Backpack Leader - Foothills

Backpacking Course

Backpack Leader

Qualify to lead backpacking trips for The Mountaineers Foothills Branch.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers course.

The Foothills Branch strives to be a welcoming gateway for outdoor enthusiasts from all backgrounds, experience and fitness levels.   Backpackers in The Mountaineers face no course prerequisites to participate, so backpack leaders need the mindset, interpersonal and leadership skills to respond to the challenges related to highly varied applicants for their trips, including some people who are just starting out, who may have limited physical capability, or who prefer a slower more social experience – as well as very fit and experienced people who want to go far and fast.

So, The Mountaineers have a well-developed process to train and certify new backpack leaders so that they are capable and ready to handle the challenges of the role!

Basic competencies required of a Mountaineers Backpack Leader (from Mountaineers Hiking-Backpacking Minimum Standards --  see standards for more detail on each requirement):

  • Group leadership
  • Technical skill in the activity
  • On-trail navigation including use of map and compass to "stay found"
  • Mountain hazard recognition and safety
  • First aid and emergency preparedness
  • Standards and policies of The Mountaineers and land management agencies


  • Complete a "New Hike-Backpack Leader Seminar" with any branch of The Mountaineers.
  • Successfully participate on at least 2-3 Mountaineers backpacks within the prior 24 months, preferably with different leaders.
  • Submit a New Backpack Leader Application, indicating Foothills as the branch you want to lead for. The Foothills Hike/Backpack Committee chair will review your application information to assess your training and experience for evidence of the basic competencies, and will review your activity history for evidence of the required backpacking participation. If the chair judges that the basic competencies and backpacking experience are in place, that person will then approve you as a leader candidate and help to set you up with a mentor for your Leader Certification Backpack. The leader may postpone such approval until additional recommended actions are taken, or may approve you to move forward with the mentored backpack while also describing additional training or experience you will be required to complete (such as first aid or navigation training).
  • Familiarize yourself with the details of how to schedule and manage an activity on The Mountaineers website.
  • Plan, post and run a backpack, acting as the primary leader with an experienced leader as a mentor and co-leader. The mentor will report back in writing to the Hike/Backpack Committee chair on how you did in each stage of the process, with particular emphasis on safety, pre-planning, communication and group leadership but also including first aid and navigation insights that can be gained from that particular backpack. Based on the mentor's report, you may be asked to complete more training, gain more experience or lead another mentored backpack, or may be approved as a leader in full standing with the appropriate Backpack Leader badge.
  • In general, new leaders interested in leading backpacks are strongly encouraged to become a hike leader and lead at least a few hikes before becoming a backpack leader, because it is helpful to get some experience managing group dynamics in a simpler day hike situation before tackling the additional complications of planning overnight activities.

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Course Materials

There are no materials for this course.