How To Solo Camp For The First Time (Plus A Solo Camping Checklist)

Rilor Staff
Update: March 25, 2023
Table of Contents

When it comes to solo camping, it is essential that you are well-equipped and prepared. This post will teach you how to gear up for your next solo trip outdoors.

A Quick Overview

Camping is about having fun and enjoying whatever the outdoors offer to you. Of course, this also means that camping, as an activity, is one of the most pleasurable leisure you can ever immerse yourself into. 

Solo camping is no longer a new thing. But it is always introduced as a refreshing take to the usual family or group camping. It is a worthy adventure to experience, as it can lead to self-fulfillment and appreciation. Solo camping is also adjacent to other types of camping, such as dispersed camping

But keep in mind that being alone in the wild is definitely a daunting experience, especially if you haven't tried it yet. That's why solo camping requires a degree of preparation and safety awareness. Having the right tools, gear, and skills would enable you to conquer the wild alone and potential emergencies that could come your way. 

Here are some of the ideal ways to camp alone safely and comfortably. 

Is Camping Solo Safe? 

The short answer is yes.  

Camping and hiking solo is seemingly overwhelming. But with the right preparations, anyone can succeed in them. Our personal experiences tell us that it can be done safely. From time to time, we go alone on our expeditions and experience the beautiful solitude of the outdoors. 

Of course, there's a restriction to what safety means. For example, we don't just camp on uncharted terrains. As much as possible, we only camp on established campgrounds or BLM lands that have established paths or camping spots. We just don't venture into areas that are too sketchy or too dangerous for pitching a tent. 

We also train in how to assess our surroundings. We check the weather beforehand, study the existing wildlife, and even the terrain. Furthermore, it is also essential to learn how to engage with strangers, as well as who to trust and who's not. Practice proper camping etiquette but learn how to put boundaries. 

Solo camping is safe if you know these things. Plus, I have listed some of the essentials that you should bring if you are camping alone. With these things laid out, check out our guide on how to camp solo safely and comfortably. 

Tips For Camping Alone Safely And Comfortably For First-Timers

Camping solo is easier said than done. Believe it or not. Our first time doing this expedition has been met with several inconveniences (i.e., inability to sleep comfortably, not having enough fuel on our stoves, etc.). 

The key to the success of the trip is actually getting used to it. Practice makes perfect, as they say. So the more you camp solo, the more you can organize your gear, identify the essentials in your checklist, and find the means to stay stress-free on the trip. 

Tip 1: Train Yourself To Camp Solo

One of the things that we can advise interested solo campers is that they should train themselves for the adventure. This is something that you have to embrace for you to understand the actual nuances of this trip. 

As I mentioned, practice makes perfect. So the more you train, the more you can get the hang of it. When training for solo camping, we recommend that you pick somewhere that is not too far from your home. Don't go in a rolling wilderness; otherwise, you will get daunted. 

Instead, go for well-established camping spots. Or those spots where you have camped before with your family and friends. Familiarity with an area is essential when it comes to solo camping. Keep in mind that you don't want to get lost while being alone. It could put you in lots of danger, especially if you don't have the means to get help. 

After you get the hang of camping alone, you can gradually scale the complexity of your camping environment. For example, if you want to learn how to build a shelter, it is essential that you bring bushcraft knives or axes, as well as other important tools. 

Even learning the basic first aid skills matters here. 

Tip 2: Be Well-Informed About The Weather

One of the pesky aspects of camping outdoors (whether it is solo or group) is the idea that you can get caught up by sudden rain or turbulent winds. Things could get worse if you have picked a high-altitude area where flash floods and heavy snowing can be a normal occurrence. 

Fortunately, there are several weather services that provide almost accurate forecasts. You should check the date of your trip and see what kind of weather you will anticipate during that day. 

If the weather is bad, then you should consider moving the date of your trip. But if you want to experience some downpours and gusts, then you should pack the necessary equipment, such as proper clothing and layers, shelter and sleeping system, and even amenities that would help you create a warm cup of coffee. 

Keep in mind that some areas are prone to sudden weather changes. Hence, you should check the patterns so that you would know whether or not a storm could happen even before the expected date. So being prepared for your trip could actually save you from being wet and frigid. 

Tip 3: Conduct Some Safety Plan

Before you head out on the trip, there are some basic safety precautions that you have to adhere to and implement. Essentially, you need to plan how others could locate and rescue you if things go south. Here are some things that you need to do. 

  • Have someone you trust (a close friend or reliable family member) know about your trip. Tell them where you are going and the duration of your trip. They should know the date of your return. 
  • Also, notify these individuals whether or not you are going to get a reception at your destination. 
  • Try establishing a code or specific word that lets the other party know that you are in trouble. Once you text this word to them, they will immediately know that you are in a sticky situation. 
  • Give them the host details of the campsite, if it is available.

Tip 4: Never Tell Others That You Are Camping Alone

In this age where clicks and likes matter, it is easy to get tempted to advertise what you are doing. Feeding your ego is sometimes necessary for a confidence boost. But it should never be done when you are camping alone. 

When you tell others that you are alone, you are also telling them that you are vulnerable. As long as you are alone, you are an easy target for predators--especially the two-legged ones. Regardless if you have training in self-defense or martial arts, you can still be overwhelmed by surprise attacks. 

As much as possible, you need to be secretive about your solo trips. You can post pictures, but make sure that it is after your jaunt. 

When solo camping and you meet other campers, always tell them that you have company. Tell them that your group went ahead or you are waiting for your friend to arrive. Either way, these excuses will prevent you from becoming a victim. If some people make you feel threatened or uncomfortable, don't hesitate to put your distance from them. 

But what if they guessed that you were alone? 

Then that's the time that you need to act quickly. Pack your tent and get back to your car. If you are uncomfortable sleeping inside your vehicle, drive somewhere where it is safe. Don't hesitate to call the authorities. Always trust your instinct and play it safe. 

Tip 5: Learn The Basic Camping Skills

You can't camp alone if you don't have the skills that could help you survive outdoors. Since you don't have someone with you, all the errands and field tasks will fall on your shoulders. So learning the basics is essential, and it could make your trip extra comfortable. 

Here are the skills that you need to learn.

  • Setting up your camping area
  • Pitching a tent
  • Navigation (learning how to use the map or compass)
  • Building a fire (remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles)
  • Gathering clean water and food
  • Proper food storage (to prevent spoilage, contamination, and attracting wild animals)
  • Basic first aid

These are the ideal skills that you need to learn before you decide to go on a solo camping trip. There are some other technical skills, such as bushcraft, but they deserve another tutorial. 

Tip 6: Equip Yourself With Proper Defense

Learning how to defend yourself is essential. Keep in mind that being prepared will help you respond to any tough calls. 

At the same time, there are some things that could help you protect yourself from threats. Here are some of them. 

  • Survival knives - I don't need to elaborate on it here. A knife is a utility tool. But it is an excellent weapon for personal defense, considering that you are not armed with a gun. 
  • Axe - An axe is also a great alternative to knives. If you happen to bring one, make sure that you know how to wield it properly!
  • Pepper sprays - Pepper sprays are cool to have. They are easy to use and non-lethal, which is great for those who are afraid to inflict serious damage on their attackers. 
  • Blinding lights - Survival flashlights with strobe function can distract attackers, allowing you to either fight back or run. 

Of course, this is where the proximity of your location comes in. If you are near your home or somewhere where there are emergency services, you would be able to call help right away. 

Tip 7: Learn To Control And Ease Your Mind

One of the toughest things that you need to conquer when solo camping is yourself--specifically, your mind and the things that run into it. As I mentioned, it is easy to get overwhelmed once you are alone in the wild. Even the most seasoned campers can still feel nervous while they are making solo trips. 

Over time, you will be able to learn how to control yourself. You would be able to find peace and shelter in the outdoors. And to some degree, you would become comfortable moving even if it is dark. 

Well, we can't really tell when is the exact time you will conquer your fears and anxieties while solo camping. All we can assure you is that time will eventually come. As long as you spend a healthy time outdoors alone, all your worries will settle in. 

Don't forget that you can de-stress yourself by doing some light stretches and exercises. You can talk to yourself for a confidence boost, especially if there's no one around you. 

Tip 8: Don't Overpack 

Believe it or not, you can camp solo without bringing your entire house with you. 

Kidding aside, solo camping doesn't require you to bring as much stuff as you can think of. Always learn to trim your baggage, select what is necessary and separate them from the wants. 

Try to size up your requirements depending on the duration of your trip. Pack extra pieces of clothes and undergarments if your trip takes more than two days. It would also be wise to reduce the footprint of your tent; a one-person tent could probably fit you and your back. If not, then go for those lightweight, two-person tents. 

Solo Camping Checklist

Here's a checklist that you can copy so that you can camp alone comfortably and safely:

The Essentials:

Clothing Essentials

Safety Essentials

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