Tips For Solo Backpacking

by Abdullah Hakim

in Tips

Have you ever gone solo backpacking? If you have, you’ll probably agree that it isn’t a matter of it being better or worse than backpacking with friends. It’s just a different activity altogether.

A solo backpacker also is vulnerable. Twist your ankle, and there’s nobody there to help you. Have you ever been stuck alone without food for days? How can you make your solo backpacking trip safe? You can’t. It’s inherently more dangerous to go alone into the wilderness. What you can do though, is make it safer.

Here are some solo backpacking tips for you.

  1. Tell someone where you’ll be, and when you expect to return. It’s probably best if you leave a map with them, and let them know who to call if you don’t return on time.
  2. Bring a cell phone. I don’t do this yet myself, but many lives have now been saved by cell phones. Turn it off and put it in the bottom of your pack so it won’t bother you.
  3. Bring the usual safety items (matches, 1st aid, iodine tablets, etc), but double-check to see if they are there and in working order, as you’ll have nobody else supplies to back you up.
  4. If you’re not sure of your abilities, or have a bad knee or other potential problem, stick to well-traveled trails. On many routes, another backpacker will be by every hour. That’s good to know if you’re in trouble.
  5. Learn well how to read a map and use a compass. If you are two miles off route and can’t get a signal on your phone when your knee gives out, you’re in trouble. Even if you like to wander, you should be able to know where you are on the map for safety.
  6. Know your abilities. Don’t plan on twenty-mile days if you haven’t done them before.
  7. Learn to lighten your load. When you’re alone, you lose the efficiency of sharing the load for stoves, tents and other common items. It’s easy and dangerous to become overloaded when yours is the only backpack. You might want to read up on ultralight backpacking.

Solo backpacking is riskier, but for some of us, it’s well worth the risk. Try it, and you might agree. Just be sure to take the necessary precautions.

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