Last Updated on 16 February 2024 by Rebecca
Camping trips are great adventures with family and friends that strengthen bonds while surrounded by natural beauty in the great outdoors. But have you ever wondered what it’s like to go on a solo camping adventure?
They can be just as rewarding as the ones with family and friends; however, a solo trip means you don’t have to discuss your plans while enjoying the peace of nature with no distractions. According to a report from Dyrt, a camping resource app, solo camping is experiencing rising interest. It found that 28% of people camped alone in 2022 from 2021 to 2022 and that a large number of them were female campers.
If you’re planning your first solo camping trip, read on to find out what you need to know to make your adventure the best.
5 Reasons to Go Solo Camping
There’s nothing better than spending time outdoors whether that’s with a family member or your best friend. After all, it’s a great activity to share with people.
At the same time, though, there’s no greater feeling than spending time in your own company, and what better way to experience a huge confidence boost than by being a solo traveller? Here are some reasons why you should go on a camping trip by yourself.
1. Set Your Own Pace
When you’re camping with others or undertaking an activity such as a day hike, people have their own expectations as to what they expect should be achieved.
In these instances, if you’re in a large group, people form smaller groups as they find people to go at a similar pace to themselves.
When you’re by yourself, you’re not restricted to these instances and can spend your free time however you wish.
2. Connect to Nature
When you’re with other campers and you’re all venturing out on your day hikes, you tend to get caught up in what’s going on among the group. A lot of energy is needed to ensure everyone is happy as you strengthen your connections.
When you’re solo camping, you don’t have other people to distract you, so you can focus more on the nature around you, which is great for mental health. By doing so, you can appreciate it on a deeper level while taking the time to reflect.
3. Increased Self-Confidence
In a group, chances are you can rely on someone to tell you what to do or where you’re going next on a map. You don’t have to rely on yourself.
With solo camping, you do. If you’re not sure about setting up a tent or following a map, a camping trip by yourself will definitely put you out of your comfort zone.
At the same time, though, by relying on yourself, you have to ensure you have everything you need. If you don’t, you have to think outside of the box, giving you a massive confidence boost knowing you can do anything by yourself.
4. There’s Less Stress
When it comes to camping with a group, there is always the added stress of making sure everyone is okay and that they all get on. This is especially the case if people are meeting each other for the first time.
Being a solo camper removes the stress of worrying about other people. Sure, you still need to think about your solo camping trip and what that entails such as making sure you have all the right gear, but it’s less compared to when people are around you.
5. You’ll Learn Life Skills
When you’ve only got yourself to rely on, you quickly find out that you’re more than able to do the things you thought you couldn’t. Setting up a tent, making a fire, and cooking your food outdoors while navigating to get from A to B are all excellent life skills to learn.
Chances are you’ll hit a few snags along the way, but there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing that you solved the problem on your own while camping solo.
11 Solo Camping Tips to Make Your Trip a Success
Becoming proficient at solo camping doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to master to ensure you have all the things you need to make it both enjoyable and memorable. If you get this down, you’ll likely come back for more.
1. Work Your Way Up to Camping Solo
If this is your first time solo camping, the last thing you want to do is pick a destination that’s in the middle of nowhere. You don’t want to jump off the deep end too soon. If things don’t work out, this may hinder you from trying again in the future.
Instead, go solo camping in places you’re familiar with even if it’s at a campsite. Plan a walk and explore the area before heading to where you can set up for the night. And get to the campsite early, so you don’t have to worry about pitching your tent in the dark.
By staying at a campsite, you have the added security of others nearby should you need help. This is the perfect opportunity to practice your navigational skills while reducing your chances of getting lost.
Also, most campsites have an area where you can light a fire to practice your fire-starting skills. It’s best to bring backup materials, though, to help out just in case you struggle to get a fire lit.
2. Check Your Camping Gear Before Leaving
It goes without saying, but the last thing you want to do is forget to check your camping gear before you leave.
Give everything a once over in the run-up to your adventure just in case there are any patches that need repairing. The last thing you want is to find that your tent has a hole in it or your sleeping bag is smelling less than fresh.
Don’t start off on the wrong foot before you’ve even begun, so check everything before your next camping trip.
3. Pack Light
As you’re only relying on yourself to carry your gear, make sure you only pack the essentials for your camping trip. If you’re bringing a tent with you, ensure that it’s a lightweight one.
Before you head off on your adventure for your first solo trip take the time to get your hiking backpack set up with everything you intend to bring with you. Try it on and walk around with it. Be completely honest with yourself and think about what you’ve packed. Is there anything that doesn’t need to be in your backpack?
Once you hit the trail and find out your backpack is too heavy, there won’t be anywhere to leave your stuff. Go for the bare minimum as to what you need to bring, making sure it’s still enough for you for the days you’ll be solo camping.
4. Choose Your Tent Wisely
If you haven’t already, pick a tent that will fit you and your luggage comfortably. If you can, avoid one-man tents as these rarely provide enough space and don’t often take into account storing backpacks when it’s time to settle down for the night.
5. Bring a Book
Once you’ve arrived at your camping spot, set your tent up, and cooked yourself some food on your fire, how will you entertain yourself?
With no one else around to fill the silence with conversation, you’ll be surprised how much free time you have. To help pass the time, and fill the silence around you, bring a book with you.
6. Share Your Plans with Someone
Before heading off on your solo camping trip, make sure you let a friend or relative know exactly where you’re going and how long you’ll be staying away.
If you’re staying at a campsite for your first solo camping trip, give the name and phone number of the campsite. If they can’t reach you, they can always get in touch with the campsite.
Or if you’re venturing into the woods and you get into trouble, it’ll be a huge relief knowing someone knows where you are.
7. Limit Your Use With Electronics
Whether you’re wild camping or setting up your tent at a campsite, you’ll have your phone on you for any emergencies.
Nowadays, it’s incredibly hard to switch off from technology, but one of the reasons you’re solo camping is because you want to recharge your batteries. You can’t do this if your phone is permanently attached to your hand.
Chances are you might not even have good reception to check your messages. So take the time to leave your phone in your backpack and reconnect with the sounds of nature around you. It’s great for the soul.
8. Always Put Your Safety First
If you’re going on a solo camping trip, your safety should always come first. Before heading off on your trip, you should have a clear idea as to where you’re going and where you plan to camp. Mark the routes you intend to take and possible escape routes or nearby areas should you need help or feel uncomfortable.
Living in the UK, the chances of encountering a bear are slim; however, if you do live in a bear country, then always pack some bear spray just in case for your own safety.
9. Stay Calm
If you’ve never done solo camping before, chances are you’ll feel some trepidation at doing it by yourself. It’s natural to feel like this especially when it comes to nighttime. In fact, regardless of how many times you go on these solo camping trips, once you head inside your tent and zip the door up, every snap of a twig sets your heart racing.
With time, this is something you’ll get used to, but the fear will always remain to some degree. As there is no solution to solving this, the only way to deal with it as best as you can is by spending more time outside camping alone.
10. Bring a First Aid Kit
As you’ll be camping alone, it’s worthwhile bringing a first aid set with you. If you’re in the middle of nowhere and something happens that requires attention, you want to know that you have the right kit on hand to do the job.
Before you leave, make sure you have all the bits you need – plasters, bandages, wipes, safety pins, tweezers – and top up on anything that needs replenishing.
11. Check the Weather Forecast
The weather is a funny thing. One minute it’s forecast glorious weather and the next it’s raining from morning until night with the possibility of gale-force winds and hailstones.
To save yourself from suddenly being stuck in cold weather, check the forecast first. The worst thing you want to do is check the weather as you’re travelling. Check before you go and if you have to reschedule then that’s fine.
Solo Camping Checklist
Now, that you’ve decided to hit the trails and have a rough idea of how to make it the best solo adventure, what should you take with you?
Whether you’re camping alone or with friends, it always makes good sense to have a camping checklist, so you don’t run the risk of forgetting something.
Read on to find out what you should bring.
Tent: Try to go for a 2-man tent that’s light enough to carry. This should still provide you with extra space for yourself and your backpack at night
Sleeping bag: Choosing one will largely depend on the time of year you’re camping and the weather. Pick one that has a cold and hot weather temperature label. This will let you know the maximum cold and hot the weather can get to while keeping you comfortable.
Sleeping pad: This is a personal preference, but if it’s a must pick one that’s the lightest you can afford. Keep in mind the R-value with sleeping mats. These range from one to seven, with thicker ones scoring double digits. The lower number ones are for summer excursions. Depending on the time of year you’re travelling, you may want to pick a sleeping pad that has thicker insulation.
Camping kettle: After a long day of hiking, you’ll need something warm inside your stomach. If you’re only camping for one night, you may be able to get away with this, but there’s nothing better than waking up to a nice cup of tea to start your day. You don’t need a lot to make this happen. There are plenty of camping kettles available that can easily be stored in a backpack.
Headlight: This is important for those moments when nature calls and you need to step outside your tent. Also, take a spare set of batteries just in case.
Other items to take include your favourite piece of food, maybe sweets to give you an energy boost during your walk. Plus, you’ll always have fond memories of your solo camping trip when you eat those sweets again.
Feel Confident About Your Camping Skills
When you’re camping alone – whether that’s wild camping or staying at a campsite – you want to know that you can do all the things required by yourself. This could be pitching your tent on your own or successfully making a fire for cooking your food.
Solo campers don’t always have the option to ask others for help. So to ensure you don’t get stuck, practice before leaving your home. Practice pitching your tent in your garden even if it’s one you’ve used countless times before. You may find that putting a tent up by yourself is more awkward than you initially thought.
You can also practice making a fire. Make sure you do this somewhere safe and that you have water nearby in case you need to put it out.
Unlike a group camping together where each person has a responsibility, when you’re solo camping, all responsibility falls on you. This, however, is where you learn the most about camping and will push you out of your comfort zone.
The sense of achievement you will have at being able to make your own fire to boil some water for a cup of tea in the morning will stay with you forever and will set you up for future adventures.
Your Questions Answered
Is Solo Camping Safe?
Yes, generally camping alone is safe. It’s a good idea to research where you’re going so you can get a good layout of the area.
If you’re staying at a campsite, before it gets too dark figure out where everything is. Also, pitch close to other campers so there are people nearby if you need help. It’s also worthwhile to introduce yourself to the campground host who may also give you some tips on the best places to go hiking.
While solo camping is considered a safe thing to do, you also need to have a bit of common sense to determine whether something is safe or not. And if you’re not happy, don’t force yourself to carry on.
Is Solo Camping Fun?
Without a doubt, yes it is. Not only are you escaping from everyday life for a day or a long weekend, but you’re also claiming back your freedom and independence that only comes with being outside.
You don’t have to worry about answering to others, following someone or walking for a certain amount of hours. With none of these restrictions, you can do what you want. You can camp where you want, walk where you want, and plan the activities you want to do. And you aren’t stuck waiting for someone to join you whose plans don’t align with yours.
By going it alone, your confidence improves knowing you don’t have to wait for anyone, but yourself to do something.
What to Eat When Solo Camping?
You don’t need much when you’re camping especially if you’re only camping for a few nights. After a long day hiking, you’ll be in need of some refreshments, so make sure you pack something that’s light and easy to cook with your travel kettle.
This can be as simple as rice and beans (I personally think it’s the best food for camping as it’s hot and filling).
Don’t make it too complicated as you’ll have to carry it with you to where you’re staying for the night. Water is something you’ll have to take into consideration as well. If you’re staying on a campsite, you’ll be able to refill your water bottles before you leave.
If, however, you’re staying off-grid, you’ll want to take into account how you’ll get water. Is there a stream you can camp next to that has fresh running water? This is something you’ll have to consider the next time you decide to solo camp.
What Fire Making Materials Should I Take?
Unless you’ve got time to make a fire by rubbing a stick between your hands on a rock to get a spark of fire, it’s always a good idea to take some backup with you. There’s nothing wrong with having a bit of help when making a fire, but what should you bring?
Dry leaves, wood, grass
Tinder: Small sticks, dry leaves or pine needles
Kindling: Sticks no more than 1″ around
Fuel: Larger pieces of wood
Waterproof matches and a firestarter
A flint striker
How Do You Build a Campfire?
Building a campfire is associated with camp life. It’s a beloved outdoor tradition that serves as a centrepiece for camping. So how do you build one for your next camping adventure?
The first thing you need to determine is whether there is a fire ring. At campgrounds, you should only build fires in designated fire rings; however, you should always check with your camp host to see if building a fire is allowed.
They should let you know if it’s okay to light a fire depending on the conditions, but you should always evaluate the area yourself to determine this as well. If there are low-hanging branches, keep your fire contained and avoid starting a fire in dry conditions as embers can start a wildfire.
If you’re camping solo off-grid, check with local authorities before you go if fires are allowed. If one has been left behind, use a fire ring. If you need to light a fire in an emergency, build a new one. Make sure to clean them out before leaving.
If you can, build your fire on sand or gravel. Or you could use a mound fire. This is when you use mineral soil – think sandy, light-coloured dirt). Build a mound roughly eight inches high on a flat rock to create your fire.
When staying at a campground, only use the campground firewood or collect fallen wood nearby. This helps to prevent bringing in any unwanted pests from another area if you were thinking of bringing your own firewood. When camping in the woods, take fallen wood. Never cut off live wood or break off branches from trees.
After you’ve collected your wood and have it set out in your fire ring, you now need to light the fire. With the aid of your fire starter, light the tinder with a match and blow at the base of the fire to help the wood catch. As the flames get hotter, you can add more wood to keep it going.
When it comes to extinguishing the fire, always follow the local area’s recommendations. However, make sure you have plenty of water to put the fire out, making sure to stir the ashes before applying more water. The ashes should be cool to touch before you leave your site. Before you leave, make sure that the fire embers are out and that they are cold.
The last thing you want to do is leave a fire unattended.
Camping alone is not for everyone, but for those who’ve done it before it’s an exciting adventure. And if done right, it’s something that you’ll keep doing throughout the year.
To make it a success all you need is the right camping gear, a positive mental attitude (PMA), and the determination to know that you can do anything you put your mind to when you have to rely on yourself.
So, where are you going to go for your solo camping adventure?