Over the last few months, I have started going on hikes daily typically with a larger hiking pack. Hiking park trails is a great alternative exercise to running while making your body work harder. Like many others, I gained a few pounds in the days of Covid lockdowns, so this summer I really put forth an effort to shed the extra weight and get in better shape. While carrying with a large pack, it can be difficult to carry a handgun comfortably, especially if you start to get tired and fatigued. Depending on where you live and where you’re hiking, there are a few different options for carrying concealed while hiking so let’s take a deeper dive into it.
Carrying While Hiking On Populated Trails
Carrying while you’re on a busy city trail or area where you see families and people everywhere is one of the harder kinds of trails to carry on. While these trails may not have wildlife as a threat, it is a secluded spot for someone to try and rob or assault you. As unlikely as it may be, I still prefer to have something on me that’s both lightweight and portable but can still be fired effectively. Depending on the length of the trail, weight can play a huge factor especially when fatigue starts to set in. Those few ounces can start to feel like pounds after an 8-10 mile hike so it’s important to find something lightweight that is comfortable on your body.
For me, something like a Glock 43x or SIG P365XL is perfect for this type of activity. On most occasions, I will carry one of those in an IWB holster and not have any issues even if I become fatigued after a particularly hard hiking trail. Having a modern smaller carry gun that holds a decent amount of capacity is a definite win when you’re performing strenuous activities. Something a bit larger like a Glock 19 is also fairly comfortable but I’ve found in that size handgun, it tends to pull your shirt up depending on the overall gradient of the trail.
Ways Of Carrying With A Pack
If you start carrying a handgun with a pack, this is when things become a bit tricky. There are a ton of different variations when it comes to hiking packs. One of the tricky parts of carrying with a hiking pack on is the location of the hip belt that stabilizes the weight. These hip belts can land in different areas depending on the brand and some have landed right on my firearm which isn’t a fun time. If you plan on going into an outdoor shop to purchase, it’s always a great idea to carry your carry gun into the store to see how things line up. If the hip belt lines up with your carry gun, it’s time to either look at a new bag or a different style of carry if you’re really stuck on a pack.
Many individuals love going out west to enjoy the beauty of nature. The benefit of hiking out west are the scenery and solitude but being isolated can also be a huge risk. While you’ll be safe from potential robbers, wildlife will be your biggest threat. At that point, it’s not about being concealed but rather to have quick access in case of a wild animal feeling feisty.
A chest rig may not be the most concealed way of carrying but if you’re the only person in a square mile area, it’s important to have something to protect yourself. A simple chest rig keeps your handgun in place on your chest for extremely fast reaction time. I would consider this if you know you’ll be in an isolated area where you won’t be able to call for help quickly. Other than that situation, I would still prefer to have a concealed firearm but this is the one instance having a firearm visible is a benefit for the user.
So if you can’t carry an IWB holster and having a chest rig is too high profile for your local trails, there’s always pocket carry while hiking but this method has its own issues as well. The main issue with pocket carrying is the lack of options it offers since your overall pocket limits how large of a handgun you can carry. This is less than ideal for being out in the wild but having something is better than having nothing. In my book, this is the least effective way of carrying when you’re out on a hike but it’s a good minimum baseline.
Being out on hiking trails on your own can be a truly relaxing experience but it’s still important to have the ability to protect yourself whether that’s carrying a smaller but capable handgun or something larger depending on where you’re hiking and the wildlife in the surrounding area. Trying out a pack before you buy is incredibly important along with finding the right carry style for you. Even if it means just having a handgun in a pocket holster, it’s important to have the ability to defend yourself if necessary.
Let me know what you guys prefer when hiking out in the wild in the comments below. Do you have a specific type of carrying or do you typically just carry like you do any other time? If you have questions about carrying concealed or any firearms-related questions feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoerator. Stay safe out there!