Camping, even solo camping, is generally safe for women. There are much lower chances someone will attack you in the wild compared to when you are in the city.
But it’s still important to be cautious, especially in regards to nature and wildlife. In this camping guide, we look at whether camping is safe for women and give you tips on how to camp safely as a woman.
Is Camping Safe For A Woman?
The biggest fear many women have about camping is someone with bad intentions attacking them. This is an understandable fear considering the many safety risks women face every day.
But reports of attacks in National Parks and other outdoor camping areas are rare.
Many women have camped solo and with family or friends for years without any major safety incidents.
The reason camping often feels unsafe to many new female campers is because it is an unfamiliar environment.
The thought of sleeping outdoors away from people and family sounds dangerous. In reality, attacks on women are more prevalent in populated areas like towns and cities.
That’s not to mean the risk is zero. It’s important that you take the right precautions to protect yourself from other humans.
Most importantly, protect yourself from natural hazards (weather, falling, drowning etc.) and wildlife.
How To Stay Safe When Camping Alone As A Woman?
While the chances of someone attacking you when camping are low, it can happen. So let’s talk about staying safe from bad people when camping solo as a woman.
The most important thing is to choose the right camping location and site.
If you are a beginner, we recommend an established camping site. This can be a private camping site or one in a National Park.
An established site will usually have families camping nearby (which is safer for you) and rangers or camp managers are usually on hand to help with anything.
As you become an expert on camping and gain more confidence, you can try camping in more out of the way places.
In fact, many experienced female campers say that the further out into the woods they camp, the safer they feel simply because there’s no one around.
Here are some other tips.
- Get a dog. Many women say they feel much safer when camping with a dog. Even a small dog can be a deterrent to ill-intentioned people. You can also get a bigger guard dog like a German Shepherd. Remember to check whether dogs are allowed before camping somewhere.
- Be ready to defend yourself. Learn some basic self defense techniques. It’s also a good idea to carry a couple of self defense weapons like a personal alarm, a tripwire alarm, pepper spray, a pocket knife and so on.
- Camp close to other families. If there are families camping nearby, pitch your tent in their proximity. It’s safer than pitching it somewhere secluded.
- If, for some reason (e.g. someone’s watching you), you feel unsafe, consider camping in your vehicle. If it’s possible, look for another campsite or go back home.
- Make sure your family knows where you are. Share your plans with them before you leave and carry a satellite phone that you can use to stay in touch with them. It can come in handy if you get into trouble and need to call for help.
- If you don’t have a satellite device, camp in places with good reception so that you can still use your phone.
- Don’t advertise your plans. Beyond your family, don’t let anyone else know where you are camping and that you’ll be alone. Don’t mention it on social media and don’t say it to anyone when passing through towns.
- If you are afraid of camping solo, take a friend with you or go camping as a group.
How To Stay Safe From Wildlife When Camping?
Wild animals are not the big danger that most people assume them to be. As long as you keep your distance and take the right precautions, an animal attack is very unlikely.
In fact, wildlife attacks are some of the rarest causes of deaths in national parks.
Even the feared bears rarely attack humans.
That said, it’s essential that you take the right steps to protect yourself from various wild animals including bears, mountain lions, snakes, moose and others.
The first step is researching your camping location. Know what wild animals are usually found in the area. This will let you know what preparations you need to take.
For instance, if it’s bear country, you need to pack bear spray and bear-proof storage.
Here are some additional tips:
- The rule of thumb in most camping locations, not just bear country, is to avoid keeping food in your tent. It will attract critters and animals into your tent. Keep it in the car or a bear canister away from the tent.
- Keep your distance from wild animals. Do not approach them, even if they seem harmless.
- Learn how to deal with different kinds of wild animals. What you do if you encounter a bear is different from how you deal with a moose encounter. Wild animals generally stay far away from people, but you might encounter one that’s gotten used to people.
- Bear spray works against many wild animals, so pack it even if you are not camping in bear country.
- Never feed wild animals. It reduces their fear of humans and makes them more likely to attack people.
Here’s a helpful video from Santa Clara County parks that explains basic wildlife safety.
How To Protect Yourself From Natural Hazards When Camping?
Finally, let’s talk about staying safe from nature.
This is actually where most safety risks come from when you are outdoors. It can be bad weather, treacherous terrain, or a falling tree branch.
Start with the weather.
What will the weather be like where you are going? If it’s summer, pack synthetic clothing that wicks sweat easily and dries fast.
If it’s winter, pack for low temperatures and make sure you have a sleeping bag rated for the weather.
Also check the weather forecast for rain and strong winds.
Make sure your tent can handle the expected weather. If you mostly do summer camping, a 3-season tent is adequate.
If you also go camping in the winter, get a 4-season tent.
Be careful where you pitch your tent. If it’s windy, avoid pitching too close to trees.
If it’s the rainy season, avoid camping where it might flood. Choose high ground away from likely paths of water.
If you plan to do activities like hiking or rock climbing during your camping trip, make sure you bring the right gear and carry a first aid kit.
Be extra-careful to avoid falls, dangerous water crossings, and other hazards.
It’s also essential that you have a satellite device that lets others know where you are. Most satellite devices include an SOS function you can use to call for help.
How To Be Less Scared When Camping Alone?
Even if you know you are safe, it can be hard to relax especially if it’s your first time camping alone. Here are some tips to help you stay calm and enjoy your camping trip.
- Camp within your experience and skills. When camping feels easy, you are more likely to stay calm and enjoy yourself. For instance, it’s better to camp at established camping sites when you are starting out.
- Over prepare. Spend several days before the camping trip preparing for the weather, safety, food, activities like hiking and anything else you can think of. When you know you are prepared for anything, it’s easy to relax.
- Start with car camping. It’s usually much easier and less scary than tent camping. You can then work your way from there or decide to stick with car camping.
- Pick somewhere close. When starting out, camp at a familiar location that’s not far from home. Knowing you can always pack up and drive back home helps a lot.
- Plan fun activities to fill your time like cards, reading, watching a movie and so on. It’ll help take your mind off your anxiety.
- Try to calm your mind with yoga or meditation. You can also try to just enjoy nature. See it as a beautiful thing instead of something hiding scary things.
- Expect weird noises at night. Everything sounds weird and scary in the dark. Even the wind sounds different. But it’s usually nothing to worry about. After a few camping trips, you’ll get used to it.
- Self defense. If you have some weapons with you (even if it is just pepper spray), you can rest easier knowing you can defend yourself in case of anything. If you feel vulnerable when you sleep, set up a trip wire alarm to alert you in case anyone or an animal approaches.
Above all, trust yourself and be confident. It’s going to be a bit scary the first time you do it, but it gets easier and more fun the more times you go camping.
So don’t stop after the first trip, even if it didn’t go as expected. As you go for more camping trips, you gain more confidence and experience.
You also realize that camping is less scary than you thought.