TFB TV Thru Hike Concealed Carry

Miles takes a look at some of the concerns and decisions that are important when carrying concealed on a long distance hike. What kind of holsters should be used, handgun placement, concerns of weight, actual threats on the trail, among a number of other factors all go into carrying responsibly and successfully on a long distance hike.

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Transcript ….

[coming soon]


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at


  • A bearded being from beyond ti

    Hiking for miles with Miles…

    And i guess this isn’t for James since you can’t wear tight clothes.

  • Joseph Goins

    We all know you want a fanny pack to match Nutnfancy.

  • Swarf

    Ribz are a slightly-less-dorky-than-a-fanny-pack answer to this problem.


    I’ve sewn a holster in to the left one, leaving the right for keys, gorp, whatever.

    They stay on when the big Pack comes off and can be a stand alone snack-and-first-aid-kit rig for day excursions away from base camp.

    http://www.ribzwearDOT com/front-pack/

  • William Nelson

    Nice article. Thank you.

  • RadicalizedModerate

    Take a look at Hill People Gear. They have a chest carry, fully concealed system that is THE BEST.

    • Jai S.

      The problem with chest rigs when hiking is it reduces your body’s ability to cool. I backpacked with a friend using a chest pack, and he had to stop using it. It’s just far too insulating in moderate to high temps.

      • RadicalizedModerate

        It can get hot, but there is no perfect system for concealed carry with a backpack (which is also insulating). I love my Hill People Gear Kit Bag.

        • Jai S.

          If you don’t mind me asking, where are you hiking?

          • RadicalizedModerate

            Smart-a$$ answer – anywhere I can.

            More thoughtful answer: I live in Houston and am limited to SE Arkansas, East Texas, and far West Texas.

          • Jai S.

            So you understand heat! I’ll probably buy the Hill People Gear setup when I need a bigger gun in bear country. Most of my hiking is in California, Utah, and Arizona. Carrying a pack in the front and the back is just to damn hot in the 90’s and even down to the high 70’s.

          • RadicalizedModerate

            You are correct about it getting hot. But it is so very convenient (for stuff) and so very convenient (when you have to unholster).

          • RadicalizedModerate

            Head’s up – the HPG stuff runs expensive

    • MK262 MOD 1

      HPG Kit Bag rocks for back country concealed carry. I’ve got miles on mine. Have DIY molded kydex holster and elastic pouch for G19 and spare G17 mag velcro’d(sp?) inside mine. Have a Tact Tailor admin pouch on the front that functions as a navboard holding compass and Iphone running Gaia GPS app. It’s not ultra lightweight but is the perfect solution to my needs. I can ditch my ruck if needed and still have all the stuff on me that I won’t leave the truck without.
      BTW, Their sewing was done by First Spear last I heard and is bullet proof.

      • RadicalizedModerate

        My small Kit Bag carries my G19 Gen4, a small multitool, a small compass, chap stick, sunscreen, and an energy bar. It is bullet proof.

    • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

      I came here to say just that

    • Swarf

      It may be the best, but it seems way over priced for what you get.

      • billyoblivion


        Stuff is first rate design and material, and made here in the US.

  • Bullphrog855

    I really like where TFBTV is going, a lot of diverse opinions, life styles, experiences, etc. awesome and fresh. I was worried it was going to disappear after Alex left TFB, pour one out, but it’s changed in a pretty positive way IMO.

  • Jai S.

    I’ve hiked with my Shield. I would cover liberally with oil, and it would still rust. My primary lubricant is Weapons Shield, and while it’s been fantastic for reducing friction and staying on, it’s corrosion protection is not adequate.

    I was not initially impressed with Froglube but after seeing some rust test I’m going to try that on my hiking gun.

    • RadicalizedModerate

      My G19 just won’t rust

      • Jai S.

        Having carried both, the Shield fits into my fits into the pocket that rides on my waist pack, and the 19 doesn’t. I’ve only carried on short backpacking trips, but I would prefer the smaller gun.

        • RadicalizedModerate

          You are correct about the G19 – it is a bit bulky for our purposes, and I do feel it toward the end of the day.

          There is an old saying, “It’s never small enough when you have to carry it; it’s never big enough when you have to unholster it.”

  • Jai S.

    I was thru hiking JMT, but couldn’t convince myself to bring a gun due to the weight penalty. My Shield loaded and with a spare magazine would weigh more than my sleeping bag, and would be the second heaviest thing next to my 2lb. 5oz. pack.

    My opinion might be different if I was hiking through towns.

    • Torrorojo

      Living in Arizona we have had our problem with criminals in the public lands. Think Tyson Gang as just one example

  • Skokie

    I do a lot of hiking alone and I often get asked about carrying, but I never do. It’s just too much dead weight on a backpacking trip. The only real threat here in Oregon is from mountain lions and they’re spread out and elusive. Not once have I ever felt threatened by another person on the trail. Once you get a mile or so away from any trailhead, you leave the scumbags behind and the only other people you see are people doing the same thing you are. If I were in grizzly bear country or somewhere I thought people might present a threat, I’d consider carrying though. Interesting topic for a video!

    • Wolfgar

      In Grizzly country you should have bear spray easily accessible and preferably a rifle as back up.

    • Don Ward

      You buys your ticket, you takes your chances.

      Given the number of two-legged predators out and about in the woods, I never go out and about not being prepared for eventualities.

    • BattleshipGrey

      That’s the thing about criminals though, they’re not all located in predictable places and they don’t care about the laws in any given area, whether it’s typically safe or not. I’d much rather carry a dead weight and not need it, than putting myself in a situation in which I become the dead weight.

      The issue is for everyone to decide for themselves, so I don’t harp on people too much that choose not to carry or own firearms. I am the bread winner for my family, so I’ve decided that I’m going to keep them safe to the best of my ability. Even when I’m alone, keeping myself safe is still keeping them safe and well provided for.

    • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

      Id agree that once you get on the trail, your chances of a negative encounter with other humans does significantly decrease (but dont disappear). Also if youre smart then you can avoid nearly every negative animal encounter. In the end its just another pack item that some people cant live without and others have no use for.

      • Billy Jack

        Here in South Carolina a serial killer was preying on campers and hikers. He’d single out older folks or whoever he felt was a easy target. He ranged down to Florida too. I never kept up with his total death toll. All his victims were taken on state and federal land. I was convinced of never hiking or camping without protection long before that but if that piece of wildlife doesn’t convince someone nothing will.

        • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

          In case I was misunderstood, I am absolutely in favor myself of carrying while outdoors. I nearly always do carry, and while stuff like you describe absolutely does happen, I stand by my statement that ones odds of being in one of those situations are still diminished once away from paved roads. And in a situation where weight is a big deal, I could understand someone who regularly carries considering to not carry while backpacking. Not taking it is still a risk, but selecting gear for a hike is all about weighing the odds of needing and benefits of having something to the space and weight expense of carrying it.

          • Billy Jack

            I didn’t think you were opposed to it. I grew up in California and bears in Mammoth so I don’t go into the wild without a means to taming the wild a bit. The killer stuff just reinforced it for me. More and more the numbers of nutjobs in national parks and forests seems to be growing. Camping was always peace and harmony to me growing up. Everyone would be friendly and relaxed. It’s still like that but it seems more dangerous. Maybe perception.
            Totally understand both sides. Those popular sayings about carrying water aren’t sayings for nothing.

          • billyoblivion

            The further one gets from the trail the lower the chances of running into a “bad guy” but the more the magnitude of the event becomes an issue.

            On a heavily trafficked trail “he” has to do whatever he’s going to do and get it done before a witness comes along.

            You get 400 or 500 yards out, and as long as he keeps you from screaming he has you for the rest of your life.

  • Ark

    I think the pouch idea is a really neat improvisation. Accessible enough, and nobody is going to freak out at seeing it.

  • Don Ward

    Meh. I conceal carry my Ruger SP101 inside my waistband while commercial fishing in Bristol Bay, Alaska every day, almost every hour underneath my rain gear and waders. The work I’m doing out on the water and on the beach for three months is far more rigorous than Miles’ hiking trip.

    It works.

    Let’s not overthink things.

    • Swarf

      We got a badass here!

      • Don Ward


        Again, inside the waistband carrying my weapon isn’t an issue in an environment that is tougher than that described by Miles.

    • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

      Its not how rigorous the work is. Its the arrangement of the gear you carry. If your waist is covered by a pack belt then you cant get to your gun and its going to become uncomfortable. It appears that you are ignorant of the situation.

      • Don Ward

        And I’ve had zero problems with the backpacks that I use in the same situation. Again, let’s not overthink the problem here.

        • billyoblivion

          How heavy is your backpack?

  • Vhyrus

    Why would you conceal carry on such a hike? This seems like the ideal time for open carry.

    • Don Ward

      And we have a winner.

    • RadicalizedModerate

      Problem with open carry in the wilds is the presence of many who are adamantly opposed to open carry. Tree huggers tend not to hug open carry. I prefer not to antagonize anyone.

      • Vhyrus

        So what? Are they gonna call the cops? Mug you? Let them piss and moan in the middle of the forest and go on your way, and if they really get big on you ask them to look around and remind them that no one will ever find the body.

        • RadicalizedModerate

          I can’t disagree with you. But I prefer to enjoy conversations with those folks too.

        • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

          I see no logical reason to draw lots of attention to myself and incur only inconveniences to myself over open carrying. I also dont feel the need to tickle my ego by unnecessarily causing a scene when there ARE effective ways to concealed carry in these circumstances.

        • iksnilol

          Sooo… threatening folks is better than conceal carrying ?

          Man, you’re a weird one.

    • MattCFII

      There are also parts of the AT that go through anti-gun states like Maryland. Some people may elect to still carry, but need to keep it hidden.

    • billyoblivion

      I spent two days hiking and camping in a very accessible area in the Gunnison National whatever here in Colorado. We ran into *100s* of hikers on the way back out in the morning.

      One of the guys I was with was basically using a molle battle belt as the hip belt on his backpack. He had a full sized 1911 in a kydex holster at about 3 O’Clock on the belt. No one noticed, no one said a thing. He asserted that he’d been doing that for years and no one has ever said anything.

      It’s amazing what people *don’t* see if you give them a chance to not see it.

  • BattleshipGrey

    I’ve carried my SP101 in one of these on the Superior National Trail. I just needed a quick cheap option since I knew IWB would be difficult to get to with my pack. I was wearing a belt for the trip so I just moved it from my pack’s waist strap to my belt easily. My only issue with it was that it’s made of cotton, so it really held the moisture in during the rainy and humid weather we had. I think a nylon pouch might be better at drying quicker and holding less moisture.

    • RadicalizedModerate

      My backpacking amigo uses exactly this for his firearm.

  • RadicalizedModerate

    Carrying in the wilds is not a theory. I have had to unholster four times.

    (1) Quietly walking an East Texas forest, I found myself smack in the middle of a heard of wild pigs.

    (2) Setting up camp in the high desert of West Texas, an “alpha” wild burro seemed not to want me to camp there. They are tough. My 9mm seemed terribly, terribly small at the time

    (3) Once, deep in my own East Texas place, I encountered an aggressive timber poacher.

    (4) Once, spending the night in the same place, I was awakened at 4:00 A.M. by a near-by shot from a deer poacher.

    • JustAHologram

      Did you pop off a couple too scare the crap out of the scum bag in 4

      • RadicalizedModerate

        I was dead asleep. His shots awakened me so quickly that I woke up standing and with my gun unholstered.

        I was frightened. I wasn’t sure what to do.

        I did not want to fire at him, but I did want him to know that I was there and that I was armed.

        So I fired three shots into the dirt at my feet.

        I was relieved and pleased to hear him go crashing through the woods, obviously falling and tumbling. I’m sure that I scared him more than he scared me.

        • JustAHologram

          Shame he didn’t accidentally shoot his foot of something

    • FulMetlJakit

      I came here hoping for advice on Midwest winter carry. Fargo felt -30F last weekend at noon, in almost full sun.
      Tips, or preferably scientific tests and results about lube and powder choice would make my holidays.

  • Frank Grimes

    This is actually a thing?

    Like you don’t just wear your usual belt and usual holster?

    Never had an issue using what I use every day.

    • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

      So you have actually carried with an OWB/IWB holster on a multi day backpacking trip using a backpack with a waist belt?

      Did you have your pack belt over your firearm or do you wear your pack belt higher?

      • Frank Grimes

        No waist belt, just a chest strap.

        Works great.

        • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

          With that being the case I agree that the waist is the best place, but I quite like having a belt for my pack.

        • Amplified Heat

          A multiday hike carrying more than about fifteen pounds of gear, using only shoulder straps, huh? You must have stronger shoulders than anyone I’ve ever seen doing that activity, I guess. That, or the one ultra-light ‘gram-weenie’ who still bothers to carry the dead weight of a firearm (I’d think lead would be like kryptonite to them)

          • Frank Grimes

            Pack weighs about half that, and it’s all just 3rd line.

            Carry other stuff in your cargo pockets, on a belt pouch, and in pockets of your BDU top/hikers vest.

            15 pounds all in a pack isn’t ideal of course, but it’s doable.

            If it’s a problem, the answer is “gym”.

            I don’t go to the mailbox without a holstered handgun, why on earth would I go to the middle of the woods without one?

          • iksnilol

            That was always a theory I wanted to test: you can distribute most stuff pretty evenly in pockets and pouches (like on a vest) which should make it easier to carry.

            How does it work out for you?

            I’m thinking backpack only for the big stuff (like tent and whatnot)

          • Amplified Heat

            A seven pound pack for a multiday excursion, huh? Considering most multiday packs weigh about five pounds, either you live in Kawai where fresh water & food abound on the trail and you can sleep naked under the stars comfortably, or you’re full of crap. A gallon of water weighs eight pounds, and you eat a couple of pounds per day, minimum. After that comes gear. Thirty pounds or more is typical anyplace remotely inhospitable, unless specialized gear and a somewhat reckless attitude is taken (like leaving the gun & 1st aid kit home, and drinking untreated trail water).

            Also, waist straps aren’t used because of a lack of strength, it is because shoulder straps dig into the same muscles supporting them at all but the lightest weights.

          • Frank Grimes

            So a multiday pack weights 5 pounds but a 7 pound pack is too light?

            That makes sense.

          • Amplified Heat

            Yes. 5lbs…empty.

          • Frank Grimes

            Never weighted the pack itself, never cared to.

            If that’s an issue for you…


          • Tassiebush

            My understanding is that thru hikers often carry way less gear and focus on mobility travelling a lot further per day to get through an area during better weather or get to a point of resupply. Basically they focus on travel distance over comfort and possibly safety to some extent.

          • Vince

            You must not have known any of the old timers. Carrying a pack without a waist belt was the norm up into the 70’s. Waist belts did not become standard on packs and frames until the early 80’s. I grew up hiking the Appalachian trail in the 60’s and early 70’s when the external pack frame was king, and you were just as likely to see someone using a tump line on their packs as a waist belt, and forget chest straps, there were none.
            The long and short of it is we have gotten used to equipment that is light years ahead of what people used to use and we forget what is possible using far less advanced gear.

          • Amplified Heat

            Yup, and those packs sucked, but they were cheap. I cut my teeth on an external frame as a kid, and it sucked. Also, I thought the Nam era ALICE packs had waist straps? For heavier loads, there is simply no other way to carry a pack without damaging your shoulder muscles (pack cuts off their blood supply while they struggle to lift it)

          • Torrorojo

            They did

  • Blake

    Seems to me like one would want a typical EDCCW-type gun (e.g. KT PF-9, etc.) for extended outdoor excursions (regardless of whether you actually CCW it or not), simply because:

    – very lightweight
    – low snag & rubbing potential/easy to carry for a really long time (& potentially run/climb etc)
    – inexpensive, so if you lose it or smash it against a rock you won’t cry too hard

  • Amplified Heat

    What seems like the perfect belt-holster for this purpose, would be a rectangular profile ‘pancake’ holster made of kydex, with a fanny-pack pouch attached to its outer face, and a velcro or bungee closed waterproof ‘boot’ covering the firearm & holster cavity which can be quickly removed for the draw (sort of like the old flap holsters). Would look and function just like a waistband camera/etc. pouch, while retaining a dedicated holster with moisture protection.

  • Oldtrader3

    Carry a real gun on a hike, like a .44 Mag or .45 Colt!!!

    • Swarf

      Balls to that. When I got tired of hauling around the mini-gun and all the belts, I got smart and started just carrying a radio. Air support, yo.

  • Pete Sheppard

    Good video, great subject. I settled on a waist pack years ago. Besides a sidearm, you can carry the small essentials that you might need to access at any time. Worn in front, and you can reach them easily.

  • yukon cornelius

    I haven’t found a decent way to carry concealed while hiking. I carry concealed every day, but while hiking i mostly open carry. I do a fair amount of hiking in big bear country, which kinda rules out a large portion of the smaller more concealable handguns.

  • car54

    My backpack/hiking carry gun has changed over the years and depends on where I am. In Alaska I carried a Redhawk 44 mag openly in a chest rig. Back in the late 70s, I carried a Charter Arms Bulldog 44 spl, then the Pug version while through hiking the AT, usually stuck in a side pocket holster. These days a pocket 9 i.e, Ruger LC9 rides in an old nylon Walkman case on my chest strap.

  • MattCFII

    FWIW, Michael Bane did write Trail Safe (and just released a second edition update) about trail self defense.

  • nick

    In Canada, we don’t really have this option, although, in some instances, you can apply to carry a handgun in the bush, but its very limited to certain work related activities, like prospecting where a long gun is problem while working, but the permits are quite restrictive to area, and firearm type.
    Working as I do as a contract backcountry Guide in the YT, I carry rifles or shotguns depending on the trip. On horseback, its a easy, the rifle lives in its bucket on the horse, and canoe guiding, I have a 12 gage slid down in between the barrels , clear of the bottom of the canoe, and secured by a QD tether, so I can deploy it, but will not lose it if we go over
    On hikes, again, it depends, if in flat – ish terrain, I have a rifle, slung, if its dirty or steep terrain, a short 12 gage lives in a purpose built scabbard attached to the side of the pack, where I can draw over my shoulder, of, if I dump the pack using its QD harness system (a great feature that can save your hide!) I can draw once its on the ground.
    And before I get the standard, “but a 12 ga is a poor choice for “X” predator” conversation going on….yes, it has limitations, but its versatile ( choice of rounds , including flares) and, its easy for a novice adventurer to deploy with basic training, as these folks are the bulk of my clients.


  • hikerguy

    A lot of good ideas here for concealed hiking carry. I prefer the fanny pack idea and utilize it most of the time. It is a good idea to adjust what you carry to the type of threats you may encounter in an area. Also, be sure to checkout the regions/state/federal areas you are hiking through. Some may not be very firearm/concealed carry friendly. Happy hiking (and shooting) all.

  • Toxie

    Video is an hour and a half too short, and not NEARLY anal-retentively opinionated enough.

  • valorius

    Unless you’re in big bear country a Ruger LCP with crimson trace laserguard and Buffalo Bore 100gr+P hard cast lead flatnose round is IMO the ultimate trail gun. Of all the handguns i’ve owned over the years, my little LCP is my go to carry gun now about 99% of the time.

  • Tassiebush

    What a cool topic and that hiking looked really cool! It gets me thinking how it’d be cool to have hiking focused handguns. Deliberately made to be light and useful both for defence and shooting for the pot. Guns were certainly developed for the latter purpose in the early 20th century but mostly either single shots or the marbles game getter. I guess the modern iteration would be a light durable semiautomatic with enough focus on accuracy for the latter purpose.

  • WCC

    The Wilderness Safepacker was invented years ago specifically for wilderness concealed carry. I mount it over the waistbelt of my Eberlestock for secure, padded strong side carry with a relatively quick and easy draw.

  • billyoblivion

    * See the Hill People Gear “Kit Bag”. I’ve done an overnight with it, and it worked really well for the kind of camping/hiking we were doing.

    * See also the Wilderness SafePacker. It doesn’t work on my current pack as well as it could.

    * It’s hard to get a “fanny pack” under a hip belt (which is different than a waist trap). I have an old Camelback Goblin that I use when the situation is right, and I just can’t see it working well on a long day hike with a full pack riding on it. OTOH, if you’re willing to transfer it at the camp site or other discrete place it’s light weight (not combat weight cordura).

    * I have used–and continue to use–the Mountain Smith “Tour” lumbar pack as a CCW holster. There is a nice space between the back pad and the pack that you can fit up to a Glock 19 in. It’s held in by friction and gravity, but one could probably arrange a kydex holster in there too. With the G19 it goes from “concealed carry” to “Discrete carry”. It won’t work for on-trail overnight or longer hiking, but you could figure out a way to mount it on top of your pack and use it as additional removable storage.

    * I would argue that anywhere you need to *conceal* carry people are your biggest problem. Anywhere you don’t need to conceal the wildlife would be a bigger issue. This is handy as a .380 hides really well, but won’t do more than piss off an elk or bear. OTOH, a Glock 20 is a bit harder to hide (and heavier to carry) but will handle just about anything in North America if you load the right bullets and hit where you need to.