The Essential Kit List for Outdoor Instructors in Training

Rock climber wearing helmet, sunglasses, and harness climbing in the sun.

So, you’re ready to take the plunge and have decided to take part in an Outdoor Instructor Training Course. What’s next? Perhaps the most important step in preparing for your training is ensuring you have the essential kit required for the wide selection of activities in which you will soon become a leader. At Active Outdoor Pursuits, we do provide gear for all our training programs, however, we strongly recommend that instructors-in-training begin building up an inventory of gear to help them with their future endeavours. Below we discuss the various activities our prospective outdoor instructors will be trained in, and the essential kit list for each of these.

Hillwalking Across Various Terrains

As part of our course, you will be given training to become an instructor across several activities, including hillwalking and rock climbing. While it is likely you will already have bits and pieces you already personally use when enjoying these activities, it is important that as a future instructor you are fully prepared with the essential gear for the activities you will soon be a leader in, as your students will look to you as the guide and expert.

It goes without saying that as an outdoor instructor you will be exposed to the elements which is why it is so important that you are prepared with waterproofs: both trousers and a jacket. These can be worn while taking part in a number of activities but will be especially important when it comes to hillwalking. For this activity, it is also essential that you have three/four season walking boots that are practical and comfortable as you lead walks across different terrains and all-weather types. You’ll also want to ensure you have suitable rucksacks for hillwalking — one being a day pack and one being big enough for longer expeditions (to carry the likes of camping gear and essentials).

Alongside suitable waterproofs and comfortable boots, it is recommended that in preparation for your Instructor Training Course you also have a head torch and whistle in case of emergencies, base, mid and outer shell layers, warm gloves (a bonus if they are waterproof!), a hat, and a blanket in case of any emergencies. These can all be kept within your backpack of choice; alongside the equipment you’ll need to plan out and guide your walk. For this, we would recommend the following:

  • Compass
  • Map OS Land Ranger 35 & 36
  • Map OS Explorer 402 & 403
  • Waterproof map case (to protect your map!)

Rock Climbing in Spain and Camping in Scotland

As part of your course at Active Outdoor Pursuits, you will also receive rock climbing instructor training. There is no better place to climb because in the Highlands of Scotland we have some of the greatest crags and routes around. Worried about the harsh Scottish winter? During our winter course, we take you to Spain for two weeks of rock climbing, scrambling, and walking! For this reason, it is essential you are prepared for the training you will receive across a variety of weather and rock faces. For our course, we require our participants to have the following to ensure a safe and enjoyable time:

  • Harness
  • Helmet
  • Belay Plate
  • HMS Screw Gate Karabiners (x2)
  • Rock Shoes
  • Lead Rack and climbing rope (We can provide these at Active Outdoor Pursuits)
  • Chalk Bag and Chalk

While the above kit may appear to be stating the obvious, we want to make sure prospective participants in our outdoor instructor training course are well prepared ahead of time. It goes without saying though, you should also have a valid passport.

It will likely come as no surprise that as an outdoor instructor, you will need to be prepared to camp as you take part in a number of expeditions. Trainee Instructors will also take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Expedition Assessor and Supervisor Training Course; in which an element of this award includes camping. We advise our future instructors to obtain the following kit:

  • A three season 1-2 man tent
  • A three or four-season sleeping bag
  • A four-season camping mat
  • Stove
  • Pots, pans, and cutlery

As it is expected that you will have an expedition rucksack, it should be big enough to carry the above equipment.

Skiing and Paddlesports

It may be overwhelming when researching how to become an outdoor instructor, as there are several qualifications that prospective leaders could receive. At Active Outdoor Pursuits, our course provides extensive professional training for the best job in the world in the most suitable and challenging environment in the UK — the Cairngorms National Park. As part of your training, we provide qualifications across a number of paddlesports (with awards and training available for individual sports such as canoeing or sheltered water coaching) which are hugely popular in the outdoor adventure sector. To be prepared for the various water sports you will take part in as an outdoor instructor, it is recommended that you have the following as part of your ‘tools of the trade’:

  • River buoyancy aid (with cow’s tail and harness) for safety
  • Five-millimetre wetsuit (or a dry suit)
  • Watersports dry suit is also recommended
  • Helmet
  • A 50-80 litre dry bag
  • Neoprene gloves
  • Neoprene socks
  • Rescue knife or saw (in case of emergencies)
  • 12-15 metre throw bag
  • 20-25 metre throw bag
  • Canoe and/or kayak paddle (at Active Outdoor Pursuits, we provide paddles for all watersports)

With the above gear, you will be prepared to take part in a number of water-based activities, providing you with the kit needed to be a successful paddlesports instructor.

As the number of activities in which you could become an instructor is so extensive, it is important that you find the training course that’s right for you. At Active Outdoor Pursuits, we offer additional ski instructor training modules for those who want to take to the slopes and lead. Our course comes with the option to travel to Colorado to participate in the additional PSIA Level 1 Ski Instructor qualification course. It is recommended that a budding Ski Instructor should be equipped with the following:

  • Ski jacket and salopettes
  • Goggles and sunglasses
  • Ski bag
  • Winter socks
  • Ski boots (Active Outdoor Pursuits can provide these as part of your training course)

Literature to Guide You Further

While our course is hands-on and in-depth, it is always good practice to have your own set of literature to review in your own time. Taking part in a variety of different activities means you will need to learn a number of skills and adapt to the environment you find yourself in. For paddlesports, you should have the BC Coaching Handbook, the BC Canoe & Kayak handbook, and White Water Safety & Rescue.

As you will be training within the Cairngorm National Park, it is important you learn about the environment. It is therefore essential that you have the Hostile Habitats book to hand which is a guide to Scotland’s mountain fauna, flora, and landscape written for hillwalkers. In addition to this, you will be required to have the MLTUK Hill Walking and MLTUK Rock Climbing handbooks to hand.

For snow sports enthusiasts, there are several important pieces of literature required to ensure you are prepared for activities that, although fun, need skill and confidence to provide potential students with a safe environment. We require our course participants to have the Alpine Technical Manual, Core Concepts for Snowsports, and PSIA Manuals.

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