Dos And Don’ts of Camping Alone

by Caroline Bynum
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Camping alone is a great way to escape into nature and enjoy alone-time while appreciating the beautiful outdoors. Safety when deciding to venture out alone is critical, though. Many national parks suggest traveling in groups for optimal safety, to increase size and noise. A man camping alone was recently killed by a grizzly in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, giving a real-life example of how imperative solo safety is. Prior to leaving for your trip, review all safety precautions before packing your camping bag and hitting the trail.

Packing The ’10 Essentials’

As with any camping trip, it is important to pack the essentials, whether alone or adventuring in a crew. REI lists these as “The Ten Essentials” ever camper should get into the habit of carrying with them.

  1. Navigation: map, compass, GPS device, satellite messenger
  2. Headlamp/Flashlight: plus extra batteries
  3. Sun protection: sunglasses and sunscreen
  4. First aid kit: including bug spray
  5. Knife: plus a repair kit
  6. Fire: matches, lighter, tinder, and/or stove
  7. Shelter: carried at all times, for safety
  8. Extra food: More than you expect you’ll need
  9. Lots of water: More than you expect you’ll need
  10. Extra clothes: More than you expect you’ll need

These ten things are a great start to preparing for your solo camping trip. Here are a few dos and don’ts that can help create an ideal hiking experience:

Solo Camping Dos

  • Pack for your safety
    While the camping necessities like a sleeping bag, tent, and flashlight are important, safety gear is just as important in ensuring a successful trip. Extra flashlight batteries, bear spray, a medical kit, a hard map, and a portable charger stored in a waterproof bag, are all things that should make it onto your packing list. Washington Post writer Natalie Compton also suggests taking further steps towards safety. She suggests packing a satellite phone and enough food and water for three days longer than your anticipated trip. Safety precautions are just that: precautionary things done in advance to tackle the worst if it is to happen. Attempting to prepare for any unforeseen obstacles beforehand will ensure smooth sailing when your adventure begins.
  • Bring things that will make you happy
    After packing everything that will best ensure a safe adventure, be sure to throw in some items that are sure to better your enjoyment. This camping trip is all about you and nature, so bringing things that make you your personal happiest will add to an overall successful camp. Whether its that old book that always puts a smile on your face or worn cards that have seen you win hundreds of games in Solitaire, make sure to pack a little happiness. Your time alone away from noisiness and stress should be your time to write in a journal or swim in a creek; increase your joy by packing and doing things you love.
  • Pack as light as possible
    Being as it is just you carrying all of the gear and supplies, it is vital to keep everything as light as possible. Safety and first aid kits can’t be cut from the packing list, but evaluating the necessity of each item you plan to bring can help save keep your pack at a bearable weight.
  • Share your plans with someone
    Though your trip is to give yourself space from people and the world around you alone, it is important to leave behind an itinerary or plan for your trip. While most likely unnecessary, your loved ones will feel at ease having an idea of your whereabouts and can help pinpoint your location if a problem is to arise. The note should include an estimated return time and location of the campsite.

Solo Camping Don’ts

  • Arrive Late to Your Campsite
    Finding your way in the darkness is challenging in a group and can be completely disorienting if navigating alone. To avoid having to make your way to the site as well as set up gear alone in the darkness, be sure to arrive at your campsite on time. Arriving with one or two hours of sunlight left guarantees a well-lit site to set up camp. You can set up your spot in the light before kicking back with a good book and (safely lit) fire.
  • Overestimate Your Abilities
    While a challenge is always nice, never overestimate or over challenge yourself while camping alone. Long hikes feel different when carrying a heavy pack or feeling extra stress of solo-navigation. Set smaller goals, to keep yourself as calm as possible and avoid dangerous scenarios. Being completely aware of your skills and abilities before venturing out alone is key to staying in a safe situation.
  • Leave food unattended
    One of the largest suggestions in avoiding large animal attacks while hiking or camping is to restrict animal access to food. It is crucial to never leave food unattended, as it easily draws in bears and other large predators. Be sure to tidy your campsite before venturing out on hikes during the day to avoid any visits from unwanted furry friends.
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