10 Classes Every Adventure Traveler Should Take

Being an adventurer requires a lifetime of learning. These courses teach everything from exploring coral reefs to life-saving survival skills.

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Learn to Survive

Learning the skills to survive in the outback with just materials you can find is at the very least fun and rewarding, and at most, it can save your life. Many wilderness survival schools around the country teach important skills such as fire starting, shelter building and food and water gathering. Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina teaches several courses that include what to do in the first critical 72 hours after getting injured or lost. Sigma III Survival School classes include Wild Crafter, in which students learn about edible and medicinal plants. Thomas Coyne Survival Schools based in California teaches everything from making stone tools to avoiding kidnappings.

Learn to Get Where You're Going

All of the new GPS technology on the market is worthless if you don’t know how to use it, and nothing beats a traditional compass and map for dependability in the wilderness. REI offers map reading and orienteering courses throughout the country, as well as courses on how to use GPS. Colorado Outward Bound School has its online Backcountry Navigation seven-part course that covers both compass and GPS unit navigation. There are also many basic, free tutorials available online.

Set Sail

Want to experience the rush of sailing but don’t have a clue as to what a clew is? Sailing courses throughout the country offer introductory to advanced classes, such as Offshore Sailing School throughout Florida and Island Sailing School in Portland, Oregon. The American Sailing Association offers a free online course and also lists ASA certified courses here. NauticEd International Sailing School offers online courses as well. Surprisingly, many sailboat rentals don’t require their clients to have certification, but they will quiz renters on practical sailing knowledge before handing over the tiller.

Rally Racing Schools

Learn to corner like an ace and drift muddy corners at a rally racing school. DirtFish Rally Racing School in Snoqualmie, Washington, has a two-hour FUNdamentals class that gives a taste of what it takes to be a rally racer and its three-day, all-in classes include one-on-one coaching for those ready to race for real. Skills taught include how to slide around loose-dirt corners, how to handle bumps at speed and other techniques that are useful whether you’re rally racing or just driving in poor weather or road conditions. Team O’Neil Rally School in Dalton, New Hampshire, offers several multi-day classes on its 583-acre campus. At The Firm driving school in Starke, Florida, learn advanced skills such as vision management, hand brake turns and other techniques used in European-style rally driving.

Avalanche Courses

An avalanche course is a must for anyone interested in playing in the winter backcountry. Avalanche.org lists many of the available courses in the West, and other avalanche schools including the Mount Washington Avalanche Center in New Hampshire, and the American Avalanche Institute based in Jackson, Wyoming, that offers classes throughout the U.S. The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) shares a roundup of avalanche schools as well, including Maine’s Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School. Don’t live near a class provider? Check out avalanche basics here.

Learn to Backpack Properly

Backpacking is a little more than throwing a bunch of stuff into a bag and hitting the trail. Aim Adventure U has several online backpacking courses that include Backpacking 101, thru-hiking, ultralight backpacking, gear repair and other topics. REI offers backpacking classes at its locations nationwide, and The Mountaineers has an intensive Conditioning Hiking series in Seattle and Olympia, Washington.

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