Stephanie Boon hiking on the South West Coast Smiling at the camera.

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Taking photos on the coast at Porthleven, South West Coast Path, Cornwall. Photo by Hana Clitherow

Bivvy Camping For Beginners, Part 3: Bivvy Camp Safety

Bivvy Camping For Beginners, Part 3: Bivvy Camp Safety

  1. Part 1. How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep
  2. Part 2. Where To Bivvy: How To Find The Perfect Spot
  3. Part 3. Bivvy Camp Safety
  4. Part 4. Easy Bivvy Camping Food

Pinterest Collage: 8 Ways To Keep Safe On A Bivvy Adventure

Bivvy Camp 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 solo bivvy camping 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:

Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you enjoying a night under the stars: be prepared! Here are 8 tips to help you plan a safe night out.

8 Bivvy Camp Safety Tips

  1. Pack first aid
  2. Take emergency details
  3. Let someone know where you are
  4. Be discreet
  5. Don’t advertise
  6. Take a personal alarm
  7. Avoid wild animal habitats and livestock
  8. Be aware of other people

8 Bivvy Camp Safety Tips In Detail

1. First Aid

It’s easy to believe accidents won’t happen to us and not give first aid the importance it deserves. No one wants to come back from a hiking trip in a plaster cast, so think about the potential dangers of the environment you’re planning to bivvy 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 to carry:

  • plasters
  • 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?

This is possibly the most important bivvy camp safety tip there is: let someone know where you’re headed.

It’s common sense but can easily be overlooked in the excitement to get outside and get wild camping! 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 Solo

Stephanie Boon in autumn hiking gear sitting in a field with a rucksack on

Going solo is aa great experience

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 bivvy 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 bivvy 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.

Make sure those close to you know where you’re going, but don’t under any circumstance post that info on your social media pages.

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 bivvy, 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

Bivvy camping - a personal alarm for women

Women should consider carrying a personal alarm

I always carry a personal alarm 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’ve never felt the need to use it. (They’re available on Amazon UK.)

Read more on solo wild camping in my comprehensive guide:

 

Know What’s Around Your Bivvy Camp

7. Wild Animals and Livestock

As ridiculous as it sounds, once of my biggest fears is waking up with a cow in my face!

Bivvy camping - keep safe and stay away from livestock! Black and white cow sniffing rucksack and camping equipment on the ground.

Too curious for my liking!

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 have just been curious about what’s lying in their field. But the thought of them giving me a kick or a head butt to find out 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 The Perfect Bivvy Spot, 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.

There’s lots more information in my Wild Camping guide, which applies to camping in a bivvy bag as much as it does to a tent:

 

 

Raring To Go?

Got yourself a plan? Good! Pack up your rucksack and get ready to head out, because the full blown anxiety should be reduced to a nervous excitement now – and you’ve got this! Whether you’re off with friends or for a solo night out,

Now 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 in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to read part 4 for tips on snacks and meals to take on your first bivvy micro-adventure.

Happy hiking

Stephie x

Pin The Series!

 

More Bivvy Camping For Beginners

  1. Part 1. How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep
  2. Part 2. Where To Bivvy: How To Find The Perfect Spot
  3. Part 3. Bivvy Camp Safety
  4. Part 4. Easy Bivvy Camping Food

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