NOLS Sees the Light

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable NOLS Sees the Light

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    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    Companion forum thread to:

    NOLS Sees the Light

    kevin davidson


    Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson

    Awesome! What a coup. And with, Coup, too.
    A good way to build up a cadre of LW ambassadors.

    Ryan Faulkner


    Will you mention the SUL philosiphy? or are the people going to these courses not quite ready for it.

    Glen Van Peski? where is he? I think he would be a great instructer. along with you and Coup.

    Tony Burnett


    Locale: OH--IO

    Base weight of 15#-20#? While for NOLS that’s SUL, its almost heavy weight for the rest of the world. What gives?

    Or is there a bunch of climbing involved?

    David Bonn


    Locale: North Cascades

    Change taqkes time to propogate. Any business like NOLS is going to be very conservative about something new (to their organization).

    The reality is that NOLS has a system that works pretty well for beginners and especially for younger folk who are having their first wilderness experiences. The fact that those experiences are generally positive is what keeps them in business.

    The fact that those systems works so well tends to make them even more conservative when it comes to trying something new.

    Vick Hines


    Locale: Central Texas

    A little history on NOLS. Give them a break.

    I knew Paul Petzolt, Paul Petzolt was a friend of mine… and so on. Paul founded NOLS.

    Back when the lava was still warm, NOLS was mainly a training and certification program for outdoor professionals. They ran lots of trips. Elegant backpacking was not the point. The idea was to train people in how to run safe group trips. Paul actually flirted with ultralight systems including top bags. But the demands of training and certifying lots of folks in group leadership took precedence. When tent foors wore out too fast and it got expensive to replace them regularly, Paul started getting them made with pack cloth!!! Seven pound tents went to 9 or 10. But who was counting? NOLS was training tough, strong kids who didn’t care what they were packing as long as it got the job done. They would go back to their shoestring operations with their heavy cheapo gear knowing how to run wilderness programs safely. Now NOLS is training lots of weekend warrior wannabees. So, now’s the time to teach ultralight. Different audience with different priorities. And today, I argue that wilderness programs should go to ultralight for safety reasons as well as program effectiveness. But that’s another story.


    Well said, Vick….

    NOLS has been and is the premier institution for outdoor training for over 40 years…
    So show some respect, to quote Kim Coupounas “We’re honored to be working with NOLS,” “These courses can enable a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts to experience the fun and freedom that lightweight backpacking affords.”

    The NOLS alumni that I‘ve met in the backcountry have been some of the strongest well skilled backpackers. The melding of NOLS training and U.L. Backpacking skills makes me very excited for the future of backpacking.

    Vick Hines


    Locale: Central Texas

    Right on!

    Mike Clelland


    Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)

    I work as a NOLS instructor, and i have done some of the work to prep this new course type.

    All the comments above are true. We at the school have a bit of a reputation for big packs, but please note, the majority of our trips are 30 days long! That’s a long time, and all of it is in a mountain environment. The courses are set-up to be challenging; we teach a lot of curriculum (first aid, advanced navigation, leadership, natural history, etc) and we do some pretty ambitious stuff (lot’s of off-trail travel and peak ascents), and we eat great (baking bread and even pizza).

    That said – We have amazing success taking total beginners into some real-deal wilderness environments. The experience can be really rewarding, for everyone. Hopefully, if we as instructors do our job right, our students leave NOLS as very skilled outdoor leaders.

    Folks at the school (including me) are genuinely excited about the challenge of running a high-quality light-weight course.

    Mike Clelland!
    driggs idaho

    A Lee Deavers jr


    Can I sign up for the August trip? Who do I contact?

    Lee Deavers
    [email protected]

    Erich Foster


    Wow, that is pretty heavy, but it is a start. I think that was about my base weight when I first learned about UL.

    Ryan Hutchins


    Locale: Somewhere out there

    you can apply online @ or call the admissions office @ 1-800-710-NOLS,
    Thanks for your interest.

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