Family camping with a tent in front of a lake.

REI expands partnership with NOLS to create two-day Wilderness Safety Training courses perfect for weekend warriors

Increasing access to wilderness education, REI and NOLS add 14 weekend courses, close to home

Aug 15, 2019

SEATTLE – REI Co-op and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) are launching a first-of-its-kind wilderness preparedness course offeringWilderness Safety Training to the general public. These programs allow students to benefit from NOLS field curriculum on a weekend timeframe, closer to home – ideal for all outdoor enthusiasts including 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)

For more information on the courses, including schedules and locations, visit

About NOLS

Established in 1965, NOLS is the leader in wilderness education. What began in a small cabin in Wyoming’s Wind River mountain range has evolved into a global, multifaceted non-profit school offering a proven leadership curriculum through expedition courses, wilderness medicine certifications, risk management training, and custom education solutions for organizations. Today, NOLS operates 16 campuses worldwide and provides classroom instruction in over 40 countries. The NOLS community includes over 800 active instructors who teach a variety of outdoor skills from mountaineering and sailing to wilderness medicine that empower students to step forward in their lives. To learn more about NOLS or to apply for a course, visit or call 800.710.6657 to speak to an advisor.

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 23 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. If you can’t visit one of our many stores, you can shop at, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. Everyone is welcome to shop REI, but members who join the co-op enjoy a range of benefits. More than a retailer, REI is a purpose-driven and values-led company dedicated to enabling life outside for all.