Field Curriculum

All of my trips are learning-intensive, regardless of length, location, or the group’s experience level or fitness. However, the instruction level is tailored for each group.

The curriculum has two parts:

  1. Planning, detailed in the Planning Curriculum page
  2. Field, detailed below

On a shorter trip, expect to spend a lot of time learning. On a longer trip, expect to spend a lot of time learning during the first few days, and then applying and mastering your new skills during the latter part of the trip.

Note that all the subjects listed below may not be taught due to land regulations or environmental limitations. For example, there will be no fire-starting clinic in an area where open fires are banned, and  no river fording clinic in an area where there are no notable rivers. However, we can certainly still discuss these topics.

At the trailhead

  • Gear & supply check
  • Packing a backpack: load distribution & organization
  • Pack fitting
  • Leave No Trace


  • Map reading, e.g.  orientation, scale, contours, shaded relief
  • Dead reckoning
  • Compass operation
  • Altimeter watch operation
  • On-trail navigation
  • Off-trail navigation


  • Layering
  • Hiking efficiency
  • Trekking poles: proper form and use
  • Foot care
  • Advanced terrain, e.g. talus, slabs, bushwhacks, fording


  • Campsite selection: macro, micro, nano
  • Shelter setups, e.g. flat & A-frame tarps, shaped tarps, tarptents, hammocks, etc.
  • Stove operation
  • Fire-starting
  • Campfire types
  • Knot tying

Hydration & nourishment

  • How much food
  • What types of food
  • Finding water
  • Water purification
  • Filling techniques
  • Water quality

Personal health & safety

  • How to properly poop outdoors
  • Personal hygiene
  • Women-specific concerns
  • First aid philosophy & supplies
  • Emergency communication
  • Overuse injury prevention & care
  • Clothes washing
  • Gear care and repair

Wildlife and insects

  • Coping with bugs
  • Wildlife precautions
  • Overnight food storage options
  • Preemptive food protection techniques

Natural hazards

  • Avalanche safety
  • Weather safety
  • River fording
  • Snow travel and safety


  • Packrafting gear
  • Inflation & tempering
  • Getting in and getting out from shore
  • Water current basics
  • Moving into the current
  • Ferrying: forward & backward
  • Whitewater: up to Class II+
  • Back-paddling & pivots
  • Flipping
  • Packing the boat

Winter backpacking

  • Vigilance
  • Vapor barrier liners
  • Snow floatation: snowshoes, skis
  • Melting snow for water
  • Snowpack: depth, composition, & coverage
  • Avalanche safety
  • Deadman anchors
  • 3-season skills in a winter setting: navigation, hydration, layering, campsite selection, etc.