What are “Rations” and why do OBSA use them?

Firstly, you as the Reader will need to understand the fundamentals of OBSA to acknowledge the use of Rations out in the Field. Here is a brief reminder on who Outward Bound is;

Outward Bound (OB) is an international, non-profit, independent outdoor-education organization with approximately 40 schools around the world and 200,000 participants per year.[1] Outward Bound programs aim to foster the personal growth and social skills of participants by using challenging expeditions in the outdoors.

Since its founding in the middle of the last century, Outward Bound has encouraged individuals to test their physical and emotional limits in challenging outdoor adventure programs. The experiences are always life-changing: they are a means of building inner strength and a heightened awareness of human interdependence.

Outward Bound courses follow a kind of recipe or formula, termed the Outward Bound Process Model which is well described by Walsh and Golins (1976)[11] as:

  1. Taking a ready, motivated learner
  2. into a prescribed, unfamiliar physical environment,
  3. along with a small group of people
  4. who are faced with a series of incremental, inter-related problem-solving tasks
  5. which creates in the individual a state of dissonance requiring adaptive coping and
  6. leads to a sense of mastery or competence when equilibrium is managed.
  7. The cumulative effect of these experiences leads to a re-organisation of the self-conceptions and information the learner holds about him/herself.
  8. The learner will then continue to be positively oriented to further learning and development experiences (transfer).

In a typical class, participants are divided into small patrols (or groups) under the guidance of one or more instructors. The first few days, often at a base camp, are spent training for the Outdoor recreation activities that the course will contain and in the philosophy of Outward Bound. After initial confidence-building challenges, the group heads off on an expedition. As the group develops the capacity to do so, the instructors ask the group to make its own decisions.



Rations are better, right?

At Outward Bound, we provide rations for camping as we want our participants to be self-sustainable and to learn to cook for themselves. The food mentioned works well for our programs as it does not expire quickly and is easy to carry out in the field without spoiling.

Preparing the right kind of food for an overnight or extended hike at Outward Bound is one of the most important considerations Participants need to make. Food can add considerably to the weight of one’s backpack, significantly affecting the level of enjoyment experienced on the hike. The following list is just a guideline:

Cooking out on the camp is not only fun but a bit of a ritual. It’s worthwhile putting the time into it. Here are some tips for your food preparation;

As with other gear, weight is very important when considering which food items to pack.

On a longer hiking trip (say three days or more), aim to pack about 700 grams – 1kg per person per day.

A balanced hiking diet includes more Carbs and sugar than a normal diet. Some walkers prefer to have breakfast on the hike after leaving camp.



Cereals such as Weetbix, Creamy meal, Cornflakes are a good balance of taste and nutrients. Add powdered milk to cereals and mix with water later.

One might also prefer a Porridge of sorts: Oats, Maltabella, or Morvite. Everything tastes good out on the Hike.



You can make sandwiches for the first day or pack some of the ingredients below and make them in the bush

This could be made up of Crackers, such as Provitas, or Bread; sliced and fairly thin with regular cheddar cheese or maybe even some Tuna or protein packed peanut butter.



Fresh fruit and/or vegetables are vey important to have with you and complete the diet. Generally for shorter trips only. Choose items that are easy to carry, such as potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes and peppers. The variety of food you can cook on your hike is endless – if you know how. There are many prepared packet meals, either rice or noodle based that we use on our programs. When cooked simply and quickly, they make a filling and tasty dinner. Add any extras you like – cheese, salami, tuna, dehydrated (or fresh) vegetables etc. Add your Carbohydrates: rice, pasta or noodles, dried mashed potato/rice noodles or couscous. Most people find they can eat a whole “4 serving” packet themselves, after a good day’s hike!

Hot drinks

These usually consist of Powdered milk, hot chocolate, tea, coffee, sugar, and malt powder. Think about how much you will need this on a cold winters night!