Wilderness Backpacking


"I grew so much as a person on this trip and loved
spending time in the wilderness."
– Gwen, MWS Backpacking Student

Expedition Overview

Dates: August 11 – August 20, 2021
Age: 16–18 years old
Group size: max 10 students/2 instructors
Length: 10 days
Tuition: $2,300
10-day adventure through remote area of the Montana wilderness, developing leadership, outdoor skills in navigation, camping, backcountry cooking and teamwork.
Questions? Send us an email.
Packing List 
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Expedition Highlights

  • Backpacking in remote wilderness areas
  • Navigation, orienteering, and wilderness travel skills
  • Wilderness decision-making and communication skills
  • Experiencing abundant wildlife and ecosystems

Expedition Description

The Wilderness Backpacking Expedition is our introductory expedition, specifically designed for 16-18 year old students. This multi-week adventure focuses on teaching students to be competent in fundamental outdoor skills such as cooking, camping and navigation while developing leadership skills as an individual and member of an expeditionary group. Students will be challenged physically, at appropriate levels and will hike most days with heavy packs in a changing alpine environment. While navigating through mountain terrain, students will engage in lessons about Leave No Trace® camping principles, wilderness and ecology lessons, and learn how to work as a team to accomplish common expedition goals. Each student will have an opportunity to be the expedition leader of the day and to use his or her newly acquired leadership skills. For more information about MWS core curriculum and expedition progression see Expedition Life.

Expedition Objectives and Learning Outcomes

Teamwork and communication skills

  • Learn positive communication skills with diverse group members to create a healthy community, build trust, and make sound decisions in the backcountry together
  • Develop an expedition philosophy, apply it to the course, and understand how it can transfer back to the student’s home environment

Safety and wilderness based decision making

  • Backcountry hazard evaluation and risk reduction guidelines and tools
  • First aid awareness for backcountry settings: identification and treatment of common backcountry illness and injuries
  • Learn to collaboratively make decisions in remote environments that prioritizes individual and group safety

Conservation Ethic

  • Use basic observational and interpretive skills to demonstrate an understanding and respect for the natural environment
  • Discuss the history, facts and potential solutions to pertinent environmental and social issues affecting the wilderness in the expedition area
  • Reflect upon and discuss the conveyance of wilderness conservation ethics into personal life and build a capacity for commitment and stewardship to wild places
  • Develop comprehensive understanding of Leave No Trace© ethics and apply them during the expedition

Backcountry camping and navigation skills

  • Use safe backcountry kitchen practices to cook nutritious meals on a camp stove or fire
  • Demonstrate an ability to select an appropriate campsite and set up a shelter while minimizing the impact on the ecosystem
  • Understand and demonstrate how to stay healthy, warm, and comfortable in the backcountry
  • Understand and demonstrate techniques for camping and traveling in bear habitat
  • Use various navigation and route-finding tools and methods for on and off trail travel
  • Travel efficiently in the alpine environment using map and compass skills

Technical Skills

  • Learn to properly pack and adjust a backpack
  • Become competent in backpacking in alpine environments
  • Travel off trail and discover unpopulated areas of the Montana wilderness
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Montana Wilderness School
P.O. Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771
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