Had a good question from a reader about camp security and keeping your gear safe during backpacking trips. For example:
- Do you hang your backpack up with others in the shelter?
- Do you leave your stove or your sleeping bag out when you go to get water?
I think a lot depends on where I’m backpacking and my assessment of the people I meet. For example, if I’m hiking on the AT and stay at a shelter or designated campsite, I rarely have any concerns about the safety of my gear or personal effects. As long as I think the people sleeping at the shelter or neighboring campsites are serious backpackers out for a section or thru-hike, I know that they’re unlikely to rip my stuff off. This is pretty easy to tell after a short conversation where we establish or bona fides and share trail names, where we started and where we’re heading.
If the people I meet are not experienced backpackers or scruffy looking, I’ll be a bit more cautious with my possessions and probably slip my wallet and personal effects into my pocket if I walk down to the water source or go to the privy. As for gear, I’m less worried about that because it’s hard to get very far with it and replaceable if stolen.
If I’m not backpacking on the AT, then I’m probably someplace where it’s unlikely I’ll see anyone or if I do, they’ll be far more interested in being outdoors than in stealing stuff. I mostly backpack off-the-beaten track and rarely meet anyone sketchy.
I’m much more cautious about my gear if we’re car camping however, because you never know who’s going to stay at a campsite, there’s no real opportunity to “check them out”, and sadly, people do occasionally drive through and rip stuff off. In this case, I’ll pack up expensive items like a high-end sleeping bag, electronics, and my fly fishing gear and take it with me in the car when we leave camp for the day.
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