Hiking with a firearm presents some problems that are very different from normal ‘urban’ carry. Because you will get a lot of different advice from people who ‘hike’ for all of one mile or have never actually done a substantial hike with a heavy pack, we should define a few terms.
is driving your car (or camper) somewhere and spending the night. (Open trunk, plunk down tent)
is where you hike with all the gear you’ll need to a remote location to spend the night. (Heavy pack)
is walking somewhere remote (on trail or off), carrying the gear you’ll need for the day. (The ten essentials
Taking a stroll
is where you walk through a park or similar setting and carry a few items to make it more pleasant. (Camera and a bottle of water)
For camping you can take anything that fits in your vehicle so your holster choice isn’t too important. If you’re going to stroll through a park, your normal carry rig is going to be sufficient.
Now, if you’ll be hiking or backpacking there are problems with ‘normal’ types of carry. For example, if you wear a belt holster you’ll need a belt to put it on, likewise with the thigh holster. It can get very uncomfortable and even painful to hike for any real distance with a pack belt over a normal belt and buckle. My hiking pants don’t even have belt loops; instead they incorporate a built in web belt that’s very thin and will barely support even a small knife. If you intend to put the holster on the pack’s belt, you’ll find it impossible to get the quick-release buckle through the holster’s belt loop. A paddle holster works reasonably well; I’ve used one on shorter hikes. A holster that attaches to the pack itself, as mentioned above, also works well and is more comfortable, but you have to consider that when you take the pack off you are unarmed.
I would not even consider trying any of the concealed methods. You will simply not have enough time to draw from concealment if you are attacked. View the video on the upper right side of this page
while wearing your pack and holster with the weapon unloaded
. Can you draw and (dry) fire two or three rounds before the bear hits the camera? Don’t concern yourself with what other hikers might
think or feel, most of them are aware of firearms and have seen hikers, fishermen, and hunters with them. Your first priorities are comfort and speed; if it becomes uncomfortable you’ll just end up placing the gun inside your pack where it will do you no good.