Tips for solo backpacking

Nick

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It's clear that my appetite for backpacking is heavily outweighing my ability to round up people to come with. So I'm planning on doing some big trips this summer solo. Wind Rivers, Uintas, Sawtooths, etc. I've gone solo about 8 or 10 times, the longest of which was a 35 mile trip from West Fork Black's Fork to the Highline Trailhead in the Uintas. I tend to get a little nervous on my own. Mostly just at night when I'm sitting out in the dark, shooting star trails, etc. And perhaps some of it was thanks to my overly protective dog who always seems to be much more stressed when it's just the two of us. Something about her acting like something out there makes me more nervous.

So my question is, does anyone have any tips for mastering the art of solo backpacking? I really love the idea of being on my own and not having to coordinate plans with anyone. Especially not having to bank my entire trip on whether or not someone comes along. So I guess I just need to man up and quit thinking I'm going to get dragged out of my tent by a sasquatch?

P.S. If anyone wants to schedule some big backpacking this summer. Let's do it!
 

Udink

Relax, slip away...
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I often camp solo, and it sounds like you and I share the same irrational fear? :frantic::D My dog also acts like there's something out there. My only real worry is getting injured and not having anybody there to help. For everything else (sasquatch, etc), I have this:



Even if it just makes me feel better, that comfort can make a big difference in attitude when camping in the mountains alone.
 

Deadeye008

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I often camp solo, and it sounds like you and I share the same irrational fear? :frantic::D My dog also acts like there's something out there. My only real worry is getting injured and not having anybody there to help. For everything else (sasquatch, etc), I have this:



Even if it just makes me feel better, that comfort can make a big difference in attitude when camping in the mountains alone.


I agree. Guns make me feel better too! The down side is that a gun with a fully loaded magazine is heavy(for backpacking) which is why I usually pack Bear Spray instead when backpacking.
 

Nick

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I'm not really a gun guy but I think that would definitely make me feel more comfortable. So what kind of gun would be ideal for backpacking? Like small, light, but still packs a punch?
 
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The real question is - what are you nervous about? Bears? Mountain lions? Other humans? IMO - Carrying a gun particularly while backpacking is likely to do you little good with most things you'd encounter EXCEPT for another human. Why? Because it's likely that any encounter with wildlife where a gun could do you any good would happen in a circumstance where it's unlikely you'd have easy access to it. Encounter with a bear or moose is most likely a situation where you surprise them or encounter them with young, and I'd be more keen on using bear spray in those circumstances than a gun. With another human, an encounter might be resolved by showing a gun, but honestly, you are a pretty big guy, and the circumstances are pretty rare in which that might not be enough to intimidate a would be attacker. Also - having a gun certainly could escalate things, rather than the opposite. Also, most carry setups I've seen people use with a backpack make no sense (waist and hip carry holsters tend to interfere with your pack and make drawing your weapon challenging, and thigh holsters interfere with movement - though giving you your quickest access).
 

NateGeesaman

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My buddy has an emergency satellite beacon that can send a distress signal or just send his contacts an e-mail saying hi with his gps coordinates. I would feel safer carrying a gun if I had the emergency beacon because I would be most likely to pull a Plaxico Burress out there in the middle of nowhere.
 

Nick

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Excellent points, FourisTheNewOne. Honestly I'm not afraid of anything in particular, I guess I just don't do it enough so I tend to freak myself out a bit. When I was truly solo, in the desert with no dog, it didn't bother me in the least. In a place like the Uintas, I fear moose and I guess once I feared man. I setup camp at a lake, thought I was solo then noticed some dude in camo on the other shore that just kept disappearing and then coming back out acting all weird. And he didn't wave back at first. Gave me an uncomfortable feeling to the point that I opted to pickup my camp and get out of there. In some place like the winds, I would fear bears but no more than I fear moose in the Uintas.

Nate - I carry a Spot messenger so kind of like a emergency beacon and it does send out okay messages and tracks my progress on a map for my friends/family to see. It definitely gives me a bit of comfort to know that I still have that connection.

So I think I just need to man up and get used to going solo. Carrying a gun sounds like a pain in the ass, bear spray for sure in the Winds but probably not in the Uintas still.
 

IntrepidXJ

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So I think I just need to man up and get used to going solo. Carrying a gun sounds like a pain in the ass, bear spray for sure in the Winds but probably not in the Uintas still.

Are there no bears in the Uintas? I haven't spent much time in them, but I assumed there would be some up there?
 

IntrepidXJ

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I also carry a gun when I camp out of my Jeep, and it does give me a little piece of mind....but I really think it would be a huge pain to backpack with.
 

Nick

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Are there no bears in the Uintas? I haven't spent much time in them, but I assumed there would be some up there?

There are black bears but they generally keep below about 9500' where there is suitable food. They typically would only come higher than that if they had a food source like a busy campground or something. At least that's what I was told by a very friendly forest ranger we met on the trail, 15 miles in from the Swift Creek/Yellowstone trailhead. He said we didn't need to worry at all.
 

Yvonne

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I"m a solo hiker and backpacker most of the time and neither carry an emergency beacon nor a gun or anything else.
But I'm not really scared, only of bears at night sneaking around my camp like last year in Salt Creek Canyon. :eek:
But usually I'm not having any problems.
I guess most of the time I'm just not thinking about what could eventually happen. :)
 

Nick

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I"m a solo hiker and backpacker most of the time and neither carry an emergency beacon nor a gun or anything else.
But I'm not really scared, only of bears at night sneaking around my camp like last year in Salt Creek Canyon. :eek:
But usually I'm not having any problems.
I guess most of the time I'm just not thinking about what could eventually happen. :)

I like it. I was freaked out to sleep without a tent at first, now I don't care. Just have to think of it the same way.
 

Deadeye008

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Are there no bears in the Uintas? I haven't spent much time in them, but I assumed there would be some up there?

There are bears in the Uintas. I have yet to see one there though. Seen signs of them a few times but never an actual bear. I have a kel-tec P32 that is a small pocket pistol. It holds 7 rounds of 32 Auto. It weighs 9.4oz with a loaded magazine. I don't think it would stop any large animals but could do some damage or maybe scare one away. Same with humans. It fits easily in any pocket. I'll sometimes take it with me while hiking/backpacking.

Sent from my HTC Sensation 4G using Tapatalk 2
 

Yvonne

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I like it. I was freaked out to sleep without a tent at first, now I don't care. Just have to think of it the same way.

maybe this year I'll try to sleep a few times without tent, but somehow I'm scared of creepy spiders that could crawl over my face while asleep. :rolleyes:
For that reason I use the mesh part of my tent without the fly, it gives me a little bit of security in that hostile outdoor environment :D
 

Nick

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maybe this year I'll try to sleep a few times without tent, but somehow I'm scared of creepy spiders that could crawl over my face while asleep. :rolleyes:
For that reason I use the mesh part of my tent without the fly, it gives me a little bit of security in that hostile outdoor environment :D

I usually just pull out my gun and shoot the spiders before going to sleep. :lol:
 

Yvonne

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I usually just pull out my gun and shoot the spiders before going to sleep. :lol:

now I totally understand why you're packing so lite. :)
With all the holes left on your tarp due to the spiders....

Anyway, I'm a little bit crazy and totally freaking out when they are near me. Do you ever have any near your tarp at night?
Nothing else really scares me, but those creepy things.... it's insane, I know
 

pixie1339

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Granted, I haven't solo backpacked yet, but I have done plenty of solo hiking and camping. I think there's always some level of anxiety when you're out in the wild on your own. Rightly so. If shit goes wrong, you have no one to help you out. That said, it can still be an enjoyable experience. Like Yvonne pointed out, it's best if you try not to think of the what ifs. Prepare yourself for the worst, and hope for the best. Have faith in yourself. Unless you're a total noob, who has no business being out alone in the first place.:p You're a very competent backcountry traveler, so I have no doubt you could solo backpack safely. Also, know when to turn back. If you run into a situation that you question you can get out of safely on your own, there's no shame in turning back. Pay attention to what your gut tells you. Most important of all, have fun. You can engage yourself in your surroundings more freely when no one is with you. Take advantage.
 

Nick

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Yeah, I'm not worried about anything that happens during daylight hours. And like Udink said, it's all pretty much just irrational fear. Laying in a tent in the dark, alone, hearing what you are sure are steps outside your tent = no bueno.
 
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Yeah, I'm not worried about anything that happens during daylight hours. And like Udink said, it's all pretty much just irrational fear. Laying in a tent in the dark, alone, hearing what you are sure are steps outside your tent = no bueno.
Come on Nick you're like, what, 6' 4"? Just kick their ass man! :D
 
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