Backpacking and Wilderness Skills Overview
This weekend course is designed for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts who have little or no overnight camping experience in a mountain or wilderness environment. By the end of the weekend, students will have acquired the skills to plan and carry out an enjoyable multi-day backpacking trip using established trails and campsites, and will have a foundation upon which to build more advanced wilderness and mountaineering skills.
Skills covered in this course will include:
Equipment selection and packing The first morning of the course is dedicated to equipment selection; rentals and purchases are available at
AAI's Equipment Shop.
Fundamentals of land navigation, map, and compass
Meal planning and open air cooking We provide detailed food shopping lists in advance (including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options) and discuss principles of nutrition for backpacking and wilderness trips.
Water treatment and approaches to hydration We discuss the pros and cons of iodine, chlorine compounds, filters, and boiling. We also address how to balance adequate hydration with optimum pack weight.
Selection and safe operation of backpacking stoves We teach the use of both liquid-fuel and canister-fuel stoves, discuss their pros and cons, and assist students in preparing their own meals.
Knots and hitches for securing tents and food bags
Food storage and caching strategies
Basic ice-axe use and self-arrest Early- to mid-season backpacking in the North Cascades can include crossing short snowfields where an ice-axe is a useful safety tool. We teach participants to execute self-arrest, self-belay, and other maneuvers that allow a hiker to confidently cross snow.
Leave No Trace principles On all AAI courses, we present the seven principles of Leave No Trace to help participants protect the fragile alpine environment for future lovers of the mountains.
Construction of a comfortable, low-impact campsite
How to go to the bathroom in the outdoors
And many, many other backcountry skills
This course runs as a public, group outing every other weekend in the summer months. It can also be taught as a private program for you, your family, or a group of friends, with custom dates and length appropriate to your needs. Call us with any questions at
Backpacking and Wilderness Skills Dates
Apr 29 - Apr 30, 2017
May 18 - May 19, 2017
May 27 – May 28, 2017
Jun 10 – Jun 11, 2017
Jun 24 – Jun 25, 2017
Jun 29 - Jun 30, 2017
Jul 8 – Jul 9, 2017
Jul 22 – 23, 2017
Jul 27 - Jul 28. 2017
Aug 5 – Aug 6, 2017
Aug 19 – Aug 20, 2017
Aug 24 - Aug 25, 2017
Sep 2 – Sep 3, 2017
Sep 16 – Sep 17, 2017
Backpacking and Wilderness Skills Course Packages
You can register for this course together with one of our flagship introductory mountaineering courses and get a
discount on the tuition for the backpacking course. (Courses must be registered and paid for together, to be taken during the same season.)
Follow up courses include:
Sample Package Schedules
2-day Backpacking Course + 6-day Intro to Mountaineering
8 days total – Saturday through Saturday
2 days of backpacking instruction
Return to Bellingham for 1 night (lodging not included).
1 day of rock climbing at Mt. Erie
5 days of glacier skills instruction & climbing
Mt. Baker summit climb included
2-day Backpacking Course + 3-day Mt. Baker Climb & Glacier Skills Clinic
One 2-day weekend + one 3-day weekend
2 days of backpacking instruction
Schedule your 3-day Mt. Baker climb any subsequent weekend during the same season.
3 days of glacier skills instruction & climbing
Backpacking and Wilderness Skills Course Details
Max Ratio - 5:1 or 10:2 (Students:Guides)
Capacity - 10
Day hiking experience in the mountains
Good general physical fitness
Program Cost Inclusions and Exclusions
Tuition for the program includes the guides' fee and all group equipment. Personal equipment is not included in the program cost, but it can be rented from our equipment shop. A complete list of recommended and required equipment will be sent to you upon registration. Course participants will carpool to the trailhead, which is approximately 1 hour from our shop location in Bellingham.
Backpacking and Wilderness Skills Related Courses
United States - Alaska
United States - Washington
United States - California
United States - Nevada
United States - Colorado
United States - Utah
Canada - British Columbia
South America - Argentina
South America - Bolivia
South America - Ecuador
South America - Patagonia
South America - Peru
Europe - Alps and Caucasus
Asia - Nepal and Tibet
Asia - China
Africa - Tanzania
Pacific and Antarctica
By Program Type
Group Summit Climbs
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