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Thread: Open (Or Concealed) Carry for Hikers

  1. #1
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    I have been OC'ing on hiking trails for many years. Mostly in New England, Pennsylvania, and, yes, New York (the Catskills).

    I prefer to hike during such times that we do not run into many other hikers (I live near the trails, so I can adjust my schedule accordingly).

    I hike with my family (wife and three teenagers) and even though I prefer camo clothing (often my old, beat-up uniforms with the name-tapes removed) and military hydration/backpacks, being with my family tends to tone down the 'tough guy' image considerably.

    Overall, I do not feel I present a particularly threatening image to other hikers (no offense to those that do), and I have not gotten much in the way of 'feedback' (negative comments) about OC'ing.

    Perhaps it's also that I carry a small revolver (S&W J-frame), which few notice at all.

    I have not had many comments from other hikers, but I have done a lot of reading on the subject. There seems to be a consensus among writers on the topic (and groups that promote hiking and trail maintenance) that 'the trail' is a place where firearms may or may not be legal, but are culturally out of place.

    I realize that the most serious potential menaces of the northern Appalachians (a Black Bear separated from her cubs, a heavily guarded Crystal Meth Lab hidden in an abandoned trailer) are out of the league of a 5 shot .38.

    However, I still prefer the knowledge and comfort that I can assist myself, my family or an innocent stranger/victim with a sidearm if any of the more typical criminal incidents may occur while on the trail.

    Such criminal incidents are not in anyway guaranteed NOT to happen simply because the scenery is spectacular.

    My questions are:

    Do any OCDO members have any opinion on carry while hiking?

    Should I take into consideration that many other hikers I am sharing the trail with are downstate-N.Y. or N.J. "Granola heads" (far-left liberal weekend trekkers)??

    Should I assist in not creating a 'gun culture' on the trail by conceal carrying?

    Or am I doing my fellow hikers a favor my making the trail a less inviting place for bad guys to stalk unarmed outdoors-people?

    Comments please.

    Edited to add: I carry a J-frame with rosewood grips on my hip in a neat little Blackhawk nylon trail holster with one speed loader in a leather holder, on a 1 3/4 inch wide 5.11 tactical rigger's belt (with the internal stiffener for sidearm carry).



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    I have been backpacking for a few years now. I have also carried my pistol, openly, each and every time we go out here in WA area forests.

    I carry an XD-45 in a Serpa, on a Blackhawk thigh-holster platform... you can't get much more obvious than that... I call it my "Han Solo Holster"

    I have only had two people on any trail even mention it... one was a young kid, probably 16, who basically pointed and said, "Whoa!"

    The other was an older gent who asked if it was a "police holster"

    Otherwise, I think most folks like the idea of somebody out there with bear spray that is a bit stronger than pepper oil!





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    WheelGun wrote:
    I realize that the most serious potential menaces of the northern Appalachians (a Black Bear separated from her cubs, a heavily guarded Crystal Meth Lab hidden in an abandoned trailer) are out of the league of a 5 shot .38.

    Then you're going to have to get something bigger.

    I haven't open carried while hiking, at least with a backpack, as it's a bit uncomfortable with the pistols/holsters I have. If I'm carrying and hiking, I have my gun in my backpack.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with what you do. Just be friendly and you'll forward the causes of backcountry ethics and open carry at the same time.
    Hoplophobia is a social disease.

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    I purchased the thigh-rig specifically for backpacking... gets it off your waist, and with the proper belt it keeps everything out of the way!

    There have been three attempted attacks on local trails reported already this year... psychotic a-holes targeting women alone on the trail... reason #66 to carry a weapon, one way or another.

    I don't go in the woods without my pistol anymore... luckily this season WA is letting us carry a pistol while archery hunting! Pointy sticks are nice... but nothing compared to 200gr @ 1100 fps!


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    You are 12x more likely to be harmed in a bear attack using a gun compared to Bear Spray.
    Information is from a study by Forest Service´╗┐ in Alaska

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA_DXeWTOG8

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    ... which is why I carry both...



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    Yup. Me too. Another thing to consider for animal defense is a taser. Now you may say "Are you crazy?! You want to use a freaking non lethal taser on a 800-1500 lb attacking Grizzly?!"

    Well check this out!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px_N2WLE1yo

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    that... and we don't see too many Griz's in this neck of the woods...



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    Not many! I believe there are a few (according to WSFW anyway) but I've never heard of any personal encounters.

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    Regular Member t33j's Avatar
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    Do any OCDO members have any opinion on carry while hiking?
    I have backpacked over 300 miles on the AT alone in the last 1.5 years. I'd estimate I've day hiked (or overnight hiked) less than 80 miles at other places in the last 2 years, mostly in Virginia but as far North as Vermont.

    The trail is no safer and perhaps no more dangerous than anywhere else. There's an interesting analysis on the topic in, A Walk Through The Woods by Bill Bryson. (Entertaining and informative read - recommended) Should you need your gun and not have it, you are going to be farther away from help than you're probably used to. However if you're serious about backpacking then weight is a big concern. You will have to decide if it's appropriate to lug around a gun. I bought a Glock 17 specifically for this purpose. Probably not the best bear gun but I'll take it over nothing (and heavier alternatives). I'd also like to think the noise might scare one away as well. I've encountered wild black bears and never felt the need to shoot at them... Very aware of their presence, but never alarmed. Actually I chased after one with a friend once.

    I carry a gun any time I am not prohibited from doing so, including on hikes. I own a thigh holster but have not been (socially) brave enough to use it, even though it would probably be much more comfortable than having it on my hip and in the way of a backpack. I would not think less of someone I saw using one.

    Should I take into consideration that many other hikers I am sharing the trail with are downstate-N.Y. or N.J. "Granola heads" (far-left liberal weekend trekkers)??
    If I were hiking in Virginia I'd say:
    ABSOLUTELY NOT - THIS IS VIRGINA - SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS

    Should I assist in not creating a 'gun culture' on the trail by conceal carrying?

    Or am I doing my fellow hikers a favor my making the trail a less inviting place for bad guys to stalk unarmed outdoors-people?
    Carry how it is comfortable and practical for you
    Sic Semper Tyrannis

  11. #11
    Campaign Veteran gogodawgs's Avatar
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    Lose the camo....

    Open Carry a firearm.... (Bear Spray if in bear country as well)
    Live Free or Die!

  12. #12
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    To hell with the silly granola heads. OC yourself away all you want. I'd like to know how you legally OC in NY state. Is there a provision in the law for hiking in back country? I figure there is one for hunting and trapping, as one of the trappers mags had a pic of a NYS trapper OCing on the front cover( posing on his trapline). I saw that and smiled.

    I wish I could carry in MD off the property and when NOT hunting or trapping. I've got some neat stuff I can look at on neighboring land ( old ruins of farmsteads, old dry stack stone walls, and a mysterious well built stone road). I haven't been back in there in years. And dammit I'm not carrying my shotgun( legal), nor should I have to get written permission to "hunt groundhogs" and wear the required orange hat. I've got verbal permission to walk back there btw. I recall one of the last times I walked off property, I had a freakin raccoon run out towards me at 2pm. My dog chased it off. Then a few years later I had a raccoon by the front gate at 11am that growled at me and shuffled under a bush and was still there a few minutes later. The dog is almost dead he is so old. I'd rather shoot a rabid animal than wack it with a stick. I don't want it getting that close to me.

    F- stupid people, if the state allows carry and OC, then do it.

  13. #13
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    I lived in MD and have backpacked most of the mid-Atlantic AT. I also used to work for REI. When we taught backpacking the official company line was something to effect of "guns are useless and heavy."

    This, of course, is BS.

    Unfortunately, it is also the viewpoint expounded in every modern backpacking book sold by REI, EMS, etc., and will likely be the viewpoint of many neophyte backpackers.
    The prevalence of this viewpoint is not surprising given the main target demographic: young, coastal, affluent, urban.

    The AT deserves special consideration since it is unlike any other trail system. The people who hike it represent a cross-section of society. However, based of my experiences as a hiker and outfitter, the majority of AT hikers are coastal, affluent, and urban. They manifest as: crunchy granolas fresh of college looking for an experience before work or grad school; middle-aged professional blowing some vay-cay or inbetween switching careers; well-off retirees with enough time to finally knock the AT off the list.

    The concept of a gun on the trail may likely go against their existing views on guns, and will most certainly run counter to their idealized notion of the AT.
    Nevertheless, the trail is a real place in our real world. It is more real, so to speak, than many other trail systems: it is well-known, it is close to urban centers, and it is easily accessible. Property theft is common, especially from cars parked near trail heads. Violent crimes occur:

    http://www.citytv.com/toronto/cityne...-victim-s-life

    We should OC whenever possible.

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    daddy4count wrote:
    I purchased the thigh-rig specifically for backpacking... gets it off your waist, and with the proper belt it keeps everything out of the way!
    The big thing is you have to get the grip below and away from the belt line. I'll carry my P226 in a level II duty serpa holster which moves the pistol far enough down away from the backpack's waist straps. There is a lovely side-benefit to this too as the 2" duty belt helps spread some of the load of the pack as the waist straps ride on the belt. I almost forget that I have a backpack on sometimes.

    I wouldn't be too concerned about the "granola heads" that come out on the weekends. I've been up and down Mt Si and surrounding areas more times than I care to count, and it is basically crawling with Seattle left-wing liberals. Thus far, no one has said a word and I make no attempt to conceal.

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    WheelGun wrote:
    My questions are:

    Do any OCDO members have any opinion on carry while hiking?

    Should I take into consideration that many other hikers I am sharing the trail with are downstate-N.Y. or N.J. "Granola heads" (far-left liberal weekend trekkers)??

    Should I assist in not creating a 'gun culture' on the trail by conceal carrying?

    Or am I doing my fellow hikers a favor my making the trail a less inviting place for bad guys to stalk unarmed outdoors-people?

    Comments please.

    Edited to add: I carry a J-frame with rosewood grips on my hip in a neat little Blackhawk nylon trail holster with one speed loader in a leather holder, on a 1 3/4 inch wide 5.11 tactical rigger's belt (with the internal stiffener for sidearm carry).


    1) I carry openly on every hike I go on. Everything from Flatiron in the Superstitions to the Blue Ridge trail, to Hells Gate to the Grand Canyon. The only places I conceal are Squaw Peak and Camelback, but that will soon change. Drop-leg holster 99% of the time.

    2) The liberal disease isn't my problem, so their opinion really doesn't matter. They're in Arizona, time for them to get used to the way we do things here =)

    3)I see nothing wrong with 'creating' a gun culture on the trail. Considering a poll on a local hiking forum, it doesn't sound like you'd be creating anything, but instead becoming part of the already existing culture.

    4) The 'favor' aspect could be debated all day long around here I'm sure, but I can certainly see arguments for tht case to be made =)

    I'm always on trail with either a full size XDm .40 or my USP .40 with Jet Funnel installed, blackhawk drop-leg rig (Serpa) or occasionally the Serpa on a paddle mount. To be brutally honest, I rarely ever get comments on it, or even get noticed. I was asked by one person at the Grand Canyon if I was a ranger, but that's about it. Oh, and a kid, maybe 12 years old, asking if it was 'real' but not out of fear, but more of just childhood curiosity. Arizona really isn't a problem for OC, even on trail, although I can see being somewhat annoyed by the granola lovers on the major trails like Squaw Peak/Camelback. Anything even slightly remote isn't a problem.

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    The young lady who was kidnapped from the AT in Ga. and later murdered should have carried a gun. Her dog couldn't or didn't protect her from a rapist with a baton.
    This happened about 2 years ago.

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    Aaron1124 wrote:
    You are 12x more likely to be harmed in a bear attack using a gun compared to Bear Spray.
    I EDC a Kimber
    Hoplophobia is a social disease.

  18. #18
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    Aaron1124 wrote:
    You are 12x more likely to be harmed in a bear attack using a gun compared to Bear Spray.
    Information is from a study by Forest Service´╗┐ in Alaska

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA_DXeWTOG8
    Says the man who sells bear spray.... sorry, but he's not a credible source as it is in his best interest to downplay the effectiveness of guns vs bears. The problem with his analogy is that he's talking about rifles that are slung at the time of the attack... you try getting your 30-30 off your shoulder, a round chambered and fire it in the time it takes me to un-holster my and fire my .45... I can fire far faster than any slung and un-chambered rifle. If you carry a 9mm into the woods... sure, the small bullet will be less effective against a bear... but still more effective than a rifle.
    Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company. ~ George Washington

  19. #19
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    In my honest thoughts, I'd feel more comfortable using bear spray on a large bear rather than any hand gun, unless it's a 500 smith and wesson. I've felt pepper spray first hand, and I can tell you, if you're hit with the right stuff, it feels like you just got your eyes poked with a fire poker that came straight from a burning fire. I had never felt anything like it before. I've been hit with Fox Labs, Wildfire and VEXOR, and I can tell you that they're all pure hell, but VEXOR felt like a living hell. I'm not even kidding. The level of pain was excruciating, and it lasted at least 45 minutes. They use over 15,000,000 scoville heat units, and it not only has an effect on the eyes, but on the nose and mouth as well. Not to mention, it'll burn like hell when you take your next shower too.

  20. #20
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    Aaron1124 wrote:
    You are 12x more likely to be harmed in a bear attack using a gun compared to Bear Spray.
    Information is from a study by Forest Service´╗┐ in Alaska

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA_DXeWTOG8
    Out here in Utah we have cougars (mountain lions), moose, etc as well... As well as humans... I would rather have a gun than bear spray if I got attacked by a human.

    I don't care how you carry, just carry. Two hikers gotstabbed a couple hours ago on a trail that I used to walk/hike all the time. Sadly, this could have easily been prevented if the man and/or woman had a gun.

    http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=10935000
    Two stabbed on Jordan River Parkway trail

    May 26th, 2010 @ 10:10pm
    TAYLORSVILLE -- Two people suffered severe stab wounds and were seriously injured in an attack Wednesday evening.
    Police say an assailant stabbed a woman in the abdomen and a man suffered an eye injury while on the Jordan River Parkway trail in Taylorsville.
    Taylorsville Police are in search of three Latino men seen leaving the scene but have not confirmed any other information at this time.
    Another news station confirmed that the girl who was stabbed died.

    Carry a gun where you can easily access it... having a gun in your backpack doesn't really help if you need it right away.

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