28 Oct Bivvy Camping: 8 Ways To Keep Safe Overnight
Get Ready For Your First Bivvy Camping Adventure, Part 3
This article is the third in a series of 4 articles for biyvy camping beginners:
- Part 1. Get Ready For Your First Bivi Bag Camping Adventure! (What You Need For A Good Night’s Sleep)
- Part 2. How To Find A Great Bivi Camping Spot Under The Stars
- Part 3. Bivvy Camping: 8 Ways To Stay Safe Overnight (this one!)
- Part 4. Lightweight Meals And A Menu For Your First Bivi Adventure (Coming soon)
Bivvy Camping And Personal Safety
Worries about potential problems often put people off a wild camping adventure, especially women, but the pleasures of a night outside far outweigh the risks. I’ve been doing it solo for years now and it’s all about peace of mind, which means being prepared. And being prepared means considering various potentialities and then minimising the risks. So, let’s have a look at ways to prepare.
1. First Aid
We’re so used to thinking about this that it’s easy to believe accidents won’t happen to us and not give it the importance it deserves. But no one wants to come back from a hiking trip in a plaster cast, so think about potential dangers in the particular environment you’re walking and camping in. What common injuries might happen? I usually think about trips and sprains and minor cuts from things like brambles or rock, which gives me an idea of what to put in my first aid kit. I’ve written a detailed guide What’s In Your Outdoor First Aid Kit which will help you decide what to take. But as an absolute minimum you need
- antiseptic wipes
- a sterile gauze pad
- and a small roll of bandage
Pain killers, anti-inflammatory tablets and antihistamines are also worth packing, as long as you know you can safely take them. I was stung by a bee in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere and didn’t know I have a severe allergy – I was bloody glad I’d packed some antihistamines! And don’t forget any personal medication. Finally, always make sure your first aid kit is stocked up before you head out on your adventure.
2. Who Are You Going To Call?
There’s always a notebook in my rucksack with contact details for emergency services like the Coastguard or Mountain Rescue, as well as family members and close friends This is because an emergency situation is really stressful and I know I’ll need to find the information quickly and easily. You also need to know how to give a grid reference. Inform yourself and make sure you have the details with you.
3. Who Knows Where You Are?
Be wise and let someone know where you’re headed. This is common sense but can easily be overlooked in the excitement to get outside into the wild! You also need to make sure someone can identify you if you’re injured. The 10 Mile Hike article In Case Of Emergency is a detailed guide to how someone can access your personal information on your phone in an emergency, even if it’s locked, and there’s also a handy, free download ’emergency card’ to carry with you.
Personal Safety For Women Going On A Solo Bivvy
4. Be Discreet
The low profile and minimal space a bivi bag takes up means you can sleep virtually anywhere, which has been a blessing for me on several occasions! Take advantage of this and make sure your bivi bag blends in with the environment, mine’s black, but dark green is obviously a good choice too. Bright green or orange though, is not!!! It’s also worth pointing out that
A bivi bag is much quicker and easier to pack away than a tent, which is really handy if you oversleep in the morning!
5. Don’t Advertise
The worry of being followed by strangers, even attacked, is very real for women and can mean the end of an adventure before it’s even begun. But there are ways to minimise the risks. As well as realistically assessing the likelihood of something happening to you, you can help yourself by not advertising your plans or your whereabouts. Yes, we’re talking social media.
It’s fun to share what you’re up to, and if you’re excited to tell the world that you’re off on your first bivvi, that’s fine. Just don’t say when or where. I’m also wary of posting real-time photos because if someone recognises the area it gives them an easy way to find you. (If that’s their intent). I prefer to post images after the event, even a day or two later. But I never post shortly before or after a night’s bivvy. It’s a really simple way of alleviating my anxiety.
6. Personal Alarm
I always carry one when I’m out walking and hiking, and I make sure it’s close to hand. I even sleep with it, either in a pocket or close to my head where I can find it easily, but
I got mine on Amazon UK* and it cost less than £5.00, so definitely worth the investment. (Other sorts are also available.)
Know What’s Around Your Bivvy Camp
7. Wild Animals and Livestock
Lying on the ground in the open can make you feel more vulnerable than when you’re in a tent, even if you are less obtrusive. Being woken up by cows has happened to me a couple of times now, so it’s not an unfounded fear. However, I know it’s more likely to happen on open access land where there aren’t many field boundaries. I’m sure the cattle I’ve encountered like this have just been curious about what’s lying in their field. The thought of them giving me a kick or a head butt to find out though makes my internal alarm bells ring pretty loudly!
The point is to look at the ground for animal droppings: cows, horses, foxes, badgers, deer… Is your spot near animal tracks or runs? If so, think about whether it’s sensible to move on or not. Cows, horses? I’m off!!
Read part 2 in this series How To Find A Great Bivi Camping Spot Under The Stars, for more info. And the article on Leave No Trace talks about disturbing habitat too, which you might find useful.
8. Other People
In terms of ‘stranger danger’ check out how far you are from centres of population, dog walking routes and fields, etc. And if you’re going off the main tracks into woods or open access land make sure you know your way back to the main path in darkness.
How Are Your Worries Now?
Got yourself a plan? Good! Pack up your rucksack and get ready to go, because the full blown anxiety should be reduced to a nervous excitement – and you’ve got this! Whether you’re off with friends or for a solo night out, you’re prepared to get out of your comfort zone and ready for the big adventure! Enjoy – and don’t forget to let us know how it goes.