The Essentials of Backpacking - Olympia - 2023

Backpacking Course


The Essentials of Backpacking course will bridge the gap between day trips and experiencing the wilderness overnight.

Learn all you need to be safe and efficient while backpacking on weekend or multiday trips in the Pacific Northwest.  Each student will get a textbook for reference and handouts provided by the instructor.  You will learn about planning, gear, tips and tricks to help make overnights comfortable in the wilderness. This course is for all adults.  Student are recommended to have completed Wilderness Skills or Hiking Skills or the equivalent because we will not be teaching basic hiking skills in this course.  Learn about appropriate gear, trip planning, on the trail tips, food, safety, and other tips and tricks.  The course material is designed to be aligned with the skills identified in the basic backpacking skills badge. Instructors will lead optional backpacks during the backpacking season with priority being given to students in this course. This course is adults only.  Completion of the course will earn the student a backpacking course badge.  Optionally, course graduates can earn a basic backpacking skills badge, by demonstrating their skills on a backpacking trip.


Backpacking gear is an investment. This course will equip you with the knowledge to select the gear that will best suit your budget and your style of backpacking. Our course focuses on providing a range of options so that you can make wise purchases the first time. Experienced day hikers venturing into backpacking that have adequate clothing and 10 Essentials can expect to spend upwards of $700 to $800 or more for a basic gear set up purchased from common outdoor retail stores. New backpackers with very little gear can expect to spend about double depending on their gear selection.  You can reduce your investment by checking out backpacking gear from the Mountaineers Gear Library  in Seattle or inquiring with your local REI store about rental options. 


  • Click the register button.
  • Pay the fee.
  • Register for the Lecture, gear demo field trip, and group campout field trip.
  • Before signing up for this course please be sure you have access to adequate transportation.  Lack of access to adequate transportation will not be considered a sufficient reason to refund the course fee.


  • Attend the lecture and the gear demo field trip.
  • Complete the three course homework assignments
  • Earn the Low Impact Recreation Badge by viewing the online video.
  • Earn the Stewardship Badge by completing enough hours to qualify for the badge. This may involve participating in multiple stewardship activities to earn the badge.
  • Submit your graduation application to the course leader no later than October 15, 2023. Graduation requirements must be completed no later than this date.

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Course Materials