Back to College Gear Essentials for the Outdoorsy Student

In Featured, Gear by AudreyMorrisLeave a Comment

It’s that time of year, folks. Time to stop spending the days hitting rivers and crags and start hitting the books instead. In this very special back-to-school episode of essential gear for the outdoorsy college student, I’m going to enlist the help of my (imaginary but really cool sounding) friends to give you a full list of everything you might need this school year. Whether you’re heading back for another year, transferring somewhere new, or a nervous freshman, these equipment and closet fundamentals will be sure to prepare you for whatever you’ll face.

First, let me introduce George McAlester.

George is from Washington and is the absolute adventure boy dream-boat. He’s the guy in his outing club that everyone idolizes, partially because of his witty, flirtatious humor and partially because of his rad kayaking skills. Always a crowd pleaser, he’s sure to be the first one to drop into the water and create unfathomable (but also very legitimate) stories of his adventures.

George dropping in to a rad kayak line. Courtesy of Roya Ann Miller at

In order to maintain this highly active, outdoor-god lifestyle even in school, here’s what George has ready to face the year head on.

  1. Men’s clothes. Here are a few must-haves in George’s closet. The Black Diamond Dirtbag Tee is his number one go-to because of the dope name and all-day comfort. It’s perfect to layer with the breathable Airscape LS Shirt from Toad&Co for something spiffier. The Airscape LS Shirt has an open weave to allow airflow, so it’s ideal for temperature regulation in spotty fall weather. On the bottom, George is decked out in the high-action and comfort Mission Ridge shorts. And, for a last bit of flare, to have a Zac Efron 17 Again entrance on the first day of class, George rocks the Antero Shades.
  2. The Marmot Nanowave 45°F sleeping bag. George is always on the move, so he never quite knows where he’ll end up at night. Whether it’s crashed on his buddy’s couch or in the back of his car after a late night paddle-sesh, George always carries his super light and compactable Nanowave sleeping bag with him. And, since he spends most of his money on kayaking gear, this sleeping bag didn’t break the bank with the affordable price.
  3. A Serac Hammock for chillin’ with the homies. Now a verb, “hammocking” is a very social activity that George can take on-the-go anywhere around campus. Sliding in beside his paddle gear, sleeping bag, and (maybe?) school stuff, the hammock is perfect for some unwinding. George likes to look out for his friends, so he has the double Sequoia Hammock to make sure everyone is included.

Dirtbag Tee courtesy of Black Diamond.

Related: The Best Group Gear from Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2018

Next, meet Sammy Lawson.

Samantha Lawson quickly adopted the nickname Sammy due to her skiing skills that one could say mirror Sammy Carlson’s. Sammy leads the charge in promoting female adventuring and always keeps up with, if not totally stomps, the boys. She’s the fun-loving president of the new all-women outing club she started from the ground up. In the summer, Sammy can be found skiing tiny strips of slush in the mountains or fully sending any other adventure that comes her way.

Audrey Morris | College Outside

Clearly, winter is Sammy’s favorite time of year, so with school rolling around, she’s bouncing off the walls in anticipation for the next season. Therefore, Sammy has been ready for weeks with all of her favorite back-to-school gear.

  1. Women’s clothing. Sammy has a super on-the-go lifestyle, so she needs her clothes to perform both on campus and on adventures between. To start the year off, Sammy has chosen the Liv Dress to dress to impress on the first day of school. Not only is the Liv stylish, but it’s also quick-dry, stretchy fabric, and has a secret pocket for trail snacks. For a more casual, everyday look, Sammy is fully stocked up on the Sunkissed Pull On Short paired with an Ember SS Tee. These Toad&Co basics are incredibly soft for optimal comfort all day, and the stylish Sunkissed Pull On Short functions well on runs after class with their moisture-wicking properties.
  2. Socks and underwear. Sammy reps the Icebreaker Multisport Ultra Light Micro socks for the comfort of walking miles around campus and then running a few more after class. For underwear, she usually wears the Siren Bra for it’s style and oh-so-soft fabric and the Siren Thong.
  3. Solo approach shoes from adidas Terrex. On campus, the versatile shoes not only look great, but perform well as she hurries from class to club meeting. Then, as soon as school’s out, she can immediately hit the trails to stay in shape for ski season. The shoes are lightweight, breathable, flexible, and have optimal tread, so with these babies on, Sammy is basically unstoppable.
  4. The Hyphen Pack-Tote 30L backpack. For Sammy, this is the perfect daypack: it looks sick, it has organized compartments for laptops and other supplies, and it has an extendable top so she can stuff the absolute most into her pack everyday. The Hyphen Pack-Tote is versatile and light and ready for a day on the move.

Women’s Solo shoe from adidas Terrex.

And last but not least, say hello to my great pal Tom Getherman.

Tom is the top of his class AND a leader of his outing club. He’s the organized one who always actually pulls the trips or budget together. He’s the best one to have around on adventures because his head is always firmly on his shoulders and he can take charge in any sort of emergency. They don’t call him “To”-Getherman for no reason.

Tom after a successfully planned climbing trip. Bryce Boser | College Outside

Naturally, Tom is on top of it when it comes to his preparations for school. If you really want to follow a good example of gear you’ll undoubtedly use, follow Tom’s list to the T.

  1. Coffee from Alpine Start. Tom is a busy guy, so his number one priority is his Original Blend Instant Coffee. With the full-flavored instant coffee, he can roll out of bed and have his caffeine fix ready to go. Sometimes, if he’s feeling extra spicy, Tom pulls out the Coconut Creamer Latte Instant Coffee Sleeve or Dirty Chai Latte Instant Coffee Sleeve.
  2. Good To-Go meals. Being so busy with class, club duties, and adventures, Tom often is pressed for time when it comes to eating. He still wants to be healthy and get in three balanced meals, so he has a large supply of these quick dorm meals to whip up something delicious in minutes. His favorites are Oatmeal for breakfast, Mushroom Risotto for lunch, and an exotic Indian Vegetable Korma Korma for dinner.
  3. The Mountainsmith Approach 25L. Whether it’s on campus or an adventure, this pack is a super organization machine; it has extensive pockets, a hydration sleeve, tool attachment loops, and every other doodad Tom can hope for. The Mountainsmith Approach pack is also a great investment for thrifty Tom, as it is extremely durable and has a lifetime warranty.
  4. And finally, the unsung heroes, socks and underwear. Leave it to Tom to focus on the basic clothing he absolutely has to have. For socks, Tom’s daily pick is the Hike+ Light Mini socks, which are durable, comfortable, and perfect ankle highs to wear with his on campus CC Boat Parley shoes. For underwear, Tom always wears his comfortable Anatomica Boxers w Fly.

Mountainsmith Approach 25L pack.

Whether you’re a George, Sammy, Tom, or some combination of the three, these back-to-school essentials are sure to prepare you for whatever adventures will come this semester. Living an active lifestyle, you need clothes and gear that can get you around campus all day then to the climbing gym after without dropping a beat. Now that you have all you need for success, go get ‘em.

Stocked up on all of your back to school essentials? Still hungry for more gear? Read more to learn all about a place where there’s tons of people just like you:

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