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Camping is a relatively safe experience. I have been a camper for most of my life and have never had an issue where I felt that a deadly weapon was necessary. However, that doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. Having some way to protect yourself when things go wrong is just good common sense.
When many people think of carrying a weapon for protection, a gun may be the first thing that comes to mind. While this is certainly an option if it’s legal and you obey the laws, there are many other options that are less deadly but extremely effective.
Different rules apply depending on where you are on whether or not you can carry a gun. I choose not to go this route but I do have a keen sense of my surroundings and am generally prepared for bad things that might happen.
If you camp regularly and are looking to beef up your defenses, there are some common items that will work very well as weapons. Many of these are already at your disposal and you will simply need to be more aware of them.
When considering a weapon, you need to first establish what you are trying to protect yourself from. It could be wild animals or it could be the most dangerous of all; other humans with bad intentions. It’s good to be prepared for both in case something goes down that threatens your well-being.
If you are going to use a weapon, it should be a last line of defense. Some weapons could get you hurt if you don’t know what you are doing. For example, someone with a greater skill set could take a knife away from you and use it against you instead. Only consider a weapon as a last resort when your back is against the wall and you have to protect yourself from serious harm.
Let’s look at some great weapons to have on hand while camping that can help ensure your safety. These are in no particular order EXCEPT the first one.
NOTE: if you choose to carry any type of weapon when camping, make sure it is legal to do so and you understand any consequences involved in using it.
1. Your Brain / Awareness
The number one way to stay safe while camping is with the weapon you have right between your ears; your brain! Being aware of a situation and using your brain to direct your actions is the first step in ensuring your safety.
Our intuition can help us avoid something that might cause us harm. The trick is to listen to that intuition and avoid getting caught in dangerous situations. Not only that, but it also takes awareness to understand how and where to park your RV or pitch your tent.
Avoiding bad areas or other places where you just don’t feel comfortable will go a long way in protecting you.
Being aware of your surroundings and prepared in the best way that you can should be the first action. Only then does it make sense to even discuss weapons.
2. Pepper Spray / Bear Spray
Pepper spray is a great way to protect yourself against other humans who are up to no good. It’s an easy weapon to carry with you and can easily be kept in your pocket at all times or in a location in your RV that’s easy to get to. With numerous varieties on the market, it’s easy to find an effective pepper spray that will protect you from intruders and other sketchy people that come around.
Pepper spray is designed to incapacitate an attacker long enough so that you can get away. Don’t expect it to take someone down for good.
Bear spray is great to have on hand as well if you camp in areas where bears and other wild animals could cause Harm. While bear spray isn’t designed for protecting yourself against humans, it can be highly effective in the event of a bear attack. It’s good to have both of these on hand on a camping trip and use them accordingly.
With both of these, it’s a good idea to understand how to use them and what the spray bottles are capable of. You don’t want to get caught in a situation where you need to use one and be fiddling around with the spray nozzle. Even worse, spraying towards yourself rather than the intended target.
3. Knife / Axe
Every camper should have a knife on hand. Not only for protection but for the practicality of having one. There are so many things you need a knife for while living off the land. A folding knife can easily be carried in your pocket at all times and it’s great to have on hand for those times when you just need a knife. You may need to open a package, cut a cord, slice up some food, or even protect yourself.
A sturdy pocket knife can be a great way to arm yourself and provide you with a weapon if you ever encounter a situation where when is needed. In an RV, you may have a plethora of knives sitting around for cooking and other needs. These may also be used if someone breaks into your RV or someone is up to no good and you need to ward them off.
Similar to a knife, an axe is also effective as a potential weapon. Axes are sometimes needed on a camping trip in order to cut firewood or chop something down. While you hope to never use such a thing, it’s an option that can do a lot of damage and protect you from unwanted visitors if needed.
4. Fire Extinguisher
If you are an RVer, you likely have a fire extinguisher handy in your RV. While a fire extinguisher is meant to put out fires, it may also serve another purpose if your back is against the wall and you need a weapon to ward off an intruder. If you can locate your fire extinguisher in a timely manner and be able to spray it in the vicinity of the person or other being in question, it can potentially save your life.
The CO2 that is emitted from a fire extinguisher can serve to temporarily incapacitate a person and make it easier for you to get away. Not only that but a fire extinguisher could serve as something that can be used to hit someone over the head.
This would be a last resort measure but since most RVs are, or should be, equipped with a fire extinguisher, it is something to consider as a possible life-saving weapon.
Even tent campers should have a fire extinguisher on hand in case a fire starts burning out of control. Keep it close by and easy to grab and use whether it’s to put out a fire or to run someone away from your campground.
5. Trekking Poles / Walking Stick
Campers are often hikers and hikers often carry trekking poles or some type of walking stick. If you don’t, it’s a good idea to start! A walking stick or trekking poles can serve multiple purposes. The most obvious is giving you a stabilized place to hold onto as you walk across areas that could be potentially slippery or dangerous. A trekking pole gives you a place to hold onto as it firmly pushes into the ground while you hold tightly to it as if it’s a handrail.
A stick like this can also be used in the event of an emergency or if someone is trying to harm you. Not only a person but it can also ward off wild animals that have wandered upon you as you can use it as a weapon to poke, prod, or swing in order to hit the assailant. Having trekking poles like this provides a great additional barrier of protection that can be of help during an encounter with a crazed individual.
Besides being handy for keeping you stable as you are hiking, these trekking poles can become your best friends in times of danger.
You’ll find plenty of rocks out in nature while you’re camping. After your campsite has been set up, a few select rocks from around the area can be positioned inside your tent, RV, or sleeping area. These rocks may come in handy if you were to hear rustling weeds or a person drawing near that shouldn’t be there.
Having a selection of rocks nearby gives you some weapons to throw or hit onto something. This can provide you with some additional protection and could buy you time so that you can acquire another weapon, run away, or call for help.
Rocks can be thrown, as long as you have a good aim, and will likely make a wild animal run away or stop a human intruder in his or her tracks.
We campers love our dogs and besides being a best friend, a dog can be a great security system! Depending on the dog you have, you may have a partner that can fully protect you or you may have a partner who will only alert you of danger. Either way, having a best friend on hand that has some sharp canines and an instinct to protect, will go a long way in providing you with a weapon that intruders would not want to tangle with.
Even if your dog is not a powerful breed that can take down a large person, he or she will likely still be a fighter that will stand up for you and protect you in times of need. Not only this but a dog can help to draw attention with its barking and possibly alert others who may be around in the campground or nearby.
8. Stun Gun / Taser
A stun gun or taser might be a weapon that you haven’t considered before but can be highly effective if something tries to harm you. If a person comes into your campground causing a ruckus or breaks into your RV and puts your life in danger, a stun gun or taser can be used to stop them in their tracks. The high voltage of these devices is designed to shock and temporarily disable a person as it gives you time to get away or figure out your next move.
A taser is great for taking someone down from a distance, typically 15 to 25 feet away. However, a stun gun can be highly effective if an intruder is upon you and you are fighting for your life. A stun gun temporarily can disable a person if activated while making contact with their body.
The video below shows what happens when a stun gun is used.
There are laws regarding these depending on the locality that you are camping in but in general, are legal to use in most US states and can provide some additional protection when you need it most. Learn more about stun gun laws.
9. Personal Alarm
A personal alarm is something that is more of a deterrent than a weapon. While there won’t be much you can do as far as injuring someone, a loud piercing alarm that you can push when in danger will alert others in the area and potentially cause the intruder to disappear.
Animals may not like the sound either and can be startled enough to run away when the alarm is sounding. These types of personal alarms can be carried in your pocket, on your keychain, in a purse, or backpack. It’s best to have them in a place that is easy to get to without much difficulty.
Having an alarm like this hanging from your backpack strap as you are hiking for example gives you a way to instantly press it in a time of danger. The WETEN Personal Alarm Keychain (affiliate link) is a great option that is easy to use and can be carried on your keychain.
Overall, camping is a safe experience and there may be no need to worry about carrying a weapon. However, it’s good to know that there are some objects easily accessible that can be highly effective. When your back is against the wall and you are fighting for your life, these items may come in handy as long as you plan in advance.
As the saying goes, expect the best but prepare for the worst. This is just good common sense! It’s better to think about these things now and be prepared when you need them rather than not knowing what to do when the time does come.