The Complete Guide to Solo Camping

There are few better ways to regain your mental health, de-stress, and find creative inspiration than by communing with nature while camping. For those growing tired of their day-to-day routines, a solo camping trip might be exactly “what the doctor ordered.” However, solo camping carries with it a few risks that traditional camping trips don’t.

To help keep you safe in the woods, we’ve developed a list of solo camping tips to people of all experience levels should follow. 

The solo camping experience

As you might expect, camping solo is a lot different from camping in a group. For many solo campers, this is precisely the point.

Solo camping means going at your own pace, doing what you want when you want to do it, and allowing yourself to commune with nature on a much deeper level. That said – you won’t have anyone to roast marshmallows with or have anyone help you out if something goes wrong. 

Because of the differences between camping alone and camping in a group, there are unique solo camping tents and solo camping gear. There is also a completely different solo camping checklist that any newbie will want to peruse before hitting the woods.

Preparing for a solo camping trip

Solo camping for beginners and experienced outdoorsmen alike involves a lot of preparation, both physically and mentally. It also requires a lot of planning, as there are a lot of things that can go wrong when you’re away from civilization. In the following section, we’ll go over some solo camping tips that you can use to put your best boot forward.

Mentally prepare yourself

Meticulously packed bags and the latest in high-tech equipment won’t count for anything if you’re not mentally prepared to spend time alone in the woods. If you do end up in a situation for which you’re unprepared, how you react to it can mean the difference between life and death.

The first step to mental preparation is to learn how to keep your mind calm. Come up with a motivational speech for yourself – something that reinstalls confidence and gives you the drive to succeed. Also, bring items with you that you find calming and relaxing, such as books or magazines. You might also want to look up calming techniques in case you get a terrible case of outdoor anxiety.

Pack as light as possible

Camping solo means that there won’t be anyone there to share the load. This fact is why it’s a good idea to pack as lightly as possible. Investing in solo camping gear will be a massive benefit in this regard. In general, these items (like sleeping bags and first aid kits) feature light construction and are easy to carry. Also, making a proper solo camping checklist can ensure you have the essentials and can minimize fluff. My personal favorite piece of small equipment for solo camps is this TOAKS stove that weighs less than half a pound:  [aawp box=”B00SA2H05I”]

Stick with the familiar (for now)

For your first solo camping experience, it’s a great idea to choose a campsite with which you’re already familiar. Experience in an area can make all the difference when it comes to building confidence for the trip or in an emergency. 

You’ll also want to consider a place that’s closer to your car or the site entrance. After all, you don’t want to be lugging your gear all over creation on your first foray into the woods.

Work up to it

Confidence is essential for solo camping, but it should be rooted in actual experience. If you’ve never been camping at all, it’s a terrible idea to head out into the woods alone for your first time – regardless of how much preparing you do.

 Start by camping in groups a few times. After that, talk to people that have camped solo before. Many first-timers overlook the social aspect of preparing for a solo camping trip and miss out on great advice.

Use the “buddy system”

In the case of solo camping, your camping “buddy” is the person back home who knows your itinerary and location. If something does go wrong, this is the person who can contact the proper authorities and give them information on your whereabouts and activities. While it’s a good idea to be in contact with this person during the trip, just telling them of your plans can still be a lifesaver. 

Get technological

Just because you’re out in nature doesn’t mean you can’t take a bit of the modern world along. From satellite phones to high-tech GPS devices to magnesium firelighters, there are dozens of tools that make camping solo safer and more accessible. Though some are expensive, they can be an excellent investment if you plan on spending a lot of time in the woods.

Plan for every possibility

As with any trip, you’ll want to hope for the best but always plan for the worst possible outcomes. For starters, never go into the wilderness without at least one “escape plan”. Second, be sure to pack clothing for a variety of weather conditions, including extreme cold and rain. That amount of space a pair of mittens take up in your pack won’t matter one bit if you end up needing them.

Another way to plan for every possibility is to bring more food and water than you’ll need. The average person requires around half a gallon of water a day. You’ll want to either ensure access or a clean water source or plan on sealable jugs being the majority of your pack’s weight.

Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you bring all the “bells and whistles” that are appropriate for the place you are camping at. These include everything you need to protect yourself from the local wildlife, be they mosquitos or grizzly bears, and one or more ways to signal help if required. 

FAQs About Solo Camping

What tips does the guide provide for setting up a campsite?

The guide provides tips for setting up a campsite such as choosing a flat, level area to pitch your tent, using natural windbreaks to help keep the camp protected from wind and rain, and bringing extra stakes in case of strong winds.

How should campers ensure their safety when camping alone?

Campers should ensure their safety by always letting someone know where they are going when they go on solo camping trips, being aware of their surroundings at all times, avoiding risky activities or situations, and having an emergency plan in place in case anything unexpected happens.

Are there any specific items that are recommended to bring on solo camping trips?

Items that are recommended to bring on solo camping trips include basic first aid supplies, enough food and water for the duration of the trip, appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather conditions expected during the trip, a map/GPS device if available and some form of communication device (such as a satellite phone) in case you need assistance while away from civilization.

What is the best way to plan and prepare meals while solo camping?

Planning meals while solo camping can involve pre-cooking meals ahead of time which can then be reheated over a campfire or stove once at your destination; bringing plenty of non-perishable foods such as nuts & seeds that don’t require refrigeration; utilizing lightweight cooking gear such as one pot meals prepared directly over an open flame etc.

Is there any advice provided on what type of gear is needed for solo camping trips?

The type of gear needed for solo camping trips will depend on various factors including what type/length of trip you’re taking (daytrip vs multi-day); what season it is (summer vs winter); if you’re car-camping or backpacking etc, but generally speaking essential items would include shelter, sleeping bag/pad & mattress combo), cookware & utensils suitable for your chosen method(s)of cooking (stovetop / open fire), appropriate clothing & footwear depending on weather conditions expected during your trip plus any additional items specific to activities planned during your stay e g fishing equipment / climbing harnesses etc.

Ready to “fly solo”

As with any time you enter the outdoors, safety depends on research, preparation, and common sense. If you stick to all of the above tips, you should your first solo camping trip should be a walk in the park.


About the Author

Trey is a lifelong hunter and avid camper. He lives outside Denver, CO with his wife Kaci and their lab mix Ziggy. They spend as much time as possible outdoors - hunting, fishing, and camping.

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