5 Top Reasons Women Are Hesitant To Go Solo-Backpacking! + 5 Tips To Gain Confidence!

5 Top Reasons Women Are Hesitant To Go Solo-Backpacking! + 5 Tips To Gain Confidence!

Author: Tina Eckerlin

Why are you so hesitant?

After hearing so many women tell me that they are too scared to go on a solo-backpacking adventure, I decided to ask other outdoorsy-women who have been backpacking in groups but not solo the big question: why?

Why are you so hesitant?

It seems that the biggest fears most women have are of predatory animals (human and otherwise), getting lost and overall self-confidence. 

Gaining confidence in the backcountry comes with knowledge and experience. Both of which you can earn in time!

I have taken the top 5 responses and responded with 5 tips to help build confidence in the backcountry, so you can move towards solo-adventures!

5 Tips To Gain Confidence Solo-Backpacking

Woman afraid in the forest. Text block: Tip #1 I have never spent the night alone in the woods.

Get out close to home!

Being alone in the woods is the top response from women. It encompasses most fears, but mainly the dark. If you have every camped you know that a mouse scurrying in the dark sounds like an elephant!

  • Try camping in your backyard, or a campsite close to home to build your confidence.  That way if you are uncomfortable, cold or scared you can quickly get out and back home. 
  • Start off with one night, then two, then three...each time you will feel more confident and better prepared.
  • Staying close to home also keeps you safe when testing your gear!
Image of bear roaring. Text block: Tip #2, What if I see a bear or others animals.

Knowledge is power! Learn about what to do during an animal encounter.

Whether it is snakes, black-flies or bears; you need to understand how they behave and what to do. Before heading out on trail, search what types of wildlife are in that area and how to identify them. Don't learn what to do if you encounter a grizzly bear if you are in black bear country!

  • Learn about the specific wildlife in the area, their habits and what to do if you encounter one
  • Learn how to avoid animal encounters
  • Contact the park or conservation area beforehand, for rules on their food storage requirements: bear-cannister, bear-locker, bear-hang..
  • If needed, carry bear-spray, bear-bangers, bug repellant or whatever is recommended by the park service. Make sure to learn how to use them before hitting the trail!
Image of a women hiking holding a map and compass. Text block: Tip #3, What if I get lost?

Learn basic navigation skills!

You may be concerned that you will get lost. Learn about the trail before you go out: research the terrain, key landmarks, mile markers, trail markers and key trail points so you know what to expect when out on that trail.

  • Choose a well-marked, well-used and well-populated trail
  • Take an orienteering class and learn about maps, compasses and GPS
  • Carry a paper map and a downloaded map on your smart device
  • Stay on the trail
  • Leave a detailed itinerary of your trip with someone at home. There are many apps and devices available that can update your family with your location
  • Carry a personal locator beacon-SOS device 
Image of a woman outdoors clasping her knee. Text block: Tip #4, What if I fail? What will people think?

Don't worry about failing and who cares what people think!

Always hike your own hike! Do not worry about what others will think. Many people end their hikes due to injuries, weather and terrain skill level. You can always go back.

  • Hike for yourself
  • It is ok not to finish. It is ok to get off the trail early. It is ok to quit. 
  • Backpacking is about the experiences: both good and bad. Each trip is a learning experience that will improve your skills and knowledge for the next trip.
  • Know your skill level and physical abilities: plan for terrain that is within those boundaries. 
  •  Research the terrain, weather, and trail before heading out so you know what to expect
  • Injuries happen. Know how to use basic first aid, know yourself and when to get off the trail to prevent further injury
Image of a creepy guy. Text block: Tip #5, What about creepy dudes?

You have a greater chance of meeting a weirdo at the super-market than in the backcountry!

There are creeps everywhere. You see them at the super-market and at the bank, but most people on the trail are kind and helpful. The danger is never zero, but the chances of a bad encounter are higher in towns than in the backcountry.

  • Hike more populated and less remote trails
  • Hike on trails with cell phone reception
  • If you are feeling uncomfortable around someone on trail, leave
  • Leave a detailed itinerary with someone at home
  • Carry a personal locator beacon-SOS device 

Bonus Tip!

No matter how long you are out for, take notes when you get home about what worked and what didn't. What did you do well? Did you learn enough about the trail, environment and critters? What do you still need to learn? Did you gear preform well and work for you? Were your distances to short or to long?

Ultimately, you need to build your confidence slowly with experience.  Be prepared -knowledge is power!

The more you learn about the environment around you, the safer and more confident you will be.

Are you afraid of solo-backpacking? Why?

Do you have any great tips for those just starting out?

Make sure to leave us a comment below and share your thoughts!

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@Margaret Johnston, always follow you instinct in life if you are uncomfortable! That is sound advice.
Dogs are a great way to have companionship on the trail to!

Terrain UL

I hike alone most of the time. Local hiking clubs don’t allow you to bring your dog. Most times I hike with my dog. If he gets spooked by something we go another way. I trust his judgement. He’s never been wrong. He’s really old now and can’t walk as long as I can. So, it’s mostly solo hiking now. I miss his company but I’m just more careful around solo hikers I meet. If I get a bad feeling about someone; I get as far away from them as possible or abruptly end the hike and hike another day.

Margaret Johnston

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