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Fri, May 10


Yellow River State Forest

Beginners Backpacking Bootcamp - Upper Iowa (May)

Have you ever wanted to backpack but weren't sure how to get started? This course is designed for anyone new to backpacking or anyone wanting to get out and explore in a social setting. Our goal is to ensure you gain the knowledge and confidence you need to backpack on your own or with a group.

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 Beginners Backpacking Bootcamp - Upper Iowa (May)
 Beginners Backpacking Bootcamp - Upper Iowa (May)

Time & Location

May 10, 2024, 4:00 PM – May 12, 2024, 2:00 PM

Yellow River State Forest, 729 State Forest Rd, Harpers Ferry, IA 52146, USA


About The Event

This event suits anyone in Class 1, 2, or 3. All levels of experience are welcome. Visit this page for an explanation of how we classify events.

Our guides are here to assist you if needed. Still, with multiple clients and safety in mind, If you are thinking about attending this event, we ask that you have a basic understanding of hiking and the outdoors and have the strength to carry a pack of up to 40 pounds in weight for up to 8 hours. Additionally, spending time outdoors affects everyone physically, spiritually, and emotionally differently. We know the outdoors helps people "heal" differently, but we ask that you consider that when registering for such outdoor excursions.

Event Details

Don't let the title of the event scare you off! This course is designed for inexperienced, new backpackers, but we have found that even those who have been backpacking for several years still find something to take away from this course. It is a great opportunity for those who would like to brush up on their backpacking skills, learn about new equipment, or test out new equipment in the safety of a group. You will be hiking and camping in beautiful backcountry settings during this event. Our primary goal is to help guests become confident, self-sufficient, and familiar with their gear while gaining the skills required to be safe and comfortable while backpacking.  

Our friendly, trail-wise staff will guide you through every step so that you can enjoy the rejuvenating spirit of the outdoors. Sign up with friends or by yourself. Either way, we guarantee you’ll leave the trip with a group of like-minded friends.

This event takes place over 2.5 days and starts on Friday. After you arrive and check in, there will be an informative 2-3 hour session when you'll learn how to select the right gear for your trip, food planning/selection, LNT principles,  proper packing, hygiene, water filtration, food storage (hanging a "bear bag"),. Experienced True North staff will also provide you with a "gear shakedown," where we recommend gear you may or may not need, reducing pack weight and making your experience more enjoyable.

Attendees will meet on Friday night at the group camp. We will be hiking approximately 13 miles from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon, stopping Saturday night to camp at a backcountry site. The terrain and trail we will be hiking may contain land features such as ledges, steep ascents/descents, and unstable wooden crossings, which can sometimes be strenuous. The trails may also be wet, slippery, muddy, and rocky. We will obtain water from local sources such as springs, streams, creeks, and rivers provided by True North.

Event Location

This event takes place in the Yellow River State Forest in northeast Iowa. It's the perfect location for a weekend getaway and is within 2-3 hours' driving distance from surrounding cities such as Minneapolis/St. Paul, Des Moines, Madison, Quad Cities, Chicago, and Milwaukee suburbs. The Yellow River State Forest is part of the "driftless area" that escaped the glaciers during the last ice age and consists of several scenic overlooks and river crossings. 


Meals are the responsibility of the attendee and should include dinner on Friday evening, all meals on Saturday, and breakfast on Sunday. Information regarding the types of meals we suggest while on the trial will be sent out before the event. If you have any questions regarding meals or types of food to bring, you can contact the event hosts at any time. 

Meal packages are available at $40.00 per day and include everything you need, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They will include protein/energy/meal replacement bars, jerky, nuts, a lunch meal, dehydrated backpacking meals, and a dessert. If you have special dietary needs, please let us know when selecting the "Meal Package" option during registration. Your meals will be waiting for you on the event day; add them to your pack! 


Members are responsible for obtaining their gear, or you can rent gear from True North by adding on the "Gear Rental" ticket option.

We suggest the following information as a basic guide in preparation for our event. If you are planning on purchasing gear and are unsure what to buy, please get in touch with us for guidance.

Required Gear

● Backpack (properly fitted) Typical pack for a 2-5 day outing is 40-60 liters.

● Sleeping bag

● Sleeping pad

● Tent

● Stove

● Cookware

● Trowel

● Small Compass

● Appropriate footwear (trail runners or boots)

● Water filter

● 25' of paracord (minimum)

● Individual First Aid Kit

● Headlamp (spare batteries)

● Rain Gear (poncho, Frog Toggs, rain suit)

● Toiletry Kit

● Fire starting kit

● Small knife

● Spare set of clothing

● Spare set of socks

● Appropriate backpacking meals for the length of the event

● Emergency blanket

● Hydration system or water bottles

● Whistle

● Quick Dry towel

● Biodegradable soap

● Personal Medications

Optional Items

● Trekking Poles

● Baselayer (inclement weather)

● Rain gear (inclement weather)

● Camp shoes (Crocs or similar)

● Insect repellent

● Earplugs

Rental Gear

Rental is available for an extra fee and includes the following:

-Osprey Backpack

-River Country Products 1 or 2-person tent

-North Face, Eureka, or Kelty Sleeping bag

-Thermarest sleeping pad

-UL Pillow  (fleece pillowcase you can stuff your extra clothes into)

-Jetboil Flash backpacking stove w/fuel

-Sawyer water filter



-Trekking Poles

-Dry Bag for food storage

Ticket Options


Admission for one person. You must obtain your gear. We will contact you with a list of required gear before the start of the trip.

Gear Rental Package-$140

This ticket includes gear rental for one person. We will contact you with a list of additional required gear before the trip starts.

Two-Day Meal Package-$80

This package includes all the food and snacks you will need for one day, including breakfast bars/breakfast meals, protein/energy/meal replacement bars, jerky, nuts, a lunch meal, a dehydrated backpacking meal, and a dessert.


All True North Expeditions staff are certified in First Aid/CPR, and every one of our events is led by a guide with a background in emergency medicine and a certified Wilderness First Aid instructor. Guides are experienced in wilderness and outdoor travel and are equipped with GPS and satellite phones during every portion of this event.

We ask that guests refrain from bringing alcohol, illegal drugs, or weapons of any kind (excluding a pocket knife for use on the trail).

Cancellation Policy

  • Cancellations made 14 days or more before the event date will receive a 50% refund. 
  • No refunds for cancellations made less than 14 days before the event exist.
  • We can not transfer your admission fee to another event or issue you a credit toward a future event.
  • If you can find someone to take your place, we can transfer your admission fee to another client ONE TIME only. If they cancel, they will not receive a refund for any portion of what the original client has already paid.
  • Please allow 5-7 business days for processing; we will notify you when the refund has been issued.

If you have purchased a meal package, no refunds for cancellations made less than 14 days before the event will be issued. A full refund will be issued for all cancellations made more than 14 days before the start of the event.

True North Expeditions, Inc. reserves the right to substitute the events listed in the description above due to inclement weather, availability, or other uncontrollable events. After registering, you will receive additional information via email. 

Leave No Trace:

We practice strong Leave No Trace ethics and are very in tune with preserving the areas we use. We are committed to supporting organizations that aid in these beliefs and practices.  Traveling with us ensures that during your experience, you will minimize the impact you leave on future generations.  We review LNT Principles at all of our Beginner Backpacking events, and we follow the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace on each of our events:

  • Plan ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

We encourage everyone to enroll in the free course on the Leave No Trace website:

Photo Credit: Nathan Harban 2023


  • 2-Day Meal Package

    This package includes everything you will need for 2 days including breakfast bars/breakfast meal, protein/energy/meal replacement bars, jerky, nuts, lunch meal, dehydrated backpacking meal, and a dessert.

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