Pining for your next big adventure? Waiting to embark on a trip is tough, but it’s also an opportunity in disguise: Now’s a great time to learn some new skills before you venture into the wilderness, and outdoor skills schools are an ideal way to do just that.
Here, we’ve highlighted five outdoor skills schools that allow you to learn online (perfect for when you’re stuck at home because of a pandemic). Become a virtuoso at tying knots, identifying birds, planning trips, surviving unexpected wilderness scenarios, and much more—all from the comfort of your couch.
Crux Academy distills the knowledge of decorated outdoor athletes and icons into immersive courses accessible through a subscription or by enrolling in a single class. Topics include rock climbing and bouldering, adventure trip planning, fly fishing, public lands education, backcountry skiing, and more (all taught be experts in each field, of course).
As the platform grows, look for more courses on skiing, snowboarding, avalanche awareness, mountain biking, climate activism, and beyond. Plus, the school is dedicated to environmental stewardship: One percent of all sales go directly to environmental organizations like Protect Our Winters and the Honnold Foundation.
[$49 for one course or $10 per month for a subscription; crux.academy]
You could spend all day perusing this extensive catalogue of all kinds of knots, which comes complete with animations, step-by-step instructions, explanations of uses, and more. Knots are categorized by activity and type, from basic to hitches to end loops. Grab some rope and attempt the Alpine Butterfly Bend for climbing and boating, the Flemish Flake Coil for temporarily stowing a rope’s end, the Timber Hitch for towing a log, or the Tree Swing for putting up a swing in your backyard.
And once you’re attending parties again and need a quick refresher on how to fasten a bowtie, Animated Knots has videos for that, too.
Steal Jimmy Chin’s photography beta and Jeremy Jones’s snowboarding techniques through ROAM Media’s new online training academy, which has courses geared toward all skill levels. The Colorado-based media startup brings together the world’s best athletes and offers over 20 hours of curriculum focused on climbing, biking, camping, surfing, skiing, photography, and more.
A $149 annual membership includes hours of ROAM’s original shows, mini-documentaries, and podcasts; it also grants you access to special events, too.
[$15 per month or a one-time annual fee of $149; roammedia.com]
Campcraft Outdoors will prepare you for the worst-case scenario with virtual classes built around three main pillars: bushcraft hygiene and first aid, winter survival, and wilderness survival. These classes will help you sharpen your competency in areas like knife and tool handling, compass navigation, winter shelter construction, splinting injuries, and more. Before signing up, you can sample the material through a free field reports and book package.
[From $49; campcraftoutdoors.com]
The Cornell Lab Bird Academy
Take your casual bird-watching to the next level by enrolling in Bird Academy, curated by the experts at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Self-paced courses include bird photography, duck and waterfowl identification, field sketching, and understanding bird behavior, all taught by professionals from each specialty.
The course catalog is easy to browse by your skill level, category, and the time it takes to complete the lesson (anywhere from one hour to 100+ hours). The school also archives brief introductory videos as well as hour-long lectures and webinars in a virtual library that you can access for free at any time.
[Prices vary by course; academy.allaboutbirds.org]