Watch the Intro

Course Details

In the Ultralight Backpacking Boot Camp Online Course, you will learn:

  • Fundamental Principles and Philosophy of Ultralight Backpacking
  • Ultralight Trekking and Camping Techniques
  • Managing Inclement Weather with Ultralight Gear
  • Ultralight Trekking Case Studies
  • Applying Ultralight Gear and Techniques to Other Activities


If backpacking is your passion, why don’t you do it more often?

We have some theories, based on our experience in educating thousands of backpackers over the years with online education programs and guided treks:

  • “My pack is too heavy and it’s just not fun.”
  • “It takes too long to plan and prepare a trip – my gear and logistical process is too complicated.”
  • “I don’t have time – family, job, yard work, etc. – all of these responsibilities!”
  • “I don’t have the money – travel, supplies, and equipment are expensive!”
  • “I can’t get the time off work to go on long trips, and the short trips don’t seem worth it to me.”
  • “I don’t have any hiking partners, and I don’t like to go alone.”
  • “I don’t have enough experience or confidence to plan and go out on my own trips.”

Believe it or not, this is the shortlist. You may have other reasons, too.

But we’re here to help:

  • This online course addresses all of these issues, and so much more.
  • For the price of one or two months of high-fat, high-sugar designer coffee concoctions, you’ll transform yourself into a passionate expert and aficionado of lightweight backpacking philosophy and skills!
  • In fact, we’re confident that the cost of this course alone will be saved immediately just in the gear you were about to buy, and then regret later (hint: take the course, so you can make smarter purchasing decisions!).

Our goal is simple: we want to give you the confidence to live your passion!

Ultralight Backpacking Boot Camp will develop your equipment knowledge and skills, and give you the confidence to explore wild places with an ultralight pack.

Learn About Lightweight Backpacking at Your Own Pace

When you enroll in the Ultralight Backpacking Boot Camp Online Course, you get immediate access to all modules. However, feel free to take it at your own pace, or skip ahead, or view a lesson again in more detail.

Your course, your way.

Course Curriculum

Module 1

Core Principles of Ultralight Backpacking

An introduction to the course and an overview of the core principles that drive the ultralight backpacking ethos.

Module 2

What’s in my pack?

Provides examples of the types of gear and gear systems used by lightweight backpackers.

Module 3

Taking Inventory

Learn the process of creating a gear list, and how to use it effectively so you can use it as a tool for lightening your pack weight.

Module 4

Trekking Styles: Solo, Group-Solo, and Groups

Learn about the different styles of traveling in groups and solo, and how these styles may impact your decision on what type of gear to bring and how and what types of gear to share with others.

Module 5

Trekking Styles II: Case Study

A case study looking at group vs. group solo shelter and cooking systems.

Module 6

Minimalist Footwear 1: Shoe Terminology

Learn the terminology of minimalist footwear, what it means, and why it’s important.

Module 7

Minimalist Footwear 2: Backpacking Shoe Categories

Overview of types of backpacking shoes and what their applications are.

Module 8

Minimalist Footwear 3: Traditional vs. Ultralight

What’s the difference between traditional and minimalist footwear systems? How does minimalist footwear solve problems that traditional footwear systems have?

Module 9

Minimalist Footwear 4: Socks and Gaiters

Learn the ultralight approach to socks and gaiters as part of your footwear system.

Module 10

Minimalist Footwear 5: Can Footwear be Too Minimalist?

Ryan Jordan and Andrew Marshall explore the million-dollar question: at what point is footwear too light?

Module 11

Minimalist Footwear 6: How to Choose Footwear

Ryan Jordan and Andrew Marshall walk through their rationale for choosing different types of shoes for different types of terrain and trips.

Module 12

Backpacks and Packing Systems 1: Types of Packs

Learn the difference between the three types of packs most often used for backpacking.

Module 13

Backpacks and Packing Systems 2: Common Pack Features

What are some of the features I should be looking for in a pack?

Module 14

Backpacks and Packing Systems 3: Pack Materials

What you want your pack to be made out of depends on what you need it to do.

Module 15

Backpacks and Packing Systems 4: Interior Storage

Stuff sack selection is just as important as what pack you choose.

Module 16

Backpacks and Packing Systems 5: How to Pack a Frameless Backpack

Frameless packs are lighter, and often, more comfortable (less stiff). In this module, we’ll show you how to stabilize heavier loads in frameless packs so they don’t shift and maximize the ability to transfer pack weight between the shoulders and hips.

Module 17

Backpacking and Packing Systems 6: Case Studies

In this module, we’ll talk through a few case studies and discuss issues related to when frameless packs, lighter-weight backpacks, and expedition backpacks are appropriate.

Module 18

Shelter Systems: An Overview of Lightweight Shelters

Types of shelters, their advantages and disadvantages, and appropriate usage contexts.

Module 19

Shelter Systems: How to Pitch a Tarp with Trekking Poles

Rigging and pitching a tarp with trekking poles.

Module 20

Shelter Systems: Tarp Pitching Options & Advanced Techniques

Exploring various options for pitching tarps in the context of terrain and inclement weather; techniques and gear systems for inclement conditions above the treeline using ultralight shelters.

Module 21

Ultralight Clothing Systems

Clothing parts and ensembles, layering principles, how to build clothing systems for inclement conditions.

Module 22

The Backcountry Bed (Sleep Systems)

Unconventional sleep systems, strategies for sleeping bag-pad-ground cloth systems.

Module 23

Cooking Systems

Overview of cooking system types, advantages, and disadvantages; comparing the efficiency of lightweight cooking systems; solid fuel vs. alcohol vs. gas vs. wood; lightweight cooking systems for solo hikers.

Module 24

Water Treatment Systems

Overview of various types of water treatment, field demonstrations.

Module 25

Inclement Weather (Rain & Wind)

Dealing with wind and rain using ultralight gear – strategies for safety and comfort on the trail and in camp.

Module 26

Biting Insects

How to deal with bugs that bite (clothing, shelter, repellents).

Module 27

Emergency Communications

Types of devices for emergency communications and for staying in touch with friends and family.

Module 28

Winter Hiking

Ultralight techniques and gear for cold temperatures and snowy ground cover.

Module 29

Backcountry Tenkara

Ultralight gear and techniques for backcountry fly fishing.

Module 30

An Introduction to Packrafting

Using packrafts to safely travel lake chains, rivers, and more.

Module 31

Experiencing Ultralight

Putting it all together: what it looks like in the field.

Module 32

Long Distance Backpacking (Case Study)

Comprehensive case study of the Arctic 1000, a 100-km (600 mi) expedition across the Brooks Range without resupply.