Overnight Backpacking 2023

An excellent introduction to overnight backpacking! This course focuses on trip preparation, navigation, map & compass, camp-craft, route planning, hazard awareness, equipment selection, and proper clothing in a hands-on, practical approach. The evening seminar gives you an opportunity to plan the weekend, learn about the equipment needed, and ask questions. The overnight destination is selected for the development of skills, rather than distance traveled.

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Includes 2 field days and 1 evening pre-trip Zoom session

Scheduled dates are listed below.
Important Note: Includes a Live Zoom session on Thursday evening, a week and a half prior to the field session (Zoom dates may vary, please confirm in advance with the CWMS office).
    • Note that all Backpacking courses can be conducted as a Custom or Private course where you can choose your own dates. For the Scheduled Backpacking Course dates, see below:
      2023 Dates:
    • June 3-4 (Evening planning Zoom class May 25)
    • July 22-23 (Evening planning Zoom class July 13)
    • August 12-13 (Evening planning Zoom class August 7)

    Important Note: All courses include a Live Zoom evening theory and planning session on Thursday evening, a week and a half prior to the weekend field session. This session will cover important parts of the Course content and will help to ensure you are properly prepared for the weekend field trip.

    If you have a group that wants to do this course together, Private Custom programs can easily be arranged as well on dates of your choice, please contact our office for more details by email at info@themountainschool.com

  • Maximum 6 people per class
  • This course provides an excellent introduction to overnight backpacking! The emphasis is placed on making sure that everyone will be comfortable planning and leading their own overnight backpacking trip by the end of the course.

      Key topics include:
    • trip preparation
    • navigation
    • map & compass use
    • camp-craft tips and techniques
    • route planning for on and off-trail travel
    • hazard awareness for hikers and backpackers
    • equipment selection and proper clothing

    A pre-trip Live Zoom evening seminar is held one week (or more) in advance of the field sessions, giving participants an opportunity to plan for the weekend with their Instructor; learn about the equipment needed; and, ask questions. For a positive learning experience, your two days in the field stress skill development rather than distance traveled.

    Here is a link to a Overnight Backpacking Pre-Planning PDF, please review this in advance of the Pre-trip Zoom class session.

    The Backpacking Course includes instruction on Mountain Navigation skills, after you register you will be enrolled in our Virtual Classroom "Online Backpacking Course" in order to help prepare for the weekend course.

    Maps and compasses are supplied, but if you are interested in getting your own compass here is a link to our online tutorial "Compass Essentials". This tutorial will help you to choose a compass if you wish to bring your own.

    All skills during the overnight field session are covered in a hands-on, practical approach that will keep you busy and learning while still having fun! Backpacking is a safe and easy activity - and this course gives you an excuse to start!

  • You can view and download a PDF document of the Canada West Mountain School Backpacking gear list here - CWMS Backpacking Gear List

    The equipment required for the Overnight Backpacking course is listed below. This Gear List is the minimum required for a successful and enjoyable multi-day backpacking trip in Southwest British Columbia. Please keep in mind that depending on conditions and objectives, on your trip you may be at elevations of up to 2,100 meters above sea level; weather conditions may include below zero temperatures, rain, snow, and high winds as well as high summer temperatures; much or your travel will be in off-trail and rough terrain; and, consider the weight factor as you will need to carry all gear for multiple days.

    Maps and compasses are supplied, but if you are interested in getting your own compass here is a link to our online tutorial "Compass Essentials". This tutorial will help you to choose a compass if you wish to bring your own.

      Basic personal equipment

    • Backpack: An internal frame backpack with a capacity of 60-80 litres will allow you to carry all your gear
    • Boots: Sturdy backpacking boots, must provide good ankle support and fit well
    • Outerwear jacket: An outer layer waterproof/breathable shell with hood (Gore-tex, etc.). Non-insulated is best
    • Outerwear pants: waterproof/breathable shell, non-insulated. Full zips are ideal for venting and ease of on/off with boots on
    • Personal clothing layers: layering works best; avoid cotton. Below is a suggested guideline, personal preference will affect choices: • Baselayer for top
      • Baselayer for the bottom (may not be required if weather is warm and/or short trips)
      • mid-weight softshell synthetic climbing/hiking pants
      • lightweight sweater/mid-layer for top
      • Softshell jacket (fleece, windstopper, etc.)
      • Insulated jacket with hood, synthetic or down, depending on temperatures and weather conditions
      • Socks & underwear, numbers based on trip length
    • Gloves: medium to lightweight gloves. Depending on weather conditions a spare pair of light gloves may be recommended as well
    • Gaiters: ensure they fit over your boots
    • Toque/warm hat: wool or fleece
    • Hat with sun visor: baseball cap, etc.
    • Sunglasses: must have 100% UV blockage and ideally provide full protection
    • Headlamp: small size with extra batteries
    • Water bottle/hydration system: 1 litre minimum, 2 litres is ideal
    • Small thermos: optional, but nice to have
    • Lightweight camp shoes: optional, good on longer trips for around camp after a day in the boots; also useful for creek crossings
    • Knife: small folding style knife or multi-tool
    • Personal kit: (hand-sanitizer, toothbrush, toilet paper (+Ziplock bag), foot-care supplies, candles, etc.) Keep kit to a minimum and bring only essentials
    • Sunscreen: minimum 30 SPF
    • Insect repellant: pack in a plastic bag and keep separate from the rest of your gear
    • Note pad and pencil: optional
    • Hiking pole(s): optional, much of the travel is on rough terrain and off-trail so poles are helpful
    • Compass & map: put maps in waterproof bag. Consider a GPS app for your phone as well. Contact your Guide/CWMS Office for map #s in advance

      Camping Equipment:
    • Sleeping bag: Synthetic or Down, rated to at least –5 degrees Celsius
    • Sleeping pad: Therma-rest style inflatable, or closed cell foam (Ensolite style)
    • Tent: as necessary, suitable for 3 season or 4 season conditions
    • Gas stove: include fuel as needed, matches/lighter, basic stove-specific repair items, small platform or base for the stove if on snow
    • Cooking set: bring pot sizes that are appropriate to the meals
    • Food storage kit: storage sack (ideally animal resistant) + 15-20 meters lightweight rope for food hang (Instructor will also have rope)
    • Eating utensils: cup, bowl, spoon

      We will supply the following gear included in the course fee, participants must request it in advance if needed:
    • Map copies and compass
    • Animal resistant food storage bags

    Note that some items may not be required on your specific trip due to weather or seasonal conditions. Please discuss this list with your Instructor during the Zoom session, or with our office staff in advance, to make sure you are prepared for the field session. If you need to purchase or rent equipment, make sure to contact stores well in advance to ensure that what you require is available!