Introduction to Backpacking - Tacoma - 2024

Backpacking Course

Introduction to Backpacking

Gain the knowledge and tools you need to backpack comfortably and grow your backcountry confidence in 2024!

Click the yellow "MORE +" button to read this entire course description before signing up.


If you are new to backpacking or perhaps a returning backpacker who has been out for some time, this course will prepare you to safely and confidently enjoy overnight or multiple day routes with our experienced backpack leaders.


  • One short welcome Zoom meeting to learn about the course and meet your course leaders.
  • Two longer in-person course lectures with small group gear demonstrations by course leaders and experienced instructors during both lectures at the Tacoma clubhouse. Lectures will be delivered over Zoom with breakout rooms if COVID restrictions change and we cannot safely meet in-person.
  • One in-person practice camp. For this session you will bring your backpacking gear and practice carrying your loaded pack on a day hike, setting up camp, and cooking with your group. An optional overnight arranged in a car camping environment is included for students that would like to spend the night to test out their gear setup. The practice camp may be moved to a different location pending access to trails nearby in Mt. Rainier National Park. If the practice camp location must be moved there will be no optional overnight.
  • One goodie bag to get your excitement about backpacking kicked off for the season.


  • Resources for choosing gear and training tips to help increase your fitness level before you hit the trail with your overnight gear.
  • Learn about Leave No Trace wilderness ethics when backpacking in the backcountry, how to select your gear without going broke, how you use all that new gear, and the basics of trip planning and route selection.
  • Opportunities to select as many course backpack trips as you want through September. Most students choose trips through the course to fulfill their graduation requirements but you can certainly choose more than two.
  • Join trips that challenge you mentally and physically to reach your greatest potential and your personal goals.
  • Create lasting relationships with other students that are learning or returning to backpacking just like you.
  • Access to the backcountry with experienced leaders that enjoy being outside and coaching students to increase their confidence with their outdoor skills. 
  • Go to some of the most gorgeous and jaw-droppingly beautiful landscapes Washington has to offer. Camping there makes it even better!


  • Dehydrating Backcountry Food and Snacks. Learn what you need to know to about creating and dehydrating your own trail food and snacks in this two-part course with a zoom meeting on April 4 and an in-person workshop on April 8. 
  • Backpacking Food Potluck. Bring your backpacking stove and cook with us at this potluck on April 15. 
  • Trail Emergency Preparedness. An in-person seminar to get you prepared for some of the common backcountry emergencies on April 18.
  • Backcountry Cooking Workshop with fresh ingredients! Listen and learn from Chef Corso from Outdoor Eats about how you can elevate your backcountry meals by cooking with fresh ingredients on April 23.
  • Pack Shakedown. In-person clinic for students only where our instructors provide some guidance on what you might consider leaving at home to reduce your pack weight on April 24.
  • Fitness for Hiking and Backpacking. Zoom meeting to get in shape at home for hiking and backpacking on May 8.
  • Backpack Route Planning. In-person clinic for students only where you can gain hands-on experience learning about helpful resources and plan your own backpacking route on May 16.
  • Ultralight Backpacking and Thru-Hiking. Learn about how you can incorporate ultralight strategies to improve your backpacking game on May 29.
  • For more opportunities about a variety of topics search backpacking seminars and clinics. These are designed to augment the backpacking program regardless of the hosting branch.


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 proving 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 Welcome Zoom meeting, Lectures 1 and 2, and the Practice Camp.
  • Refunds will not be granted on or after March 13, 2024.
  • 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 Welcome Zoom meeting, both lectures, and the practice camp.
  • Take a minimum of two qualifying overnight backpacking trips: one course backpack trip and one more of your choice.
  • 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 1, 2024. Graduation requirements must be completed no later than this date.


Contact Lara Linde by email at for questions about the course. I will do my best to respond to you promptly, however, if you do not hear back from me over a weekend, I may be hiking or backpacking and will get back to you as soon as I can.

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Additional badges needed to graduate


Required Equipment

There are no equipment requirements for the lectures, but there will be for the Practice Camp and Field Trips.  Equipment requirements will be covered in detail at Lectures 1 and 2 giving ample time to prepare.