Backpacking is life distilled to the essentials. With everything you need to survive packed securely on your back, life is focused on five necessities: food, water, shelter, sleep, and, most of all, adventure. Adventure, after all, is the very reason you decided to place your essentials on your back.
This allows for camping beyond parking in a slot, setting up a tent, and cooking up some victuals. This is a journey into the backcountry, to let you really escape into nature. When you go far in—too far to return the same day—you need to tote your essentials with you. Hence the backpack.
Our Intro to Backpacking! class goes to great lengths to prepare you for hiking to and camping in the backcountry. The four-course training includes three sessions, each focused on a specific skill: gear and packing; setting up and breaking down camp; food and cooking. In each of these classes, we include a hike, of escalating length, with your backpack, so you can get used to hiking with your gear and winnow the pack as necessary. The final session is a two-night, three-day guided trip to the mountains.
If you’re new to backpacking, this is just the course for you. If you’re seasoned, but out of practice, we’ll get you in shape and back on the trail.
Along the way to becoming a backpacker, you’ll do more than build physical stamina. You’ll become self-reliant and learn to embrace the dark night of nature. You’ll trade the ping-ping of electronics for birdsong and leafy rustling. You’ll find that carrying your world on your back actually lightens your load in many ways.
And once you’ve graduated? We won’t leave you. We offer trips on a regular basis and also offer a series of Intermediate Skills classes.
Here’s a rundown of our courses:
GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking
Ready to head into nature? Here are the details.
Class size is limited to 12.
Equipment. You do not need every piece of backpacking equipment to take this course (we’ll review the essentials in Session 1). If you’re a hiker, you’ve got the basic clothing and boots/shoes. The only other piece of equipment vital at the start of class is the backpack itself. Some loaner gear is available, on a first-come basis.
Three training sessions.
- Session 1: We review necessary gear and how to pack a backpack, then hike in full pack for 2 miles. (This class is supplemented by a gear session at Great Outdoor Provision Co.)
- Session 2: We hike 2 miles, stop and set up camp, assessing what to look for in the perfect campsite and the most efficient and quickest way to set up. Then, we break camp and hike 2 miles out.
- Session 3: We’ll hike about 3 miles, stop and prepare a meal, discussing cook wear, cooking techniques and backpacking food options. We clean up and hike 3 miles out.
Graduation hike. Three-day, two-night graduation trip to the mountains.
Weekly enewsletter with tips, resources, suggestions and a preview of the upcoming training session.
Monthly GetBackpacking! enewsletter. You’ll receive our monthly, expanded enewsletter, with more tips, resources and gear recommendations, plus information on our upcoming trips.
Intermediate Skills classes
Navigating a Wilderness. Focus: Following trail that isn’t marked and is marginally maintained; river crossings; scrambling with a pack. Includes our GetOriented! Finding Your Way in the Woods program, a three-hour session on map and compass skills, and reading terrain. Weekend trip. Cost: $155.
Navigating the Night. For various reasons, we sometimes find ourselves hiking at night and setting up camp in the dark. This overnighter starts in the dark, ends in daylight. Overnight. Cost: $85.
Going Solo. We camp the first night together; the next morning we hike solo to designated campsites no more than a fifth of a mile apart. You’re on your own, though your instructor will make a stealth visit in the evening to see if you need assistance. Includes a 1.5-hour classroom session before the trip.Includes our GetOriented! Finding Your Way in the Woods program, a three-hour session on map and compass skills, and reading terrain. $155.
Winter Camping: Piedmont. This lower altitude session is aimed at making you comfortable dealing with the cold of a Piedmont winter trip (thereby extending your backpacking season year-round).
Winter Camping: Southern Appalachians. This session is a little more intense than our Piedmont version, helping you deal with colder temperatures and the potential for snow and ice.