Solo Camping As A Woman: My Safety Tips & Advice When Camping Alone!

To be at one with nature is a beautiful thing. Solo camping as a woman can be an empowering experience. It can be a testament to your resourcefulness and willpower, knowing that you are capable and can overcome any obstacle that gets in your way. Many people say solo camping, especially as a woman, is dangerous and advise against it. With the right preparation, mindset, and following some basic safety rules, solo camping as a woman is an awesome experience.

A solo camping woman sits on a rock overlooking the mountains.

I have solo hiked many trails across the country, solo road tripped around America, and even solo backpacked through Europe and Southeast Asia. It can feel a bit intimidating, but overcoming challenges and having the best time make it all worth it. Knowing that I have been around the world by myself, I have built so much confidence to take on any situation the future may hold. 

I believe that women shouldn’t have to rely on anyone else to have an adventure. With the right preparation and knowledge, you can build your confidence and feel empowered on your journey. Whether you are a first timer, curious if it is safe to solo camp or a frequent adventurer building your skillset, with these tips and tricks you can feel confident and safe in your next solo camping adventure.  

1. Preparations

Making a plan is the first step for solo camping safely.  Know where you are going and research the area. Find out if you will have cell service. Check the weather. Pack a map and a compass. Make sure you have plenty of food and water. Have light sources. Bring a solar charger. Make sure your vehicle has plenty of gas, an oil change, good tires, and snow chains if necessary. Test out your gear before you leave home. Double check the packing list. Check out Best Solo Camping Gear and Easily Forgotten Camping Checklist Essentials to make sure you have all the necessary items before heading out on your adventure. 

A tent is set up in the desert.

2. Trust your instincts

Recognizing and listening to your intuition is a crucial skill. I say skill because while instincts are a natural and powerful feeling, we don’t always listen to them or recognize it until after the fact. If you are in a situation that starts to feel off; the tingle, the hair raise… you’re suddenly on high alert and something deep down inside says something isn’t right even if it is seemingly for no reason at the time… ALWAYS listen to your gut. Remember, at any point you can decide to bail on a camping trip, and that is ok. 

3. Don’t advertise your location, or that you’re camping solo

In the age of social media, it may be hard to refrain from posting, especially on a solo camping trip where you’re flexing your skills #solocampingadventure. It’s best for women to keep that information to themselves, and a few close friends and family. Wait until after the trip to post. Additionally, its better not to tell other campers or people you meet along the way that you’re camping alone. In this situation, I’ve made up a boyfriend, husband, or group of friends that are all waiting for me at the campsite and know exactly where I am and what time I will be back. Nobody needs to know that you’re camping alone.

A person's feet on a cliff overlooking a valley.

4. Keep family/ friends updated

I always have a point of contact, somebody that I tell where I am going, how long I’ll be there, and when I should be back. This is for short solo hikes, or long camping trips, ESPECIALLY if I won’t have cell phone service. I let them know if I have alternate routes in case I need to change plans while I’m out there. This person should be reliable and know what steps to take if they don’t hear from you. You can also share your live location with a trusted friend or family member, or even add an AirTag to your backpack (this is also a great hack for travelling!)

5. Learn how to deal with wildlife

The wildlife you could potentially cross paths with is definitely something to take into account when prepping for solo camping. Research the area you are going before hand and what types of animals live in the region. Never try to pet or feed wild animals. Make sure you bring insect repellant and a mosquito net if you prefer to camp in a hammock. If you’re camping in bear country, you’ll want to have a bear safe container, bear spray, and know how to string food up in a tree, or what to do if you cross paths with a bear in the woods (i.e black bears vs grizzly bears, etc). Make noise while you are hiking so you don’t come around a corner and surprise an animal in their natural habitat. 

One time I was hiking in Yosemite National Park and came around a switchback to lock eyes with a bobcat standing about 3 feet away from me. In a split second I thought “Do I make myself bigger, do I make noise, do I back away?”. I couldn’t remember exactly what to do but luckily for me (and unluckily for them) the wildlife in Yosemite is pretty used to humans especially in the Valley. This bobcat simply stared at me for a minute then lazily turned and walked away, unimpressed by my presence.

Another time, I was camping in Florida and raccoons decided to raid my cooler. I found my empty bacon package in the bushes near the trail, disappointed to say the least. Both of these situations were very mild and went as well as possible (minus the bacon), but wildlife is unpredictable. You want to be safe and maintain a safe environment for wildlife as well.  

Katie Schreffler
A river with mountains in the background.

6. Be aware of your surroundings

Always be aware of your surroundings on your way to setting up camp, and while camping. Take mental notes of who else might be camping around you, if there’s easy routes to enter or leave an area, natural shelters, downed trees for firewood and kindling, flood areas, water sources, fire hazards, potential wildlife homes, animal tracks, and really anything else that might be of importance in your surrounding area. Stay alert for anything suspicious or unusual. If you see someone hanging around near your campsite or feel like you’re being followed, contact authorities or park rangers for help. Don’t be afraid to pack up and leave if you become uncomfortable. Having situational awareness and being prepared for any situation can keep you safe and allow you to have a more comfortable and enjoyable experience. 

I road tripped across America and the only time I was genuinely scared and felt I was in danger was at a truck stop in the Middle of Nowhere, California. I was on my way to Yosemite when two men walked up to me and began asking for directions as I was repacking some gear in my car. They asked if I was alone, where I was going, what I was doing, and kept stepping uncomfortably closer to me. My car keys and my weapon were both out of reach.

In this situation I lied and said I was waiting for my friends to come out of a hotel so we could get on the road. I held my head high and made direct eye contact and spoke with no-nonsense authority. The conversation lasted much too long but finally the men decided to leave me alone. Looking back, I should have contacted authorities at the time. I was young, and since then have used the situation as a learning experience on how to stay safe in the future.

Katie Schreffler
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7. Create an Emergency Plan

Solo camping is generally safe. However, you always want to be prepared. A whistle is great to have on hand for any type of emergency. This can be used to draw attention to yourself. You will also want to have at least a basic knowledge of how to defend yourself, whether it be from feral animals or feral humans. Pepper spray, bear spray, a taser, or a weapon is a good idea to have in case of an emergency. If you decide to carry a weapon, you should train with it and know how to use it properly. Knowledge of self defense is great to have in any situation. Hopefully this won’t be needed and sometimes verbal ju-jitsu alone can be enough to deter an assailant. Contact authorities and leave the area if necessary. Be confident and remain calm. Having an emergency plan in place can help solo campers feel safer.

A person is standing on a rocky cliff.

8. Make friends

If you’re camping in a National Park or Recreation Area Park Rangers can be a great asset. Rangers and park staff know the area best and can provide you with valuable information or a helping hand if you need it. Also, if you are at a campground where people can obviously see you’re solo camping, it doesn’t hurt to make friends with your neighbors. Sometimes you can even meet other solo campers and end up making great friends who have similar interests and meet up with in the future! 

Regardless if you’re solo camping for the joy of it, or because you couldn’t find someone who’s plans aligned with your own: there’s nothing like meeting new friends in National Parks or on trails. You can meet many people with a similar vibe, whether you’re into camping, climbing, hiking, mountaineering, or trying new things! It’s always great to meet like-minded people. Who knows, you could run into your tribe.  

A group of people and a dog in the woods.

Solo camping is an amazing adventure. In general, the wilderness is a safe place. With the right preparation and with the above tips, you can have a safe and comfortable camping experience. Remember to relax and have fun! Feel confident that you have the skills and ability to do anything you put your mind to and enjoy being the outdoorsy wilderness goddess that you are. 

Happy Camping, Ladies!

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