Spokane Mountaineers backpacking school aims to teach beginners the ropes of outdoor adventure

Spokane Mountaineers is hosting its annual backpacking school, which offers the chance to learn the basics of outdoor living.

“We’ve kind of found that during the pandemic there was a big rush of people getting into the outdoors and this has led to a lot of people getting out there and not really knowing what they’re doing,” said Chuck Huber, Spokane Mountaineers hiking committee chair. “This class is a great way to get those skills up.”

No previous hiking or backpacking experience is necessary. The course includes eight indoor classes held in Spokane Valley on Friday evenings between March 31 and May 19. Outdoor sessions include a map and compass course, an overnight trip and the graduation backpack over Memorial Day weekend or later in the summer depending on weather. The course costs $55 plus membership dues for Spokane Mountaineers, which costs about $50 per year.

Registration opens Sunday and the course is limited to 50 students. The class fills up quickly, Huber said.

Students will learn what to wear and what to pack on a wilderness trip, Huber said. That includes layering, food, shelter, basic first aid. In particular, the volunteer instructors will help participants outfit themselves affordably.

“If you go to the outdoor outfitters and get their recommendations on equipment you will end up with a 75-pound pack and no money left in your wallet,” he said. “We teach you how to work around that.”