The American Backpacker

Backpacking with a Firearm (Holster Selection)



When I go backpacking in a wilderness area I always take my firearm with me. Brining a firearm into a wilderness area is a personal choice that you make. I choose to bring a firearm with me for my own safety. Before I plan my wilderness adventure I check state and local laws on carrying a firearm with you into that state. Firearm rules and regulations can be researched online before you leave.

If you decide to carry a firearm into a wilderness area make sure that you are well trained in its use and operation. Make sure that you have practiced firing it before you decide to carry it. Firearm safety should always be practised.   The reckless discharge of any firearm can lead to injury or death.  I am well trained in the use of firearms and I open carry while I am in a wilderness area.

I have been asked on what type of holster I recommend when wilderness backpacking.  I have three types of holster systems that I recommend for wilderness backpacking. I will discuss each of their advantages and disadvantages.


Wearing a backpack constricts much of your upper body. A drop down holster allows you to wear your firearm away from your backpack and down by your thighs. The advantage of this holster system is that it allows you to quickly access your firearm while wearing your backpack. Your firearm is away from the bulk allowing you to draw your firearm quickly and easily.

The disadvantage of this holster is that it constricts blood flow to your legs. When wearing a drop down holster you have at least one elastic band and sometimes 2 wrapped around your thigh. When you are moving in rough and rugged terrain such as going up a mountain or navigating around debris blood flow to your legs may be constricted.

This type of holster also has a tendency to move when navigating in rough terrain. Adjustments can be made but they may be annoying especially if you are on a long trek. Even with the disadvantages it is a very good holster system especially if you are backpacking on flat terrain or on short wilderness outings.



Drop Down Holster

Drop Down Holster




A belt holster is very easy to attach to your backpacks waist belt. They can be attached to other areas of your backpack depending on the make and model of your pack. The advantage of the belt holster is that it allows easy access to your firearm with your backpack on. It sits up higher than a drop down holster and it allows for quick deployment of your firearm.

The disadvantage is that when you take your backpack off your firearm goes with the pack and you have to re-attach it to your waist belt. The other disadvantage is that many wilderness backpackers wear thin non-rigid waist belts that do not support a belt holster system for large-caliber firearm. There are some belt holsters that use a paddle system that overcomes this problem. This system is another good rig to think about when wilderness backpacking.



Belt Holster

Belt Holster


The third and my favorite holster system is the chest holster. There are many variations and manufactures selling this holster. The advantage of this holster system is that it stays centered on your chest and your firearm can be deployed quickly with practice. When you drop your pack your firearm stays with you.

A disadvantage to this holster is that the strap wrapping around you body may rub and chaff portions of your back if you do not have it fitted properly. I have used this system in many remote and rugged wilderness areas and it has been very reliable.



Chest Holster

Chest Holster



These are my (3) choices for holsters if you choose to carry a firearm on your wilderness adventure.  Remember to be a safe, responsible, and well trained if you decide to carry a firearm into a wilderness area.




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