Be Prepared Checklist

Wild Whatcom outings take place outdoors in every kind of weather. Being prepared is one of the many life skills we teach. In the outdoors.


Our view is that there is no “bad” weather. If we make good clothing choices, we’ll be warm, dry, and comfortable in all conditions. We don't spend much time indoors at Wild Whatcom – our clothing is our shelter!

Please use the following list as a guide. The choices you make to be prepared will change depending on the weather, but keep in mind that Northwest weather can shift to cool, wet, and cloudy at any time of year. Check the forecast for the day and be prepared for the weather to change at any time during an outing. It's a good idea to pack your gear the night before an outing and have non-cotton layers. Fleece and wool are best for outdoors in the northwest.

Families! Please read over this list and try to have your child pack everything themselves. Learning how to pack one's own pack is an important skill. Every outing tests preparedness, but occasionally nature gives us a Be Prepared Challenge Day where we're outside in wet and cold conditions for hours at a time. We guarantee you'll have one (or many) of these challenge days.

Will you be ready? We hope so!


  • Rested body and mind - ready for exploring and serving

Outdoor adventure requires lots of energy. Get plenty of sleep the night before!

  • Check the weather forecast before each outing

Don't depend on what the weather looks like outside your window before you leave! Practice paying attention to, and predicting, weather.

  • Comfortable backpack (with waist belt)

Carrying enough items to be prepared can mean a full pack. A waist belt helps carry the load and is better for your posture and overall strength. A large, plastic garbage sack can be used as an emergency pack cover, raincoat, or sit-upon. 

  • Bandana

There are too many uses for a bandana to name. One Explorers Club girl made a list of 72 uses! 

  • Big snack or lunch

Explorers should be well fed before an outing. It can be up to 2 hours before we take a break. Please also bring enough food for the outing duration. On cold days, consider packing warm soup/drink.

  • Full water bottle plus a thermos for cold/wet days.
  • Sunscreen (for sunny days)
  • Journal and pen or pencil
  • Any skills project you are working on

Boys Explorers Club note: Explorers who have been through the Art of Carving should bring a pocket or carving knife.

Parents: if you are unsure if your son has been through the Art of Carving, please contact us. Also, please check out our suggestions for fixed-blade carving knives and make sure both you and your son watch our Knife Use - Selection, Safety, and Skills video.

  • Clothing - Use the layer system (Non-cotton please!)

You can take layers off, but you can't put on what you don't have! Earth-toned clothing that blends in with the environment is preferable (but not essential). Cotton is rotten (for the outdoors)! Wool is a good choice. It isn't noisy and insulates when it is wet. 

  • Socks (Non-cotton)

Thickness needed depends on temperature. If cold, wear thick socks you’d wear if it were snowing. 

  • Base Layer

Long underwear or a t-shirt, depending on temperature. Really cold? Wear a warm base layer + sweater + thick fleece.

  • Thick Fleece Pants / Long Pants

Thickness needed depends on temperature. Pair these with long underwear on cold days. Long pants are essential when exploring brambles, buggy, or rocky places. 

  • Zip-off Pants

Only wear these when it's warm outside. These are not cold weather pants! Use fleece or other warm pants when it gets below 55 degrees. Use fleece pants + long underwear when it's much colder.

  • Fleece Jacket

Thickness needed depends on temperature. Thin fleeces are not adequate on cold, wet days. Long sleeves are essential when exploring brambles, buggy, or rocky places. 

  • Rain Jacket – waterproof and sturdy

Thin rain jackets can get soaked fast in a downpour, so be sure yours can handle hours of rainfall. If it's really pouring wear or bring two!

  • Rain Pants - waterproof and sturdy

Useful even when it's not raining. We sit on the ground a lot + walk through wet plants!

  • Warm Hat

Don't depend on your raincoat's hood to keep you warm in wet and cold weather.

  • Gloves – Warm and waterproof

Snow gloves preferred. Thin cotton gloves in cold, wet weather just don't keep hands warm. Consider instant hand warmers for cold days. Note: work gloves are only needed on some service days.

  • Neck Covering (buff, neck warmer, turtleneck, etc.)
  • Walking or Hiking Shoes – Warm and waterproof

Tennis shoes aren't warm or waterproof! Non-insulated rain boots are waterproof, but not warm. Leather hikers are best. Insulated snow boots work too.

Summer outings: pack water shoes for swimming and wading.

  • Small amount of extra clothing depending on the weather

Summer outings: consider a swimsuit, old towel, and plastic bag for wet items.

Note: There's no need to spend lots of money on any of the above. All items can be found at local thrift stores. Staff usually bring extra, kid-sized, warm layers on particularly cold days to loan.

Anything else your common sense tells you is needed to be prepared for the day!

Be Prepared Checklist - Print

For loaner gear or questions, please contact us.