Best Solo Camping Gear: My Experience

Solo camping is one of my favorite pastimes. It can be exciting, adventurous, peaceful, fulfilling, and a little scary at times. Solo camping can be a great adventure and a huge confidence boost. Knowing what gear to bring when can help you feel confident and fully enjoy the sensation of being in nature. 

Things to consider when choosing solo camping gear 

  • Weight- I opt for lightweight or ultralight gear whenever possible to cut down on ounces. 
  • Environment – Location plays a huge role in what gear is going to be necessary. Climate and season are things to take into consideration when choosing a camping spot. Beachside camping in Florida is inevitably going to require fewer layers, blankets, and fuel, than camping under the big sky of Montana.
  • Functionality- I like to choose equipment that can be multipurpose and used in various climates.
  • Ease of use – Gear that is easy to use is ideal for beginners. I love equipment that can be set up and taken down easily.
  • Research your options and find what is best for YOU. Also, stores like REI have used options and allow you to return equipment after use if it doesn’t work out. 
Solo camping preparing food

Solo Camping Gear:

  • Sleeping bag, mat, and pillow –A comfortable sleeping bag rated for the temperature you’re going to be sleeping in. My North Face One Bag has multiple layers and is rated to  -15*F when all layers are used.  A good sleeping bag, a nicely cushioned sleeping mat, and a comfy pillow allow for the best night’s sleep under the stars.
  • Tent – A small and lightweight two-person tent is typically large enough when solo camping. 
  • Tarp or tent footprint – A tarp can be used as a tent footprint to keep the bottom of your tent out of the dirt, it can also be used to protect from rain.
  • Lighter and fire-starting materials – Kindling and a backup starter source such as matches, or flint are great to have on hand. Make sure when starting campfires, you are aware of any potential fire bans in place and be cautious of dry foliage and windy weather.  It is important to know how to start a fire and, more importantly, to put one out properly.
  • Headlamp– great for hands-free light. I have one that uses a USB charger. A headlamp can be hung up in a tent for a light source or worn to light the path at night.
  • Solar charger– ideal for charging your phone, headlamp, or other items when you don’t have access to electrical outlets.
  • Food– Depending on whether you are car camping, tent camping, or hiking out to a spot this can vary greatly. I use a camp stove and bring items to make burritos, camp pizzas, omelets, etc. You can also bring foil to cook food directly in coals or use a grill, whatever works for you! Food can be prepped before camping, or for the hikers, there are ready-made lightweight meals available.
  • Water- It is always important to have potable drinking water on hand. I try to take 2 liters, and if I can drive to the campsite, I keep a couple gallon jugs in my car.
  • Filtration system – There are many different types of filtration systems out there. I have a LifeStraw that I keep for “just in case”, and I also have a Grayl water bottle that has a built-in filter. The type of water filtration you need depends on where you are going and what kind of access to water you have. There are straw filters, pump filters, gravity filters, Iodine tablets, UV, etc. I try to have clean water on hand but it’s always good to be prepared and have a backup in case you run out of water.  
  • Lighting – I use a solar-powered inflatable lantern that charges during the day and can be hung up, set on a surface, or carried to provide adequate light at night. The charge lasts for hours. 
  • Camping knife or multitool –a knife itself is good to have but I like having options and being prepared for any situation. 
  • Bug spray and sunscreen– You’ll want to have both to protect your skin from the sun and bugs, especially in the summer.
  • Shovel – a small folding shovel is lightweight and comes in handy for multiple uses. I have used a shovel when smothering a fire when leaving a sight, digging a hole, and trying to get out of a snowbank in the mountains. 
  • Trash bags– Pack it in, Pack it out. I adhere to the Leave No Trace initiative. Any trash that I take out comes back with me and is disposed of or recycled appropriately. 
  • Med Kit– a medical kit is important, especially when you’re by yourself. When creating a med kit, you want to keep in mind common injuries and everyday problems. Some items I always pack are acetaminophen or ibuprofen, an antihistamine such as Benadryl for bites/stings/ or allergic reactions, Pepto Bismol or Imodium for upset stomach, oral rehydration packs, bandages, alcohol swabs, tweezers, and duct tape.
  • Compass, whistle, mirror– A compass is important to always have and know how to use. A whistle can be used to attract attention if you are in distress, and a mirror can be used to signal for help. 
  • Animal-proof container– I bring a heavy-duty latching storage container that doubles as storage and a table. 
  • Comfortable Footwear- Comfy hiking boots (that have already been broken in), and a pair of flip-flops or Crocs for relaxing around the campsite.
  • Creature comforts – A hammock for relaxing. A journal, book, creative supplies, or a deck of cards for entertainment. Camera and tripod. A day pack for day hikes and exploring. A furry friend- I love to take my dog camping, he is a great hiking buddy, and we always have the best time exploring nature together.   

Safety Tips for Solo Excursions

  • Maps – Learn to read a map. I mean an actual physical map, Indiana Jones style. I know they may seem outdated but if your phone dies, you have no service, or you get lost, it is essential how to read a map and point yourself in the right direction.
  • Protection– Whether hiking or camping solo having something to protect yourself and knowing how to use it is important. This can be pepper spray, bear spray, a weapon, or knowledge of self-defense. Know how to protect yourself. 
  • Trust your Instincts– The feeling in your gut, the raised hair, or tingle… Trust your instincts. Learn to listen to yourself and stay out of tricky situations. 
  • Keep people updated – Tell somebody where you’re going and your expected time back. When I’m on a solo adventure, I always tell somebody where I’m going and for how long and keep them updated if my plans change. 
  • Be confident– Confidence is key when traveling solo, for safety and having the best time. 
  • Practice– practice using your gear so that you’re not out in the wilderness by yourself the first time you use it.
  • Research– Research where you’re going, weather, wildlife, and laws. Know what you’re getting yourself into.
  • Be flexible– Things don’t always go as planned, so be prepared, and enjoy the unexpected!
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Fun things to do while solo camping

You may ask What will I do in the wilderness by myself? The answer is – whatever you want. Take the time to enjoy your solitude. Bask in the ambiance of Mother Nature. Take hikes and explore the surrounding area. Birdwatch, sketch flowers, take photographs! Check out some great and fun activity ideas for solo campers!

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