Emily's Top 10 Must-Haves for Solo Camping

Emily's Top 10 Must-Haves for Solo Camping

Last year, I discovered a new hobby: solo camping! I've always loved taking camping trips, but I'd never tried it on my own before. Turns out, camping alone can be a really enriching experience - the perfect way to get away from it all and have a mini adventure, even if you only visit a campsite a few miles from home!

If you're solo camping, it's pretty crucial to pack light, because you'll be carrying it all yourself. The last thing you want is to take multiple trips lugging all your camping gear from your car. The less you can take, the better. You don't need camping chairs and a fold-out table, or oodles of fancy camping cookware. A few basics and a picnic blanket are more than fine, and will save you carrying tons of gear back and forth. This guide contains all my must-have items for your first solo camping trip, to help you pack light, stay safe, and have the best time possible while you're getting back to nature.

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Emily Luxton
Travel Blogger
  • Mountain Warehouse
    Festival Fun 2-Man Tent

    Emily Luxton

    The first thing any solo camper needs is a small, easy-to-assemble tent! Although there are lots of 1-man tents out there, these can often be a bit on the cramped side, so I generally opt for a 2-man tent. Especially because this means you'll have more room for your backpack and other gear alongside you. 

    The Festival Fun 2-Man Tent from Mountain Warehouse is a brilliant starter tent. It's budget-friendly, easy to put up, and does a pretty decent job. You probably won't get more than a few uses out of it (weather dependant), but it's a great start. If you decide you love solo camping, you might want to upgrade to something a little more durable and weather-proof later on down the line. But this tent is ideal for a few short camping trips - I've used mine about 5 times now and it's done me proud every time.

    Top Tip: practice putting your tent up at home before taking your first solo camping trip. That way you can make sure you have all the right pieces, and also make sure you know what you're doing, to save yourself running into difficulties when you arrive at the campsite!
  • Campingaz

    Emily Luxton

    If this is your first time solo camping, you may find it easier to book a campsite with a restaurant, or one that's close to a town. But there's something really fun about cooking your own meals in the great outdoors while you're camping. And if you're like me, you'll probably want hot water for your morning coffee! So a camping stove is an absolute must-have.

    This small, super-portable one from Campingaz is absolutely ideal. It's easy to use and hardly takes up any space. Just whack a pan on top and you can boil water quickly and easily. You can also use it to heat up food, and if you take a frying pan you could easily cook a pretty decent meal. I even use mine to cook toast by dropping bread directly over the flame - do be careful and use tongs to handle it, though!

    Food-wise, keep it simple and lightweight. Tinned food, like soup or beans, are ideal for camping as they're easy to heat over a little stove - as is pasta. You might want to avoid fresh meat as it will be hard to store it safely, especially in hot weather, but eggs are easy to cook on the Campingaz stove so they make a good source of protein. If you want veg, salad items are your best bet, but you could boil or sauté a few things over the gas stove if you want to go all out.

    Don't forget a lighter and matches to light the stove!
  • Active Era
    300 Warm Mummy Sleeping Bag

    Emily Luxton

    A sleeping bag is another must-have for camping. If you're camping solo, it can generally be a little chillier in the tent as you only have your own body heat. So it's extra important to get a decent sleeping bag. Look for a 3-4 season one, as these are designed to keep you the right temperature in almost any climate.

    I love the Active Era 300 Mummy Sleeping Bag, which has two insulated layers to keep out the cold, and is also water resistant. If you're camping in summer, you might also want to take an insect-repellent sleeping bag liner, to keep you safe from those pesky mosquitoes and midges.

    In the UK, the temperatures can drop quite a bit at night even in summer, so I usually take my own duvet from home to go over my sleeping bag and keep me nice and toasty. I also use my own pillow from home rather than an inflatable camping pillow. It's much more comfy and is lightweight enough not to be a bother!
  • Pavillo
    Inflatable Matress

    Emily Luxton

    In my opinion, an inflatable mattress is another must-have item for any camping trip. When I was younger, we always slept on roll mats while we were camping. It wasn't too uncomfortable, so it's definitely an option if you want to travel really light. But cold can rise up from the ground, so the more layers you have between you and your groundsheet, the better.

    An inflatable mattress won't take up too much space and can make things a lot more comfy in the tent. I use the Pavillon Airbed Quick Inflation Outdoor Camping Air Mattress, which has a built-in foot pump so it's incredibly easy and quick to inflate - and you don't need to pack an extra pump.
  • Summit
    Stainless Steel Tiffin Camping Cook Set

    Emily Luxton

    If you're taking a camping stove with you, you'll also need some cookware. If you're on a tight budget, you could just do what I did and take an old saucepan, a wooden spoon, and some spare cutlery. But bear in mind that camping can be dirty and you run the risk of losing, breaking, or generally ruining any nice kitchenware you take with you.

    A good alternative is a small, self-contained camping cookware set like this 6-piece tiffin set. All the pieces pack down inside the largest piece, so it's a great space-saver. The two tins can be used as saucepans for cooking, and the lid doubles up as a plate, so this small and very reasonably priced set contains everything you need to cook and eat a meal while you're solo camping.
  • Summit
    Trio Camping Light Set

    Emily Luxton

    A torch and/or headlamp is incredibly useful for making your way around the campsite after dark. But you also want a light for inside your tent, and a small camping lantern is ideal for this. The Summit Trio Camping Light Set includes a lightweight, compact lantern which you can hang from the top of your tent to light it up at night. It also has a durable, pocket-sized torch, as well as a headlamp. Headlamps are especially useful if you have your hands full, for example if you head to the bathroom block at night with your toiletries bag etc!

    If you're on a budget, you can just buy a torch or headlamp and make do with that. Pick up a cheap set of battery-operated fairy lights and use these to light your tent. They might not be as bright as a lantern, but you can easily hang them from the top of the tent - and they look very cute!

    Don't forget spare batteries!
  • Amazon Basics
    Portable Security Case

    Emily Luxton

    One of the downsides of camping solo is that you're going to have to leave your tent unattended quite a lot. Which means you'll either have to take the risk of leaving your valuables in the tent (or car) - or you'll have to take all your valuables with you every single time you leave. It's a bit of a pain taking everything with you to the loo in the middle of the night!

    A useful tool might be a portable safe or security case. You can stash your money, credit cards, and phone inside to keep them safe when you go to sleep or leave the tent. Look for one with a decent combination lock, as well as a sturdy cable tie. You'll want to be able to tie the safe down to stop people taking the entire box! These portable safes aren't always perfect, but they should at least add an extra layer of protection.
  • Summit
    First Aid Survival Kit

    Emily Luxton

    A first aid kit sometimes feels a bit like overkill, but if you're camping solo it can be such a useful piece of gear. If anything goes wrong while you're out there on your own, you'll need to be able to take care of it. Hopefully you won't need them, but if you get a cut while you're camping it's incredibly important to keep it clean. 

    You'll want antiseptic wipes, plasters, bandages, and maybe some sterilisation fluid. You might also want to add a few of your own key items into the kit such as pain killers, rehydration tablets, or anti-diarrhoea medication (just in case!). For solo camping, your first aid kit should also include a few key survival items such as a whistle, compass, and emergency matches for any worst case scenarios!
  • Anker
    Power Bank

    Emily Luxton

    If you're staying on a campsite, chances are they'll have some facilities blocks with plug sockets for charging your electricals. However, these can often get pretty busy if everyone on the campsite wants to charge at the same time. It will also mean you'll have to sit there and wait for your phone or camera to charge. A great idea for any camping trip is to take a portable charger. This way, you can charge your smartphone, torch, or anything else you might need while you're in your tent - or even while you're out exploring.

    Look for a stronger power bank, like the PowerCore Essential 3000 from Anker, which can charge a phone up to 5 times before it needs recharging itself - this should keep you going for the whole camping trip. Anker are a brand I've used for years and their products have always been great for me, so I really recommend them.
  • Water-to-Go
    Filter Water Bottle

    Emily Luxton

    One thing I always recommend to travellers is a water filter bottle. I've been using the Water-to-Go bottles for about 7 years and absolutely love mine! They're especially handy when you're camping, as you can't always be sure if the water you're using is safe to drink - even when it's coming from a tap on the campsite.

    Essentially, these bottles include a filter which can clean bad stuff like dirt and bacteria from any water source. So you can fill them up from a natural source like a river or lake, and know that you're getting clean, safe water. Definitely a must-have item when you're camping.

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