Past Meetup

North County Backpacking Fundamentals Class

This Meetup is past

3 people went

Price: $150.00 /per person

Pad Climbing Gym

2399 A St · Santa Maria, CA

How to find us

Classroom sessions will take place at the Pad Climbing Gym--More Details Below

Location image of event venue


North County Backpacking Fundamentals Course

Sponsored by the Los Padres Forest Association & Santa Maria Valley Open Space

What is the Backpacking Fundamentals Course?

The Backpacking Fundamentals Course is a comprehensive classroom and outdoor training program designed to introduce you to backpacking, familiarize you with current backpacking gear, prepare you for a wilderness or urban backpacking experience, and introduce you to the backcountry trails and camps in the Los Padres National Forest in preparation for even bigger and better backpacking adventures.

Who should attend?

Anyone interested in an introduction or re-introduction to backpacking. If you have all or part of one of the big bucket list wilderness hikes in mind, John Muir Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, or if you’re considering an urban walk like the Camino de Santiago in Spain or the California Mission Trail (El Camino Real), you will learn valuable skills and information that will allow you to more confidently move forward with your goal. And even if all you want to do is enjoy weekend trips in our beautiful local backcountry, you will come away with a level of confidence and the right gear decisions to enhance your outdoor experiences.

What will I learn?

This course will take you through all of the steps required to make you a proficient and safety conscious backpacker. Our trainers are all experienced backpackers and many are also Volunteer Wilderness Rangers. You will learn how to select and purchase properly fitted backpacking gear, wilderness preparedness skills, route finding and navigation, packing and camp set up skills, camp cooking and meal selection, water treatment methods, basic wilderness first aid and many other useful trail skills that will allow you to become a confident hiker and backpacker.

What does it cost?

This 5 week classroom course and a one day outdoor navigation session is only $150.00 per person. There will also be three optional outdoor experiences where you can try out what you’ve learned. We can almost guarantee you that you will save that much in well made gear and equipment selections alone. That’s money you may have spent making the wrong decisions without the benefit of this training program. Better yet, all of our trainers are volunteers which means that after printing expenses, all proceeds go toward maintaining and improving our local trails through the Los Padres Forest Associations Volunteer Wilderness Ranger program.

Where will the classes take place?

The Pad Climbing Gym has generously offered to allow us to use their yoga room for our classroom training sessions. We will announce the locations of the outdoor experiences once the class has started. Address for Pad Climbing Gym 2399 A St, Santa Maria, CA 93455

What is the “Los Padres Forest Association” (LPFA)?

Founded in 1979, the LPFA is the official non-profit 501(c)(3) of the Los Padres National Forest. Our mission is to care for the Los Padres Forest, ensuring it thrives and remains safe and open for the people to use and enjoy. The LPFA shares the Forest Service motto of “Caring for the Land and Serving the People.” We love nothing more than to help people enjoy their time in the Los Padres in a sustainable and respectful manner.

Class Outline & Schedule

Classroom Session #1, Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Class overview and introduction of attendees and instructors

Class schedule and field trip review

Hiking and Backpacking Conditioning

Hiking and Backpacking Meetup Groups

Fear and Gear

Overview--Packing for our Fears versus Packing for Reality

What are we afraid of in the wilderness? Animals, cold, lost, injured, unprepared

Los Padres National Forest, Our Backcountry Backyard

Overview of the Los Padres National Forest Trails, Camps and Cabins

Where to go in our local wilderness

Sespe, Dick Smith, San Rafael, Silver Peak, Ventana

Reference Materials, Maps and Books

Conant Maps

Harrison Map

Carey Book

Ford books and front country map

Vintage and out of print books

Classroom Session #2, October 20, 2015

Backpacking Gear

The Benefits of Being “Light”--Lightweight and Ultralight Gear

The ultralight ethos

Understanding pack and gear weights

Big Four Gear Basics:


Size versus Volume

Proper Fitting--measuring techniques

Sleep Systems

Sleeping Bags and Quilts

Temperature ratings and sizing

Sleeping Pads and Pillows

Pad styles and R Values


Tents, Tarps, Hammocks, and Bivy’s

Cooking Systems & Camp Kitchen

Cooking System versus a Stove

Everything including the kitchen sink

The Ten Essentials--the “Systems” approach

How to Stay Light and Where to Buy Gear

Sample Gear Lists and Weights

Online sources for creating your own lists

Weigh everything--buy a postal or gram scale

Purchasing and Trying Out Gear

Where and How to Buy Gear

Ordering online versus in a store

Understanding Return Policies

Bargain shopping and understanding retail mark ups

Optional Field Trip to REI and/or Mountain Air Sports to look at gear--Weekend date TBD

Classroom Session # 3 , October 27, 2015

Feet, Clothing and First Aid

Unit 5 Footwear, Sock, and Insole Selection

Foot care and Blister Treatment and Prevention

Unit 6 Clothing Layering Principles from Head to Toe

Selecting and Purchasing Backpacking Clothing

Unit 7 Wilderness First Aid Basics

Building your personal first aid and toiletry kit

Sample first aid, toiletry and repair kit lists

Classroom Session #4 Camp Cooking, November 3, 2015

Water Filtration and Cooking

Water Filtration and Purification

Camp Kitchen and Cooking

Where to cook, where to eat

Food Selection and Options

Boil Bag Camp Cooking and Cozies

Pre-packaged Freeze Dried Meals

Make your own ingredients

Make your own dehydrated meals

Grocery aisle options

Packing and Preparing Food for Backpacking

Bear Cans and Food Storage

Nutrition and Electrolyte Replacement

Leave No Trace Principles

How to Poop in the Woods

Pack it In Pack it Out

Field Program Saturday, October 24, 2015--Location TBD

Unit 10 Map Reading, Navigation & Rescue Devices

GPS, Compass and Apps

Rescue Devices-- inReach, SPOT, PLB

Optional Outdoor Session #1

Overnight campout--potluck dinner and fun!


Set-up and use of your gear

Campsite selection principles discussion

Camp cooking and stove use

Navigation and Map Reading Practice

Classroom Session #5--Bring your Gear to Class, November 10, 2015

Packing and Loading your Backpack

Setting up your Shelter and Camp

Gear Checklist Review

Getting Out and Giving Back--Volunteer Opportunities

Review of Upcoming Backpacking Trips

Optional Outdoor Session #2 Date TBD

Overnight backpacking trip to a backcountry campsite 12-14 miles round trip. Location TBD


Learn what it feels like to hike with a loaded backpack

Campsite selection and gear set-up and shakedown

Water filtration experience

Camp cooking and stove experience

Building a campfire (if campfires are permitted)

Identify any foot, shoe or sock issues

Optional Outdoor Session #3 Date TBD

Three day/Two night backpacking trip (Friday-Sunday) 20-25 miles round trip


Experience a longer hike with a loaded backpack

Experience what it’s like to spend two nights outdoors

Campsite selection and gear set up

Camp cooking and stove experience

Identify any foot, shoe or sock issues

More questions? Contact Curt Cragg [masked]