Travelling has many benefits to one’s physical and mental health. Spending time outdoors allow you to get away from hectic city life and everything that brings you anxiety. Camping is also a great way to strengthen relationships with friends or family – and tests them, too. After all, spending a few days outdoors can be a bit stressful in itself since you’re far away from the comforts of home.
When hiking or camping with companions, there are many things that you need to consider. Most important is the pace by which everyone can hike. Everyone needs to adjust and allow the slowest person in the group to lead the way so they can set the speed of the hike or climb. This can be a little frustrating to those who can hike faster. This is why for some people, camping or hiking alone is preferable.
The great thing about camping and hiking alone is you don’t need to adjust to anyone’s pace. Solo camping allows you to truly experience the beauty of nature. While being in a group is undoubtedly fun, it can be distracting if you truly want to enjoy the serenity of the outdoors. Solo campers however, risk their safety more than those who travel with friends or family. There wouldn’t be anyone to assist you in emergency situations or if you suddenly fall ill. Nevertheless, if you are well prepared and cautious, you’ll find that solo camping is one of the best travel decisions you’ve made.
To help you be well prepared, we’ve listed some of the best outdoor gear so you’d enjoy your solo camping experience to the fullest.
Shelter is the very first thing you set up in any campsite. It provides safety and protection from the outdoor elements and gives you a place to rest. Some prefer to travel light and just set up a hammock, while other campers set up a tent. Whatever type of shelter you decide to use, make sure that it’s made from quality materials and won’t get easily damaged.
Photo by Lindsay Martin on Unsplash
An alternative to the traditional tent is the Swag – a type of camping shelter made from water resistant canvas. It comes with air pillows and a foam mattress so you can sleep comfortably. Mesh panels and a mesh door protect you from insects and provide great ventilation.
Swag tent – a must have outdoor gear for solo camping
The lightweight swag is also easy to assemble and comes with sturdy aluminum poles for stability. It easily folds into a travel bag, making it a perfect solution for solo campers. On the other hand, if you prefer to set up a hammock, make sure that you bring along a tarp that you can use as cover just in case it rains in the middle of the night.
Getting as much rest as you can is important when you’re camping solo. You need to be able to sleep well and recharge for the next day’s activities. And tents aren’t really going to be enough to keep you warm throughout the night. Evenings can get really cold outdoors, even during summer season. This makes sleeping on the ground really uncomfortable – even if you’re in a tent. A sleeping bag is an essential part of your outdoor gear as it insulates you from the cold ground. An inflatable air mattress with built-in foot pump is also a comfortable way to keep you warm while you sleep.
Single size air bed with foot pump helps make overnight camping more comfy
Air mattresses are portable and come with a storage bag, so you can easily bring it with you anywhere you go. Don’t forget to pack an extra blanket just in case it gets really cold in the evenings.
Portable Cooking Tools
You don’t have to bring your entire kitchen with you. There are many portable cooking tools available in camping supply stores and online retailers. Check out collapsible pots, small butane stove and other cooking essentials.
Rehydration Packs and Water Purification Straws
It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re hiking or even while you’re staying in your campsite. You lose electrolytes when you sweat and you need to replenish that to avoid getting dehydrated. Dehydration can cause fatigue and muscle cramps – two things that you need to avoid when you’re camping and hiking alone.
At least one week before you leave, study the hiking trail and campsite you’re going to. Find out what water sources are available, and how far they are from where you’d be staying. This helps you decide how much drinking water to bring with you.
Hydration packs are popular among hikers as it eliminates the need to bring water jars. You simply sip water from a straw connected to water reservoir in the backpack. This is ideal for solo hikers and campers that prefer to travel light. Be sure though, that you also bring water purification devices like filter straws to avoid drinking contaminated water. Staying hydrated is important, but don’t just go drinking from any water source you come across.
Responsible solo campers plan ahead and makes sure they’re equipped with the right survival gear. While you can buy survival kits online or in camping supply stores, it’s more fun to put together your own and helps you save some money, too. Your DIY survival kit should include:
Image by twintiger007 via Flickr under Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 2.0
First aid kit – This should never be left out of your camping checklist. Hiking the outdoors leave you prone to scrapes, falls, wounds, inclement weather, insect bites, animal attacks, etc. If you don’t have even the basic medical items to clean and treat your wounds, you are putting yourself at great risk. Even if you’re going to stay in a holiday park with a clinic and you’re absolutely sure nothing bad will happen to you, still bring a handy first aid kit. You never know when another camper may need your help.
Flashlight, headlamp and batteries – Flashlights don’t just provide illumination, you can use them as tools to send signals to rescuers during emergency situations. A headlamp is ideal when you’re walking round your campsite at night as it frees up your hands for other tasks. Extra batteries are a must, for when your headlamp or flashlight needs them.
Knife – You can bring a multi-purpose knife, or a folding knife or the old school camping knife. Just don’t leave a knife out of your outdoor gear as it can be used for a lot of things when you go hiking or camping. You can cut ropes, slice food. You can use it to fix your gear, or tie/tape it at the end of a stick to make a fishing spear.
Whistle and a small mirror - Both are essential tools to signal rescuers in emergency situations. Whistles aren’t battery operated, so you need to make sure that you have one worn around your neck at all times. A small sighting mirror on the other hand can be used to flash sunlight to rescuers or helicopters so they can easily lock down your location. The mirror can also be used to flash sunlight to a predator or attacker’s eyes, distracting them long enough for you to get away.
Duct tape – No survival kit is complete without duct tape. There are just so many uses for it in the outdoors. A roll of duct tape can be used to patch up a tent, backpack or jacket. You can use it to make non-load bearing rope. You can use it to mark trails and to seal food packets.
Whether you’re camping alone or with companions, bringing navigational gear is important, especially if you’re visiting an area for the first time. Remember, anything can happen and you may end up getting lost in the woods around your campsite if you don’t have the right navigation tools with you. Or you may come across another camper that needs help looking for their companions. Whatever the situation is, the following navigation gear can help a lot in the outdoors:
GPS – Global Positioning Device or GPS, keeps track of your current location. If you don’t have a GPS device, your smartphone has the capability to track your location. Digital maps can also be used even if you don’t have internet connection in the area. The thing about using your mobile phone is that unlike actual GPS devices, your phone isn’t weather-proof. Make sure that you protect your phone with proper casing to prevent damage from falls or wet surfaces.
Sport Watches – The great thing about sport watches these days is many brands come with cool features like altimeter, GPS and compass. If you’re hiking up a mountain, altimeter watches give information on air pressure, your current pace, distance covered and even your pulse. The handy GPS feature also helps you determine your exact location as you hike, which is important if you have to provide such information to rescuers.
Maps and Compass – Old school topographic maps give you a clearer idea of the terrain you’re going. Maps are also great to have around when your GPS device or mobile phone runs out of battery power. You do need to know how to read a map for it to be any use to you. So it’d be a good idea to check out lessons on map reading online before you go camping by yourself. A compass is also a great backup tool when your GPS device runs out batteries. Get one that you can wear around your neck and comes with a sighting mirror.
Portable Solar Panel
Camping solar panels allow you to harness sunlight and convert it to electricity. While you can bring along a power bank to keep your mobile phone and GPS device charged, these power banks still run out of juice and needs to be charged again. A solar blanket or solar mat is a more practical solution especially if you’re camping in remote areas.
Image by wetwebwork via Flickr under Creative Commons Attribution CC BY-SA 2.0
Products like solar mats/solar blankets make recharging gadgets easier. You can also use solar panels to power up campsite lights at night so you do not have to rely on batteries. You can power up electric camping stoves to cook your food, especially if you’re staying in campgrounds or national parks that forbid campfires.
Solar blankets are ideal for solo campers as they are very portable. You just lay them out under the sun to use them, and fold into its integrated bag with handle when you’re done. The matte surface is easy to clean and is waterproof so you don’t have to worry about keeping it dry at all times.
Using portable solar panels also help you save money during your trip. Unlike using generators, you don’t have to buy extra tanks of gas for it to generate electricity. It is also easier to spend nights in unpowered sites which are cheaper than powered sites in holiday parks. And because solar panels do not emit smoke and is completely quiet, you aren’t going to disturb other campers or even pay the holiday park a fee to use them.
Ready to go solo camping?
When you go solo camping, you won’t have anyone to rely on for your safety. This is why making sure you are equipped with the top outdoor gear is important. Keep in mind that you don’t have to bring your entire home with you. We’ve listed the essentials here and you can simply add to it as you see fit.
Study the area where you plan to go camping and double check your camping checklist before you set out on your trip. Enjoy the beauty of nature and take lots of photos so you would have something to remind you of this exciting outdoor adventure.