The Art of a Good Re-Ration Care Package

Posted by: Katherine Boehrer on 7/17/17 9:42 AM

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:

Favorite Snacks

Chocolate bar in the wilderness

Photo by Julia Sachs.

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

Hot chocolate

Photo by Matthew Baugh.

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.

Extra Batteries

Looking at a map in the dark

Photo by Trip Davis.

Fresh camera batteries or new batteries for your headlamp.

Notes & Letters

Writing in the wilderness

Photo by Tracy Baynes.

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.

Clean Socks

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!

Katherine is an Alaska Backpacking graduate and the NOLS Social Media Coordinator. When she’s offline she enjoys running, backpacking, hiking, and cooking.