New Student Welcome

So you’ve registered and paid for the online course. Now what?

Join Classroom

At least one week before your course is scheduled to begin, you will receive an email invitation to join our Google Classroom. Please accept it. Note: This invitation is sometimes flagged as spam.

If this direct invitation is unsuccessful, you can join Classroom manually with a code from us.

To access and use Classroom, you must login with a Google account. If you don’t already have one, you’ll be prompted to create it.

Gear Guide

You will be mailed a signed copy of The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide. Some sections are required reading, and other sections will be helpful in completing the assignments.

Freebies and discounts

Instructions to redeem the CalTopo and Gaia GPS subscriptions will be distributed during the module on mapping.

Redemption instructions to our other recommended vendors will be sent upon successful completion of the course. In particular, you will be required to:

  • Introduce yourself to your group;
  • Research environmental and route conditions;
  • Submit a gear list;
  • Create a map set in CalTopo and downloaded maps to Gaia GPS; and,
  • Report back on your Shakeout.

These high standards are by design. We want students to engage with the content, not simply register for the perks.


The full curriculum and schedule is available.


The total anticipated time commitment is 8 to 24 hours, depending on your existing knowledge and your engagement with the materials. Like most things, the more time and thought you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

Start thinking about…

At the start of the course, you will need to select an overnight trip that will be used as the foundation of the course. This “goal trip” should be interesting to you, appropriate for your skill set, and realistic.

Important trip details include:

  • Where?
  • When?
  • For how many days?
  • With who?
  • How many miles or how much vertical? And,
  • What style, in terms of camping versus hiking?

If you don’t have a particular trip in mind, we can help you identify one.

Many of our students are aspiring thru-hikers, and the 8-week course proved too quick for them to plan their entire trip. So for the sake of this course, our recommendation is to select a small section of a thru-hike, which will be more manageable. After the course is over, reapply what you learned to the rest of the trip.

Your group

Other backpackers will be in your class. Use this as an opportunity to share and learn information, and perhaps to expand your network of outdoor friends.

Contact us

Joe McConaughy will be your primary point of contact. Email him at [email protected].

You can also contact Andrew.