New or wanting to start backpacking and not sure where to start? That is okay! Everyone starts somewhere so here is a compilation of some of the best resources for beginner backpackers, or even if you need a refresher.
The massive outdoor gear store not only will sell and fit your backpack for you, if you bring in you backpacking gear, some stores will properly pack your bag for free. Along with an almost unlimited amount of resources on their site for you, they also have classes from backcountry cooking to guided trips. REI does it all. You can browse their classes here and access their free Back Country 101 articles here. Some of their classes are free or low cost and offer a lot of information for people. They offer classes to beginner backpackers to those who have had some experience on the trail and need a refresher.
An outdoor program that does guided trips, classes, and certifications, NOLS and excellent resource for everyone. You can click here for a list of their guided programs to browse through. They offer programs for all levels. While they are not advertised as classes for beginner backpackers, the skills you take away from these courses can be used no matter your experience. These classes are intended to teach people necessary skills into becoming professional guides. So while the price is steep, you will be learning a lot if you take a course. All classes are paid and they take place all over the world. What is also nice, if you decide to go to school for the outdoor industry, many of their courses may count as college credit.
Colorado Mountain Club
If you live in Colorado, the CMC is an excellent resource. It does have a membership fee before you join a class, but their class prices are not as high as you might expect. They do an excellent job of teaching you skills that will help you in the backcountry. They also have courses in many of the other outdoor adventures Colorado has to offer. The group does not offer many courses on backpacking, but they do have some to get you started. You can find their backpacking courses here.
They host a variety of events and classes, including some beginning ones so be sure to keep an eye out for their events and classes. They have many articles online that you can read to understand some of the backpacking basics which you can browse through under their skills tab. Their articles are all free to access and are great material for beginner backpackers.. They also have an online course about thru-hiking here.
Aim Adventure U
This is an online resource that is great for people who are not able to adjust their schedule for an in person class. The site offer classes about backpacking, climbing, and skiing. All courses are paid and their course list can be accessed here.
While they don’t always offer classes, there are many Facebook groups that have experienced backpackers who can offer support and give advice. They also sometimes have events and meetups either backpacking or to discuss backpacking. You may even find a backpacker who would be willing to go with you for your first backpacking trip. Mountain Chicks, Women Who Hike, All Women All Trails, and Girls Who Hike are all excellent communities of women who hike and enjoy backpacking. Backpacking is another group that accepts both men and women.
Are there any resources you think that I should add? Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite backpacking resources that did not make the list! As a reminder, when out in the wilderness, be sure to practice Leave No Trace. Not sure what that is? Here is a great article from R.E.I. that covers what LNT means.
Once you’ve gotten the basics down, be sure to go to my adventures trail page, to see some of my favorite backpacking trails around the world.