Tips For Camping Alone Safely
Finally, you are out there in the woods, huddled in your tent, enjoying the peace and quiet. Oh, what a feeling! Being so far away from the hustle and bustle of the city life is ever so rewarding. The smoky cars loudly tooting their horns and the never-ending stream of humanity in a constant rush to God knows where is entirely out of sight. How relieving it is to be deep in the woods as far away as possible from civilization.
Although camping out in the woods all by yourself is a fun and exciting experience, it also has its drawbacks. Therein that coveted solitude lies the need for caution. Whether you carry a black belt in karate or not, the following ten safety tips when camping will help to ensure you don’t wind up the boogeyman’s next catch; or worse, you become a snack for a hungry grizzly bear.
1. Keep Calm
When the sun sets out in the woods and all you can hear is the chirping of night birds and crickets, all that solitude out in nature, along with any sudden noises may become quite real and unnerving, even for the bravest of hearts. Even if deep down you know it’s nothing too serious, you can’t help but become very anxious.
However, despite the rush of adrenaline, don’t go running into the night screaming for mommy. And by all means, avoid reaching out for a pint to soothe your nerves. Camping solo is not the time to turn to alcohol for soothing frayed nerves. Fumbling around in the dark, drunk as a skunk trying to turn on your camping stove while intoxicated is a sure way to doom your camping experience before it even gets started. Even worse, alcohol can be very dehydrating making it harder to hit all the trails you mapped out. Instead, put your big boy pants on and go check out the situation.
Always remain calm when inspecting a situation to ensure that you are thinking rationally. Once checked, you will likely discover that it’s nothing too serious. That bump in the dark may have been a squirrel having its nighttime walk or simply your camping pillow falling to the ground.
2. Touch Base
Yes, we know it can be a real struggle for grown-ups with an independent nature to actually check in with someone. However, it is wise to let at least one trusted person know your whereabouts before setting off. This does not mean that all your carefully drafted ‘under the radar’ plans to be one with nature have been blown out of the water. All it takes is for you to check in when it counts.
You can also call in when you arrive at the camping area, share the location when you break camp, make friends with park rangers who are the first responders in the event of trouble and connect with other campers briefly. Don’t go overboard with the connecting though and start announcing the sites you plan to visit on the trail with that stranger you met at the camping area. That goes for checking in at locations on your social media too.
3. Lighten Up!
Even though it’s been ages since a city slicker like you last ventured beyond the doors of your man cave, you do not need to relocate all your creature comforts into your camping bag. You can drop that fancy cologne that keeps the ladies coming to your workstation. Most likely, all you are going to attract out in the woods with that are bugs that bite. So stick to the essentials such as your camping stove for starting a fire and cooking up some great camping recipes, camping chair for lounging outside your tent on a cool evening and a bug out bag loaded with some first aid materials for emergencies. Why not also add some batteries, a torchlight, a whistle and some duct tape to name a few.
Don’t camp so light you forget your mess kit though. Your camping stove would end up useless without it. You may also require a skillet, tea kettle and other basic cooking utensils needed when need to rustle up a little something to eat out on the trail. Although lugging all these stuff around on the trail can get exhausting and wear you out faster, they can come in handy hence the need to plan efficiently, taking only what truly matters.
4. Sustain Yourself
Since you are camping solo, you do not have the luxury of pinching food off anyone’s plate or calling the pizza delivery. This means you will have to carry along enough food and water with you. Remember the need to travel light though. That caviar and sushi you have been saving for a special time need not make this trip. Out camping is neither the time nor place for the fancy stuff. You can savor all that when you get back. Take mostly canned and dry or dehydrated foods, keeping fresh foods carefully stored to avoid attracting keen-nosed animals to your campsite.
Examples of food that should be taken include that box of mac and cheese, some trail mix to snack on while hiking, a can of baked beans for protein or some oats and dried berries for fiber. You can even pack some spices along too. Who knows, you just might catch a fish and need to season it.
Most importantly, don’t forget to pack enough water. Taking chances with water streams out there could have you coming down with something nasty.
5. Keep Yourself Entertained
Exciting as it seems, being out there in nature, all by yourself, it is only a matter of time before the pleasure of solitude begins to lose its novelty. Boredom could very easily lead to your imagination getting the better of you. It won’t be a matter of time before you start seeing human silhouettes lurking in the shadows or wild animals warming up to pounce on you. You might rationalize that you will be mostly hiking. However, it is unlikely that you will be trekking all day long.
Such a quiet place as out in the woods is a good time to finish up that book you haven’t gotten around reading. But don’t go picking up the Texas Chainsaw Massacre book though. The last thing you need is to scare yourself to death.
If books are not your thing, why not do some sober reflection on that new job offer you just had, or how to propose to that lovely lady in your life or whether to move into that loft in the luxury apartment building that just came on the market?
6. Don’t Overdo Things
You might be the local fitness buff of your neighborhood, starting your workout well before the cock crows, clocking fifty miles before folks even realize it’s already morning. That’s all good, however, out on the trail, all by yourself is one place where overestimating your abilities could really get you hurt. The trail out in the woods rife with blood-sucking insects, jagged rocks, extreme weather, uneven terrain and the possibility of an attack by wild beasts is a marked difference from the paved, well-lit streets of your neighborhood.
Have a realistic view of your abilities and plan accordingly. Make camp well before dark, use your compass and do not rely on head knowledge assuming you can easily find your way back. It is rather easy to lose your sense of direction as most places look similar. Even scarier, you could trip on a rock in the dark and sprain your ankle. And with no one’s shoulder to use as a crutch to hobble back to camp, you could be in serious trouble.
7. Be Sheltered
Camping solo is one time being sheltered is actually a good thing. If you are a first-time camper, you might feel safer cocooned in a recreational vehicle, high above the ground and less susceptible to wild animals, bugs or even dangerous humans. Even better, should the weather turn rainy, you will remain warm under the covers listening to the soothing rhythm of raindrops against your roof, protected from the possibility of hypothermia.
If you would rather blend in with nature though, a tent is your best bet. Getting that tent set up is where that camping saw would come in handy to cut small branches for use as spikes to keep your tent securely in place. Lightweight and super sharp, camping saws are a better option than machetes which are much heavier.
You can also set up your sleeping bag in your tent using a camping pillow to keep your head above ground. You might want to clear the spot below your tent of jagged stones or any other hard material that could make your sleep uncomfortable.
8. Choose the Right Spot
That skill of emotional intelligence that fetched you those promotions in the office would come in handy out on the trail alone. Size up that family camping next to you to see if you could make friends and exchange contacts. Strike a balance with your camp positioning as fellow humans could pose a threat when alone. Don’t set up too close to the trail where lots of other campers including the bad guys would be frequently passing by and readily notice you are all by yourself.
Adventurous as you may feel, it is best not to situate your campsite in the middle of nowhere. A calm, quiet spot with some trees to serve as protection from flooding is a good choice. Look out for flat surfaces on a high ground rather than at the base of a hill where your campsite is right in the waterway. Use your paracord bracelet to help you set up the solo tent and secure it to a tree better. Should an emergency arise, not being too isolated would make it easier for help to get to you.
9. Keep it Short and Sweet
Most things, good times and solo camping trips included are often best in small doses. Solo trips are also best undertaken by seasoned campers with years of experience under their belts. For the not so experienced, keeping the days short not only greatly reduces the risk of bad guys becoming aware of your presence and itinerary but also gives you a chance to ease into the experience.
Much as being away from the city madness can be refreshing, it can still present a bit of a shock to be away from all the perks of civilization and neighborly banter you are familiar with, only to find yourself alone, everywhere totally quiet. You could possibly become disoriented and overwhelmed by it all, making the situation somewhat frightening rather than the relaxing experience you were seeking. You could start off the first in a possible series of solo camping expeditions with between two to three days for starters, increasing the days in subsequent trips as you get the hang of things.
10. Prepare for the Weather
No matter how experienced or brave you consider yourself to be, out there pitted against the elements is not a place to be without foreknowledge of what kind of weather to expect. You could end up packing sweaters you might never get around to wearing or forget to take along waterproof boots for keeping your feet protected from moisture. Don’t wait to be in the middle of a trail to start staring at the sky, trying to decipher the message in the clouds like some primordial weatherman. Plan ahead and keep track of the weather forecast for the days you plan to be outdoors.
If you are the type to readily catch a cold, knowing rain is expected will help you pack clothes accordingly, decide on the kind of shelter you want to use or if you would rather reschedule your trip to a less wet period. Knowing when the sun is expected to rise and set in your camping area would help you figure when to make and break camp and how many hours of daylight you have to hike and get to the next stop before nightfall.