5 Reasons to Carry a Gun While Hiking or Camping
It's easy to let your guard down when outdoors. Don't blame yourself, a weekend hike or camping trip is supposed to be a chance to relax and leave the worries of the city behind. Most of us spend plenty of time getting together essentials like a tent, sleeping bag, water, etc but don't give much thought to what we would do in an unexpected encounter with a safety threat.
Here are 5 reasons why you should carry a firearm with you when hiking or camping. Some are practical, some are more serious. Take a look at our list and let us know if you can think of any other reasons to carry while outdoors.
Target Practice and Plinking
Practice makes perfect and an outdoors trip is the perfect time to get in some practice. Ranges cost money, so getting in a few rounds on your trip can be a great way to save a little cash and hone your shooting skills.
Small Game Hunting
If you are planning to stay outdoors for a longer period of time, you may want to hunt small game for food. Hunting can enhance your connection to the outdoors and help build valuable survival skills. If you plan on hunting only small game .22 caliber rifles or handguns are the best carry option. Larger game requires larger calibers so plan accordingly.
No one expects to get lost or have a medical emergency on a casual trip, but always expect and prepare for the unexpected. Having a gun on you might help in signaling for help if you become trapped, hurt, or lost. If things take a major turn for the worst, being able to secure food might buy you precious survival time while you figure out your next steps.
Encountering dangerous animals on hiking trails isn't common, but it does happen often enough to make it a concern especially if you have children with you. Even a small caliber gun could save your life. It may not kill the animal attacking you but might scare it off before the animal can attack.
Many stories can be found of mountain lion attacks including a woman who had her face torn off while hiking and survived. Bears have been sighted where we live and are common in many parts of the United States. Bears can attack, such as this story of a 19 year old woman in Southern California who was attacked by a bear while napping in her backyard.
Hiking or biking along well used paths would seem like a safe bet, but that doesn't mean you should let your guard down. We have traveled along our fair share of established routes that were nearly empty while we were there. Every route or trail you can think of has its peak season, and on the flip side times when the trail is going to be empty.
Many crimes are of opportunity, and an unarmed backpacker in the woods is an easy target for someone looking for a victim. Not many of us even think about the possibility of a serial killer lurking in the woods but there are several stories of killers who have preyed on lone hikers. The need to always be thinking of self defense is obvious, especially if you have children with you.
What Kind of Firearm Should You Carry Outdoors?
Picking a firearm for outdoor carry depends on several factors: area you are traveling in, the length of your trip, expected predators, weather conditions, and ease of carry. Outdoor enthusiasts who stay near populated areas need to consider local gun laws and the safety of people nearby. Those who venture into the back country will have different needs. A rifle is great for defending against larger animals but will weigh you down over longer trips and the added weight is going to be a factor.
We recommend carrying whatever handgun you are familiar with already, such as your daily carry or ccw handgun. This is the best option since you are already familiar with how the weapon works. A handgun is also small enough to not be cumbersome, and carrying an extra magazine doesn't weigh that much. The most popular caliber is 9mm and that will work just fine in most situations. If you plan to head deeper into the woods, upping the caliber makes sense since the chance of encountering larger animals increases.
Be sure that whatever firearm you carry is properly serviced beforehand. Rain and other tough weather conditions could lead to malfunctions and trouble. No handgun is going to be 100% weather resistant but proper maintenance is going to make sure that it performs when needed.
How Should you Carry a Firearm Outdoors?
You want to make sure that your weapon is easy to access yet doesn't interfere with mobility. Normally, a ccw handgun would be carried inside your waistband - but that isn't the best option outdoors. We recommend an outside the waistband holster with a secure mechanism to keep it in place should you trip or fall. Kydex holsters are very secure, but even lower priced ones that feature a buckle over strap or similar can work.
Another option would be a chest rig. A more advanced option, chest rigs allow for quick and easy access, but can interfere with backpack stabilizing straps that come across the chest. Whichever carrying option you choose, just be sure that you are in compliance with local and federal laws.
Hopefully, we have convinced you to that carrying a handgun while camping or hiking makes sense. If you already carry, let us know if you have ever come across a situation that required you to use your firearm in a survival situation.