According to the National Park Service, over 282 million people visited national parks last year. Every time I go hiking or camping in the parks I’m always carrying concealed. After all, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a national park, state park or just venturing in your local woods, people are frequently attacked while spending time in nature. That’s why it’s critical to carry a gun and to maintain the same vigilance in the outdoors that you do in your everyday life.

24/7 Protection

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One obvious problem that comes with venturing in nature is that often we’re not wearing the same clothes that we do when we’re normally carrying our gun. If you try wearing a gun on your hip in mesh shorts, your pants will fall to your ankle in an instant, and the pockets are so flimsy pocket carry really isn’t an option either.

Instead, a lot of hikers I know carry their guns in their backpacks. While this is certainly better than having no gun at all, it doesn’t lend itself to the quick access of the gun in an emergency. What I prefer to do is use a belly band while hiking. The belly band holds the gun securely around your waist, and using this method allows you to draw your gun and shoot in two seconds or less (with practice). Also, the belly band is essentially a “universal holster” that allows you to carry multiple types of guns. Plus, it has room to carry a spare magazine, which is especially important when carrying a smaller gun that has only six or seven rounds.

RELATED: 5 Guidelines to Follow For Everyday Carry

If for some reason the belly band isn’t for you, you can also use a fanny pack while hiking. While not my preferred carry method, my wife owns the Ka-Bar TDI fanny pack, which does a solid job of securing the gun. But the downside of a fanny pack is that it doesn’t give you as quick of access as the belly band, but it’s better than having to reach around in a backpack to draw your gun.

Outdoor Gun Care

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An important thing to remember when hiking and carrying is that the gun is going to get perspiration on it. You’ve got to remember to wipe off the gun when you’re done hiking.

RELATED: Concealed Carry Self-Defense Tips From Matt Jacques

You also need to consider a way to protect the gun from water. For example, I recently did the “Subway” hike in Zion National Park. While a good portion of the hike involves walking through ankle-deep water, there is one part where you have to wade through water that’s up to your neck. To protect my gun, I simply put it in a zip-seal freezer bag for the few moments I was walking through the deeper water. Obviously, you could use a fancier method, such as a Pelican waterproof case, but a zip-seal bag or trash bag works just fine for when you’ll be stepping in water.

Campsite Security

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One of the most important factors to consider when hiking is how you’re going to secure your gun at night. If there are children involved, I personally believe in locking up the gun at night or anytime it’s not on my person. If you’re doing a backpacking trip, you know that weight is a crucial factor in all of the gear you bring with you. It’s not practical to bring a large gun safe, and even the smaller safes that fit in a desk drawer weigh too much. A lightweight solution for locking up your gun at night is to use either a trigger lock or a cable lock.

 

This article originally published in SURVIVOR’S EDGE® Spring 2015. Print and Digital Subscriptions to SURVIVOR’S EDGE® magazine are available here.