Can You Bring A Gun Camping?

Camping is one of the greatest ways to enjoy time with friends and family and a fun way to enjoy the beach, mountains, lakes, rivers, and even at a park where other people are gathering. Meeting new people from different places is always great because it really shows you how many other people actually enjoy getting out and just having fun away from the house. Even though most people are there for a good time, there can also be dangers to camping that people might not think about when they are making plans to go. Bringing some sort of protection with you is always safe, but what about firearms?

There is no law I could find that would not allow you to possess a firearm in your campsite as long as it is not in plain sight. To openly care a firearm on a campsite you would need to have a concealed weapon permit or be camping in a state that allows open carry in public. I did find that since February 2010, federal law states that you may carry firearms into national parks in all common outdoor areas such as your campsite, in your vehicle, and on public trails, as long as you follow all state and local laws.


Safety for yourself and all other campers should be your top priority when camping, especially if you bring a firearm for protection. Never take your gun out and brandish it in public just to show it off. This can make other campers very uneasy, and could possibly get you a stop by the park ranger to make sure you can legally own it. Never bring a firearm out to target shoot when camping with other people around. Your gun should be for safety only and should stay on you, or in your campsite at all times unless needed. Safety comes first, and you should act very responsible when you are at a campground or park.

Why Would You Need To Bring A Firearm?

So why would you need to bring a firearm camping anyway you might ask? There are several reasons that you might need to bring a gun with you camping. The first and most obvious is that you might need to defend yourself from some sort of thief or attacker that might enter your campsite without your permission.

Believe it or not, thieves do roam through campgrounds going through open cars and trailers looking for stuff to steal (including your gun), so having a firearm will help you protect yourself and your family from people that are trying to break the law. I was actually camping one time when the park rangers and sheriffs drove through and locked our campground down because a person had escaped from prison and was on the loose.

camping at night

Another reason you might need to have a firearm with you is because of things like bears, mountain lions and other animals that might want to harm you. If you camp in the mountains, you will have camped in areas that have bear boxes and things like that to keep bears from getting your food. Bears will go through tents, cars, RV’s and campers just to find food, and when they are startled, they will attack. Protecting your family from a bear or mountain lion is a great reason to have a gun. Even if you do not kill the animal, you can fire off a few rounds and scare it away.

Campground Rules

Always, always, always follow campground rules! If you go to a campsite that does not allow open carry, don’t! You do not have to show everyone your weapon, and there is nothing wrong with keeping your firearm in a locked drawer in your camper, or in a zipped up bag in a tent safely until you need to use it. Bringing a weapon is for safety, not for being popular or showing off, so keep your firearms and their locations to yourself, and family because there is no need to show everyone at the campground.

Type Of Guns

There are a few different types of guns that you can bring with you camping, and while some are perfect for camping, others might seem kind of funny to bring. I have broken them down into three categories:

Shotguns: Shotguns are good for home defense because they are fairly inexpensive and you do not have to be a marksman to shoot it. While they do have a big kick, you can pretty much point and shoot and are very easy to stow away in a cabinet of your trailer or RV. It would be much harder to hide in a ten though, so it is really only a good option for tents if you do not have a handgun.

Handguns: Handguns are small, compact and easy to hide from kids and other people, and are the perfect firearm to bring for protection. While they do require some practice to shoot, they hold more rounds, so you can pretty much just point and shoot. These firearms are great for campers, RV’s, and tents.


Long Rifles: Long rifles like 22’s, hunting rifles, and BB guns, are not a very good choice to bring with you camping. They are loud and require a decent amount of skill to shoot accurately, so they really do not make a great firearm to bring. The only way I would bring this type of gun camping is if I had nothing else.

Generally, you want to bring a handgun with you for protection because they can be put in a small lockbox and fits into almost any drawer in a camper, or zipped up in a duffle bag in your tent, so the chances of someone finding and stealing it is very small.

Other Forms Of Protection

There are other forms of protection you can bring with you instead of a gun. If you want to be safe you can bring the following with you and be perfectly safe.

  • Baseball Bat
  • Tazer
  • Whistle
  • Pepper Spray
  • Axe Handle
  • Golf Club
  • Knife
  • Bear Spray
  • Big Flashlight

While these might not give you the stopping power of a gun, they will do damage and will save your life if needed. Anyone can use the above safety items, so your whole family can help if needed.

Park Rangers Can Help

Park rangers are always the best option to help you in case of emergency, and that is why they are there. They are always patrolling the campgrounds and can be called by you, or the camp host at any time you need. You can always flag one down as they drive by to get their phone number or a way to reach them, and they are always happy to help. Before you pull out a weapon, make sure you have tried a ranger, or camp host if you can.

fall camping tent

Final Thoughts

Bringing a firearm with you is a safe way to protect yourself and your family from animals and other people that may try to harm you, but you must be responsible. Always follow all campground and state park rules, and if you are going to bring a weapon, keep it locked up and a secret. There is no need to be the popular guy who has a gun at a campground. Always try to find help before firing a weapon near other campers.

Related Topics

Can You Open Carry While Camping?

You should only open carry in states that allow it, or if you have a concealed weapon permit. I also found that since February 2010, federal law states that you may carry firearms into national parks in all common outdoor areas such as your campsite, in your vehicle and on public trails, as long as you follow all state and local laws. Always check laws and regulations before you bring a firearm in public.

What Type Of Gun Is Best To Bring Camping

The best type of firearm to bring camping is a handgun. Handguns can be easily put in a lockbox and hidden away safely and does not take up a lot of space. This is perfect for anyone in a tent, camper, or RV. It really doesn’t matter what caliber handgun you own, but a 9mm is very easy to handle and is great for men, women, and older kids in case of emergency.