Camping solo for many is a sort of pilgrimage. It is a way to leave the civilized, hyperactive “rat race” behind, and to commune with nature in an intimate and personal way. It calls out to the Henry David Thoreaus and Davy Crocketts of the world. But it isn’t without risks. And the farther you tread off the beaten path, the more risks you take on. A sprained ankle at home may mean having to take a week off of work; in the wilderness, a sprained ankle could have disastrous consequences. For this reason, solo campers may want to consider the following safety tips. When it comes to solo camping, preparation is key!
Inform Others of Your Route
If the real-life stories of Aron Ralston and Christopher McCandless (dramatized in the films 127 Hours and Into the Wild) have any takeaway, it is this: inform others of your route and your itinerary. If you don’t turn up to a designated place on time, rescue teams will know that you may be in danger, and will have a good idea of where to look for you. One of the biggest risks to solo campers is a lack of communication with the outside world. If something happens to you on the trail, particularly if it is a lesser traveled trail or backcountry path, the odds of rescue teams finding you are slim. Don’t take that risk. Tell others where you are going.
Bring Sufficient Water Stores
You can survive a week or more without food. However, without water, you will survive for only a few days at most. If you intend to go camping by yourself, it is absolutely imperative that you consider your water needs. You may not be able to depend on natural water sources, like rivers or rain, so take this into consideration. The Centers for Disease Control recommend at least one gallon of water per person per day in emergency situations. Use this as a general rule of thumb when you start planning your camping trip. How much water you are able to pack should dictate the length of your journey.
Pack Clothing Layers for Inclement Weather
Camping is often done in places with extreme weather. Temperature differences in the desert, for example, can vary drastically between night and day, and in mountains, heavy precipitation (even snow) can come at a moment’s notice. Shelter is incredibly important when camping, and your first layer of shelter is your own clothing. In addition to your base layer of clothes, you should bring hats and gloves, outerwear, and waterproof clothing. As temperatures drop, you can protect against the cold by layering these many different elements. And remember that it is imperative that you stay dry at all times.
Have a Means of Contacting People
The odds are good that you may not have a phone signal at certain times during your camping trip. However, it is incredibly important that you bring your phone with you, as you may be able to walk towards more populated areas to gain cell reception if the need arises. Think of it this way: it is better to have a chance at outside communication, no matter how slim, than no chance at all. For this reason, pack your smartphone and ensure it is fully charged. Many modern smartphones are equipped with “quick charging”, energy efficient mobile processors, like the Snapdragon by Qualcomm. These advanced processors not only charge quickly, they will stay alive for the duration of your journey if you minimize your phone usage.
Pack a Suitable Shelter
Not all tents are created equal. There are basic, summer tents (like you might use to camp on the beach for 4th of July weekend), and there are four-season tents that can provide additional protection against the elements. When choosing a one-person tent, choose one that is easy to pack and set up. If you expect any chance of inclement weather, be sure to select a four-season tent that can survive the elements. And don’t forget to choose a suitable sleeping bag as well. Be mindful of the bag’s temperature rating and insulation, and take into account any special features that might be available, such as hoods or pockets. When it comes to packing a shelter for your trip, you can’t be too cautious!
Safety is the Name of the Game
Camping alone is like swimming alone. Yes, you can do it, but most people will advise you not to! With that being said, if you do decide to go camping solo, follow these safety tips to help mitigate risks. As a solo camper, you may not have an immediate life line should something go wrong. Take precaution and do what you can to stay safe. You will appreciate it, and your friends and family members will too.
About The Author: Samantha Rivers is a freelance writer who lives in Chicago (Go Cubs!) and loves writing anything in the lifestyle, travel, and career realm both online and print. When she’s not running the Upward Onward blog, she enjoys reading, finding new restaurants, being active outside, and indulging in a glass of wine or two. Follow her adventures on Twitter!