Solo camping – a great feat and an experience like no other. Some people may question why you’d want to go alone when the “whole point” of camping is gathering around a campfire with some friends, sharing stories and roasting marshmallows.
The simple answer would be is to experience nature in a different light. It highlights some parts of the backcountry experience that you will otherwise miss if you camp with other people. Solo camping is a self-challenge – it’s looking out for and taking care of yourself in the woods.
It’s a real camping experience that will teach you a lot about the outdoors and about yourself. Like some experts would say, “you’ve never experienced camping if you’ve never camped alone”.
But when we said that solo camping is a challenge, we meant it – first time solo campers must be fully prepared for the trip for it to go smoothly. Like with any outdoor excursion, there are some important camping gear essentials that you cannot leave home without.
Essential Camping Gear for Solo Camping
When you’re camping solo, you can be more flexible about your shelter options, but the most important thing to take note of is that you’ll be carrying it alone so your best option would be something lightweight.
A lightweight tent is usually what most first timers would go for, but there are many other options besides a tent. Experienced solo campers are into the “minimalist shelter” idea, using only a bivvy, a hammock or a tarp for sleeping.
It ultimately depends on your personal preference and what you’re comfortable with, to carry and to sleep in.
The next big thing is your sleeping gear – your sleeping bag, sleeping mat and pillow. When it comes to your sleeping bag, you must consider the season, the weather and of course, your own needs. Opt for something lightweight that is appropriate for the season and has a safe margin of comfort temperature in case the weather changes.
The material should also be considered. There are two main types for sleeping bags, down or synthetic. Down sleeping bags are superior in warmth and weight, but is prone to condensation. Synthetic, on the other hand, is a bit heavier but is great for wet conditions.
A sleeping mat is another must-have on your list. Your best bet would be a lightweight air or inflatable mat (the lightest one you can afford!). The most important thing to look for in a sleeping mat is the RV Factor – the higher it is, the better the insulation. Those that have low RV factor only work good for camping in shelters or during warm weather.
Pillows are optional, but if you must use one, choose one that is lightweight (air or inflatable) but comfortable.
Bringing the right sleeping gear that fits your needs is paramount to a good night’s sleep out in the woods, which might be harder to achieve when you’re camping alone for the first time.
For effective sleeping tips while camping, read our blog post here.
Food and Cooking Gear
How much food to bring depends on how long your trip will be. The most logical thing to do is to make a list of your planned daily meals and snacks so you know what to bring. Always bring extra. Choose meals that are easy and convenient to make. You can bring as much snacks and treats as you want but be reasonable – remember, you’re going to carry it all by yourself.
As for gear, you don’t really need much. A mini stove (many models already come with an aluminum pot) should suffice to make coffee, soups and meals. Don’t forget water bottle, mug, spoon and fork, scissors, knife, some trash bags, and an environment-friendly dish detergent.
Clothing and Personal Items
When it comes to clothing, it’s basically the same as what you would normally bring on a regular camping trip. Be sure you bring clothes that are appropriate for the weather/season. Always be ready for the rain, no matter what the season is. Don’t forget your protective gear like boots, some thick socks, gloves, hat, sunglasses and a sweater.
Keep your toiletries at a minimal. You don’t have to shower every day (unless you have access to showers at your campsite).
A fully stocked first-aid kit is a must have. Aside from the usual contents of a camping first aid kit, it must also include your personal medication, pain and allergy medicine, some sun protection, bear spay an insect repellant.
Another essential thing to bring with you is a source of entertainment. It’s easy to keep yourself busy during the day but the hours can be long at night with just the company of yourself. Bring a book or a kindle, a journal, or download something beforehand to watch on your phone during the night.
The first most important gear in this category is a source of light. A camping lantern, a headlight or a flashlight is essential to any camping trip. Be sure to bring an extra set or two of batteries.
Camping solo means that you have no one to rely on but yourself, especially if you’re in a secluded area. It’s easy to get lost. To prevent this, pack a watch, GPS device, a map, compass, a whistle, altimeter and a personal locator beacon.
Other important things to bring are waterproof matches, a lighter, a swiss knife and a gear repair kit.
When you come fully prepared, you’ll be more ready to face problems that may arise. One last thing, make sure to let somebody know where you will be staying and for how long, especially if the area you’re setting up camp doesn’t have cell service.
But above everything else, good luck and have fun!
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