Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Hiking (HOP)


The Columbia Outdoor Hiking Orientation Program (HOP) is the original and largest of the three programs, with about 150 students venturing into the wilderness each fall. Groups of six first-years and two upper-classmen leaders backpack a trail for four days and three nights. The difficulty is suited to each group’s ability, from novice to advanced. No previous hiking experience is necessary.

Groups carry all needed supplies for the four-day Catskills adventure and are responsible for preparing meals and setting up camp. HOPers hike two to six miles each day on this pleasant excursion into nature before returning to the cosmopolitan whirlwind of NYC! Many of the trails include natural features such as lakes, waterfalls, and lookouts. This trip is a fantastic opportunity for participants to become part of a close-knit, campfire-loving, mountaintop-giggling, trail-singing family.

Packing List

Broken-in hiking boots are an absolute necessity. Hiking in new boots will inevitably lead to painful blisters. To break these in, participants should gradually put at least 10 miles on their boots prior to the trip, wearing them around here and there to let their feet get used to them. Hightop sneakers do not fit the bill!

An appropriate backpack is also essential. Participants will carry 20-30 lbs. of food, gear, and clothing throughout each day. Appropriate backpacks are “internal frame” or “external frame” (search Google Images for examples). COÖP has a supply of tried-and-true Kelty external frame packs available for $15 rental. Participants who bring an insufficient backpack will be required to rent one from COÖP. Instead of buying a new pack, consider looking to friends, relatives, and bargain stores for inexpensive sources of equipment.

Prohibited: firearms (the “H” is for hiking, not hunting), non-prescribed and non-over-the-counter drugs, alcohol, knives larger than an index finger, iPods, hairdryers, or any electronic gizmo.

If you have any questions about the equipment list, please don’t hesitate to e-mail or call us. It’s better to be safe than sorry!


Do not bring cotton items. Cotton soaks up moisture (rain, sweat) and won’t retain body heat when wet. Participants with Gore-Tex items are encouraged to bring these, but wool, polyester, and acrylic are less expensive, more readily available, and equally effective. Common synthetic materials are fleece and capoline. Also look for clothing made of polypropylene (long underwear, sock liners, etc.), which is inexpensive and excellent in the wilderness.

  • Hiking boots, specifications above
  • Long underwear, top and bottom set (not cotton) for base layer of clothing
  • One or two sets of warm upper layer(s), wool, acrylic polyester blend, or synthetic/fleece. (It can get mighty cold at night in the Catskills)
  • Warm hat (Wool beanies, in particular, are fantastic)
  • Quick drying pants
  • Quick drying shorts
  • One or two cool hiking shirt(s), breathes well and dries quickly
  • Warm hiking socks, 3-4 pairs (Smartwool and Thorlo brands are good solutions)
  • Rain coat and rain pants: Consider looking for a “shell” type raincoat that also protects from the wind, and make sure both coat and pants are sturdy – thin plastic can rip easily


  • Four 1-liter, sturdy, wide-mouth water bottles: Nalgene brand bottles are best because they will never break and they are very easy to fill up in streams, but something as simple as a large Gatorade bottle will work (COÖP Nalgenes can be purchased $15)
  • Sleeping bag (available for rent)
  • Frame pack (available for rent)
  • Cup or mug (a good sturdy plastic or metal one)
  • Small knife, fork, and spoon
  • Small bowl or plate
  • Glasses and strap (if applicable): Participants who choose to wear contacts should also bring glasses
  • Headlamp and batteries
  • Insulite or foam sleeping pad (highly recommended)


  • Small knife (Swiss Army type)
  • Sneakers or comfy, light shoes to wear at campsite
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen lotion and bug repellant (non-aerosol)
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Disposable camera (in a small plastic bag to keep dry)



505 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: (212) 854-3611

Fax: (212) 854-6972

Office Hours
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.