Concealed Carry While Hiking: Three Things You Need To Know

So you want to bring a concealed carry firearm with you while you hike. Variables like state and federal laws, holster type, and types of handguns may influence your decision. Before choosing to bring it with you, consider these three things you need to know about concealed carry while hiking.

Can You Carry While Hiking?

Whether you can carry or not depends on where you are hiking and jurisdiction. National parks, for example, usually follow the state’s laws regarding conceal and carry. It’s crucial to take the time to research state and federal laws before bringing concealed carry with you.

States like Montana, Nevada, Indiana, and Idaho are examples of a few states that will allow concealed carry while hiking, although each has underlying rules and regulations. In contrast, New York, Maryland, and Connecticut are a few states that will not allow concealed carry in their parks.

How To Carry While Hiking

There are several different options to choose from for how to carry your firearm. A chest holster is a great option to consider. With the gun secured tightly to your chest, backpack straps and daily movements are least likely to interfere with your firearm.

Drop leg holsters are a second option to think about. They secure the firearm to your leg and keep it out of sight. One downside is that you may need to readjust this holster frequently. The more you move, the more the holster will slip and slide.

If you prefer to keep the firearm close to you but not directly on you, you may want to investigate a proper concealed carry backpack. Without the gun attached to you, it will be more difficult to access quickly in times of need. However, a backpack is a great option if comfort is a high priority. Check out a CCW backpack that will fit what you’re looking for.

Handguns To Carry While Hiking

If you are worried about size and functionality, a few options include but are not limited to a Glock 26 9mm double-stack pistol and a SIG 320 Compact 9mm double-stack pistol. If you think you’ll encounter large wildlife while hiking, you may want to consider a larger caliber firearm. The Smith and Wesson 686 and Ruger Redhawk will pack a punch. From bears to mountain lions, this kind of firearm will slow down a threat to ensure your safety.

The decision to bring a handgun with you while hiking may be personal. Whether it’s to protect or hunt, you shouldn’t take the decision lightly. Remember these three things you need to know before bringing a concealed carry on a hike.

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Elite Survival Systems is your choice for premium quality holsters, cases, and tactical nylon. At Elite Survival Systems, we believe that an individual has a right to safety and defense of life, and that an immediate threat to life requires an immediate response. The responsible carry and use of firearms makes the world a better, safer place. We envision a world where firearms blend seamlessly into all aspects of life. Our mission is to create high-quality, intelligently designed products for concealment, discreet transport, and rigorous carry. We strive to better serve our customers and users while promoting best practices in our industry. Our broad line of concealment holsters, packs, backpacks, and discreet rifle cases support almost every style of concealed carry. We are proud to say that the vast majority of our products continue to be made in the USA.

Can I Carry A Gun While Hiking in Washington?

However, due to killings in Washington and the risks hikers face during hiking, there is a need to possess a firearm or other weapons for self-defense.

Even if it seems essential, the question remains if it is legal to carry a gun even if it is openly concealed when going on a hike.

Carrying a gun or firearms for hiking is legal in Washington as long as you have the permit and license to carry such weapons. However, even though carrying a gun is legal, carrying it openly in places like schools, government officials gathering, churches, playgrounds, and parks are illegal. You would be punished if found with a gun in such areas.

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Can You Carry a Gun While Hiking In Washington?

Can I Carry a Gun While Hiking In Washington

You can carry a gun while hiking for your safety and self-defense. In addition, you can use it to defend yourself in the case of any predator.

Nevertheless, you must get a license or permit for any arms in your possession. To avoid arrest if you’re found with an arm.

Though some hikers don’t necessarily see the use of guns while going to the forest, they take food, water, sweaters, and tents and mostly take knives instead of guns.

Most hikers do not take guns along because of the danger attached to them. Guns can serve as an extra load because it is heavy.

Also, it can harm someone if the trigger is accidentally pulled, which becomes an offense.

So people who wish to carry guns for hiking should receive proper training on handling them.

If guns seem too heavy, it is better to carry something you can easily use. And also, if you did not receive proper training on using guns, using them might be a risk factor.

It is also improper for kids or younger children not up to the legal age of possessing alms to be given these items during hiking.

It might be difficult for them to handle and be mistakenly shot, which can harm the child or you if it was unintentionally pointed at you.

So if kids are going along with you, it is preferable if you don’t take things that threaten these children. Or if taken, it should be supervised and away from the children.

Can You Open Carry In National Parks In Washington?

Carrying guns in national parks is legal, but carrying them to the visitor’s session, offices, maintenance facilities, buildings for collection of fees, and other park buildings is prohibited.

For open carry, you must be 18 years or older and have a license or permit to possess firearms from any recognized state or agency. It also has limitations.

For concealed carry, you must be 21 years old or above and have the Concealed Carry Warrant (CCW) to carry a gun concealed. It doesn’t need a permit.

But it becomes illegal when the gun is used for illegal activities like robbery, fear, or pain or injury to a person’s body.

Also, using a gun to destroy any federal buildings in the park, animals, or any other significant object without permission is considered illegal.

Even carrying unloaded guns to prohibited locations for arms is also an offense that is punishable by the law.

For transportation of firearms, you must have a Concealed Carry Warrant (CCW) and a driver’s license to transport firearms from one place to another.

Although unlawful dealing, transportation, or firearms sales in any location or state, even in parks for terrorism or illicit actions, are also an offense.

Underage possession of guns or other dangerous materials like bombs in parks or closed parks is considered a criminal act, and the individual will face punishment.

Concealed Carry is not advisable in parks as you might be misunderstood, so open carry is legal and appropriate only if used accordingly and appropriately.

So if you want to use a gun or appropriately have it, it is a must to have your user’s license and permit to avoid arrest.

Should You Bring a Gun While Hiking In Washington?

Carrying a gun for hiking is based on a personal choice once all the legal requirements for having one are made.

Some hikers take only a knife when hiking, some take only guns, while others take both guns and knives.

Taking a gun or knife does not guarantee your safety unless you know how to use these items well.

It is essential to go for physical training on how to use guns if you intend to carry them along for hiking. Make sure you can use it very well. It is good to carry items and materials that will be important and useful to you.

Some of these that can be carried for hiking are;

  • Hiking backpack so that you can put other materials or items in it.
  • Thick clothes that are essential for the weather ( if the place’s weather for hiking is not cold, you can also take light clothes).
  • Plenty of food for your feeding on the journey.
  • Plenty of water, in case you get thirsty on the way.
  • Boots or shoes, thick shoes or boots suitable for hiking.
  • Navigation tools, tools such as maps and compass are needed.
  • First aid kit, in the case of an illness or injury.
  • Tools such as knives, guns, or other tools used for protection or other purposes.
  • Tents, in case you’ll want to pass the night on your journey.

Hiking alone isn’t advisable because of the dangers on your way or even in the case of sudden illness or injury.

Ensure to carry plenty of food and water when going on a hike to avoid dying of hunger or even getting too thirsty and hungry.

Taking appropriate clothes for the weather is also essential, it might be freezing there, and if you don’t take thick clothes and shoes, you might freeze to death.

What Kind of Gun Should I Take Hiking In Washington?

Although guns are legal when going hiking, some are illegal and have a criminal offense if caught with them on a hike.

Carrying silencers, riffles, or snipers is not advisable during hiking, but if there is a need to, it should be under the supervision of a law agency.

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Due to the heavy nature of firearms, hikers are not advised to carry them. It is because it will become a burden to carry for the hiker.

Also, carrying a firearm will make you a threat to someone else who sees you, which might lead to a shooting.

Only open carry is permitted in parks, and no open fire or shooting shall occur unless in critical conditions when shooting is required.

In some places carrying weapons or guns is prohibited unless security agents or agencies. Places like;

  • Prisons, detention facilities, or jails ( only security agents are permitted to do so)
  • Courtyard or courtroom ( the judge has the right to possess one in his courtroom)
  • Law enforcement offices or buildings ( only law officers or agents are allowed to do so)
  • A polling unit or place ( security agents are permitted to possess arms)
  • A political meeting of government authorities ( only security officers are permitted to)

If you are found with guns or any other dangerous materials in these places, you’ll be arrested and taken in for questioning.

Some abbreviations associated with the legal possession of guns

OCOpen Carry
CCConcealed Carry
CCWConcealed Carry Warrant


If you’re to possess a gun, ensure you have a license or permit to carry such a weapon. And you must be of 18 years and above before you can receive a permit.

If you’re to carry it concealed, you must have the Concealed Carry Warrant CCW and must be of 21 years and above.

Should I Carry A Gun When Hiking?

Should I Carry A Gun When Hiking? | Hikers University

It might seem better for your safety if you carry a firearm when hiking, particularly when you are hiking solo. However, this is far from the truth, and carrying a gun around.

When you bring a gun into the equation, you risk making a defusable situation a lot worse. Guns are great if you’re up against a dangerous animal, but they’re rarely ever good to have around when hiking around other people. Plus, they are banned in several establishments.

Carrying a gun is only a good idea if you’re hiking alone in the wilderness and there are wild animals around. In this situation, you’re highly unlikely to come across people who might pose a threat to you, and even if you do, having a gun on you might not deter them. In fact, it might make them more aggressive.

We are outdoor writers who have been avid hikers for the past 25 years. We’ve definitely had our share of grizzly encounters and even creepy conversations with troubled individuals. With that experience, we’re in a good position to tell you all about whether you should carry a gun with you while hiking.

Table of contents

Are You in Danger When Hiking?

We are not in any more danger on hiking trails and national parks than we are in the city. In fact, hiking trails are much safer, even despite the Appalachian Trail murder, which is an extremely rare event.

According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, about two to three million people hike on the trail every year with thousands making thru-hikes each year as well. However, since the year 2000, only three people have met violent ends on the trail. If you consider this number, the rate of murder on the Appalachian Trail is just around 0.008 per 100,000 hikers.

This means that you are 968 times less likely to be attacked with murderous intent on the Appalachian Trail than in any other place in the United States in general.

Why Carrying a Gun is a Bad Idea on the Trail

There are several reasons why carrying a gun while hiking is unnecessary and stupid and why it is simply very dangerous. Let’s take a look at them.

Guns Require Constant Security

If you are a responsible citizen, you know that carrying a gun means exercising the highest amount of security on your firearm at all times. On the trail, this can become nearly impossible.

Just consider hiking by an idyllic stream with a waterfall, and you decide to go for a quick swim. Who will look after your firearm while you are in the water? You can’t leave it unattended and you can’t bring it into the water with you.

What if you need to restock your supplies? Most businesses do not allow firearms into their premises. In many states, guns are not allowed in bars either so be prepared to stay without a cold beer after a particularly hot stretch of trail.

Guns Are Heavy

When it comes to hiking, particularly thru-hiking, it is important to weigh and check your gear. If your backpack is too heavy, you won’t be able to maintain a good speed and will get fatigued quickly.

This is why hikers spend months agonizing over the necessity of every item they need to pack. Adding a loaded gun to the mix adds pounds to your load and you might need to sacrifice some essential supplies to accommodate it.

Guns Increase the Chances of Deadly Accidents

If you carry a gun, you are at a higher risk of injuring yourself and others around you.

In 2020, a hiker shot himself in the leg during a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park when he set his backpack down on the ground and accidentally discharged his gun.

That was the only shot fired in the national park in that decade.

The thing to keep in mind is that the shot could have accidentally injured or killed any other hiker who was with that man at the time.

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Accidents happen all the time on the trail. When you have a gun, though, these accidents can easily turn fatal.

Guns Introduce Deadly Force Into a Situation

Guns can make a dangerous situation deadlier, particularly if they are turned on the owner.

Just consider this – you are walking on a trail and are ambushed by someone. If you are taken by surprise, you probably won’t have the chance to open your backpack, take out your gun, and point it at the assailant while you are trying to flee from them.

If in the unlikely case you did manage to pull out your gun in time, the chances of you taking aim and firing the gun so that it injures the assailant enough for him to stop chasing you are quite slim.

If you are able to injure him, you will get the time to flee to call for help or run away to a safe place. However, in the wilderness, help and a safe place can be miles away from you.

On the other hand, if you are unable to significantly injure the attacker, there is a high likelihood that they will overpower you and wrestle the gun away from you. Then, your gun will be in their hands and pointed right back at you, which is a less-than-ideal situation .

Escalating a situation from potentially threatening to deadly is not something you should contribute to when on the trail, particularly when you are alone.

Guns Make People Uncomfortable

For many of us hikers, the social aspect of hiking is one of the most fun and rewarding parts. You meet people from all over the world who can share their information and stories with you and make that time wonderful and thrilling.

However, if you bring a gun to the game, it won’t be the same.

We say from our own experience that when we see a person carrying a gun, we feel less safe, even though they may be a good person. However, we don’t know them and don’t know why they’ve brought a gun along. As a result, we’re always going to be incredibly uncomfortable around them.

In fact, we feel very intimidated and want to get away from their company quickly, and that is not conducive to making friends on the trail.

How to Stay Safe on the Trail Without a Gun

In any environment, being aware of your surroundings and anticipating the risks involved is the key to avoiding trouble and are the most effective measures for remaining safe.

It is essential that you do lots of research when you are planning on going on a hike. Find out as much as you can about the route you intend to take and take note of other people’s experiences there.

Keep an eye out for any threats to your safety, like bears and other wild animals, fire risks, weather, and people. Always stay alert on the trail and pay attention to the details of your surroundings as well as any people you meet on your way.

If your sixth sense tells you something is off, it is best to be safe than sorry and change your strategy to avoid any dangerous situations.

In fact, you can easily enroll in courses that can help you develop situational awareness when you are outdoors. This can be a much better investment of your money than buying a gun.

If you like to hike in bear country, it is a good idea to take a bear safety course and practice how to deploy bear spray effectively.

This can make you more prepared to deal with legitimate threats – bears or humans.


Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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Who We Are

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

Peter Brooks

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