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do you take protection on hikes?
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rob wil
(AUradar) - F

Locale: FL Panhandle (aka LA)
do you take protection on hikes? on 03/17/2009 06:15:00 MDT Print View

Do you take protection on hikes? If so, what? (Personal protection, but not the sexual kind).

Is there a problem in the national parks backcountry that requires you to carry protection?

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
RE:protection on hikes on 03/17/2009 06:41:48 MDT Print View

NO! None needed in 25+years out there. Ever!

Tim Heckel
(ThinAir) - M

Locale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
No on 03/17/2009 07:10:41 MDT Print View

No, in 40+ years of outdoor activity from Maine to Hawaii, no problems other than:
While napping I was bitten on the ear by a mouse.
I was "attacked" by a deranged ptarmigan protecting its nest.

Jed Augustine
(jaugusti) - F

Locale: Appalachians/Rockies
Re: No on 03/17/2009 07:17:01 MDT Print View

The only time I felt I might need something to protect myself was when a chaperone on a trip in high school let us know he had a gun to protect us from all of the scary people. He's the scariest guy I've ever seen on the trail, fortunately.

Michael Landman
(malndman) - F

Locale: Central NC, USA
Re: do you take protection on hikes? on 03/17/2009 07:33:35 MDT Print View

I assume you mean A firearm when you use the euphemism "protection". The current Department of the Interior policy is that you have the same rights for firearm possession within National Parks as you personally do within the state within which the park is located. BLM policy is the same.
Attacks by 2 footed predators is exceedingly rare in wilderness areas, as are ones by the 4 footed kind. A bear will be hardly dissuaded by anything less than a +P 45 FMJ. A 9mm shot, unless very well placed, will be ineffective against any large predator. A hollow point, designed for people, will not have the penetration needed for a bear. A shotgun with a rifled slug will work, but I doubt that would qualify for SUL status. I know of bears being brought down by a 22 mag. rifle. It is quite conceivable that the sound of a gunshot will scare a bear off, a pistol or revolver shot is very loud.
So the question is, are you a good enough marksman, who will stay highly focused in a moment of extreme crisis, to make a killing shot to a running animal before it closed from 25' in the 1.5 seconds you have? You would need to stand in the line of a charge, and calmly place multiply shots within the 9 ring of a rapidly approaching target that is bouncing as it runs at you to kill you. You will not get a side shot at it's temple or ear cavity or spine. It will need to be a shot into it's open mouth or base of skull or eye socket. If you hit a bear with a 9 mm between it's eyes, the shot will most likely bounce off. If you make a heart shot, you still need to wait a minute or so for the animal to drop. Can you even draw your weapon in that time? Do you practice draw, present and fire enough to be highly proficient and accurate? But on the other hand, a rabid raccoon was killed by rangers in the Grand Canyon at the Phantom Ranch campgrounds a few years ago. It took them far too many shots to kill the poor thing.
I have a carry permit, practice often and have carried on solo hikes. I have met rangers while I carried openly. Since it was in AZ., an open carry state, I was legal and they did not comment, which was proper, I was doing nothing wrong or illegal. I am not sure I could defend myself from a charging bear, I most likely would not hear a Cougher until it was in the air or on me, but I could defend you if you were attacked, but if I were solo, that point is mute. Could I draw once I was attacked, hard to tell, depends on my wounds. There are reports of people successfully fighting off predators. So perhaps I could, and a pistol is hard to borrow in an emergency. Perhaps the pain of several non-lethal shots would convince a predator to end an attack if it was meal based.

In my youth I carried condoms on solo hikes, just in case, but never got to use them. Another fantasy unfulfilled, so sad!
Edited for that speling thing.

Edited by malndman on 03/17/2009 07:39:18 MDT.

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: Protection on 03/17/2009 07:35:37 MDT Print View

I must have a dirty mind... my first thought was the safe-sex kind of protection.

A friend of mine had a big knife attached to his hipbelt and was all excited to see if he could fend off a bear with it. I think he was joking, but either way he never got to test the idea. Just as well. Any weight that you might use for weapons in the backcountry would be better spent in your first aid kit, and even that doesn't need to be as heavy as a machete or pistol.

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
protection? on 03/17/2009 07:38:35 MDT Print View

Nope - I have a little Bechmade 530 knife, but that's not at all for protection. To be honest, the thought of protection never crosses my mind in on the trail - it's much safer than walking around in society, or driving to the trailhead for that matter.

edited for spelling

Edited by mn-backpacker on 03/17/2009 12:40:22 MDT.

Michael Landman
(malndman) - F

Locale: Central NC, USA
Re: protection? on 03/17/2009 07:41:10 MDT Print View

"though of protection never crosses my mind in on the trail - it's much safer than walking around in society, or driving to the trailhead for that matter"
So true. That was how I felt when I drove a race car in SCCA. I was safer on the track than driving to and from it.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: protection? on 03/17/2009 08:05:54 MDT Print View

I carry a Glock 20 with two 30 round magazines that I snuck into California from Nevada.
As my backup, I've usually got a Smith and Wesson Airweight model 442 on my ankle.
A Gerber LMF ASEK II on a neck lanyard rounds out the sytem (close quarters combat).
I know it's all heavier than my entire pack, but my safety is paramount.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: protection? on 03/17/2009 08:39:48 MDT Print View

Some of us do - which opens us up to a firestorm of hateful and condescending comments from liberal minded forum users.

Follow the rules in your state to the law, carry concealed, practice often and carry what you like best.

Not all firearms are heavy.

As for those who have a "fear" of people carrying, if done concealed under state law you don't even KNOW they are carrying. So get over that! You should fear criminals, not law abiding citizens who went through the process to get a CPL. To get a CPL you pass two background checks - your state level and the FBI and are fingerprinted. Some states require classes as well.

Having said that, if you wish to carry concealed on the trail and have a CPL, get a Safepacker. They are the best holsters for it, designed for SAR team members to carry on their packs.

This is my choice, before mods were done with laser grip added:


If I want to go UL I carry a XD 9mm instead.

But would you prefer this instead?


Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: do you take protection on hikes? on 03/17/2009 08:41:13 MDT Print View

Rob, there is actually a long and exhausting thread somewhere here on BPL about bringing firearms (protection) into the backcountry. Some laughed at the idea and thought it was crazy while others thought nothing of it and routinely carried a weapon. IIRC, many of the people who carried did so for protection from people and not animals...also, a few females spoke out about unsettling incidents occurring when they were solo or with their children.

I personally wouldn't bother with one. However, there was this one time where my girlfriend and I were hiking and about 4 hours in we came across a guy with no pack and no gear. He was just sitting on a rock enjoying the view. We chatted and he insisted on getting a picture with my girlfriend as he thought she was so beautiful. It caught me off guard and I agreed but after the first one said, OK, that's enough. He then asked lots and lots of questions about outback hiking and where we were staying and how long to get out in an emergency and all this crazy/personal stuff. It freaked my girlfriend out and I was uncomfortable too. I ended up lying to him about where we were planning to set up camp and we basically just ended the conversation and went on our way.
That night my girlfriend was really nervous that the guy had followed us and I routinely reassured her that I would pop his head like a pimple if he showed up. :) But she wanted to know what to do if it was just her and her friend out hiking. I admitted that the incident was weird enough for me that I would have told her to hike out.
That was the only time I had a situation like that. Turned out to be harmless chit chat but wow was it odd. Sooo, if you have too many of those types of situations, I'm sure one day you'll start bringing something in with you...but I'll let the debate start.

Phil Brown

Locale: Traverse City MI
Protection... on 03/17/2009 08:45:25 MDT Print View

Protection? of course.
I personally prefer the "spray and pray" method of bear/man/bearman defense.
Image Hosted by

Edited by pbrown19 on 03/17/2009 08:46:19 MDT.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Protection... on 03/17/2009 08:51:45 MDT Print View

Sarah, Philip, if you want real protection, put those pea-shooters ;o away and pull out something like this. That's right baby, M-60!
It's not mine though, borrowed it from the Vietnam Military for some fun...


Edited by Steve_Evans on 03/17/2009 08:52:26 MDT.

rob wil
(AUradar) - F

Locale: FL Panhandle (aka LA)
protection on 03/17/2009 08:56:31 MDT Print View

I'm not to worried about bears. I'm in black bear country and from what I understand, they're not to aggressive. Spray and fog horn is probably plenty for them. I'm a little worried about snakes, they can get aggressive in certain circumstances, and with a small boy, his inexperience can get him in trouble. Also worried about stumbling into a wasp/hornet/yellow jacket nest, but not much I can do about defense there.

Also worried about the two legged predetor. Not so much for my saftey, but when I'm out with wife and/or kids. I have had one encounter camping at a state park that made me feel uneasy, but we packed up and left. Not always an option. Just read about a local boater who had a pretty bad encounter this weekend. And I seem to recall a show on Discovery a year or so ago about crime increasing in the national parks. But I think they were parks out west and may have been related to illegal immigrant crossings.

It would seem to me, like some have said, once you get past the population then the threat potential drops. Not to many crazy who want to deal with the back country

I was just wondering what others did

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Protection... on 03/17/2009 09:06:46 MDT Print View

It's been too long since we've had a good gun thread on here, and I have to say that this is my favorite. My vote for best gun photo, so far, goes to Philip for showing a practical way to integrate one into his kit!

Now, if I could only dig up some pictures of my potato cannon...

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: protection? on 03/17/2009 09:23:37 MDT Print View

On a more serious note, there are a few places/situations I've backpacked where I've considered carrying.
I'm not concerned about solo trips, the Sierra, etc., but primarily short trips in local canyons outside of Los Angeles with my children.

This is Los Angeles. It's a big place with all sorts of people...many not well in the head.

Now typically, I try not to sleep anywhere that is that close enough to the trailhead that you have to worry about this sort of thing. But when I'm trekking locally with my kids who can really only handle shorter hikes to camp...

I do have to ask myself:
When I am the SOLE person that I can count on to keep my children safe in any situation in the mountains, why wouldn't I want to be prepared for the worst?

In the unlikely event I ever came across another person that wanted to harm me/my family I don't like the idea of being at the mercy of what they're carrying and have no options of my own. Could me introducing weapon make things worse for everyone? Sure. But I think it's about having the option, assessing the situation.

That being said, I've still never carried in the mountains.
But I do think about it.

Edited by xnomanx on 03/17/2009 09:24:47 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: protection? on 03/17/2009 09:29:51 MDT Print View

And by the way Sarah...

I'm a "liberal minded" person that loves to shoot and absolutely believes in the right to own guns.

It's not that black and white.

Edited by xnomanx on 03/17/2009 09:42:10 MDT.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
protection on 03/17/2009 09:31:41 MDT Print View

I nearly always carry. I just upgraded from the LT3 to to new LT4 model. I do not carry concealed, I want the bad guys/animals to know I'm armed and ready.

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Kimber on 03/17/2009 09:41:47 MDT Print View

Kinda off topic, but I love your Kimber Sarah! Obviously you're a true afficianado; I use a Kimber Pro Carry.

victoria maki
(clt1953) - F

Locale: northern minnesota
re:protection on 03/17/2009 10:06:28 MDT Print View

You bet I carry protection. Not for animals,but for the crazies. Since I hike solo most of the time, I do carry a S&W but only on the mainland. I have never,in all the years I have hike at Isle Royal,felt threatened. P.S. nice gun Sarah.....

Edited by clt1953 on 03/17/2009 10:08:18 MDT.