Camping is always a great idea to escape stressful everyday life and reconnect with nature. However, sometimes planning a trip from more people can be an equally stressful experience. Coordinating everyone, making sure everyone has the right gear, and dividing the responsibilities isn’t as easy as it sounds. So, if you’re wondering how to avoid this while still enjoying the benefits of camping, go for a solo camping trip!
For first-time campers, deciding how to prepare for the trip may be difficult. However, if you carry all camping essentials and do your research, you will likely avoid any pitfalls from turning this excursion into a disaster. That’s what this article is all about! If you’re one of those people that always wanted to go on a solo camping trip but thought that this isn’t something a novice camper can do, keep reading; here are some expert solo camping tips for beginners!
Plan Your Route
The first thing to do when solo camping is planning your route. Do your homework, research the area, choose the trails you want to take, and get familiar with the flora and fauna in the area. Beware of dangerous animals, not only large predators, but also mosquitoes, flies, and other disease-carrying insects. Learn the local geography, locate the main local landmarks, and know where the nearest water sources are located. Once you do proper research about your route, the next thing you’ll want to do is…
Share your itinerary with someone
This is important. For your safety, you should always inform a family member, friend, or coworker of where you plan to go and for how long. You never know when an accident could happen, therefore it is helpful for someone to know your whereabouts in case of an unfortunate situation.
Learn how to stay calm
Camping alone can be a scary experience, especially during nights. Every noise you hear in the wild sounds scarier and louder when you’re alone. Most of the time, those noises aren’t anything dangerous but even if they are, it’s important to learn how to remain calm. Come up with a little pep talk, mantra, or a song; anything that works for you and don’t worry about it sounding ridiculous. After all, there won’t be anyone around to hear you.
Lighten your load
Many people think that the idea of solo camping as something impossible and only doable for expert campers. However, this isn’t true. Anyone can go solo camping, as long as you do your research and pack the most important essentials. The good thing about solo camping is that you’re traveling alone and you’ll only need to carry the things you think you need. For example, consider carrying a hammock instead of a tent or a tent constructed for a single person. Get lightweight items and only carry the things which are absolutely necessary. For some more additional tips, check out my ultimate camping checklist.
Get to know your gear
A rookie mistake is to wait till you reach the campground before trying out your gear. I mean, everything is in the manual right? Well, no. You are going to spend hours fumbling over how to set up the tent, thus getting off to a bad start.
Choose the right tent
The most important item you will need is a tent unless you have a campervan. When shopping for a tent, let the salesperson help you if you are a novice camper. You want a tent that you can easily set and be comfortable in. A lot of tentmakers claim their tents are water-resistant but most of them aren’t, so be careful when making your choice. Finally, if you’re not sure if your tent is water-resistant or not, bring a tarp and hang it over your tent in a sloping manner in order to keep the water away.
Another very important thing for your comfort is choosing the right sleeping bag. As you may or may not know, sleeping bags are rated for the lowest temperature they can keep you comfortable in. For example, some sleeping bags are rated at 0°- 5°C, others with 8°C, etc. However, keep in mind that when you’re alone, you have to do everything by yourself, including collecting wood, cooking, etc. This means that you’ll be a lot more tired than usual and, when you’re exhausted, you get cold a lot more easily. That’s why my suggestion is to always get a sleeping bag designed for temperatures which are a few degrees below the actual temperature.
Learn how to pick a campsite
When and if possible, always select a campsite that has a ranger who you can reach out to at any time. Don’t isolate yourself too much but also avoid camping near highways because you never know who you might come across in the night. Also, try to make your campsite near a fresh water source but not too close; you don’t want to wake up and discover you’re in the middle of the water source when it starts raining. Finally, make sure the surface is flat and clear of stones and branches and make sure you choose a spot that doesn’t damage the surrounding plants.
Be prepared in case you need to set up a shelter
You never know when the weather decides to go crazy, even in warm locations. That’s why you should always be prepared to set up a shelter if necessary. After all, hypothermia is the last thing you need when camping solo. Sure, this means extra burden, which means you’ll also need to carry a backpack that can fit everything and make you feel comfortable at the same time.
Many people like to go with the lightest possible option because when you’re camping solo, you have to carry everything by yourself. However, this isn’t always a good idea. Personally, I like to camp in a tent and have all the gear inside with me. I don’t want to risk damage due to rain or heavy winds. But in the end, all this depends on one’s individual needs, requirements, and preference.
Cooking while camping solo
Camping in the woods doesn’t mean that you will eat nothing but berries and local fruits. You can always take one lightweight all-in-one kitchenware pot and prepare some warm food. You don’t need to carry any plates as you only need to cook for one person. It’s also important not to forget to bring a scrub to clean your pot after eating.
Always have portable power stations and fire-starters
Portable powers stations for camping are an excellent choice for power sources for your devices. For campfires, place fire starters and matches in a waterproof, air-tight container. Start campfires in a safe zone. Flashlights, lanterns, and extra batteries should also be packed because the moonlight isn’t going to be enough.
First-aid and dealing with injuries
Small accidents are bound to happen while you are outdoors. Carry a first aid kit to stay prepared for such situations. Bandages, gauze pads, first-aid tape, ace bandage wrap, antiseptic, allergy, and any prescription medications are must-haves. Consider taking special items such as snake venom antidotes if you plan to explore risky terrains. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when you’re camping solo in the woods.
If you’re in an area with network coverage, make sure your cell phone is charged all the time. Some people even opt-in for satellite phones or emergency locator, which are a bit expensive but are a one-time investment. Another budget alternative for this is carrying a signal mirror.
Check the weather before you go
You might think checking the weather shouldn’t even be mentioned in this article but you’d be surprised to see how many people forget to do this simple task before going for their camping trip. Checking the weather is an absolute must, especially if you’re planning to camp alone in the woods. Of course, camping is possible in any weather but you should know what to expect and how to prepare for it. Also, don’t forget to monitor the forecast until the day prior to the start of your trip because forecasts also the most precise when done a day in advance.
When is a bad time for a solo camping trip?
Personally, I’m a big solo camping enthusiast, but there are some times when this isn’t advisable. If you have severe medical conditions, it’s certainly not a good idea to isolate yourself from people. I think no one should be banned from the outdoors but it’s important to assess all the risks before you go on this adventure. This leads me to my final point…
Hope for the best but plan for the worse
Camping alone in the woods is an incredible experience but as we all know, things can go wrong sometimes. Even though the chances of experiencing a life-threatening circumstance are statistically very low, you should always have a plan and be prepared for the worse scenario. Once you have an emergency plan, (including your itinerary and location) don’t forget to share it with someone in case things go south.
The biggest problems solo campers face are sun exposure, dehydration, and risks of hypothermia. Knowing this, you should always have the supplies to remain warm and dry when it’s colder and to be well-protected from the sun and hydrated when the weather is hotter.
Are you planning to go camping alone soon? Let us know in the comment section below.
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