OK, so you're looking to travel into the backcountry on your own or as a solo hiker. Either you have no friends or family and you are truly alone in this world, or the thought of being with your friends and family in the backcountry causes an uncontrollable twitch in the entire left side of your body. Both are good reasons, and there are even more for wanting to go it alone.
But before you do, here are a few simple tips to follow when you decide on some backcountry "you time."
1. Take a communications device on your solo backpacking trip.
When you are going out into the great outdoors, you want to be sure you have a means to communicate with someone in the event things don't go as planned - like you get lost and you are being chased by a grandma dressed up like a wolf.
A device like the Garmin inReach is a great tool. It works as a spot locator, so you can send and receive texts and you can set up tracking so people at home can see where you are in real time (as long as there is satellite signal, so this may not work if you venture into a slot canyon like in Paria Canyon). But, it is an invaluable piece of equipment to have.
2. Tell people where you’re going.
It is extremely important you inform people (notice I said people, not a person) where you are going and when you expect to return. One person is not enough - they could forget you are gone, get lost themselves or have their own lost weekend. The more who know, the better. And if the reason you are going alone is due to the lack of friends and family as mentioned earlier, tell a co-worker, a neighbor and your favorite Starbucks barista (your barista will know when you have not been around). If there is a ranger station or a place to sign in at the trailhead, check in before you start and then remember to check in again when you are finished. They will start a preliminary search if they think you never made it back.
3. Plan a hiking trip that is within your comfort level.
Don't pick the most challenging, remote hike you can think of for your solo trip when what you're used to is moderate and populated. If the last backcountry trip you did was with a group and you hiked Grand Canyon Rim to Rim where there are 100s of people, a solo hike off-trail in the Yosemite Wilderness is not the best choice for you.
4. Hike someplace you are already familiar.
This does not mean it has to be the exact route you have already gone before, but at least make sure it is in the same general area that has similar terrain, climate and type of trail. So if you are familiar with the Superstition Wilderness east of Phoenix, AZ, and you know how to read a map, you should be fine trying out a different, but well-used trail, for your solo adventure.
5. Go with a guide service or find a meetup group.
Going alone does not necessarily mean going "alone". You may want to have the companionship or the chance to meet some new people that have the same interests as you - like shepherding rabbits. You may want a change of scenery, so to speak.
Guide services like Just Roughin' It will help take care of a lot of the logistics and place you in a group with others. But of course, because you are going with a company that is providing a service with all the applicable insurances, authorizations and just all -out taking care of you (cooking, gear, safety, permits, etc.), there is a cost associated with said service. Compare that to finding a group of like-minded individuals on websites like MeetUp where you are essentially all getting together, but you are on your own with planning, gear and food. Either way, you'll learn a thing or two about backpacking, camping, hiking and/or backcountry fashion.
Want more backpacking and hiking tips?
Visit the Just Roughin’ It blog. We also offer guided backpacking trips in Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Olympic and other amazing locations. So if you don't really want to go all alone, come along with us!