How to Get the Most Out of a Solo Camping Trip in the Woods
A solo camping trip in the woods can seem intimidating at first. However, there's also an undeniable attraction to the idea of being alone within the beauty of nature. What's more, it's an easier task than most people would assume. Preparation is the key to camping solo in the woods. You simply need to have the right tools and know-how to use them. By preparing a few things in advance you can be ready for almost any location that sparks your interest.
Water is always a priority
You should always start a trip by considering your priorities. Every time you set up camp in a new place you'll have to decide on a whole new set of variables. Part of what makes the experience of getting back to nature so fun is that you never quite know what to expect. However, there's one item that is almost always going to be your number one priority.
No matter where you are you are going to need a steady supply of water. If you're not doing any hiking then it's possible to simply bring along a lot of water. The biggest problem with water is that it's both heavy and takes up a lot of space. The average person needs to drink about 15.5 cups of water, or 3.7 liters, per day. That means that in one week a camper will need about 108 cups of water.
What's more, a week's worth of water comes out to 56 lbs of weight even before counting the containers. It is a good idea to have at least some bottled water to fall back on. And of course, you'll need to make sure you have water if there are no natural sources to be found.
You should begin water preparations by looking over a map of the area. Begin by looking for natural streams, creeks, and ponds. Any of these should be able to supply you with water which can be further purified. If there aren't any reliable sources of water in the area then you'll need to ensure you have enough bottled water to drink. Again though, you need to consider the volume and weight of the water you're bringing with you if you intend to concentrate on hiking.
If you do have natural sources of water in the area then things will be significantly easier. You will need to bring along some extra equipment to deal with the water though. In general, it's best to assume that any given natural water supply will need some form of purification.
The first thing to prepare is a solid water filter or purifier. These are often small enough to fit in your pocket and have almost no weight. As such, it's always a good idea to bring one along on a trip. You should also make sure that you have everything you'd need to boil water. It's important to keep in mind that you'll still want to perform some form of filtering on the water before it's boiled. Simply filtering out dirty by using a t-shirt or the like is usually fine if you're going to boil the water before drinking.
The importance of a good knife
A good knife is one of the single best tools when camping. You can use a knife to find and prepare food. Knives are great for opening packaging as well. Knives intended for the outdoors also tend to have some additional uses. It's quite common for knife handles to have a bottle opener or similar device within it. And some knives even have a compass on them.
However, one of the best things about a knife is the size. A survival knife is small and light enough to simply keep in your pocket. Good survival knives provide significant utility while taking up almost no space.
Bring a backup light
You can never have enough lights when heading off to spend time alone in the woods. People who live in towns and cities often forget just how dark nights can become. Remove artificial light and then add in tree cover and you've got some serious darkness to contend with. On top of everything else, even a well-tended trail is more difficult to manage in the dark than sidewalks. You'll typically find a variety of roots, holes, and inconsistent terrain on trails. Things become even more complicated when you go off-trail.
Outside of trails, you'll have to deal with a wide variety of overgrown vegetation. Fallen trees and general debris will add even more uncertainty to the expedition. All of these factors make it vitally important that you're able to see no matter what the time of day.
Don't forget your phone
There's a lot to be said about disconnecting from the world when heading out into nature. The whole reason why many people like to spend time alone in nature has to do with getting away from constantly looking at their phones. That said, it's still important to bring along a smartphone when heading off into the woods.
You should absolutely feel free to keep it on airplane mode. In fact, as you head further into the woods you'll probably lose your cellular connection anyway. So why should you have your phone if you can't make calls or connect to the internet? One big reason is that there's usually a wide span between getting to the woods and actually setting camp. You don't want to get lost in an unknown place. What's more, you'll be able to use mapping apps even without a data connection.
There's a considerable number of community updated hiking apps to be found. One can often download all the data for a location and browse through it later. This will often include valuable information about where to find water or other resources. On top of map data, you can also load it up with information on surviving in the wild. You can essentially bring an entire library's worth of books about survival, scavenging, and first aid. There's something to be said about being able to bring along your favorite music or novels as well.
The phone will also give you the ability to call for help if needed. Even if you're not directly in range of a signal you should be able to move into a supported area over time. This can be vitally important if you find yourself lost or injured.
Solar power and a good battery are the best way to stay empowered
More and more devices can run on USB power these days. But you'll typically run their batteries dry pretty quickly. A good portable solar power collection will only weigh around 5 lbs or so. A larger battery will weigh considerably more, but not to any prohibitive level. By combining them both you'll be able to essentially have a steady supply of power during the entire expedition. At the very least you might want to consider a crank-powered battery.
Make sure someone else knows about your plans
Before heading out to the woods you'll need to take care of one very important step. You should always make sure at least one person knows about your trip. Make solid plans to check in with them once you're back from the journey.
The contact will essentially act as a safeguard. If you don't check in the day you're supposed to return they'll know that something's wrong. From that point, they can ensure help is sent your way.