Beginner Backpacking Course

Mary Gormandy White
Learn How to Backpack

Are you looking for a beginner backpacking course to take? It's certainly a good idea to take the time to learn the basics of what's involved in this type of outdoor adventure before you head into the backcountry. There are a number of places where you can sign up to learn everything you need to know to get started backpacking the right way.

Beginner Courses

1. REI School (Various Locations)

If there's an REI store near where you live, you have access to beginner backpacking courses as well as many additional classes. REI offers courses in subjects like hiking and camping, navigation, climbing, paddling, and many other outdoor adventure topics. The company has outdooor training options for people at all levels, from novice through advanced.Courses are held in the following locations:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston and New England Area
  • Greater Los Angeles Area
  • Greater San Francisco Bay Area
  • Philadelphia Area
  • Sacramento, Fresno, Reno Area
  • San Diego Area
  • Washington DC Area

For more information and a schedule of upcoming classes, see REI Outdoor School.

2. Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (Virginia)

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) offers a Backpacking 101 course each year. The class begins with classroom instruction in Vienna, Virginia and also includes outdoor instruction in Prince William Forest Park and overnight backpacking trip to a nearby location. For details, see PotomacAppalachian.org.

3. UC Davis: Campus Recreation (California)

The University of California Davis campus offers a variety of different outdoor skill courses throughout the year, including Introduction to Backpacking and Backpacking Adventures sessions. Classes are available to students of the university as well as those who are not enrolled. Prices are very affordable, but are a little higher for non-students. For more information, see the Outdoor Adventures page on the school's campus recreation website.

Tips for Finding Local Backpacking Courses

These are just a few examples of the many opportunities to take beginner backpacking courses. There are likely to be classes offered in many additional areas, particularly near those areas where backpacking is a popular pastime. To find classes in your area, consider the following tips.

  • Higher Education Institutions - Check with the continuing education divisions of local universities and community colleges in your area to see if they offer these types of classes.
  • AllTrails.com - Visit the AllTrails.com website to see if any classes in your area have been posted to the site's local event calendar.
  • Sierra Club Chapters - Contact the Sierra Club chapter in your area to see if they are sponsoring any classes. Even if the organization isn't sponsoring any backpacking classes, there's a good chance the officers will be aware of local training opportunities.
  • Outdoor Retailers - Visit stores in your community that specialize in outdoor products. The store may be sponsoring its own introductory courses or may have flyers and brochures displayed for classes available in the local area.
Beginner Backpacking Course