Outdoor Fundamentals: Everything You Need to Know to Stay Safe

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good info for starting out interest in camping hiking etc
Date published: 2020-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Course - Enjoyed! I learned a lot about living in the outdoors and all the rules and "good style" that is expected today. Interesting lectures and now I'm reading a book she recommended "Backpackin' Book".
Date published: 2020-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting and fun at the same 5 Great introduction to a wide variety of outdoor skills. Very interesting and informative. The professor kept my attention throughout and did a great job interjecting person stories adding a level of realism.
Date published: 2020-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Presentation and Learning Scope Kudos to Professor Andre. It is obvious that she is experienced and knowledgeable on this topic. This course covers the wide gamut of material and scope that you would expect for the subject of Outdoor Fundamentals. I assure anyone who takes this course that you will learn something. Excellent presentation and although there is always room for more coverage on any one topic, the summaries are well thought out and planned for. This will make a good resource for future use and I especially appreciated the reference at the end of each chapter "Suggested Reading".
Date published: 2020-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Useful Course! This is a good course to take before setting outdoors.
Date published: 2020-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent A thoroughly enjoyable and informative course. Prof Andre has a lovely manner, and is a pleasure to watch. She clearly has a deep passion for the subject and brings it to life well. Several anecdotes spice up the messages and drive home many important points. As with all of The Great Course, things are unsurprisingly USA-centric, but for fans of TGC like me, some of whom may live, or travel in the Southern Hemisphere, it is important to mention that the sun would feature in the northern, and not southern, sky. This was the only comment I can raise but it is not really only specific to this course, but TGC generally. This set of lectures was excellent for anyone who wants to venture out and avoid the pitfalls. Thankyou.
Date published: 2020-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great information Very useful. Clear, concise information. Great instructor.
Date published: 2020-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course from a Very Knowledgeable Person My wife and I have enjoyed the “Outdoor Fundamentals” lectures and learned so much. Elizabeth has a wealth of experience and shares her considerable knowledge in a pleasant manner with a great sense of humor. The balance of lecture, pictures, and video clips is just right to allow us to enjoy our time watching ‘Outdoor Fundamentals.’
Date published: 2020-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learned a lot! I bought this course to learn some things about camping as my daughter is trying to earn a badge in camping that requires 12 nights of camping. Although I enjoy the outdoors, I have very limited knowledge of camping and was relying completely on other adults in our troop. I have learned lots, and I feel much more confident about safely meeting the 12 night requirement. My 13 year old daughter has been watching the program and she has also found it very useful. In case anybody is using the course with their children, I want to give a warning about lecture 18 on hygiene: There is an extended section about UTI and other female infections starting at (16:40). There is an statement made about the need to clean oneself after intercourse in the back country (18:30). It is short and matter of fact. Douching, yeast and vaginitis are also mentioned. There is also an explanation of how to handle the waste of menstruation, including the option using an IUD to avoid having a period at al (24:20). A picture of an IUD with a brand name is on screen for a few moments. It is one paragraph in the guidebook. I ordered the streaming only, so the guidebook is only provided as a PDF. I do wish that I had bought the DVDs so that I could have had a hard copy of the guidebook for reference.
Date published: 2020-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Resource With our schools closed, I had to provide online course work and this course is a great resource for my students.
Date published: 2020-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Updated info on Camping. Very interesting approach with up to date ideas for safe and successful camping trips.
Date published: 2020-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Well Done Outdoor Fundamentals Course I really enjoyed this course. I am not a novice to the outdoors yet I still learned a lot. The instructor is very pleasant and almost fun to listen to. Would have liked more detail on camp knots but there are books for this. Will have my grandkids watch the video and hope they will get the outdoor bug too.
Date published: 2020-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well developed syllabus I spent all my spare time outdoors. Have done so since childhood. Consider myself knowledgeable in the many moods of mother nature. Take these lessons to heart and the student will avoid many of the uncomfortable unanticipated experiences that the outdoors can and will throw your way.
Date published: 2020-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive overview Covers all the topics of back country adventuring on a basic to moderate skill level. Professor Andre gave examples/vignettes of each topic and recommended resources for more advanced training if desired. I learned at least one tip from each session.
Date published: 2020-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sign me up for a hike! Wonderfully presented, thorough, lots of camping hacks, great knot tying section, this is a winner.
Date published: 2020-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course. The instructor is very knowledgeable. I'm about halfway with this course and enjoying it.
Date published: 2019-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Tips! I have camped quite a bit over the years and so some of the information was old hat to me but the compass guides and the suggestions on what to do if lost were the best. I bought 3 more DVD sets of this for family members for Christmas. Thank you.
Date published: 2019-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent While I’m not into wilderness trips, I still found the course interesting, useful, and enjoyable. I particularly like the information about clothing, navigation, weather, emergencies, decision making, and nature appreciation. The instructor is very knowledgeable, and is open to having others learn from her mistakes.
Date published: 2019-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Helpful Got back into the outdoors and this was a great refresher along with more advanced topics. Very worthwhile.
Date published: 2019-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course Very effective presentation of useful information, well illustrated, nicely paced.
Date published: 2019-12-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good intro for beginner/refresher for experienced My background to provide context: I’m an intermediate skilled backpacker, age 62. I’ve section-hiked the Appalachian Trail from the Delaware Water Gap (PA/NJ border), northward about 80 miles into Maine, 60 miles in and around the Grand Canyon, and various shorter day and week-end hikes over the past 10 years (about 1000 miles.) Normally I’ll go out for 50 to 160 miles on the longer trips. This is an interesting series of lectures for anyone venturing out into the back-country, and addresses a wide range of topics. It achieves a good balance between breadth and depth in going into the subject matter, given the length of the course. (A full in-depth class on many of the topics, such as first aid, hygiene, kayaking, and navigating, could be courses all of their own.) For me it was a good combination of confirming what I was doing right, bringing “improvement areas” to my attention, and briefly exposing me to activities I normally don’t participate in (such as canoeing/kayaking, and winter hiking.) When Dr. Andre used examples about areas that I am familiar with (such as Glastonbury Mountain in Vermont, Speck Mountain in Maine, and parts of the Presidential Range, all of which I happened to have hiked this year), the examples were accurate representations of these areas. And sadly, I was in Maine hiking in the same vicinity as the hiker who went missing a few years ago when they were looking for her. For beginners it gives a good overview of what to expect and what is reasonable to attempt. If there was a topic that was lacking it is on the physical conditioning required when attempting these activities. This is probably less of a concern with college students; for anyone a bit older (I’d say over 40) who is venturing out for the first time, suggestions for how to condition oneself before undertaking such activities would be helpful. I have seen many hikers in over their heads out in the back country as far as physical conditioning goes and in the past even I have had to cut hikes shorter than planned when my physical condition was not up to it. Perhaps this could be part of a follow-up course.
Date published: 2019-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great features! I bought this to add to my information about the subject. The author is quite knowledgeable. She has the experience to provide new insights to anyone wishing to recreate outdoors. The course is excellent!
Date published: 2019-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What We All Need to Know! I loved these videos and the handbook that came with them. Even though I’ve been tripping in the backcountry for over 50 years and have degree from Northland College in Outdoor Education, I enjoyed important reminders, affirmations, the science behind my outdoor practices, and some new tips and supplies to make my time outdoors safer and more comfortable. I have asked my local public library to order the course and will be sharing my coly with lots of outdoor enthusiasts and the curious.
Date published: 2019-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this course! I haven't canoed in the back country in nearly 15 years, but this course has inspired me to dust off the old gear and try again at age 61. Professor Andre obviously has a passion for the subject and has most definitely "walked the walk" (or paddled the paddle, I suppose...) I highly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in getting outside and away from the city.
Date published: 2019-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outdoor Fundamentals Good information, well organized, presenter does a good job delivering info. Been a long time since I have backpacked, needed a refresher. Happy with my purchase.
Date published: 2019-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extremely Useful I was impressed. I have taken a number of courses and read numerous books over the years, as well as backpacked and car camped for over 30 years. I found this course to be packed with practical and accurate information, based on the instructors years of experience. I have recommended it to several of my friends.
Date published: 2019-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course! I really enjoyed this course. Professor Andre is extremely knowledgeable and very down to Earth. Her presentation was great, professional, and top notch. The course was well-designed and catered to both "expert" and "novice" campers alike. My favorite lectures turned out to be the ones on assessing risks and emotions that affect decisions. I thought they were so good that I grabbed my son and asked him to re-watch those lessons with me. The information Professor Andre presents applies not only to camping, but to life in general. How many times in camping (and life) are we convinced to do something because we are accompanied by an "expert?" With stomachs churning, we often rely on technology or an "expert" to do things we wouldn't ordinarily do and only realize too late that we hadn't really thought through the risks. She mentions the fantastic and haunting book, Into Thin Air, and the dangers that are inherent in the risks we take. There was also a great introduction to Topographical map and Compass work, wilderness first aid, weather patterns, and great advice about dealing with lighting and thunder storms. I really found all the discussions very helpful. This course is something I'll re-watch every year before my family's annual camping trip. Great job, Professor Andre. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
Date published: 2019-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So much useful information! Very clear presentation. Useful before planning and buying items for a trip. It made me think about things I had not considered. I really appreciated the lecture on how emotions affect our decisions. The info about water purification is very helpful plus so many other little tidbits along the way! I highly recommend this!
Date published: 2019-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from outdoor fondamental I enjoy this course, it touch much more then they advertise. At the moment you go outside you learn to protect yourself from the weather, from insects, how to dress for the outdoor for the season and even first aid.
Date published: 2019-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exactly what I needed. This course is a very good general coverage of a lot of outdoor safety and smart practices. I found it enjoyable and clear. I will review much of it again.
Date published: 2019-08-10
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Outdoor Fundamentals: Everything You Need to Know to Stay Safe
Course Trailer
The Call of the Wild
1: The Call of the Wild

We often think of “roughing it” in the outdoors—testing our mettle against the forces of nature and depriving ourselves of creature comforts. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this introductory lecture, explore some of the many reasons to venture into the great outdoors. Find out how, instead of “roughing it,” you can “smooth it.”

31 min
Backpacking and Trip Planning
2: Backpacking and Trip Planning

A backpacking trip can be profoundly enjoyable, provided you plan ahead and pack a few necessities (and leave a few non-essentials at home). Learn how to stay hydrated, eat well, take care of your skin, and protect your feet on the trail. Gain a few safety tips for traveling in a group.

29 min
Canoe or Sea-Kayak Camping
3: Canoe or Sea-Kayak Camping

Glide into the backcountry or open ocean—in style! Paddling is one of the most serene ways to enjoy the natural world, but there are a few perils that come with canoeing or kayaking. From battling waves and weather to staying warm in cool waters, learn how to take on the world’s oceans, lakes, and rivers.

30 min
Campcraft: Selecting and Organizing Gear
4: Campcraft: Selecting and Organizing Gear

You don't have to spend much time with outdoor enthusiasts to learn it's all about the gear. From high-tech creature comforts to lightweight innovations, there's no shortage of ways to outfit your next overnight. What do you really need? How do you balance weight versus convenience? Start building your system of gear in this practical lecture.

28 min
Clothing and Footwear for Outdoor Adventure
5: Clothing and Footwear for Outdoor Adventure

Investigate the world of shell layers, synthetic materials, insulation, and ankle support to help you maintain a comfortable body temperature, manage moisture, and protect your skin. Whether it's a multi-day snow hike or car camping in the desert, Professor Andre shows you how to select just the right clothing and footwear for your next outdoor excursion.

25 min
Basics for Wilderness Safety
6: Basics for Wilderness Safety

Lions, tigers, and bears … well, your wilderness adventure might not bring you in contact with a tiger, but plenty of other risks abound, from snakes to stinging insects to, yes, black bears and mountain lions. See what it takes to stay safe on the trail, and how to stay healthy while you’re off the grid.

26 min
Weather Forecasting and Moon Phases
7: Weather Forecasting and Moon Phases

Cold fronts and warm fronts are more than meteorological mumbo jumbo. With a little training, you can look at cloud patterns and know whether rain is on the way—and what type of storm to expect. As you dig into the fascinating world of weather patterns, you’ll learn how to survive lightning, floods, tornadoes, and more.

26 min
Introduction to Navigation
8: Introduction to Navigation

For most of us accustomed to GPS directions and well-marked streets, it can be frighteningly easy to get lost in the woods. In this lecture, engage your senses—sight, sound, smell, and feel—to build mental maps of your surroundings. Find out how to measure time and distance on the trail.

26 min
Navigating with Topographic Maps
9: Navigating with Topographic Maps

Topographic maps tell you a great deal about the terrain—details that don’t much matter in the civilized world. Professor Andre teaches you how to read these helpful maps, and then she shows you how to use a compass in sync with your topographic map. With a little practice on the trail or on the river, you may never get lost again.

29 min
Assessing and Managing Risk in the Outdoors
10: Assessing and Managing Risk in the Outdoors

Risk management affects every aspect of our lives, but it’s especially critical when you don’t have instant access to shelter, medical supplies, and 911. Unpack the nature and likelihood of various risks in the outdoors, as well as our own cognitive biases, so you can make better—safer—decisions on the trail and off.

26 min
How Emotions Affect Your Decision Making
11: How Emotions Affect Your Decision Making

Life might be much simpler if we were all rational beings who always made highly calculated decisions. Alas, humans are emotional beings, and we make many of our most important decisions by feel rather than by thought. Learn to make better decisions by examining your emotions at play in the great outdoors.

27 min
Selecting a Campsite and Pitching Shelter
12: Selecting a Campsite and Pitching Shelter

As anyone who does it regularly knows, camping is fun. But to make the most of it, you’ll want to set up a good campsite. Find out what makes a good campsite and how to set up a tarp or tent to keep you dry and cozy. This lecture comes with a special “bonus instruction” on tying knots to help you secure a tarp.

34 min
Outdoor Kitchen Setup and Safety
13: Outdoor Kitchen Setup and Safety

Your campsite might not be a gourmet kitchen with all the amenities, but with a few adjustments to your cooking regimen, you can cook some amazing meals outdoors. Survey the best way to set up your campsite kitchen, the basics of stove safety, and how to keep your hands and dishes clean.

25 min
Building a Campfire
14: Building a Campfire

Storytelling by a campfire is one of life’s most enjoyable activities—and it’s as old as humanity itself. But building a good fire can separate the amateurs from the pros at the campsite. From gathering tinder to establishing a bed of coals, see what it takes to construct a good fire in the wild.

26 min
Safe Drinking Water in the Wilderness
15: Safe Drinking Water in the Wilderness

If you’re out in the backcountry for more than a day, you’re going to need to treat water to. Make it safe for drinking—removing sediment, bacteria, and other microorganisms that might make you sick. Reflect on your different options for filtering or purifying water, from boiling to chemical treatments, and the pros and cons of each.

27 min
Outdoor Menu Planning and Cooking
16: Outdoor Menu Planning and Cooking

Humans survived for millennia without refrigeration, but enjoying a good meal on the trail requires a few adjustments to our modern lifestyle. You'll want to triangulate your daily calorie needs, the weight of your gear, and the taste of your food. Examine the range of options available for your next trip to the wild.

28 min
Minimizing Your Impact on the Wilderness
17: Minimizing Your Impact on the Wilderness

Nothing spoils an outdoor adventure faster than stumbling onto a messy campsite or a vandalized forest. Minimizing your impact in the backcountry is part of an unwritten code of courtesy for enjoying the wild. Learn the major principles for being a good steward of the wilderness.

27 min
Hygiene on a Camping Trip
18: Hygiene on a Camping Trip

Germs exist in the wild same as they do in civilization, but without running hot water it can be a challenge to keep yourself clean. From shoes to camp soap to disposable wipes, see what gear you can bring and what steps you should take to mitigate the spread of disease. Your body, and your camp mates, will thank you.

26 min
Wilderness First Aid: Handling Emergencies
19: Wilderness First Aid: Handling Emergencies

It’s a good idea for everyone to have at least a basic understanding of wilderness first aid. The “wait-and-see” approach we might take in the front country could be deadly in the backcountry. In this first of two lectures, learn about first aid for the “big three”: circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems.

32 min
Wilderness First Aid: Nonemergency Care
20: Wilderness First Aid: Nonemergency Care

Continue your study of wilderness first aid with a look beyond the “big three” life-threatening concerns. Find out how to make a splint for an injured limb, how to treat an open wound, what to do for burns, and more. Learn a few guidelines for when to hike out and when to call for help.

29 min
Navigating with a Compass
21: Navigating with a Compass

A compass is one of the most useful tools on the trip, but only if you know how to use it. See how to get your bearings and travel off trail or over open water with the aid of a compass. Then, travel with Professor Andre to the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota to practice your navigation skills.

27 min
What to Do When You’re Lost
22: What to Do When You’re Lost

Getting lost is one of the easiest things to do in the backcountry. Perhaps you wander off the trail to gather firewood, or perhaps you stop paying attention to your map and compass. Whatever the reason, you find yourself lost. What should you do? Keep moving? Call for help? Build a shelter? Learn the do's and don'ts in this insightful lecture.

28 min
Maintaining and Repairing Your Gear
23: Maintaining and Repairing Your Gear

The right gear makes all the difference in the wild, but only if you take care of it between expeditions. Even the most avid outdoor enthusiasts may neglect to wash their sleeping bags or shake out their tents after a long stint in the bush. Here, Professor Andre offers a checklist of common gear ailments and how to prevent them.

26 min
Connecting to the Wild within You
24: Connecting to the Wild within You

Preparation and caution are important for venturing into the wild, but your outdoor experience is about more than following a checklist and staying hydrated. Whether on water or land, getting outdoors can be breath-taking, as this final lecture makes clear. Now, get ready for your own next adventure!

31 min
Elizabeth K. Andre


Northland College


University of Minnesota

About Elizabeth K. Andre

Elizabeth K. Andre is an Associate Professor of Nature and Culture in the Outdoor Education Department at Northland College, an environmental liberal arts college on the South Shore of Lake Superior. She earned her MA in Outdoor Education from Griffith University in Australia and her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction of Science and Environmental Education from the University of Minnesota. She served for four years on the board of the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE), including one year as president. She is also an associate editor of the Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership.

Dr. Andre has led more than 2,000 days of wilderness expeditions, field courses, and outdoor training in backpacking, mountaineering, climbing, canoeing, kayaking, ski touring, and dogsledding. Before working at Northland, she instructed field courses for Outward Bound in Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Maryland, Canada, Costa Rica, and the Austrian and Italian Alps, as well as for the Wild Rockies Field Institute in Utah and Texas. She also served on a technical rescue team based in the White Mountains of Maine.

Dr. Andre is a level-4 whitewater canoe instructor for the American Canoe Association and competes frequently at the Open Canoe Slalom North American Championships, where she has won medals in both solo and tandem races. As a consultant for the Outdoor Safety Institute, she conducts safety reviews of summer camp paddling programs and serves as an expert witness for paddling and river-related litigation.

Dr. Andre worked for two years with National Geographic explorer Will Steger to plan and execute a three-month dogsled expedition in 2007 across Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic to raise climate change awareness. She published a curriculum to support the expedition and joined the expedition team as the education coordinator, sending daily dispatches from the ice to classrooms around the world. Dr. Andre wrote additional curricula to support Steger’s 2008 expedition to Ellesmere Island, Steger’s 2009 youth contingent to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, and National Geographic explorer Jon Bowermaster’s Antarctic expedition of his OCEANS 8 project.

Dr. Andre has won the Northland College faculty award for teaching and has been the keynote speaker for numerous conferences, including the Outdoor Orientation Program Symposium; the Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming and Environmental Education gathering; the Midwest Environmental Education Conference; the AORE Women’s Leadership and Mentor Institute; and the Student Outdoor Educators Conference. She has also published several chapters in textbooks on outdoor education and environmental philosophy.

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