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Backpacking Light's Wilderness Trekking School Vision and Mission

WT1-LBP students crest a high divide at 10,000 feet in August.

Our Philosophy

We strive to provide excellence for our students. We will strive to be the premiere lightweight backpacking school in the world. Most importantly, we value our personal touch. While some guiding programs and outdoor schools focus on outdoor skills alone, or simply from getting you from point 'A' to point 'B', we strive to create a wilderness experience in which we know every student well, are excited about their own experiences and goals, and are willing to go the extra mile to make sure they succeed in reaching those goals. Our low student-to-instructor ratios allow us to really get to know students, which creates the space necessary for meaningful interactions to take place. The Wilderness Trekking School is so much more than a source of revenue for us: this program truly is our most impactive educational outreach service that “promotes a lighter, simpler style of wilderness living that fosters a meaningful relationship between people and their environment.”

Wilderness Trekking School by Backpacking Light: Skills, Respect, Community, and Simplicity.
WTS instructor Andrew Skurka analyzes map details during the instructor training school, October 2008.


Skills are the key to traveling safely and comfortable with light gear. We are not just about teaching skills, but about teaching the right skills that allow you to properly and effectively use lightweight backpacking gear and techniques and to understand their limits. Above all, we strive to make sure that the education you get from the Wilderness Trekking School is rock solid and capable of allowing you to practice the limits of lightweight backpacking, lead your own expeditions, and teach the skills to others.


Simplicity is also a core component of our philosophy. For us, living simply is the process of reevaluating our needs and wants with the intent of building stronger relationships with others and our environment, rather than having lots of stuff for the sake of having lots of stuff. Simplicity for us not only manifests itself in our lighter backpacks, but also in our attitude towards nature, our interactions with other human beings, and our educational philosophy was well. While it is important that students feel as though they “learned a lot” in our course, it is equally important that they walk away with the message “less is more,” and the ability to apply that philosophy to their own lives.

Andrew Skurka, Wilderness Trekking School by Backpacking Light: Skills, Respect, Community, and Simplicity.
Building community occurs in a number of ways, from achieving common goals on the trail to investigating the shoes of your companions in camp!


Community is another word that means a great deal to us. In our school, a few of our main objectives are to teach outdoor skills, simplicity, self reliance, respect and care for others and the environment, and confidence. These ends are best met by actively creating a caring and supportive community (as opposed allowing one to develop that is oblivious, harsh, and/or demeaning). A supportive community not only creates an excellent learning environment, but is also a whole lot of fun!