Backpacking School

The I-MAC backpacking school will prepare students for comfortable and safe multi-day backpacking trips. The school will be conducted in two all-day sessions in one weekend – a combination of indoor and outdoor classes designed to teach you what you need to know to get started backpacking on your own.  No prior experience in the outdoors is required.

Topics include: ten essentials, clothing, conditioning, packs, tents, sleeping systems, map and topography basics, compass and route planning, navigation strategy, digital navigation using smart phones, cooking and nutrition, hygiene and water purification, using the Internet, GPS, cell phones, stoves, other gear, first aid, safety, pets, children, and rescue techniques.

The first day, on Saturday April 13, 2024 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, consists of lecture-style presentations taught in the SWL 121 Lecture Hall at Columbia Basin College in Pasco. The second day, on Sunday April 14, 2024 from 9:00 AM to 2 :00 PM, includes outdoor field demonstrations of equipment and techniques at Leslie Groves Park in Richland. The school culminates in overnight backpacking trips led by I-MAC trip leaders.

The school is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

To register and reserve your place in the class, please send an email to  and provide your name, phone number, and email address for class communications and materials. Please indicate your interests and experience with hiking and backpacking.

Before the course, we highly recommend you get the book The Backpacker’s Field Manual, by Rick Curtis, before the school, and read as much as you can. It is NOT available through REI.

Hourly Schedule

Day 1: Classroom instruction

9 am - 5 pm
ten essentials, conditioning, map and topography basics, nutrition, hygiene, water purification

Day 2: Outdoor instruction

9 am - 2 pm
clothing, packs, tents, sleeping systems, compass use, first aid


Apr 13 2024 - Apr 14 2024


9:00 AM - 5:00 PM




Columbia Basin College
Leslie Groves Park


Carolyn Noonan