Level 1: Backpacking Fundamentals

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Critical course info

Who should take this course?

You should consider yourself one of the following:

  • First-time backpacker with some day-hiking and/or car-camping experience, and interested in learning to go on multi-day overnight trips;
  • Beginner backpacker who wants to rapidly improve your know-how; or,
  • Intermediate backpacker who wants to refine your skills and/or modernize your gear.

Additionally, you should be able and willing to:

  • Hike up to 10 miles in a single day, assuming you are hiking entirely on-trail over rolling terrain, carrying a 20-lb pack at an oxygen-rich altitude; and,
  • Hike off-trail for a half-day, in order to work on your navigation skills.

Why should you take this course?

Make backpacking fun, not work. There are two parts to every backpacking trip — hiking and camping. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to optimize one without sacrificing the other. A super light pack, for instance, makes for great hiking but uncomfortable camping; while an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach makes for great camping but miserable hiking. We’ve mastered the balance, and will teach you how to pack light enough so that you love the hiking, but not so light that you compromise your safety or comfort in camp.

Save time and money. You can learn to backpack “the hard way” through trial-and-error, which usually and unfortunately entails hundreds of dollars in regrettable purchases and many trips that were harder and less enjoyable than they should have been. Or, you can learn hard-won insights from a credible source. This course is an investment in your backpacking future — in the long run, it will save you considerable time and money, and it will greatly enhance your trips, whether they be short or long, solo or with family, friends, or Scouts.

World-class guides. Your guide is the most important factor in the quality and value of your trip, and you will struggle to find a team of more credible, accomplished, and reputable backpacking guides that want to teach skills at such a high level.

Some additional perks

Free demo gear. Missing a critical piece of gear but reluctant to buy it? Considering a new purchase but want to test it out first? Hoping to experiment with a different item than you currently own? I probably can help out — I have an extensive inventory of demo shelters, bags, stoves, and backpacks that you are encouraged to borrow.

Discounts and free product. Every client receives a free copy of my book, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide. You will also receive discounts up to 40 percent off purchases with companies like DeFeet, Headsweats, Sierra Designs, and ULA.

What will you learn?

For a full list of subjects taught during my trips, view the Planning Curriculum and Field Curriculum. Some of the most important subjects include:

  • Gear selection
  • Food planning
  • On-trail navigation
  • Off-trail navigation
  • Map-reading
  • Operation of compass and altimeter watch
  • Layering
  • Foot care
  • Nourishment
  • Hydration
  • Water quality assessment
  • Water purification
  • Campsite selection
  • Shelter setups
  • Stove operation
  • Wildlife precautions and encounters
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