Outdoor classes and day trips during COVID-19

The health and well-being of our guests, our guides and the communities we visit is always our top priority. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we've worked tirelessly to enhance the health & safety precautions for every REI class, day trip and event.

Updated May 13, 2022

Our policies are based on guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Based on current CDC masking guidance, REI employees are required—and customers are encouraged—to wear masks while indoors in counties designated as high COVID-19 Community Level by the CDC. Masks are optional indoors in areas with low or medium COVID-19 Community Levels. We will continue to require customers and employees to wear masks when in transportation, in alignment with CDC transportation recommendations..

See below for participation requirements.

Vaccination & Testing Policy

Based on updated CDC guidance on activities taking place entirely outdoors, REI has removed its vaccination and testing policy for our day outdoor classes and trips, and single-night overnight programming. Any Wilderness Medicine course with NOLS and REI continues to require proof of vaccination. A negative COVID-19 test will not be accepted.

Health & Safety Protocols

Health assessment

Participants, guides, and instructors are asked to perform a health screening prior to the event, evaluating any possible COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. On the day of the event, participants will again be asked about any symptoms or exposure and may have their temperatures checked. We also require all employees to complete a health check for COVID-19 symptoms before each shift and to stay home if they feel unwell.

Face coverings

For the safety of our guests, guides and instructors, CDC-recommended face coverings will be required at various times throughout each experience. Fully vaccinated guests will still need to mask up in certain situations. While being worn, all face coverings must fully cover the nose and mouth. Face coverings made of mesh or other loosely knit fabric are not permitted.

Sanitized vehicles and equipment

In our vehicles, high-touch surfaces are sanitized frequently during the trip, and the entire vehicle gets disinfected between groups. Gear and equipment intended to be used by one person for the duration of the event will be issued on an individual basis. Everything gets cleaned and disinfected after each event, or will be regularly sanitized throughout, depending on its use.


For overnight trips, tents will be assigned for the duration of each trip and cleaned upon their return. Solo travelers interested in our “single, willing to share” option must provide proof of vaccination.

Contact tracing

If REI is notified that a member of a program tested positive for COVID-19 we will follow CDC guidelines and contact all participants.

Social Distancing

Small group sizes

REI classes and day trips have always been designed for smaller groups. Because of the pandemic, we are also offering private group bookings.

Our Wilderness Medicine courses with NOLS have a maximum class size of 30 people. Class time is spent indoors and out, often within 6 feet of other students. NOLS supplies KN-95 masks for all participants to wear during class.


While inside REI vehicles, we require masks for all guests in accordance with CDC and local health guidelines. We will gladly provide a clean mask in case you forget your own.


Yes. To participate in any of our Wilderness Medicine courses, per NOLS policy, you must be fully vaccinated. Participants must provide proof of vaccination to NOLS faculty upon arrival to the course. There is not an option to test in lieu of vaccination, so a negative test result will not be accepted. On a case-by-case basis, NOLS may make accommodations for students with federally protected status or a medical condition. Inquire with NOLS directly via wilderness_medicine@nols.edu at least seven days prior to the course you plan to attend. Click here to view the NOLS Wilderness Medicine COVID-19 Disclosure and Vaccination Policy.

Our knowledgeable guides offer field-tested backpacking advice and introduce you to the history, flora and fauna of the Smokies.