During a NOLS course that’s longer than a week, you’ll likely have a number of “re-supplies” or “re-rations” where you’ll receive new food, fuel, and supplies for the next section of your course. At the beginning of a course, you may be able to put a few items for yourself in with these supplies, so you can receive them throughout the course. (How much you can bring will often depend on the type of course and where you are. Customizing re-rations is not an option for every NOLS course.)
But what kinds of things should you send yourself? For suggestions, we asked NOLS instructors and staff what they send themselves in the field:
Send yourself a treat! Food is high on the list of re-ration supplies for many NOLSies. The most popular items are chocolate and candy bars. Other suggestions include hard candies, starbursts, chips, cookies, bars, fruit, nutella, jerky, and fancy cheese.
More Hot Drinks
Resupply yourself with your favorite brand of coffee, tea, or mate. This way, you only have to carry enough for one ration period at a time. Note: while tea, hot chocolate, and other hot drinks are included in the NOLS ration, coffee is not. And if you’re a daily tea drinker, you might prefer to bring your own stash!
Extra Personal Care Items
Everything from extra sunscreen and bug spray to chapstick, new contact lenses, baby wipes, and q-tips—again, this allows you to only carry a small amount for each ration period.
Fresh camera batteries or new batteries for your headlamp.
Notes & Letters
Have friends and family members pre-write letters to you and place one in each re-ration. Or you can even write a few words of encouragement to yourself, perhaps a favorite quote or poem, and include it in your package.
Magazines or a new book
Depending on the type of course, you might consider sending yourself some new reading material! Backpackers should be careful not to bring too many heavy items on their trip. Once something is in the field with you, you must carry it the whole way or send it out with the trash.
There’s nothing quite like the joy of getting a clean, new pair of socks in a re-ration.
Author’s note: Thanks to all of our instructors and staff who contributed ideas to this post!