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:

Wilderness Fundamentals:

  1. The Ten Essentials
  2. Hiking Safety, Leave No Trace, and Trail Etiquette principles
  3. Bringing your dog

Knowledge of core backpacking gear and skills:

  1. Additional Etiquette and Leave No Trace principles relevant to backpacking: food storage, keeping a clean camp, trail and camp behavior, interacting with wildlife, use of fire.
  2. Choosing a backpack
  3. Choosing a tent or other form of shelter.
  4. Footwear: Boots, hiking shoes, trail runners – how to choose based on the trip
  5. Choosing the right clothing; layering concepts
  6. Staying comfortable while backpacking in wet weather: rain jacket or poncho, pants or skirt; pack cover, pack liner concepts; gaiters; keeping your gear dry
  7. Hydration, carrying water, purifying water
  8. Food: Backpack food options, basics of how to obtain and/or prepare your backpack food, how much food to carry, calorie density, how to package and carry food
  9. Mealtime: Stove and fuel options, fuel efficiency, pots, dishes and utensils, etc.
  10. Food storage: Various options and their pros and cons
  11. Sleep system: basic sleeping bag/quilt options and how to decide, sleeping pad options and how to decide, night-time clothing; how to consider your whole sleep system and the expected conditions to pack what you need
  12. Misc: Light, camp/water shoes, gaiters, first aid gear for backpacking 
  13. How to pack a backpack.

Choosing the type of backpacking trip that suits your style, experience and conditioning:

  1. Types of trips: basecamp trips, through-hikes, short vs. longer, relaxed vs. intense, etc.), 
  2. Pacing and daily distance
  3. Special considerations such as wet, cold, or hot weather conditions, water crossings.
  4. Pack weight (base weight and total weight), balancing trail and camp comfort, knowing the weight of your gear and bringing only what you need for the conditions (using a checklist)

Personal preparations for a backpacking trip:

  1. How to find info on expected weather and trail conditions.
  2. Choosing appropriate gear and clothing for a specific trip.


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.


Unless this badge is directly awarded upon completion of a backpacking course, 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.