Outdoor Skills

Course Overview & Purpose

The normal mission of a search & rescue team is to perform the LAST function; to Locate, Access, Stabilize and/or Transport persons from an activity in an outdoor, non-urban setting. The lost (or injured) person's ability to survive the experience is often dependent on his or her ability to make the right choices and decisions during, and sometimes before, their "encounter with nature". 

The goal of this course is to make you aware of the nature of these choices and situations, and to develop the skills and knowledge needed for you to survive unassisted for 72 hours in most outdoor situations in California.  A secondary goal is to introduce you to the search & rescue processes and procedures as followed in California, and the actions expected of you as a search & rescue "ground pounder" during a wilderness operation.

In any type of major disaster or emergency, it is likely that many of life's normal comforts and amenities will be lacking, and that you and your family must be prepared to be self-sufficient for a period of time during the early days of the event. Because Outdoor Skills is designed to acquaint you with these issues and to prepare you to prepare for, and work through situations that arise, it can help you to become a survivor and to act as a lifeline for others around you in times of need.

When & Where

Please see our training calendar.

Training Cal-ESAR.org



  1. Complete Intro Night Forms and
    1. email the scanned copies to records@cal-esar.org (much preferred) OR
    2. bring the signed, completed copies to Outdoor Skills
  2. Pay training fees by the start of this course.

Skills Emphasized

  • Shelter building and site selection (tarps, rope and stakes provided)
  • Fire building
  • Clothing care & selection
  • Food selection, storage, preparation & transport
  • Elements of a SAR base camp
  • Radio fundamentals
  • Basic navigation techniques
  • Beginning SAR techniques (hasty search and carry-out)
  • Personal sanitation
  • Minimum impact camping
  • Basic knots
  • "Rule of 3s" and Survival priorities
  • Important Plants (Friend and Foe)

Equipment List For Outdoor Skills 

  • Boots/Hiking Shoes
  • Day Pack / Book Bag
  • Sleeping Pad / Bag
  • Clothes appropriate for cold-weather hiking and potential rain, such as rain jacket/poncho, sweatshirt, jacket, 2+ pairs of socks (wool or synthetic preferred), 2+ T-shirts, long sleeved shirt, 2 pair pants (1 light/1 heavy), belt.
    • Note: Many light layers of clothes are preferred to a few layers of heavy clothing.
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, soap
  • Personal Meds (if needed)
  • Sturdy bowl, cup, and spoon. Pocket knife optional but recommended.
  • Enough food for two lunches and snacks. Lunches should be able to be eaten on the go, and require no refrigeration. Dinner and breakfast will be provided.
    • If you already have a backpacking stove, feel free to bring it along and use it, meals will be a group activity and will be a good opportunity for everyone to share ideas and demo equipment and techniques.

  • At least two filled 1 liter bottles of water and/or CamelBack-style bladder.
  • Headlamp, or small flashlight.
  • Extra items:
    • Wool or Synthetic  Stocking Cap or Balaclava
    • Chapstick
    • Sunglasses
    • Sunscreen
    • Neckerchief and/or Microfiber Towel
    • Small bottle of hand sanitizer (.5, 1 or 2 oz bottle size is fine)
    • Roll of Camping/Travel TP (in a zip lock), such as Charmin To Go or equivalent.  This location has permanent restrooms, but Be Prepared!

Misc helpfull links

Boot Lacing tips (Thanks Scott Yacko)

Ham radio License- Want to get you ham radio license? Here's a link to find test exam locations and dates

    Guest and Pet Policy

    This weekend is a training weekend for members of Cal-ESAR. Pets or non-registered guests (e.g. siblings, significant others, friends) will detract from the training and cannot attend the weekend. Sorry, this is a matter of liability and unit policy.


    Click here to login to the Trainer's Site and gain access to training materials and course notes.  If you have access problems, let us know!