Wondering whether camping alone is a good idea or safe?
Yes, camping alone is safe, but with proper preparations and gear. Smart decision-making and planning ahead can mitigate most camping dangers and threats.
I’ve solo camped for almost two decades, and the solitude makes for an interesting dynamic. Camping alone clears my head and provides a bit of me time.
Over the period, I’ve not experienced any major incident so far, but I assume because of some of the safety principles I usually follow when camping solo.
I can’t guarantee the same for you, but I’m excited to share the safety tricks that have worked for me when camping alone.
21 Safety Tips to Keep in Mind when Camping Alone
Here’re the tips I usually follow on your next camping trip alone:
A big mistake I see most campers making is underestimating how quickly a situation can spiral out of control, especially when alone.
See, while threats and harassment from people are rare, trips, falls, burns, car breakdowns, and other semi-emergencies are more common than you might think.
I usually plan for those in advance because I’ve had enough mishaps with tornado debris, bugs, and tree branches.
Have critical emergency gear on you to call for help or mitigate the threat before your body gets incapacitated.
I also like to do my homework in advance when planning for semi-emergencies. For example, I know where the closest town is, where mechanics are, where the nearest grocery store and hospital are, etc.
In short, have a plan for getting help if you need it.
Be Aware of your Surroundings- Choose a Familiar Ground
In addition to planning, you must be aware of your surroundings.
I’d recommend that you start small, especially if it’s your first time going solo camping.
Pick a spot where you can easily retreat to the safety of your home when shit goes down.
Alternatively, go on a campsite in a private campground, national park, state park, or a location with active surveillance from park rangers and other staff.
Even then, it’s still important that you study the campground in advance. Ensure you’re aware of the wildlife and not camp in a bear/wolf/mountain lion nest/territory.
It’s also necessary to study the weather around. I’ve heard horror stories of campers who wore only shorts and tees and were caught in a freaking blizzard while being pursued by a grizzly.
It makes for a great TV story, assuming you survive but not so while you were in it.
I suggest that beginners choose a familiar spot they’ve camped in before. An ideal location would be near your home.
Create a Float Plan
Notifying your loved ones about your solo camping trip, specifically your departure time, time of stay, location, and expected return time, is necessary.
I call it the float or notify plan.
Letting people know your plans seems like overkill, but sharing details with friends and family is important.
The first group to notify is your closest friends and family. Or rather people you trust.
Tell them where you’re going and when to expect you back if they leave nearby. Always check in with them on the way and while camping.
If you plan to extend your camping time, be sure to inform them.
So, they can take action if they fail to hear from you.
The local authorities and park rangers are the other important group to inform of your plans. Let them know where you’re camping in wildlife and about your location.
The other important thing is to stick a copy of your planned itinerary to your campsite. It should be somewhere kinda out of sight-you should be discrete as you don’t want people to know your planes. However, it shouldn’t be so hidden that someone looking for it will miss it.
I love to place a copy of my day’s travel itinerary in my glove box or center console.
It’s a great way to help authorities track you easier if you get lost, or something happens.
Another good habit is to leave clear footprints on your campsite. It gives the search and rescue team an easier time tracking you.
Maintain Situational Awareness
Regarding the danger from other people, I advise you to always maintain situational awareness.
Be conscious of your surrounding and check out for danger signs.
For example, if you’re a female, be aware of fellow male campers that are showing sexual interest in you and keep away from them.
In short, be conscious of the happenings around your campsite. Also, know your exact location and bearing of the nearest town or help center.
Use Diversionary Tactics
In the same breath as situational awareness, you must employ diversionary tactics to keep the potential human threat away.
For example, you could make a habit of being vague about being alone in a conversation. Say something like “we” when chatting with strangers instead of “I.”
I’ve also seen folks who bring an extra pair of gear, such as a man’s large boots. Get some cheap options at the thrift shop.
While it won’t always work for people closely watching your activity, it’s a great diversion for passers-by.
You could also bring an extra chair or gear in masculine color. In short, set your camp like there’s more than one person.
It helps because strangers casing your site will be less certain whether you’re alone or with multiple people.
It’s also necessary to bring a deterrent.
I’m not a big fan of weapons, especially guns.
Ignore those crowing about getting one.
While it serves as peace of mind, all that will flip once it’s turned against you, after all, any weapon can be used against you.
I feel bringing a gun to the wilderness is unnecessary. It’s heavy, expensive to train with, and at the end of the day, if nature wants you dead, not even a rifle will save you.
After all, how often have we heard of campers or hunters getting mauled by wildlife, yet they had a gun on them?
Plus, anecdotal evidence suggests that numbers are usually pretty in favor of not carrying one.
Finally, there’s also a slim chance of needing a gun on a solo camping trip, even in the city/suburb where you live.
Instead, I’d suggest you bring deterrents to ward off predators.
Pepper spray is a nice option and will the grizzlies, threatening human behaviors, and human predators away. And the good thing with pepper spray is it adheres to the LNT principles.
A pocket knife is also another awesome deterrent. Pick those that you can open one-handed.
I’m a big fan of the tactical flashlights, especially at night. Something over 300 lumens can temporarily blind someone at night.
The SureFire tactical flashlight is my go-to option. It’s on the higher price side, but you can still find inexpensive and practical options.
In my opinion, the best defense is you. Stay vigilant, and carry yourself with confidence.
In fact, most predatory humans are usually deterred by field-proven things like confidence, good feelings, and girl power.
Carry Bear Spray for Bear Country
Pepper spray provides a feeling of safety for some campers, especially if they’re in bear country.
But that’s not the only safety precaution to follow. You must follow proper bear safety!
For example, start by hanging everything with odor in trees, ideally 15 feet above the ground. It should also be away from your campsite.
You could also invest in a Ursack or bear vault to avoid hanging. The bear vaults are an awesome option if you don’t have trees for a bear hang.
But the most important thing is to ensure your food is away from your tent camping and storage location.
Bring a Dog
One of the things that makes me feel safest while camping is bringing my dog.
I’ve a blue pitbull, and I usually take with home everywhere.
She smells bad intentions from miles, hears much better, and is an awesome predator deterrent.
Having a dog makes you less approachable, barks at things and people I don’t hear, and gives me a heads up.
And the best part is he snores like a 300-pound man and is a great cuddler.
However, getting a dog that can handle the high activity and is friendly and protective is important. Labs, pit bulls, and huskies are great for this.
Pack a Little More
When boondocking alone, consider overpacking a little more food, water, and other resources.
See, hiking burns a lot of calories, and sometimes, campers are usually not prepared for how hungry they might get.
I don’t mean you carry your whole kitchen to the wild, but throw at least a day or two extra days’ worth of camping supplies.
It sucks to hike an extra 10 or 20 miles when starving and thirsty.
Pack Proper Equipment for the Trip
Proper camping packing is part of the planning phase.
In addition to bringing the right amount of camping supplies, it’s important to have the right gear for your solo camping trip.
The shelter is usually my biggest concern. Consider whether you’ve a decent and appropriate camping tent for the weather conditions.
Next, see if you can set it up all by yourself. Nothing will beat the hell out of you if you can’t set up a tent without a helping hand.
I usually prefer to set and break my tents a few days before the buildup of the camping trip, so I don’t get any surprises. It’s important, especially if you’ve a new tent.
Know Basic Survival Skill
It’s important to see that you’ve some critical survival skills.
Start by developing a particular, creative, adaptive, and resourceful mindset.
With what you’ve in your location, you start by contemplating how you’d achieve the basics of survival (shelter, food, warmth, water, sleep, and shelter).
Consider what the animals do and what resources are there in your location.
For example, are there any caves to seek shelter in if your tent or sleeping bag gets lost. Or better, do you know to build a shelter from wild materials?
See whether you can start a friction fire.
And depending on your location, can you identify edible plants or how to make traps?
In addition to all this, I’d recommend getting conversant with celestial navigation and/or compass reading.
Know how to signal distress when alone, get help, and finally, how not to die.
Of course, you may not need all these survival skills, but it helps to know some of them.
Have Navigational Tools
Depending on the remoteness of your solo trips, it makes sense to invest in a personal locator beacon.
I’m a big fan of Garmin InReach or Spot. They allow me to send position updates and texts through satellite.
It’s important, especially if your camping location doesn’t have cell phone connectivity.
If there’s going to be cell network reception, then it’s unnecessary.
The key thing is to have your cell phone battery full. I’d recommend you carry some extra pair of batteries.
I usually have a solar charging option to keep me in the loop every time.
Of all the different camping setups I’ve tried, I’ve found a car camping site to be the safest.
It’s particularly great for first-time campers.
Simply get inside your car, and sleep with the doors locked.
Of course, safety is an illusion, and a very determined person will simply break the window or pick your lock.
In short, they won’t fail to get a way of getting in.
However, I feel cars are much safer than tents and will provide the chance of waking up in time and raising the alarm or fighting back than someone simply cutting or unzipping your tent.
Always ensure the keys are on your body or below your pillow when camping in a car. The other keys can be hidden in the glove box.
Secondly, you must always know your exit routes and have a paper map in your car.
If you choose to camp in your tent, there’re a couple of safety measures that you can employ.
I love the simple pull and hook zippers on my tent. The pull cords are usually for backpack zippers but will work on your tent.
They’re loud when opening, and the piercing sound will alert you of an intruder. Just the sounds are also enough to scare away animals.
You can also string reusable twist ties through the zipper pulls on your tent. While it won’t stop anyone from cutting through your tent, it gives extra peace of mind knowing that no one can waltz their way in.
You’ll have an extra moment’s notice to prepare or raise the alarm.
The other option I like using is getting a security zipper. A carabiner is an awesome choice.
I usually avoid options that need a lock, key, or combination to access because it makes it challenging to get out. You want to make it harder for someone to get in.
Set a Perimeter Fence
Setting a perimeter wall around your tent is a great way to notify you of any intruders.
You could set a perimeter fence using rope, wire, glow sticks, and mouse traps. The trap snaps and breaks the glow stick when the wire is tripped.
While this won’t wake you, it’s a great way to scare the intruder off. Plus, it tells you if an intruder tried to make their way inside your campsite.
You can also set a little pull string alarm. I love the key chain type. I set them to a tree and included a trip wire to pull it.
They’re loud and will generally scare away most animals while alerting you of their presence. A heavy-duty fishing line is ideal for this tank because it’s clear and less visible.
Other than that, set the simple bell lines to alert you about any animals coming into your camp.
Go Slow on the Bottle
You must have wits about yourself and go easy on the bottle or medications.
I’m not here to judge- I’m a big fan of whiskey and beer, but when alone, I am usually alone and worried about my safety. I usually try to monitor my intake.
You don’t want to end up blotto, forget locking your camping RV, or even pass out by the campfire.
Find Other Female Campers
This is for the female campers camping alone, and it’s a tip from my wife.
She deliberately attempts to find other solo females in the area when she’s camping alone.
The thing is, women are likely to look out for each other, especially in such situations.
Even then, it’s always crucial that you trust your gut when seeking female companionship.
If something doesn’t feel right, it’s not.
Don’t Put Yourself in a Questionable Situation
It’s important not to put yourself in questionable situations, and this is particularly important with the social interaction you make.
For example, you shouldn’t accept unsolicited invitations to hang out with strangers.
And as I’ve mentioned above, monitor your alcohol intake to avoid getting into a compromising situation.
Also, if you’re hiking, be careful to avoid getting hurt.
Also, I like keeping tabs on my supplies and knowing where to refill. It helps me avoid the need to interact with questionable campers.
I also like keeping my car in good condition and having the tools and spares to get myself from a sticky situation.
I tip I usually give all the campers, whether new, established or everyone in between, is to always wear a whistle when camping.
A whistle offers a great way to scare predators of any species, draw the attention of fellow campers and help you get out of a bad situation.
Alternatively, you could wear bells on your backpack.
The bell noise will presumably alert animals to your presence, so there’s less chance of surprising a momma bear with their cub.
Don’t Wander in the dark
Here’s a tip I also learned the hard way when I started camping alone: Don’t wander far from your site after dark.
It’s a great tip, especially if you’re new to a location and don’t know how to return to your campsite.
I made the mistake of wandering off and getting utterly lost. And no, my trail wasn’t full of misleading turns or anything but wandering lefts and rights.
Don’t be dumb like me.
Another thing is you need to get your site before sun up. On a backpacking trip, I find myself comfortable with fewer people seeing me coming in. However, that doesn’t mean getting when it’s dark.
Trust Your Gut
The best tool in your safety arsenal is your gut and brain.
It sounds cliché, but you must be aware of the surroundings and trust your gut.
Sometimes, our subconscious registers things that may alert us to danger and advise caution.
It’s good to listen to those feelings.
If your instincts tell you something is off, you better be cautious. Don’t be afraid of calling it quits if you need to get out of a situation.
Confidence also matters. While it definitely comes due time and with solo camping experience, carrying yourself with confidence will ward off many potential predators.
Other Safety Tips When Camping Alone
- · Always ensure your vehicle/RV is in good shape. It should fit the entire trip and have everything in good condition.
- · Keep your camp clean, so critters stay away from your stuff
- · Exercise usual precautions about not trying anything to put you in harm’s way
Should I Go Camping Alone?
Yes, there’re numerous benefits of camping aloe.
I usually do it 95% of the time, which has helped me find myself.
And don’t make the mistake that camping alone is a lonely affair.
I usually keep myself preoccupied with a hive of activities, including drawing, hiking, and painting.
I also bring some crosswords and my guitar for music. I also make food and plan out for the next day.
Having an itinerary is critical, as it helps me plan my stay and syncs me with the sun’s rising and setting.
That’s a wrap for camping alone, and I think you now have a solo camping checklist for just you.
I’ve been solo camping for some time now, and the most important thing I’ve learned is knowing my comfort and skill level.
I try to stick to places I’m familiar with, which should resonate even better with the female campers.
Of course, the first few solo camping trips are a little scary and quiet. My first solo trip was frightening.
But once you get the hang of solo camping, you’ll love every second spent in the wild.
My only opinion is that solo camping isn’t a time to test your survival boundaries but a moment to relax and enjoy camping outdoors.
What do you think? Tell us in the comment section below.