How to Prepare for Camping Solo

Having camped with as many as four kids, I admit there is something nice about a solo camping trip, where I can enjoy a little quiet time and relax among nature. Preparing for a solo adventure is different than when you plan to camp with others; the following post will outline how to prepare for camping solo.

Everyone is different and if you have not camped on your own before you will first want to consider your comfort level outdoors. For me personally, I am much more adventurous as far as my choice of campsites when I am with my husband or with other friends. I am perfectly comfortable in those situations and am more than willing to camp off of any national forest road we find. I am a bit more nervous when camping on my own and will typically stick to campgrounds where I know there are other campers. I feel better knowing that with so many people around, bears will likely stay away.

Once you have determined what type of camping you are comfortable with, you will want to be sure you are prepared for what you intend to do. For example, you may feel comfortable camping outside of a designated campground; however there you will want to be sure that you are ready to hang your food from a tree in order to keep it (and you) safe from bears and other wildlife. If you have camped with others prior to camping solo, you will likely have a good idea of what tasks will need to be done in each camping situation. You will then want to be sure that you have the knowledge to complete those tasks or that you research how to go ahead and do so. If you have not done much camping, it might be helpful to take a trip with others first, as well as research things that will be important for you to know.


After having decided what type of camping you will be doing, and feel confident you know what will need to be done (especially if planning a remote adventure in the wilderness), and how to do it, making a list is a great next step. I have gone on countless camping trips where I have forgotten something. It may be something small that is easy to do without, but often it is something pretty important to have, like a lighter or a tarp. It is not a big deal if you are camping close to a town, however if you are camping far from civilization, getting a replacement item might be an issue. Creating a list all but assures me that I have what I need. Take some time putting together your list. In fact, set it aside and come back to it the next day; you will likely find an item or two you completely forgot about. Search online for other camping supply lists in order to get ideas. If you have not camped on your own before, it is a good idea to glean information for the experiences of others. Some things I have forgotten that you really don’t want to include:

  • Rain Gear :no matter how good the weather is SUPPOSED to be, you should always have rain gear
  • First Aid kit
  • Lighter ​or waterproof matches
  • ​Tarp
  • Warm Clothing
  • ​Some sort of pillow
  • Dringking water

Now that you have your list together, review it and figure out which items you have and which you don’t. In my case I camped with others prior to going out on my own. Friends and I often shared gear which meant I did not have all that I needed for my first solo trip. Make sure to look at your list ahead of time and determine what items you will need to borrow or purchase. It is best to do this ahead of time so that you can ask friends to borrow items or have time to shop around for the exact thing you would like at a good price.

credit wildernessdave

Aside from the gear you want to bring on your trip, you will likely also be bringing food. It is important to plan ahead so that you can be sure that you have all of the food and cooking implements that you need to prepare you meals. This was another area that was a challenge for me when camping solo; on most of my camping trips, others were more interested in cooking than I was. Usually I would be responsible for bringing specific items that would be used to create the meal. When camping on my own, of course, it was all on me to make the meals that I wanted. As you are planning your menu, think about how you will be spending your days during your camping trip. If you are planning days full of physical activity, it will be very important to bring enough high calorie and high protein foods to keep your energy up. It is likely you will be pretty tired from all of your activity, so you will want to make sure that any meals you plan to prepare are simple. Another consideration is where you will be camping. If you are backpacking, you options for food items will be different than when you are car camping and have access to a cooler. Some really enjoy camp cooking and are interested in preparing more elaborate meals. Should this be the case, make sure that you list all of the ingredients you need ahead of time. Regardless of whether you plan for simple or more complicated meals, make a list of the meals you choose and what you will need to make each one.

You now have two different lists and are aware of what you must acquire to have what you need. While you are obtaining these items, and starting to get packed for your trip, check off each item on your lists as you set it aside. This will help you be sure that you don’t miss any items that you know are necessary for your trip.

In addition to making sure that you bring all that you have determined you need for your trip, it is also important you plan for your safety. First, make sure that you let someone you are close to know details about your plans. You will want to provide this person or persons with exact details of where you will be camping during your trip. This is very important to help ensure your safety. If you will be gone for a few days, you can ask your friend or family member to contact authorities if they do not hear from you by the time you anticipate returning. If you are going to be gone for a longer period of time but know you will be in and out of areas with cell phone signal, you can let this person know that if they don’t hear from you by certain days they are to contact the authorities. This will ensure that you are not missing for a week or ten days without anyone knowing.

Another important task as far as safety goes is to have your car serviced to be sure that everything is in proper working order. This is a great idea when traveling with others, but even more imperative when traveling solo. A car problem when you are driving in the wilderness without cell phone service is a definite issue. While all possible problems cannot be avoided, completing proper maintenance on your vehicle will decrease the chances of an issue coming up.

Proper hydration is also imperative for your safety. Make sure to investigate where you plan to camp to be sure that water is available. If it is not available, make sure to bring enough to meet your needs for drinking and cooking. When you are camping near a town where you can easily purchase water this is less of a concern. If you plan to camp near a river or a creek and filter your water, make sure to bring a filtration system with you. Avoiding dehydration is very important and you will want to drink plenty of water while you are physically active.

By following these steps, you can be sure you are as prepared as possible for your solo camping adventure. Knowing that you have checked off all necessary items as you packed them will assure you that you have everything that you need. Planning ahead for your safety will increase your confidence as you head off on your own.

Please share your experience preparing for a solo camping trip. What has worked for you?


Ilyssa is a mother of four who is employed full-time as a grant writer and who enjoys writing freelance articles in her spare time. Ilyssa has a great love of adventure and the outdoors, which she hopes she is passing along to her children. Last summer Ilyssa and her family took a five week road trip, camping and exploring most of the western United States. The trip inspired Ilyssa to work towards achieving flexible employment and/or financial freedom, so that she and her family may continue to travel and explore all nature has to offer, and not just for a few weeks out of the year.