14 Expert solo camping tips for beginners

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

backpacking

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

tourist map

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

view mountains

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

trip to the woods

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

tent nature view

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

solo camping

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.

Related: How to stay fit while traveling?

Cooking while camping solo

camping food

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

camping injury

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

solo camping rain

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

solo camping

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.

Helpful resources for solo campers

Hiking equipment: Camelbak- get 15% off on your first order.

Camping knives:  get 15% off on all orders from Leatherman’s collection.

Food for camping: get 10% off on this selection of dried food for camping by Wise Food Storage.

RV renting: get 10% off on all Outdoorsy rentals around the world

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Did you ever take a solo camping trips? Are you planning to go camping alone soon? Were these solo camping tips for beginners helpful? Let us know in the comment section below.

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22 thoughts on “14 Expert solo camping tips for beginners”

  1. I didn’t do much camping growing up but I’ve been wanting to try it lately so these are great tips, thanks! One of the things I was worried about is pitching a tent by myself. I do think it’s a good idea to get a tent that is rated for lower temps to keep you comfortable or even try a hammock instead. Your photos are great — much inspiration.

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  2. Oh wow I did camping many many years ago but always in those places for camping but I don’t know if I can do it in the wild, sleeping there In the middle of nowhere…sounds amazing!! need to be more adventurous 😉

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  3. Camping like this has always intrigued me. I am so not a tent person, but I think if I had the right environment and the right teacher, I would love to actually do this. I love the idea of making sure to give someone your itinerary and a map of where you are going. That is a great way to stay safe for sure..

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  4. I’m not a big camper, but the rest of my family loves it so I will share the tips. These are all so important because we camp with our kids it’s almost as if we are solo camping as we are in charge of dependent little ones.

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  5. I have loved camping my entire life but the thought of solo camping has always left me feeling quite nervous.
    I agree that camping is the perfect escape from the stresses of life and it is so important to reconnect with nature every once in a while.
    I think you have written some very actionable steps here, and love that you do advise people to prepare for the worst. You can never be too safe.

    Reply
  6. This is such a great post – full of helpful tips that can help in planning a camping trip, especially for novice campers like me. I completely agree with you that one should share the itinerary with a known person – in fact, I do so, for all of our travels in general. Really informative and great tips regarding how to choose a tent as well as a sleeping bag. I think it’s a great idea to pack a tarp in addition to place over the tent when not sure if the tent is water-resistant or not. Pinning this post for future reference.

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    • Thanks, Aditi. I couldn’t agree with you more it’s always better to let someone know about your plans. Just in case.

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  7. I couldn’t agree more with all what you’ve written here. All these camping tips are truly important and one has to keep them in mind when doing camping, especially in the lush forest. Choosing the right tent, having a light load and making sure that the camping site is safe are some of the best tips you’ve shared here. Personally, I also love hiking mountains and camp, so I truly appreciate this.

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  8. These are truly helpful posts even for bone campers. I always make sure someone close to me knows my destination in case for an emergencies.

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  9. If you like camping the wild nature of Albania welcomes you to try the offroad experiences making you feel the adrenaline inside your bones.

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    • As a local, I did my fair share of exploring the mountains of Albania and Macedonia and I did mention my experience in my article about Albania. Do check it out 🙂

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