I think everyone should camp alone at least once in their life! You’ll finally get some time to unwind in peace, away from the expectations and noise of other people. Don’t get me wrong. I love camping with my friends and family, too. But it’s a totally different experience when you pack your rucksack and head out on the trails by yourself.
When you aren’t chatting with other people, you notice the sound of the rivers and birds. You move more quietly through the world, so you bump into wild animals along the way. You also get a chance to decompress from the stress of daily life and recharge your empty batteries in the Great Outdoors. But if you’re going on your first solo camp, you need to know a few things. If you have no idea what you’re doing, you could easily end up in a dangerous situation. So, this article will give you some do’s and don’ts for camping alone. I hope you find them helpful.
The Do’s of Camping Alone
First, let’s take a look at what you should do when camping alone. Now, I don’t want to be the fun police but I do want you to have a long and healthy life. It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared, believe me!
1. Tell a Friend
Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. If you don’t check in at the agreed-upon time, your friend should be ready to call the authorities and notify them that something may have gone astray. If possible, tell them the route you plan to take so they can pass it on to search and rescue if you get into trouble. This way, help will reach you far more quickly if anything goes wrong.
2. Pack Emergency Supplies
It’s even more important to have emergency supplies if you are camping by yourself, as you won’t be able to send someone to get help. I always pack an emergency foil blanket in case I get dangerously hot or cold. I also recommend bringing rehydration sachets in case of heatstroke or diarrhea, as well as all the normal first aid supplies that you would bring along on a camping trip with friends. Emergency supplies can include energy gels or high-calorie snacks in case you run out of food more quickly than you expected.
3. Ease in Gently
The biggest mistake you can make when camping alone is to rush into a big adventure that you’re not ready for. If you don’t have much experience with camping, you might not be ready to go on a long-distance thru-hike in the middle of winter. It would be much better to go on your first adventure with a more experienced friend or keep your plans more manageable. You might choose to book a basic campsite or limit your hiking distance to much less than you think you can cover. Once you’re used to the weight of your pack and setting up a decent camp, you can kick the adventure up a notch.
4. Choose the Right Tent
You want a tent that’s easy to set up and take down by yourself. Before your trip, practice putting up your tent without help. You might find that a tent that seemed super simple with your partner is impractical to put up by yourself. This is also an excellent opportunity to check on whether your tent is in good condition or if it got moldy in storage. Give your tent a spray down with the hose to make sure it isn’t leaking, and don’t hesitate to top up its waterproof coating.
The Don’ts of Camping Alone
Now that we’ve considered the do’s of camping alone, I’ll give you some advice on what you shouldn’t do. These tips might not apply to every situation but they’re certainly worth considering before you head off for your first solo camping trip.
1. Don’t Post Your Location Online
I understand you might be eager to share your experience on social media but I advise against posting your exact location online. First, it can be a safety concern, especially if you mention that you are camping alone. Second, it’s a good idea to keep the beautiful wild camping spots you find off the internet. You can always tell your friends about the locations verbally. You might be surprised at how many beautiful camping spots end up ruined after they’re posted online.
2. Don’t Be Ashamed to Turn Back
If the weather takes a nasty turn and you don’t have the suitable kit to camp safely through the night, there is no shame in turning back and trying again another day. I once started hiking to my camping spot when a heavy fog had come down off the hills. There were too many steep ledges for me to proceed safely, so I turned back and headed home. Of course, I was disappointed but it’s much better to be a bit fed up in the safety and warmth of your home than to get hurt. There’s always next time!
3. Don’t Hesitate to Call for Help
You also might resist calling for help if you get lost or injured. It’s tempting to just push on through and hope for the best but the sooner you call for help, the better. If you wait too long or let conditions get too bad, you are placing more risk on the team that will come and help you. The earlier you ring, the more battery life you will have left on your phone. If you wait until things look dire, you might find you can’t even make the call.
It’s possible that search and rescue will advise you to stay put and camp for the night, or they might tell you to come down to lower ground. But it’s best to get in contact with them earlier, so they at least know exactly where you are if the situation deteriorates. Depending on what country you come from, you might be worried about hefty fines for calling for help. But at least in the case of the Coast Guard and National Parks Service, it is not standard practice to charge people for their rescue service.
I hope this article hasn’t put you off camping alone! I feel far safer in the hills than in the city. As long as you are sensible, it’s unlikely that anything will go wrong. It is essential to prepare, though. If you’re new to camping, I highly recommend going with friends and family until you have some experience. When you’re ready, I hope you give solo camping a chance!