Who's afraid of female solo hikers?
"Are you not scared?"
This is the one question everybody asks me when I tell them I go hiking, on my own and staying overnight. No matter if I biwak, sleep in a tent or in my car. Are you not scared?
Honestly, I never even thought that this was something I could be scared about. For me, this is just something to do, a fun activity. Nobody would ever ask me if I was scared of riding my bike alone, no? Or is it maybe just because I am a woman? Would they ask the same question if I were male?
Of course there are dangers in this world and especially for women, there are more than for men. It is not fair, it never has been and it never will. But should we women be scared to do something we like just because it might be more dangerous than it is for a man? No.
Hiking and camping is one of those things.
In Switzerland, the most dangerous things that could happen while hiking or camping are:
Of course, you should always check the hike before you go, if you are experienced enough especially in the mountain areas. But if that is clear: get yourself out there. Don’t wait until your friends have time (if they are interested in hiking anyway).
As a photographer, hiking and camping is a good way to stay in beautiful areas overnight to get the best light for pictures. When you do day trips, you need to get back to civilization before it is too dark. In the mountains, you just pitch your tent and enjoy the sunset.
Of course, when staying overnight, you face different challenges with your gear. You cannot just bring a hat and a bottle of water and a few snacks. You need to bring enough food and water for your stay as well as a tent, sleeping bag and mattress. And if you are a photographer like me, you also need to carry your tripod and of course the camera and one or more lenses and filters etc. That itself is already quite heavy. So here it makes sense to invest in some lightweight gear, like super lightweight sleeping bag, carbon tripod , etc.
I myself prefer to bring a tent instead of biwaking, just because of the space for my camera gear, but biwaking is also great.
Food-wise, for me the preparation is a little different. I try to follow the zero waste lifestyle, also on camping trips. Especially when camping wild in the mountains, you don’t want to leave any trash in this pristine area (or anywhere else). So what to do?
I start with prepping my food at home. I’ll make sandwiches and wrap them in my bees wrap or put them in my stasherbags. These wraps or bags don’t take up much space (or weight) and are reusable. For water, I bring my camelbak or platypus 1 litre flask and refill it on the way. Usually, there are fountains or springs in the mountains where you can refill them. In Switzerland, they are 95% of the times purest drinking water. In other areas, I bring a filter (like SteriPen) to clean my water.
But what about toilet hygiene and make up etc.? Well, as a solo hiker staying overnight alone: who will see you? No one, therefore: leave the make up at home. It is better for your skin anyway and you save weight and space. I usually bring my toothbrush, tooth powder, hand sanitizer, deodorant, a brush and sunscreen. That is all you need. And of course a little stash of toilet paper.
And the best thing: I carry one or two small plastic bags to collect the used toilet paper and other possible trash in it. In Switzerland, we have these colorful bags that are being distributed on the streets, named „robidog“. They are designed for dog owners to pick up their dogs poo on the streets. There are even special bins to dispose the full bags. Since these bags are usually bright yellow or orange, they are perfect for camping wild. Just assign a toilet spot where you camp and place the bag there (put a stone on it so it won’t fly away). Put all the trash in there, tie it with a knot and throw it away in the first bin you find on the way back to town the next morning.
Of course that also works during those „special“ days in a month. But, for this I have an even better, waste free option. I use period panties by thinx. They work great and you just change them at night (and store the used one in robidog bag until washing) or in the morning and you have no tampon to throw out, no plastic wrap and nothing else.
So you see, solo camping/hiking is easy and possible without stress AND without waste.
If you are still hesitating or have questions, leave e a comment, if not: get yourself out there and go hiking. What are you waiting for?
I am a swiss photographer (www.fmphotography.ch),
a travel, wildlife, volunteer and outdoors addict who cares about zero waste, the environment and simply our planet.