REI Co-op and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) are launching a first-of-its-kind wilderness preparedness course offering Wilderness Safety Training to the general public. These programs allow students to benefit from NOLS field curriculum on a weekend timeframe, closer to home.

The program is suited for trip leaders, camp staff, and any individual traveling in a remote location.

“Across REI, we want to awaken a lifelong love of the outdoors for all, and we recognize that experiencing the outdoors looks different for every person,” said Rebecca Bear, director of REI outdoor programs and experiences. “We’ve been extremely proud to work with NOLS for the past nine years, and we’re excited to build on our successful partnership to bring a new set of courses to the market that are a natural fit for the everyday explorer.”

REI and NOLS have certified tens of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts in Wilderness First Aid and as Wilderness First Responders. The new Wilderness Safety Training courses will be held in REI stores in 14 U.S. cities this fall with more courses expected to be added in 2020. The two-day courses contrast with the traditional NOLS expeditions which range from a week to several months.

“NOLS believes anyone can be a leader. The Wilderness Safety Training courses we’re offering with REI teach planning and decision-making skills that complement first aid and technical skills in a way that all experience levels will benefit,” said Katie Baum Mettenbrink, risk services manager at NOLS. “When you start a trip with a plan and can identify potential hazards, you’re able to focus on having fun instead of managing unexpected problems and injuries. And if something goes wrong despite all your preparation, having a plan sets you up for an effective response.”

Wilderness Safety Training courses are $245 for REI members and $275 for non-members. Through both presentations and hands-on practice scenarios, participants will learn:

  • Trip planning principles and how to identify life-threatening wilderness hazards
  • Outdoor leadership and decision-making strategies
  • Emergency planning (self-assessment tools included)

More information on the courses, including schedules and locations, is available at

Photo courtesy NOLS | Cass Coleman