comparing fits and sizes, consider a boot that is comfortable. An uncomfortable boot may always be uncomfortable. Take time to break in your boots well before you come to Explore. This often takes a while, so start wearing them for short periods of time so that you can gradually increase duration until you can walk comfortably for about 8 hours a day. Remember, the heavier the boot, the longer they will take to break in.
  • Fit: Make sure the size of the boot allows for a thick pair of socks. Your toe should not hit the end of the boot and your foot should be secure and not sliding around. Be sure to note the heel as it should not slide up and down.
  • Support: We recommend a mid to heavy class hiking/backpacking boot, something that will offer good support. Make sure the boot is capable of keeping your foot dry in wet and snowy conditions.

Some brand examples for boots include: Sorrels, Merrell, Marmot, Solomon, Mountain Warehouse, Keen, Lowa, Arc’teryx

Backpack

There are two main styles of backpacks: external and internal frame packs. However, over the years we have found that the students prefer internal frame packs.

Internal Frame Packs: These packs will secure your load for technical hiking and are often very comfortable to wear. The disadvantages are that it can be tougher ta access gear and there is less airflow between your back and pack.

  • Fit: When you buy your pack, ask an employee to fit and size your bag for you. Look for a bag with well-padded shoulder and hip straps. When your pack is loaded, it should not sway from side to side as you move.
  • Capacity: For our purposes we recommend a 65-80 L/4000-5000 C.I. bag. Don’t assume that the bigger the bag the better because if your bag is too big, it becomes easy to end up carrying more than you really need.


Sleeping Bag

There are two fills commonly used in good winter sleeping bags: synthetic and down.

  • Synthetic-filled bags: These bags are normally cheaper than down. They are capable of insulating when wet and dry quickly. The disadvantages are that they are heavier, bulkier and likely to wear out sooner than down.
  • Down-filled bags: Down is one of the best known insulators. It is lightweight, compressible and long lasting. The disadvantages are that they lose all insulating ability when wet and they take a long time to dry. Down bags will also commonly cost more than synthetic bag of a similar temperature rating.

Sizing and Temperature: Make sure the bag is the right length and has a well fitting hood. We recommend that the temperature rating be approximately -20 to -10C or -4F to 14F. When buying your bag, also remember to consider your own body’s temperature gauge, and adjust accordingly.

For extra warmth, a fleece liner can be an inexpensive way to add 5 to 10C temperature rating of warmth to your sleeping bag.

Sleeping Pad

Sleeping pads are important for comfort, warmth and protection from ground moisture. While camping in the winter, insulating yourself from the ground can make a huge difference in keeping you warm and dry.

There are two main types of sleeping pads: closed cell foam and self-inflating mattresses.

  • Closed-cell foam: This is inexpensive, durable and a good insulating device. The disadvantages are that it is not the most comfortable and maybe space consuming.
  • Self-inflating pad: These are good, comfortable insulators and some may pack down very small. The insulating value of a self-inflating pad is higher when the pad contains less air and more foam. The disadvantages are that the self-inflating pads are more expensive and may be punctured by sharp objects. Make sure you have a repair kit with you if you choose to go this route. 
  • Cost: When determining which sleeping pad to buy, consider cost, comfort, insulating value, durability and packing size.

 

Brands and Stores to Look into for Purchasing Your Outdoor Gear

If you would like more information on how to choose what type of gear that would best suit you, consider looking at www.rei.com or www.abc-of-hiking.com/. They all have large “learn” sections, which discuss methods of gear selection and other helpful information.

If you are wondering where to buy wilderness gear you may want to start by checking out the following sites: