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Can you acquire wilderness skills through online courses or distance learning courses?

Virtual wilderness training courses are booming. But do you really get to know nature on the screen? What to look out for when taking online courses.

from Martin Gebhardt | Bushcraft | no comment yet | reading time 8 Min
Updated on 05 April 2024 3.296 views 100% found this guide helpful
Can you acquire wilderness skills through online courses or distance learning courses?

Martin Gebhardt

From Martin Gebhardt. Check out my “About me” page.


👉 The key facts from this guide

  • Online courses offer flexibility and access to expert knowledge
  • Practical experience is important to master wilderness skills
  • Choose high-quality courses from reputable providers
  • Interact with other participants for motivation and exchange
  • Practice a lot to be able to apply what you have learned
  • Online courses are often much cheaper than in-person courses

As an outdoor enthusiast and experienced nature lover, I often find myself exploring the wilderness.

I love the feeling of freedom and independence that one experiences in nature.

But can you acquire wilderness skills through online courses?

This question has been occupying me for some time, and I have been searching for answers.

Traditionally, these skills were passed down through practical experience and learning from experienced mentors.

However, with the advent of the internet and online education, new opportunities have emerged.

In this article, we will examine whether and how one can acquire wilderness skills through online courses and the advantages and disadvantages this entails.

Can you acquire wilderness skills through online courses?

To give you the answer right away:

"Yes, you can also acquire wilderness skills through online courses."

I still remember my first course that I bought. I was thrilled by how flexible it made me.

In addition, the online survival course was much cheaper than an in-person course.

Then there were further courses, such as tanning animal hides to make leather, a course on species study, a nature photography course, or a course with Paul Kirtley.

What I noticed:

There are advantages and disadvantages of an online course, such as the personal contact with mentors or teachers. But also the contact with other participants is great.

Together in the forest: Where conversations go deeper
Together in the forest: Where conversations go deeper

But can't an online course also represent that?

The fact is: The internet offers various online courses and resources that allow you to acquire practical skills without having to be physically present at a location.

Online courses for outdoor skills have become increasingly popular recently - especially during the time of Corona.

There are now numerous offers on the internet for wilderness skills as well. Whether it's wilderness courses online or wilderness distance learning courses online - the possibilities are diverse.

There are online courses that are specifically focused on wilderness skills such as fire making, navigation in nature, recognizing edible plants, and survival techniques.

Creating fire with a spark: Making fire is an art
Creating fire with a spark: Making fire is an art

These courses offer theoretical knowledge, practical instructions, and often interactive elements such as quiz questions and discussion forums to apply what has been learned and interact with other learners.

Let's now take a look at the benefits of online courses.

Advantages of Online Courses for Learning Wilderness Skills

The use of online courses for learning wilderness skills offers several advantages:

  1. Flexibility: Online courses allow learners to create their own schedule and learn at their pace. This is particularly beneficial for people who are working or have other commitments that do not allow them to attend physical classes.

  2. Accessibility: Online courses are accessible to anyone with internet access. This means that people all over the world have access to high-quality courses, regardless of their location. This opens up new opportunities for people living in rural areas or remote regions. Long commutes are also eliminated.

  3. Diversity of resources: Online courses offer various resources such as videos, texts, images, and interactive exercises. This allows learners to learn in different ways and internalize the material in different ways.

  4. Expert knowledge: Many online courses are taught by experts in their field. This means that learners can learn from highly qualified professionals and benefit from their experience and expertise.

  5. Affordability: Overall, online courses are often cheaper than in-person courses because there is no need to pay for seats, accommodations, meals, or materials. Travel costs are also eliminated.
  6. Individual learning pace: Everyone can learn at their pace, take breaks whenever they want, and review content as typically as they like.

  7. Repetitive learning: Online courses allow for the repetition of specific content and lessons as many times as desired to reinforce learning.

From the forest cabin to the online classroom: make wilderness knowledge accessible anywhere
From the forest cabin to the online classroom: make wilderness knowledge accessible anywhere

Disadvantages of Online Courses for Learning Wilderness Skills

Although online courses offer many advantages, there are also some disadvantages that you should consider:

  1. Possible lack of practical experience: Online courses can provide theoretical knowledge, but they often cannot offer the same practical experience as physical courses. If an online course does not offer practical exercises in the real world, it often remains limited to theory.

  2. Possible lack of direct feedback: It can be difficult to receive direct feedback from a teacher or mentor in online courses. This can make it challenging to identify and correct mistakes or ask specific questions.

  3. Dependency on technology: Online courses require a reliable internet connection and access to a computer or other device. This can be a challenge for people in remote areas or with limited access to technology.

  4. Limitations in practical exercises: Some wilderness skills require special equipment or physical locations (such as a forest or a lake) that may not be available online. This can prevent learners from fully mastering certain skills.

  5. Lack of social interaction: The social exchange and group dynamics of an in-person learning group can be difficult to simulate online.

  6. Motivation can be harder to maintain: Without a fixed learning group and teacher, it can be difficult to self-motivate and stay on track.

  7. Realistic expectations may be lacking: Online courses can create false expectations about the reality of the wilderness when the on-site experience is missing.

  8. The natural environment is missing: Learning wilderness skills in the actual outdoors with all its uncertainties is only partially possible through a screen.

Here you learn how to not only experience, but also understand nature
Here you learn how to not only experience, but also understand nature

The advantages and disadvantages of using a table for online courses to learn wilderness skills.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Flexibility in terms of time
  • Accessible from anywhere
  • Wide range of resources
  • Easy access to experts
  • More affordable than in-person courses
  • Extensive selection of courses
  • Available at any time
  • Possibility of learning at an individual pace
  • Repetitive learning
  • Lack of practical experience
  • Lack of direct one-on-one instruction from a teacher
  • Dependency on technology
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Harder to maintain motivation
  • Lack of realistic expectations
  • Lack of natural environment
  • Theory does not replace practical exercises in nature

Learn wilderness skills online - how does it work?

Who hasn't dreamed of an unforgettable outdoor adventure, where you can take care of yourself and survive in the wilderness?

But to survive in nature, you need a wealth of skills and knowledge.

Online courses offer a way to learn these skills through digital classes. Online wilderness workshops, distance learning for wilderness skills, and similar offerings are a promising option to complete wilderness training online.

Can you see the meeting? Imagine learning the theory here on how to make a fire, build a shelter, and more!
Can you see the meeting? Imagine learning the theory here on how to make a fire, build a shelter, and more!

What are online courses for wilderness skills?

Online courses for wilderness skills are digital training programs that provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to survive in the wilderness.

These courses usually include:

  • Video tutorials
  • Online quizzes
  • PDF documents
  • E-books
  • Audio files
  • Various instructions

Often, you can also communicate directly with experienced wilderness experts to ask specific questions or receive individual feedback.

There are different types of courses, depending on what skills you want to learn.

One option is the Wildimpuls annual program - a distance learning program for wilderness skills (in German).

This is not an ordinary container, this is survival! Learn how to get by with simple means.
This is not an ordinary container, this is survival! Learn how to get by with simple means.

You can complete the annual course on the side while continuing to work or study.

Although you don't need a physical presence in a classroom, you should still have a reliable internet connection and a suitable device such as a laptop or tablet.

What can you expect from an online course on wilderness skills?

The content of an online course for wilderness skills varies depending on the provider and course.

However, skills such as fire making, food foraging, navigation, survival techniques, first aid, bushcraft, nature crafts, tracking, and much more are usually covered.

A bushcraft camp in the middle of the forest - well, feel like joining in?
A bushcraft camp in the middle of the forest - well, feel like joining in?

Although it may be difficult to imagine at first how practical skills such as fire making or food foraging can be learned online, many providers offer interactive learning content.

Videos and animations can vividly convey things like igniting a fire or identifying edible plants.

One advantage of online courses for wilderness skills is that you can learn the content at your pace - because you can watch videos multiple times, go through worksheets multiple times.

In this way, you ensure that you understand all concepts and skills before moving on to practice.

feuer machen mit topf suppe aus pflanzen

Tips and Tricks for Online Learning of Wilderness Skills

To get the most out of a wilderness training online, you should follow some tips:

  • Practice, practice, practice: Practical skills like making fire or building emergency shelters require a lot of practice. So take every opportunity to strengthen your skills in practice.
  • Take note of the key points: To make sure you remember all the important information, write down key points and create your own summaries (or print them out).
  • Be interactive: Many online courses allow you to interact directly with the instructor or other learners. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions, receive feedback, motivate yourself, and be inspired by the passion of others.
  • Turn your environment into a learning space: One advantage of online learning is that you can learn anywhere. Turn your environment into a learning space by applying what you have learned in practice.

Learning wilderness skills online can be a rewarding experience to prepare for your next outdoor adventure.

The key is to get into action and take matters into your hands - just watching videos won't get you anywhere.

👉 Collect experience - it will propel you forward.

If you follow my tips and tricks and stay committed, you will soon be able to safely apply your skills in the wilderness.

Here I am blowing on a tinder nest that I previously filled with an ember from the bow drill
Here I am blowing on a tinder nest that I previously filled with an ember from the bow drill

FAQs about "Can wilderness skills be learned through distance learning?"

Can wilderness skills be mastered through online courses alone?

Although online courses provide a good foundation for learning wilderness skills, it is unlikely that you will master these skills through theory alone.

Wilderness skills often require practical experience and applying what has been learned in the real world.

I strongly recommend that you also do practical exercises in addition to online courses.

Only through personal experiences will you build your knowledge and skills.

Making fire with the firesteel is an essential skill
Making fire with the firesteel is an essential skill

Are there specialized online courses for wilderness skills?

Yes, there are specialized online courses that focus exclusively on wilderness skills. These courses provide detailed instructions, videos, and resources to support you as a learner in developing your wilderness skills.

It is important to search for high-quality courses led by mentors and experts in their field. An example of this is the Wildimpuls distance learning course (in German), which lasts for 12 months and includes a weekly invitation to get into action.

At the campfire - relaxation and peace from the stressful everyday life
At the campfire - relaxation and peace from the stressful everyday life

How to assess the quality of online wilderness skills courses?

To assess the quality of online wilderness skills courses, I recommend looking for reviews and testimonials.

Ask yourself the following questions and decide if they are important to you:

  • Does the wilderness mentor have various trainings, such as a wilderness education training? A survival trainer training, or a tracking training?
  • Is the wilderness mentor in the public eye? Do media outlets, such as TV and newspapers, trust his expertise and feature him in their content?
  • Has he perhaps even published books with reputable publishers?

It can also be helpful to search for courses recommended by recognized organizations or experts in the field. And it's good to pay attention to the structure of the course, the content taught, and the available resources.

Are online courses for wilderness skills paid?

Most online courses for wilderness skills are paid. The costs for online courses vary depending on the provider, course content, and duration.

Compare the content with the prices and make sure that the course meets your needs and expectations.

In addition, you can assume that a wilderness distance course will cost more if the wilderness instructor is well-known in public.

Fresh grilled trout at the camp
Fresh grilled trout at the camp

Can wilderness skills be learned without online courses?

Yes, it is possible to acquire wilderness skills without online courses. You can learn some of it through wilderness schools in person. I have also written about five good survival trainings here.

Traditionally, these skills were passed down through practical experience and learning from experienced mentors.

If a wilderness school is not an option for you:

There is my website here with over 500 guides, many books, videos on YouTube, documentaries, and other resources that provide information and instructions for learning wilderness skills.

However, it often requires more time, commitment, and willingness to do practical exercises and create a clear structure for oneself - compared to a well-developed and coordinated online distance learning course.

Which wilderness skills are best suited for learning through online courses?

Wilderness skills that lend themselves well to learning through online courses are those that combine theoretical knowledge and practical exercises.

Examples of these are orientation in nature, first aid, fire making, plant knowledge, and survival techniques. These skills can be learned through online courses that provide detailed instructions, videos, and interactive exercises.

A container made of birch bark
A container made of birch bark

Can the knowledge gained from online courses be applied in the real wilderness?

Yes, the knowledge gained from online courses on wilderness skills can also be applied in real wilderness. However, I recommend continuing to gain practical exercises and experiences in nature (within a safe framework) to develop comprehensive skills.

Are there recommended online courses and platforms for wilderness skills?

There are recommended online courses and platforms for wilderness skills. Conducting thorough research and reading reviews will help you find high-quality courses.

One well-known annual course that I have been conducting for several years is the Wildimpuls Annual Program (in German). Here, you will learn to delve into nature crafts with me. If you are interested in studying species, I recommend Wildniswind (in German).

Crafting cooking tools: This mission can be found in the Wildimpuls Annual Program
Crafting cooking tools: This mission can be found in the Wildimpuls Annual Program

Conclusion: Online courses offer flexibility, accessibility, and various resources

The fact is: It is possible to learn wilderness skills through online courses.

However, it depends on what type of course you choose - and HOW and IF you apply what you have learned in practice.

Online courses for wilderness skills offer a flexible way to further your outdoor skills and also learn from the comfort of your own home.

There are now various platforms and providers that offer different courses and workshops.

It is important to select a reputable provider who delivers high-quality content.

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However, online courses also have their limitations.

It is difficult to learn practical skills such as making fire or survival techniques solely in front of the computer. Here, you have to go out into the woods.

Exchange with other participants and experts cannot always be optimally guaranteed in digital learning.

"I recommend using online courses where the mentor is accessible, there is a forum for exchanging ideas, there are regular Zoom meetings, or even a real-life meeting."

Facebook groups are not really suitable as high-quality forums due to their lack of clarity and the risk that Meta (the company that owns Facebook) can simply close the group.

However, the most essential thing is to apply and practice what you have learned to be safe and confident when exploring nature.

Overall, I see digital wilderness training as a meaningful opportunity to further educate oneself and broaden horizons in terms of outdoor skills.

With the right approach and realistic expectations, valuable knowledge and skills can be acquired through online courses.


How about you? Have you ever taken an online course on wilderness skills, survival, or bushcraft? Write it in the comments and you are welcome to share your experiences.

Take care, Martin
Martin Gebhardt

Author of the guide


Martin Gebhardt

Hey, I'm Martin. On my blog, you will learn the basics and numerous details about living in the wild. I think survival, bushcraft and the good life in nature are the keys to happiness. Find me here on Instagram or on YouTube. You can find more about my mission on the About Me page.

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Free 35 Survival Hacks you'll love!

You will get 35 easy-to-implement survival hacks so that you don't have to stand aimlessly in the forest from tomorrow when things get tough. Take your skills to the next level!

DOWNLOAD HERE FOR FREE