Basic Backpacking Skills


Basic Backpacking Skills

The recipient of this badge has acquired basic backpacking skills, either through lectures/seminars or equivalent experience.

Description of Skills

The recipient of this badge has acquired basic backpacking skills, including:

  • Fundamentals: Know how to choose the type of backpacking trip that suits your style, experience, and conditioning (basecamp trips, through-hikes, short vs. longer, relaxed vs. intense, etc); determine your pack weight (base weight and total weight); balance trail and camp comfort; pack only what you need for the conditions (using a checklist).
  • Trip Planning: Know how to find info on expected weather and trail conditions; choose camps and location water; determine pacing, daily distance, and gear and clothing needs for the trail. This also includes:
    • Choosing and packing a backpack.
    • Choosing appropriate footwear (boots, hiking shoes, trail runners) based on the trip conditions.
    • Choosing the right clothing and layer concepts.
    • Considerations for wet, cold, and/or hot weather.
    • Understanding hydration, as well as ways to carry and purify water.
    • Choosing the right backpacking food options, including the basics of how to obtain and/or prepare your own food, knowing how much to carry, and how to package food for the trail.
    • Choosing the right stove/fuel option, understanding fuel efficiency, and knowing what pots, dishes, and utensils to carry.
    • Understanding various food storage options, including their pros and cons.
    • Choosing the right sleep system, including shelter, a sleeping bag/quilt, a sleeping pad, and night-time clothing.
    • Other: Know the options for illumination, camp/water shoes, gaiters, and first aid.
  • Permits & Rules: Know what permits are needed, whether or not you may bring your dog, rules for locating camps, food storage requirements, and the use of fire.
  • Etiquette & Low-Impact Recreation: Know how to choose a camp, keep a clean camp, leave no trace behind, dispose of garbage and waste, have proper trail and camp behavior, and interact with wildlife.

What does this badge allow me to do?

Unless otherwise noted, all of The Mountaineers backpacking trips are open to any guest or member. This receipt of this badge is a means of demonstrating your skill proficiency.

How do I get this badge?

Unless this badge is directly awarded upon completion of a backpacking course or clinic, anyone desiring a Backpacking Skills badge should submit the Backpacking Skills Equivalency Application. Applications will be sent to the applicable Backpacking Chair for review, and it is that person's responsibility to review the applicant's information, follow-up as needed, and make the decision to grant the appropriate badge, assuring that the qualifications are met.

If you have additional questions, please contact Member Services at or 206-521-6001.