Should you take a gun on a thru-hike? The short answer is “No,” because it is unnecessary, bulky, heavy, and dangerous. This is a common question that comes up every year for potential thru-hikers, and on the Pacific Crest Trail, nearly all previous thru-hikers will say that there is no need for a gun on the trail.
Why you shouldn’t bring a gun on your thru-hike
Increased danger to yourself and others: A gun can quickly escalate a situation and pose a risk to yourself and other backpackers.
Legal implications: The laws and regulations regarding firearms vary by state and country, and it’s essential to be aware of the local laws and obtain any necessary permits, especially when resupplying in towns.
Increased weight and space: A gun is a heavy and bulky item to carry.
Distraction: Carrying a gun can detract from the peaceful and natural atmosphere of the wilderness and may cause unease for other hikers.
Difficulty in emergency situations: In the event of an emergency, such as an injury or getting lost, a gun may not be of much help and could even complicate the situation.
Carrying a gun on a backpacking trip is a controversial issue and one that should be approached with caution. First and foremost, carrying a gun on a backpacking trip can pose a significant danger to both the individual and others in the wilderness. Accidents can happen, and a gun in the wrong hands can have catastrophic consequences. Furthermore, in a wilderness setting, the likelihood of a misunderstanding or an accidental discharge increases, putting everyone in the area at risk.
Beyond the simple danger, a gun on a backpacking trip can have legal implications. Laws and regulations regarding firearms vary by state and city, and it’s essential to be aware of the local laws and obtain any necessary permits. Failure to do so can result in severe consequences, including fines and imprisonment.
Carrying a gun on a backpacking trip also takes up valuable space. Guns are heavy and bulky items that can add significantly to the weight of your backpack, making the trip more challenging and physically demanding.
The wilderness’s peaceful and natural atmosphere is another reason not to carry a gun on a backpacking trip. The presence of a firearm can detract from the sense of wilderness and solitude and may cause unease for other hikers who are in the area to escape the pressures of modern society.
Finally, in the event of an emergency, such as an injury or getting lost, a gun may not be of much help and could even complicate the situation. In these circumstances, it is essential to have a calm mind, clear thinking, and a good understanding of wilderness survival skills, which can be more valuable than a gun.
A backpacking trip is meant to be an opportunity to escape from modern society, connect with nature, and challenge oneself. Carrying a gun goes against the spirit of the experience and introduces unnecessary risks, both to oneself and to others. Instead of relying on a gun, backpackers should focus on wilderness survival skills and common sense to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
But what about wild animals?
Animal encounters do occur on the trail. But, a bear spray deterrent has been shown to be more effective than a gun. Bear spray is potent pepper spray that gets in the bear’s eyes and temporarily obscures their vision. It causes no long-term ill effects on the animal yet still protects yourself and your gear from the bear.
The number one thing that you can do to avoid unwanted bear encounters is to properly store food and any scented items like toothpaste in a critter-proof bag or bear can. If you diligently follow this strategy, there is unlikely to be any reason to need a gun on a thru-hike or backpacking trip.