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REI Classes:
Five Great Reasons
To Go Back To School

By Diane Spicer

REI classes give you outdoor skills with a heaping dose of fun. #REIclasses #outdoorskills #hikingclasses

REI classes are hosted by REI Co-op, a gear cooperative with an ambitious goal: to get more people outdoors to make some happy memories.

Which Hiking For Her heartily endorses!

And that's why HFH is a long time REI affiliate, meaning your purchases through this website result in a small commission for HFH, plus great trail tested hiking gear and outdoor clothing for you.

  • It costs you nothing extra to support HFH in this way.
  • In fact, reader support is the only way HFH exists: no ads or paid link placements are on the site.

REI classes teach you outdoor skills

REI does a lot to get you comfortable on outdoor adventures, with an impressive schedule of classes, events and trips.

Let's take a close look at five reasons why REI classes can help you in your quest for more outdoor time as a day hiker, backpacker, car camper, backcountry camper, and all around explorer of Mother Nature.

#1: Learn basic outdoor skills

Fear keeps us off trails and out of tents far too often as females in the outdoors.

Why do I say this?

You should read the emails Hiking For Her receives!

One way to eliminate, or at least minimize, fear is through education.

When you know you have the right gear, and you know how to use it, you're going to be a much more confident hiker and camper.

And that translates directly into safety, comfort, and enjoyment of outdoor time.

REI classes are designed to give you the time, materials and guided practice you need to become a confident outdoors woman.

Female hiker standing near backpacking tent and hiking gear with river in background

Examples of beginner level
outdoor classes from REI

The class rotation is ever changing, so what is mentioned here might not be available right now.

We'll use a few examples to whet your appetite for some outdoor learning, but be sure to check here for the current course offering in your location.

The first thing to do: When you check the course offering web page, use the left hand panel to set the skill level to beginner.

  • Other options are intermediate and advanced.

Then select the activity you're interested in, such as "hiking and camping".

You can also specify a date and location, to focus on what's right around your area.

  • Or use it to explore intriguing offerings elsewhere in the United States. 

As an example, after choosing settings of "beginner, July, Seattle WA", here's a class that popped up:

  • Women's Wilderness Survival: 3-Season Skills Class

This class will teach you how to set emergency priorities, pick different types of suitable shelters, locate drinking water, build a fire, and other critical outdoor survival skills.

There are planned scenarios within the class to not only learn what to do, but to practice your skills.

And your knowledgeable instructors are focused on creating a low key, encouraging learning environment for you.

So no worries about being a beginner, the atmosphere for learning is safe and supportive.

You can tailor your class choices
to your specific needs

As noted, you can specify what, where and when you want to learn.

You can also select an activity level to find classes just right for where you are right now with your physical conditioning.

  • Relaxed
  • Easy active
  • Moderate
  • Vigorous
  • Strenuous

See how you can start from absolute scratch and build your skills?

You're also able to shop for free offerings!

  • Yes, REI classes can be free.

For paid classes, the price ranges are:

  • $1 - 50
  • $51 - 100
  • $101 and above

Note that pricing has two tiers: members and non-members (who pay more).

Just one of many reasons why it pays to join REI!

  • Discover 14 REI Co-op member rewards here

Now let's look at another reason to take a few REI classes.

#2: Want to advance your skill set?

So you've been hiking for awhile.

You might have taken a short backpacking trip or two.

But you're wondering about how to do certain things on the trail, like water filtration.

Or how to keep a safe, clean camp.

REI classes on some of the following topics might be exactly what you're searching for: (again, no promises on availability at the time you're reading this)

  • Women's Bear Bags and Backcountry Food Storage
  • Lightweight Tents and Sleep Systems
  • Backcountry Stoves and Water Treatment

What these classes can do for you

Many of these classes are offered as hands on workshops, meaning you'll get expert guidance but also have a chance to handle gear and learn how to finesse it in outdoor conditions.

This gives you insight into the types of gear that will work well for you.

It also introduces you to top notch outdoor brands that you can handle, assemble, tweak and experiment with to see the full range of scenarios you will face on a backpacking trip, day hike, or car camping adventure.

And I'm sure you can see the value of making your mistakes under safe, controlled conditions, right?

Not to mention the value of having immediate feedback from the instructors when you have questions or concerns.

But let's keep going for even more reasons to explore REI classes!

#3: Try something completely new & different

Do you have a secret wish to be a rock climber?

Does outdoor photography call to you, but you don't know where to start?

What about snowshoeing, kayaking, or cycling?

Do you dare to try winter camping?

REI classes are there for you!

And everything is conveniently organized in a pull down menu under "Activities".

Check out the full list of possible classes and begin to dream!

Female snowshoer crossing snow field with snowy mountain background

#4: Meet your tribe

Hiking For Her gets mail all the time, asking how to find a hiking partner.

REI classes are a fantastic way to find a trail buddy or a group of outdoor women you'd like to hang out with.

And let's just say it right here: you might also find a life companion in one of these REI classes ;)

  • What better way to figure out if you're compatible with someone than to learn some outdoor skills, side by side?

In our increasingly insular digital age, it's wonderful to meet other hikers face to face and to share time building skills along with great memories!

And who doesn't love the idea of sharing belly laughs as you learn how to ignite a backpacking stove without losing your eyebrows?

Or practice hanging a bear bag without walloping yourself on your backside?

"The more the merrier" rings true when you're in an REI class with like minded folks.

#5: Find women only classes

Some of us seek to explore new skills in a safe environment, free of potential distractions and focused on ways in which women learn best.

And some of us prefer to spend outdoor time only in the company of other women, for a variety of personal reasons.

That's why it's exciting to see that there is also an option to select women only classes on a wide variety of topics, under the pull down menu labeled "Featured Activities". 

  • That link brings you to the REI Force Of Nature (FON) section, where time and attention is focused on female outdoor explorers of all levels.
  • Use your zip code within the FON section to get to where you want to be quickly.

For more background on REI's Force Of Nature, read Hiking For Her's take on the FON initiative here

And how about this option?

There's another avenue open to you in your quest for women only classes.

If you can get a group of women together around a common interest, REI can put together a private class tailored to your needs. How cool is that?

Longmire Nisqually trestle bridge at Mount Rainier in Washington State

General guidelines for REI classes

As mentioned, there are two price tiers for REI classes, with members always paying less.

On line sign up is easy, but payment is required at the time you register.

Heads up:

For popular classes, there may be a wait list.

  • Place your name on it to receive an email if a spot opens up for you.

For classes which require you to bring items from your personal gear locker, you'll receive an email giving you all the details.

REI will also let you know what they're going to provide for your learning in each class, so you don't have to wonder.

You will be asked to provide your own food and water during class time.

This keeps costs down, and allows you to tailor fuel and hydration to your individual needs.

And here's where REI really shines.

They offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on their classes (at the time of this writing).

  • If the class did not deliver upon expectations, REI will offer you a choice: a refund, or a "do over" opportunity for that class.

All of the details about general class FAQs are covered here.

Now it's up to you!

So many topics geared toward outdoorsy women!

And what could be easier?

REI handles all of the logistics, and the teachers and potentially new friends and trail partners are waiting to meet and work with you.

Choose a class and get out there!

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