Tips For Hiking and Backpacking with A Rifle
Anyone who has ventured out on an extended backpacking or hiking adventure can relate to the rejuvenating experience of the great outdoors. That feeling of solace, of being one with nature, is something many of us love to experience.
Unfortunately, all it takes is one time to encounter any creatures who make the mountains or deep woods their home to turn a pleasant hike into an undesirable situation.
The discussions about taking a weapon with you when you hike, or backpack are as varied as the number of hikers or backpackers today.
What it parses down to is a personal choice. If hiking or backpacking alone or with a few close friends and not carrying protection makes you uncomfortable, then bring your weapon.
Remember that stowing a pistol in your bag is a form of concealment and, in many states in the U.S., requires a concealed carry license. The next logical choice is to bring a long gun or rifle with you. If you own an AR-15 and choose to take it along, here are a few things to know.
Never Perform a Break Down on a Loaded Rifle
You’re bringing your AR-15 along to keep you safe and secure from any external threat. Don’t be a threat to yourself. Before breaking down your AR-15, remove the magazine, pull back the charging handle, and inspect the chamber.
Once you’re sure the chamber is clear, push out the pivot and takedown pins, then separate the upper receiver from the lower.
At this point, you can safely attach both parts to your backpack for a much easier carry.
The Added Weight Is Often a Welcomed Trade-Off
An extra six to eight pounds of lugging an AR-15 plus two or three loaded magazines along can be a deal-breaker for the minimalist. In some cases, depending on how rugged the terrain is, each additional ounce or pound added is just more weight that a hiker or backpacker must carry.
More weight means more things wearing you down and making the hike a lot tougher. Hiking or backpacking is supposed to be a pleasant experience, not an exhaustive and grueling death march.
However, for most hikers or backpackers, the safety and security of knowing they have the means to protect themselves if required often ends up being a welcomed trade-off.
Choosing to Take Down or Use a Sling
How you choose to transport your rifle during a hike will make a huge difference in whether you continue to bring it along or not.
Choosing to carry your rifle in a more traditional sling mount fashion may not work well if you’re backpacking or hiking adventure is in rugged mountain terrain or trails cutting through deep woods.
Not only will the sling require constant hands-on attention to keep your AR-15 in place on your shoulder, but the rifle will almost certainly swing freely. In this fashion, the rifle’s finish is more susceptible to scratching and marring when it contacts rocks or tangles of brush.
Continued impacts such as this could also damage that brand-new scope you recently installed.
One of the best ways to protect the rifle and provide ease of carrying is the takedown method. Many hikers choose to protect their rifles by breaking them down and storing the upper receiver and lower receiver on their backpacks.
Not only does this method help protect the rifle, but it leaves your hands free for other things. Should you decide to do this, there are a couple of things to take into consideration.
Easy To Carry Versus Quick to Use
By now, you’ve logically deduced that separating the upper receiver from the lower of your AR-15 sacrifices any chance to make a quick shot if necessary.
However, being acutely aware of your surroundings will, in almost all situations, provide you the essential time needed to snap the upper receiver and lower together, insert a magazine, and chamber a round.
Remember that typically, creatures in the wild are skittish and as afraid of you as you may be of them. Animals going into attack mode the minute they spot you is rare unless you do something to provoke them. Yes, bear cubs are cute, but leave them alone and take your hike in the opposite direction.
Woodland or mountain creatures are curious, though. If they don’t sense that you’re a threat, they will often want to check out the newest arrival to their home.
If you make camp and decide to cook a few T-bones for dinner, the scent of food will certainly pique their interest. There are two things you’ll want to remember to do before you hit the sack.
One of the first things you will want to do is take a few seconds and put your AR-15 back together. Reinsert one of those loaded magazines and then keep your rifle close at hand when you turn in for the night.
Additionally, stow any remnants of food in plastic bags and pack those bags in your gear, and zipper the backpacks closed. A basic rule of backpacking or hiking is that animals in the wild first smell what they haven’t seen yet.
Making the Experience Both Safe and Wonderful
Communing with the beauty of nature should be both a safe and wonderful experience. Whether you’re hiking in deep woods or backpacking along mountainous terrain, the purpose of your journey is to create as many fond memories as possible.
You can’t concentrate on the beauty in front of you if you’re constantly searching the shadows for some unseen threat.
Creating a peaceful, serene mindset as you hike or backpack across the countryside may be as simple as bringing your AR-15 along with you.
Whether you sling it on your shoulder or have it in a takedown fashion on your gear, take your AR-15 with you if it provides you a feeling of security and safety.
The whole point of the adventure is to create moments of peaceful solitude as you hike or backpack through nature’s beautiful and awe-inspiring landscape.