WRFI students come from across the country and are expected to make their own travel arrangements. While WRFI’s Headquarters is located in Missoula, Montana and several of our courses begin and end in Missoula, a few courses begin and end in a different location; make sure you confirm your courses meeting location. We highly recommend that you arrive the day before your course officially begins and plan to leave the day after your course officially ends.
60 days before your course kicks off, we will send you a list of your fellow students and their contact information; when possible, we encourage students to share transportation to/from the course as well as accommodations the night before the course begins and the night the course ends. Students will receive additional travel information upon acceptance to WRFI.
WRFI is not able to provide transportation to and from airports and students are responsible for arranging their accommodations before and after their course. That said, you are more than welcome to reach out to us at WRFI Headquarters with questions and we are happy to provide recommendations!
Accepted students will receive a detailed equipment list outlining what gear and equipment WRFI provides and what you’ll need to bring. If you have questions about whether your uncle’s old backpack will suffice, or if your sleeping bag will be warm enough, or which notebooks to bring, feel free to get in touch with us here in the WRFI office, or better yet, reach out to one of the awesome alumni featured on the Ask an Alum section of the website. While WRFI doesn’t currently have gear available to rent (with the exception of bicycles for our cycling course), we love “talking shop” about gear and equipment, so please feel free to reach out with questions!
The majority of students arrive for the beginning of their course with their backpacking backpack and a second piece of luggage (a duffel bag or suitcase) for overflow and resupplies. You do not need to arrive to the first day of your course ready to hit the trail! In fact, your WRFI instructors will help you sort through all of your stuff on the first day of your course to make sure you have what you need- we call it the “Gear Explosion” part of our course orientation.
Each student will also be issued a Tupperware bin (approximately 2’ X 1’ X 1’) for additional storage in the trailers we tow behind our vans. WRFI will teach you how to pack your backpack for the trail and you’ll have a lot of opportunities to pack and re-pack until it feels right! In addition to their personal belongings, each student and the instructors will split up the group gear needed for the backcountry among the group.
Many brands of backpacking pack will enable your success on a WRFI course. If you are shopping for a new backpack, we recommend getting it professionally fitted to your body. You can educate yourself on this process using Osprey’s fitting guide.
WRFI has two vans and two trailers that we use for transportation on our courses. The trailers function as mobile storage units for the duration that students are on their course. In other words, while students are backpacking, they will leave their “town” clothes packed in the trailer and vice versa, while they are in town, their backpacking gear will be stored in the van until the next backpacking section begins. Students are also welcome to pack and store re-supply food, toiletries, and gear in the trailers while they’re on course.
Cell phones are allowed on WRFI courses. However, your instructors will outline policies for cell phone usage once you are in the field. In general, phone conversations and texting are not allowed when the group is together nor in the presence of guest speakers. We ask students to moderate their cell phone use and respect the fact that they are traveling as a member of a close-knit group.
Here at WRFI we love food and we’re confident you’ll be surprised by how much you love the meals we cook on course! All dinners are included in your tuition. WRFI does our best to purchase local and organic ingredients when possible. Additionally, our dinners are all vegetarian, mostly due to the fact that meats are typically perishable and difficult to store on a field course. Students are more than welcome to bring preserved meats with them to add to their dinners and/or to include in their breakfast or lunch meals. Students are responsible for planning and purchasing food for their breakfasts and lunches and will have the opportunity to re-supply food for breakfast and lunch throughout the course.
Food planning can be an overwhelming process! Upon acceptance, students receive a detailed document designed to help plan meals. Please arrive to the beginning of your course with approximately ten days worth of breakfast and lunch food- your instructors will provide you with more specific specifications before your course begins. In general, WRFI is happy to accommodate various food preferences and restrictions. Please inform the WRFI office of any special dietary requirements and we can discuss how best to keep you healthy and well-nourished while you’re on course!
Maintaining a healthy level of hygiene in a backcountry setting is critical to your well-being while on a field course. During your course orientation your instructors will teach you the skills associated with managing solid waste, urination, and menstruation while on course. You may find that your body functions a bit differently on a field course due to changes in food and daily exertion. Typically, student’s find that their bodies re-calibrate and become accustomed to managing their hygiene very quickly.
The reading materials for each WRFI course are compiled by WRFI’s instructors during the months leading up to the course. Course readers include journal articles, book chapters, newspaper articles, and other materials relevant to the course content; entire texts may also be assigned depending on the course. A few weeks before the start date for a course, students can expect to receive an email from their instructors with detailed directions for printing and preparing their course readers. Students are expected to arrive to the first day of their course with their readers printed and bound. In addition to readers, each course brings a “library” of additional resources into the field.
WRFI’s Policies: WRFI students are required to sign a “Code of Conduct” agreement in order to participate on a WRFI course; the agreement details WRFI’s policies in regards to safety, alcohol and recreational drug use, sexual harassment, inappropriate or disparaging commentary, persistent behavioral issues, and adherence to minimal environmental impact protocols. WRFI takes this agreement very seriously; violation of any of the codes outlined in this document may result in expulsion from a WRFI course, without a refund or allocation of academic credits.