is camping alone safe? an open tent next to a lake with a orange stove and red sleeping bag

Solo Camping Gear Checklist: Complete Guide

Camping alone can be a great adventure and a confidence boost for those trying it for the first time. But, it is important that you have everything you need, as you won’t be able to rely on others to help you out at the campsite if you’re alone.

If you’re looking for a solo camping gear checklist, then look no further as this list has everything you need (and more) on your solo camping adventures. It’s broken down into five categories: camping essentials, safety essentials, hygiene, cold weather additions, and luxury items.  

Want to purchase any of the items on this list? Check out our Amazon Solo Camping Gear List containing everything you need to camp solo!

(Disclosure: This list contains affiliate links and I may receive commission for purchases made through links in these post. All links are to products I highly recommend and have verified.)

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Basic Camping Essentials List:

  • Light and Small Tent

    A good quality, but small tent is essential to have while camping. If you’ll be driving to your campsite you can go for a larger tent, but larger tents can be harder to put up by yourself. If going solo, it’s good to stick with something small.

  • Sleeping Bag

    Grab an excellent sleeping bag that is waterproof and rated for the temperature you’ll be sleeping in. You want to be comfortable!

  • Sleeping Pad

    If you don’t want to feel the hard ground and every rock stabbing into your back, then you’ll want to grab a sleeping pad to take with you. It can also help insulate you in colder temperatures.

  • Mess Kit

    Everyone’s gotta eat! Make sure you have at least one pot to boil water in, and a bowl/plate + a fork/spoon to eat with.

  • Stove & Fuel

    Some places don’t allow fires on their trails (Connecticut), so having a portable stove and fuel is essential to eating on the trail. Plus, fires aren’t always easy to make, whereas a stove lights quickly and will have you cooking in no time.

  • Clothesline

    All campers know that having a place to hang things is essential for keeping things dry, dirt/sand free, and out the reach of some insects. Bring a line you can hang something on and you’ll be grateful.

  • Rain Tarp

    You think it won’t rain until it does – and no one wants to be wet the entire night. Bring a rain tarp to cover your tent so you can sleep undisturbed.

  • Footprint

    A footprint goes under your tent to help keep you dry and warm, while also increasing the lifetime of your tent. I also use it to help keep dirt out of my tent.

  • Food

    You gotta eat! Bring some great pre-made backpacking meals or dehydrate meals yourself to heat up on the trail. Remember, you need more food than you normally eat to make up for the calories spent hiking to and around the campsite.

  • Carry-out-bags

    You’re going to make trash, and not all campsites have trash receptacles. Pack out what you pack in and I find that ziplock bags (or reusable replacements) are great for this purpose.

  • Pocket Knife/Multitool

    Multitools are incredible useful pieces of equipment while camping. They can essentially help you do anything and it’s always good to have one, especially if you’re camping alone.

  • Clothing

    You gotta always have something clean to wear. Pro tip: it’s always good to bring extra socks/underwear and try to make as much of your clothing merino wool as possible. You’ll thank me later!

  • Hiking Boots

    This is obvious. Don’t trek to or around a campsite without the proper footwear.

  • Water Shoes/Camp Shoes

    You need shoes to wear casually around the campsite, but also that can get wet. You can bring two pairs, but I find that I like to combine these into one to reduce the size of my pack. Crocs do the trick for me, but other brands exist.

  • Rain Jacket

    Don’t get stuck in a rain storm without a way to keep yourself dry

  • Bug Spray

    Keep yourself from being eaten alive by insects while on the trail!

  • Sunscreen

    Everyone needs sunscreen. Period. Even if you think you don’t – you do need it. Wear it, reapply it, keep your skin protected and healthy.

  • Battery Bank

    Most of us use our phones for navigation and communication. A battery bank will help you keep that charged and workable no matter how long you’re camping.

  • Waterbottels (2)

    You need at least two water bottles when camping solo. The first is for clear water, but the second is for dirty water. If you’ll be purifying water, then you typically need a container to hold the dirty water. Platypus bottles work great for this.

solo camping gear checklist: Orange tent on the side of a cliff overlooking the green valley below

Solo Camping Safety Essentials:

  • First Aid Kit

    A first aid kit is essential for any trip, especially a solo one. Make sure it’s a complete kit with truly everything you may need it in for even the most unique of disasters.

  • Bear Spray

    If you’ll be hiking alone in bear country this is essential to ensuring you can protect yourself if you have a nasty bear encounter.

  • Bear Box/Bag

    Along the same lines, in bear country it’s important to not sleep anywhere near anything smelly. All food and hygiene products should be secured in a bear safe container away from your campsite.

  • Water Purification

    You don’t want to get diarrhea on the trail when you’re by yourself. So, having a way to purify water is an essential safety feature of any solo camping trip. My personal preference is a Sawyer squeeze.

  • Fire Starter

    Fires aren’t as easy to start as you may think. You’ll want to bring something to start the fire, or some good kindling in case some isn’t available where you’re going to be.

  • Knife

    This isn’t a handy-dandy multitool – this is a knife for protection. You may need to protect yourself from humans or animals, and in those situations you’ll be happy to have it if you need it.

  • Headlamp

    Something commonly overlooked, but if an emergency happens at night you need to be able to see to help yourself. It’s also extremely nice to have for any evening at the campsite.

  • Communication Device

    Most people will use their phone for this, but make sure where you are going has service. If not, invest in a long-range communication device. Garmin makes some great ones.

  • Compass

    Always have a compass with you. And if you don’t know how to use it to navigate take a course, or watch some YouTube videos. It can absolutely save you in an emergency if you need it.

solo camping gear checklist: dark sky, man with headlamp stands outside of his orange tent

Camping Hygiene Essentials List:

  • Soap

    A bar of soap, or a small travel bottle of Dr. Bronners is all you need here. This will be for both your pots/pans/plates but also for your body. Be sure to use it sparingly, and never near water sources.

  • Deodorant

    This one is self explanatory. Even if you’ll be alone you may pass others while hiking. They don’t want to smell you either.

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste

    Take care of those teeth! It’s the only set you get so they definitely need to last a lifetime.

  • Baby Wipes

    Baby wipes are essential for any camping trip. Great to wipe down, wipe off, or otherwise just keep you and other things clean.

  • Hair Ties

    All women know – hair ties just somehow disappear or break at the worst times. Plus hair ties can be useful at securing things if needed. Bring a couple extra.

  • Feminine Products

    This falls into two categories. For urination bring a female urinal or Kula cloth to keep things clean and dry. For periods, a menstruation cup works wonders. I also usually have a dark, odor proof bag to handle used period products if needed while camping.

Cold Weather Additions:

  • Thermal Sleepwear

    Merino wool baselaters are great here for both sleeping and hiking in colder weather.

  • Sleeping Bag Liner

    This can buff out your sleeping bag and help you stay comfortable in much lower temperatures than without it.

  • Hot Hands

    Great to have in a pinch and can help you tough out a rough, cold night if necessary.

solo camping gear checklist: view of forest from inside an orange tent

Luxury Solo Camping Items List:

  • Camping Pillow

    You can go without this, and some sleeping pads have a pillow built in, but it’s always nice to have somewhere to lay your head after a long day on the trail.

  • Camp Chair

    Most campers are okay with sitting on the ground at some point, but this can definitely be a luxury to enjoy while camping.

  • Hammock

    An alternative to a camp chair is a hammock. Great to have on the trail for relaxation and before heading to bed at the end of the day.

  • Hanging Shower

    Showers are a luxury most of us give up while camping. However, hanging showers do exist for camping trips and are definitely a luxury I’d love to have camping.

  • Cards/Games

    Since this is a solo trip, a deck of cards will likely do. They’ll help keep you entertained while at camp during any downtime you may have.

  • Book/Journal

    This is similar to the cards/games suggestion above. These are great at keeping your mind busy and entertained while you’re at camp.

  • Binoculars

    Not only for birders, binoculars are great for any camper to see further into the woods and get a closer look at the wildlife.

Hopefully you’ve found this solo camping gear checklist useful and gathering up supplies for your next solo camping adventure. See you on the trails! 

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