As fun as hitting the trail with a partner can be, there are times when even social butterflies want some solo time in the outdoors.
Going it alone in the backcountry isn’t as easy as it sounds, though. If you want to embark on a solo backpacking trip, there are four things to keep in mind and precautions to ensure you stay safe and make it home.
Plan of Attack
Whenever you go on a trip, it’s smart to let someone know where you’re going. Leave your intended location and a map of your planned route with an emergency contact along with an anticipated schedule so they’ll know when to expect to hear from you when you get back.
Know your capabilities and experience level and don’t take on more than you can handle trail-wise. If it’s your first solo trip, perhaps take on a trail head relatively close to where you live so you’re not too far from emergency services.
Being alone on the trail can be risky. Not only do you have to worry about potential problems with the local wildlife, weather and injury, but you also have to be concerned about your safety from other hikers. It’s smart to bring some form of protection you’re comfortable with.
For some this means a small handgun, while others prefer a knife or pepper spray. Still others opt to bring their dog along for protection. The basic idea is to figure out what you feel most comfortable with and make sure you know how to use your chosen form of defense.
Prepare for Isolation
Solo trips mean exactly that: you are alone. Stating the obvious here, but disconnecting from everything is a big change that not everyone is fully prepared for their first time out.
To battle feeling isolated, assign yourself tasks or bring activities. For instance, a few of my hobbies are drawing and photography, so I sometimes bring a sketchbook and always have my camera. I know many who even bring along a book or their Kindle to make things less lonely.
Plan to Fail
Strange advice, I know, but it’s smart to have a plan for when things go wrong. Furthermore, in order to minimize this possibility, it’s smart to familiarize yourself with your equipment and test it multiple times before heading out.
Decide what would make your trip miserable if it were to fail and be sure to bring backups of items like batteries, granola bars or socks. Also, it’s not a bad idea to squeeze in a few fail-safe items like duct tape or iodine tablets just in case.
© Mikhail Dudarev | Dreamstime.com – Hiker with backpack