Safety Tips When Camping Alone
Having the opportunity to go camping by oneself is perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments that can be ticked off any bucket list. The pollution-free, fresh air and nature sounds that are music to the ears after being drowned for many years in the noise of the city are just two of the best things one can have while camping out. There’s peace of mind instead of the daily stresses that plague the modern consciousness. However, while camping alone can do a lot of wonderful things in your life, it can also expose your vulnerabilities and exploit your weaknesses. Camping in the wilderness comes with risks that you have to be prepared to address when the time comes. Until then, you’re better off understanding these 10 tips to ensure you have a safer solo camping experience.
1. Always Plan the Route
You can never be too prepared whenever you leave the safety of your home. This is amplified a hundred-fold whenever you go camping alone. One of the most fundamental ways you can stay safe in your solo camping adventure is by planning the route you’re going to take well ahead of time. If your idea of camping out is pitching a tent right in your backyard, then there really is no need for planning. However, if you’re the kind of person who is willing to discover the thrills of solo camping in a remote place, then planning is a must.
Read about the different trails as well as the camping areas in the region you want to venture in. Take note of the wild animals that are indigenous to the area as well as local plant life. Make sure that you are well-equipped to handle these natural inhabitants. Check the different landmarks that may be present so you will have an idea of their location on your map. Memorize your route including all the trails, landmarks, and other camp resources that are available.
It is perhaps true that one of the reasons why you’re going on a solo camping trip is to create time only for yourself. However, this is never an excuse for not sharing your solo camping plans with someone you trust. It doesn’t have to be a family member. It can be your friend or someone in the office. It is crucial that you identify who this person is at the soonest possible time so you can share some information about your adventure.
You are not going to share every bit of detail of your camping trip, of course. Informing this person of where you intend to go can help narrow down the search area just in case you haven’t returned on the day that you were supposed to return. Having said that, it is also important to tell your confident how long you will be out. You can even instruct this person what he needs to do in case he hasn’t heard from you after a certain period of time.
3. Pack Only the Absolute Essentials
Whenever you go camping by yourself, it is imperative that you pack wisely. Bring only those things that you absolutely need. A bug out bag is almost always a necessity especially when it is loaded with first aid and emergency supplies. Think of it as the survival pack that will help you survive 72 hours in the wild. Skip the fluffy pillow in your bedroom and get a camping pillow instead. These are smaller, lighter, and more compressible than your average pillow so they won’t take so much space and weight in your backpack.
A camping chair might also be a good idea especially one that is made of lightweight materials and can be easily folded; although seasoned campers can do without a chair. A tree stump or a large stone can be a great alternative, although not comfy. Make sure you have a compass with you. More importantly, you should know how to use it, especially when paired with a map. A paracord bracelet is also a handy camping essential. These so-called survival bracelets can be made of 8 to 20 feet of paracord nylon material which you can use for marking a trail or even fishing for your next dinner.
It is also important to bring a portable camping stove so you can make your own meals even though you’re in the middle of the wilderness. And since you’ve got this camping gear, don’t forget your mess kit, unless you don’t mind feasting on extra-large leaves or perhaps even on large, flattened stones. A camping saw will always come in handy especially when you’re cutting firewood.
4. Choose the Right Food
Unless you’re a seasoned survivalist, you’d do well to plan how you intend to feed yourself while solo camping. If you have mastered the art of hand-fishing or even fly fishing, then you can use this skill provided you have access to a body of water teeming with fish. Otherwise, you’d have to really plan on the type of food that you are going to bring.
As a rule, camping foods should be either dehydrated or canned versions of the food that you enjoy at home. These can be easily prepared with that camping stove we mentioned above. There really is no need to go fancy. Forget what you see on TV about concocting a Michelin Star-worthy meal in the middle of the forest. You won’t have that. And even if you are salivating about having caviar for dinner, you’re better off with canned baked beans, oats, and even dried berries. Pack some spice, too, so you can add flavor to your catch should you be lucky enough to reel one in from the river.
Don’t forget plenty of water. Or, you can purchase a portable water filtration system that doubles as a straw and water bottle. This way, you’ll have access to safe water anytime.
5. Stay Abreast of the Weather
You may have ventured into the wilderness on a relatively sunny day. Unfortunately, the weather in the wilderness can change in a split second. One second, it’s all sunny and warm. Next thing you know, you’re already being drenched and threatened with a flash flood.
It pays to stay well-informed of the weather. It is for this reason that you might want to check the weeklong weather forecast for the area where you will be camping in. But even this cannot prepare you for the worst. As such, it is a good idea to bring a radio with you that can be tuned in to the national weather service.
It also pays to bring your weatherproof gear such as boots and tent. If you have a poncho or a raincoat, better bring this, too.
6. Pick the Right Place to Camp
Ideally, you would want to set up camp near other campers. You don’t necessarily have to mingle with them, but you should at least be near enough so that they can offer immediate assistance should you need one. You clearly don’t want to camp in the middle of nowhere. However, do take note of your camp neighbors as camping alone can also make you the prey of unruly campers.
While water is an invaluable resource, don’t camp near bodies of water as flash flooding may occur. It is best to set up camp on high ground, preferably on a flat and even surface. Check the trees; they are your best friends in the wilderness. They can protect you from the harsh elements especially flood. But stay away from dead trees as they are already very brittle. It is also best not to set up camp near the trail as you’re inviting “trespassers” into your temporary “abode”.
The whole idea is to set up camp in a place where it’s not difficult to get help should the need arise.
7. Set Up Your Temporary Shelter Properly
Whenever you go out camping by yourself, the greatest obstacle is the environment and not necessarily fellow campers or even the animals of the wild. It can be scorching hot in the day and freezing cold in the night. This is why it is important to set up your temporary home properly. Hypothermia is a real issue whenever you are out in the wild. And if you’re camping alone, there may not be anyone else to help you once hypothermia has set in. Thus an appropriate sleeping bag would be handy.
If you’re setting up a tent, you can use your paracord or paracord bracelet to further secure your tent to adjacent trees. This should help protect you from the cold winds that can be especially harsh during the night. You might also want to consider setting up a hammock to get you high enough from the forest floor which can get very cold, not to mention crawling with critters that can make your nights a little more unbearable than you’ve hoped for.
Consider bringing an air mattress; one that you can easily inflate using a small nifty pump. This is especially true if the ground surface you’re going to sleep on is full of tiny rocks, pebbles, stones, or anything else that can be either rough or hard.
8. Stay Calm
If this is your first time camping solo, one of the most dreaded aspects of the experience is that your mind can play tricks on you. You’ve never been to this part of the world before. You’ve never felt so vulnerable. And it is easy to make rash decisions that can undermine your safety at the camp.
It is best to stay calm whenever you’re confronted with a situation that you’ve never prepared for. Don’t drink alcohol. Not only does it cloud your judgment and impair your ability to make more rational calculated actions, but alcohol can also lead to dehydration. Getting dehydrated further impairs your ability to think clearly.
Whenever camping solo, make sure to take a deep breath when presented with a situation. Think rationally and stay calm.
9. Always Draw Up a Backup Plan
Even the best of well-laid plans can be undermined by circumstances that are beyond our control. As such, it is important to have as many contingency plans as you possibly can. Think of every possible scenario that can happen while you’re camping solo so you will be able to identify the main and alternate courses of action that you need to take.
As already mentioned, the weather can suddenly change in a snap of a finger. It should be okay if you’re already at camp. But what if you’re still hiking your way to your planned campsite? What should you do then? This is why there should always be a backup plan or even a contingency plan in case of an emergency.
10. Keep it Short
You might be tempted to camp solo for a few weeks at a time. While this may be a good idea, you may want to reserve it when you have already gained enough experience going solo-flight in your camping adventures. Solo camping is not for newbies. It is only for seasoned campers that they can now be safely considered as survival experts. They already have a contingency for almost every other situation that may arise. They know how to make do with the meager resources at their disposal. A newbie doesn’t have these competencies yet.
For beginners, solo camping for a day or two is considered to be sufficient and should never exceed 3 days. You will need a few years of going solo for a day or two before you can reach the level of competence that experienced campers already have. What is crucial for now is for you to experience living in the wild so you will have a much better feel for it. You’re a lot safer from the bad guys, too, who may prey on novice campers like you.
Camping on your own can be thrilling and rewarding at the same time. But, it can also be filled with danger. Observing these 10 tips can help improve your safety when camping alone.
- 10 Expert Tips for Your First Solo Camping Trip – KOA
- Camping Alone Safely – 7 Solo Camping Tips – Tales of a Backpacker
- Camping Alone? 5 Safety Precautions for Your Protection – Survival News