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Musings on Solo Camping

Of all the types of camping, solo camping may make campers the most divided.

Supporters of solo camping believe that it is the best way to explore the outdoors. You can hike, paddle, or drive where you want and stop when you’re ready to dig in the stakes of your one-person tent. They also say that once you’ve camped alone, you’re hooked.

I wouldn’t know, because I fall on the other side. This is the side whose argument is, primarily, about safety. Admittedly, I probably fall into this category because I’m a woman. There is something slightly unsettling about being in the woods alone with no real physical protection.

Janice Waugh records her experiences of traveling alone on her website Solo Traveler. She says she only does car camping because she has the same reservations as me: safety while solo. However, she makes an excellent observation:

What is protecting me is a code of ethics that keeps all campgrounds safe. People respect one another and their gear. Simple as that.

While this idea doesn’t make me want to rush to pack my backpack and head out on a trip alone, it is comforting. There’s a definite level of respect between campers: respect of camp sites, respect of noise levels, and respect of gear.

I may never warm up to the idea of camping alone. Even so, this code of ethics renews my love of camping in general. There’s a great appeal in doing an activity that fosters a silent bond between fellow participants.

Remember the code when you’re out on the trail or around your campfire. And if you’re a fan of solo camping, share your tips! How do you get mentally ready for a night alone in the woods? Why do you love solo camping?


  1. The first time I camped alone I was depressed and went in at night hiked for 4 or so miles before I realized Hey! I am in the mountains alone and in the dark. Oh well if I get eaten I get eaten anyway the first night is some what spooky you hear everything and your mind wanders. But it passes and the next few days are awesome and very relaxing

  2. My Dad, who taught me to backpack, also taught me that people who backpack are some of the safest and best strangers to be around. I am sure there are exceptions but I have always found this to be true. The only creature that ever violated a campsite of mine was a maruading black bear. That, by the way, is my one concern with camping solo.

  3. LOL–I guess Janice Waugh has never camped in Southern California, where there is often little respect of noise levels. Any campground that is within a 100 miles of a major metropolis is going to get its unfair share of idiots. Want quiet? Go solo into the backcountry.

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