Do You Absolutely Need A Gun When Camping Alone?

This information is mostly intended for the worried camping ladies out there. But solo camping safety applies to ANYONE thinking about a camping gun or other protection.

I am a single full-time female RVer. I'm not claiming to be an expert on this subject. I simply have 5 years of experience camping (boondocking 99.9%) as a solo female.

I'm sharing with you what I have learned as an experienced woman who has been legally public lands camping for the last 5 years.

Kelly at Timber Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

That's me posing at Timber Lake. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Before I hit the road, I figured I'd boondock a lot. (Nailed it!)

Naturally, I searched the internet (as you are) looking for information regarding camping/boondocking safety.

Like you may be, I was leery of being alone. I wanted to know if it was safe 'out there'. I wondered 'do I need a gun for boondocking or hiking?'

The 'Wonderful' Advice I Remember Reading

Oh, there was plenty of 'great' advice out there:

1. Put two pairs of shoes outside the RV

2. Put out two chairs

3. Get a camping gun

4. Or get a big noisy dog, or wasp spray, or a taser, or mace, or all of the above

(Today, my experienced boondocking self laughs at all of it.)

I did have two folding camping chairs for a while. Never got the boots. I did get a handgun and my concealed carry permit (which MAJORLY felt like overkill).

But pretty quickly, after camping on public lands (dispersed RV camping) alone, I discovered the real truth:


You: "Wait, what? How can that be? The news shows people getting murdered and raped and stolen from all of the time. I'll be all alone. I'll be VULNERABLE!"

Ok, stop watching the news. Seriously. They NEVER SHOW anything good, so you see every bad little thing ever. You're being brainwashed.

The Big Question: Why aren't there dangerous people on public lands?

The Real Answer: Because like you, the people out there are there to recreate. They're hanging with friends and/or family. They are only there to have fun.

In fact, if you need help, like with a flat tire or whatever, they are very likely to help you. Why? Because most people are genuinely good.

Also, they understand that help is not readily available 'out there'. And they know if they needed help, someone else would help them out.

It's like a secret society. An understanding. It's back scratching.

People help each other. No strings attached. That's just how it is.

One Girl's Personal Gun Journey

Right before I was going to boondock, I bought a Glock 19 for my camping gun as a 'just in case'.

Turns out, it wasn't for me. It felt dangerous to have a camping gun around. I couldn't remember if I kept it loaded or not. Couldn't remember how to set it up to shoot. 

I know, it's pretty simple. But in a time of panic, no way I'd have remembered how to use it, if it was loaded, how to load it, etc.

Yes, I practiced shooting it with experienced friends. But not nearly enough.

I sold my camping gun after about 2 years. I was more uncomfortable having it in my RV than I was not having one.

Kelly target shooting

Practicing shooting it with friends who helped teach me.

If you don't need one daily where you live in society, then you definitely don't need one out on public lands.

Some people like having guns. That's fine, too. I'm simply here to tell you you don't NEED a boondocking gun.

Still Want To Believe You Need A Camping gun?

I understand it may still be scary for you to break your boondocking 'seal', especially if you'll be ALL alone, no-one else in sight. Any type of unknown is usually scary.

Your first time solo camping in a remote area is especially scary if you're a solo female. I totes get it. And you SHOULD be leery.

It's new. It's spooky. (I was more scared of 'the boogey man' when I first boondocked all by myself.)

Kelly first night boondocking

This was my first solo boondocking experience! I was spooked. Not of humans. Of the boogeyman'. I was over it after one night.

But once you've done it, you'll be on the 'other side' and then you will realize that it's safer than ANY city.

(There ARE exceptions! If you park in an iffy/meth-y area all alone with shady people wandering around for no good reason, bad move. You're putting yourself in a bad position. Don't do that. Use your intuition.)

If you still insist it's dangerous, either:

1. You are paranoid. You like the drama of thinking this way.

2. You are in the wrong area (A.k.a. in a bad area. If so, LEAVE!).

3. You've never done it before and you really have no idea. If so, please stop crying to others that it's dangerous.

Be done with thinking you need self-defense tools out on public land.

I have NEVER needed to defend myself on public lands. Nor have any of my friends (many being solo women) I've talked to about it.

I've only feared for my life because of other people twice in my life. Neither time was on public land/camping remotely.

It's just SO much safer than being in a campground in town. Which is also usually a totally safe place to camp.

If it makes you feel better, go ahead and have a something on hand. A gun, or pepper spray or your bear spray. (And boy, there's a lot of debate about using bear or wasp spray as self-defense from a human.)

Just pointing out that none of these are NECESSARY 'out there'.

Why It's Safer To Camp Remotely Than To Camp In 'Public'

Ok, think of it this way.

Criminals like low-lying fruit. They want as many opportunities as possible.  (Cities= more people= more chances and opportunities.)

So... they dwell in cities.

Criminals are very lazy. They aren't driving out of town to look for a victim.

They aren't going to drive miles and miles out of town to look for something to do.

Need more proof why they don't come out to public land?


Why would they? Your average RV on public land probably has a family camping in it. With SUCH 'tempting' stuff to steal like clothing, games, and food.

I mean, come on. Be real about it! They aren't after you or your camping stuff.

So, stop worrying that you need a camping gun because someone is coming out to public land to get you or your worthless things. It's not happening.

The WORST That Could Happen

Ok, it's not like nobody has EVER been killed or robbed while camping remotely. (Or while doing anything you can name.)

And who can forget the movie Deliverance?  Scared the mess out of the entire country.

Sure, it has happened. (Albeit most camping or hiking crimes probably happened in a campground or in a public land spot very close to a city.)

woman hiker hugging redwood tree

But come on. If you stress and worry about every little thing that COULD happen, you aren't living.

Worrying is 100%  a waste of your time.

You could also get struck by lightning. Hit by a car. Or attacked by a bear.

Are your fears stopping you from going outside? Hope not.

 If you're boondocking, generally, other people will be around the camping area. Just watch for any weirdos and if you're uncomfortable, move.

You'll Stay Safe Without A Camping Gun By Doing These Things:

1. Use Your Head. Your street smarts. If you're a woman, your women's intuition. If it doesn't feel like a safe place for WHATEVER REASON, leave. You're on wheels.

2. Social Media. Don't post your exact current locations on social media. I hope that's pretty obvious, ladies.

3. Company. Camp with a friend if possible. I mean, solo is totally safe. But being with a friend will be even safer.

4.Use Your Head. Yes, read #1 again.

That's it! It's VERY safe 'out there'. Sorry if it's unexciting. There's just not much to it. The good news is IT'S GENERALLY SAFE!!


If you want to carry a gun when boondocking, go for it. But I'm here to tell you YOU DON'T NEED A CAMPING GUN or other protection.

Woman tourist taking selfie Mendenhall glacier Juneau Alaska

Use your women's intuition and you'll be just fine 'out there' on your own!

Nobody out on public lands is out to get you. If it makes you feel safer or better to have a gun, fine. Keep it in a safe place and stored properly.

Also, know your states laws about traveling with one. You also better know the gun laws in the states in which you plan to travel.

But hey, if you like to hang out in seedy or close-to-city spots or shady areas then yes, maybe you should keep some form of self-defense handy.

Otherwise, stop worrying. It's fun and wonderful to camp solo and in nature!

(And guess what? You are not usually more than maybe 20-30 minutes from some town. Boondocking is not as 'away from society' as you may think when camping out west on public lands.)

Shout out in the comments: If you camp alone, do you carry some form of self-protection?  Care to share what it is? And why do/don't you think you need it?

Kelly Headshot

I dedicated myself to living the full-time RV life for over 6.5 years, immersing myself in the unique quirks and joys of the boondocking lifestyle and gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way. In December 2020, my business partner and I made the transition to part-time RVing, but in January 2023, we hit the road once again, this time in our trusty vans. My mission is to help others embrace the RVing lifestyle with confidence and excitement, armed with the knowledge and resources needed to make the most of their adventures. I believe that the more you know, the more you can truly appreciate and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the open road.

  • Kelly…I respect your views..but…the way the country has devolved…and with the amount of illegal aliens of unknown origin invading our country I think you are very naive and misinformed about defending yourself…from a hunter and Gulf War Veterans’ perspective…naivety can be as deadly as anything else…be prepared..not will live longer…regards…

    • BF-

      Thank you for your input. I have had my share of violent/crime incidents in this country. And what do they all have in common? Males are the offenders.

      The weapons aren’t the real threat.

      What we need is for males to learn to grow and to work on their emotional intelligence and feelings. We have a huge number of them that are abusive, emotionally stunted, have anger issues, commit violence towards others, (mostly women), and these males NEED help.

      When it comes to murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, and burglary, the overwhelming percentage (86 average of all these) of aggressors are male ( (per the FBI).

      We need to start addressing the real problem (males) behind the ‘problem’ (violence and crime) instead of worrying who is carrying weapons and/or whether guns should be legal.

  • I enjoyed reading your article. I happened upon it while researching NY new laws regarding where conceal carry is not allowed. I backpack the Adirondack high peaks and do carry a pistol( do have conceal permit). I carry for safety. Bear or coyote won’t be dissuaded by yelling etc a loud shot aimed at the ground can work. Also 3 shots fired is a distress signal and more effective than a whistle. In the end it all comes down to each person’s comfort level and following current laws. Have fun and be safe out there in nature.

    • Hi Fred,

      Thank you for the well spoken and level-headed comment on this subject.

      For sure, as long as guns are legal to possess (legally), it’s anyone’s choice to carry or not. And your points about safety from animals and distress calls are very valid.
      And totally agree on comfort levels… I was definitely not comfortable carrying or even having mine in my trailer. So I got rid of it. I have other weapons now in case they are (hopefully never) needed. To each their own.


  • Kelly, I have been camping since I was too young to remember, and I’m now 63. My parents always had a camper, of one kind or another, and I don’t recall them ever being worried about attackers. Of course this goes back to the early 60’s when things were simpler, but my father never owned a gun either. I have always had a camper as an adult. I am now single and retired and live full time in my RV. I have camped in some pretty remote areas, and I’ve camped on city streets in Los Angeles. I don’t own a gun, but now that I am full time I was wondering if I should, when I found your blog. One thought I had was to have a very realistic fake gun, just to brandish through the window if the knocker does not appear safe. This way there is no worry about practice, familiarty, gun laws or fear of a loaded gun. Yet an undesirable on the outside would not be able to tell the difference. I could find no reference to fake guns for boondockers on the web. As a kid I had a fake shotgun that was very realistic and made quite a loud noise when those triggers were pulled. Just a thought for the future.

    • Hey Mark,

      Yeah, it sure can’t hurt to have one, right? I still can NOT imagine a situation where I’d need to pull it out.

      There might also be a law against ‘intending bodily harm’ of some sort. In the same way people can get into trouble for pranking someone where they scare them into fearing they might die, you might run into the same problem by showing someone a gun or worse, pointing it at them.
      Of course, they would have to find you to try to sue! Still… for other readers to consider.

      Thank you for your idea!

  • Dear Kelly Beasley,

    You’re absolutely right in that most people are kind and want to do what’s right. The key word there is ‘most’. There are a very small percentage of people who are evil, or who are hooligans and opportunists who happen upon a vulnerable single person. And on the very unlikely chance that one is in that situation and is all alone and miles from anyone else who can help, then a gun that is handled safely and competently can be an excellent defense, almost like no other defense.

    Camping all alone, miles from anyone else, is a fantastic experience. My wife and I have done it several times.

    Besides the ‘two-legged uninvited critters’ that one may unlikely encounter, there are ‘four-legged uninvited critters’ as well. And being alone with your food sources can provide a meal or more for those critters. A bear can be scared away by shooting at the ground near it. If that does not deter the bear and if it charges, then one might have to shoot at it. If that is the case then the caliber of the gun becomes important.

    Whoever advised you to get a Glock did a disservice to you. Because of their trigger safeties, Glock work best for those who are extremely familiar with gun handling. The trigger safety is the only one available on the Glock. Once a round is chambered, it doesn’t take much to discharge that round. Glocks can be extremely dangerous for the occasional shooter. For a solo camper who is only an occasional shooter I would recommend a revolver. Go to a firing range that rents different guns and try them and compare, and see for yourself.

    May you always be safe, and may you never encounter an undesirable whether it have 2 legs or 4. May we all, remote solo campers, be safe and never have to defend ourselves against undesirables. That is my wish and my prayer.

    Enjoy the beauty of nature!
    Roy Tuason

    • Thoughtfully and eloquently put, Roy! Thank you for your insight and input. May more of us out there have this level of understanding, levelheadedness, and education.

      We appreciate you taking the time out of your day to write this helpful comment!


  • I ike to have a firearm when in the woods. More for insurance..There is no worse feeling than being unarmed I a situation that makes you wish you were armed. Anytime your using horses or other pack animals, you should have a firearm in case the animal breaks a limb. I wouldn’t be comfortable being in grizzly or polar bear country or any place in the African bush without a firearm or two. You shouldn’t have one unless your going to use it. If there is any doubt in your mind then leave it at home or in the store.

    • I have wanted to have an ample gun in my vehicle in the event I hit a deer (or any other animal) and injure it past any help. Ugh. That’s my biggest yearn for a weapon that can kill.

  • Good article, however I do have to say, I would not go camping with a gun or bear spray…one time I awoke in a tent to someone with a flashlight shining in my eyes…as soon as they heard me click the safety off they ran, that was the end of my tent camping days..then got a toy hauler trailer…came back after a day of fishing to 2 guys trying to steal my generator that was welded to the frame…they saw my gun and ran into the woods leaving their truck which had 2 other stolen generators and several rifles that they had stolen from other camps up the road..talked to the other campers and they got their stolen items back. When the thief’s returned a few hours later after dark to get their very nice Ford F-350 ..they saw the note on the tree that the stolen items had been claimed by their lawful owners and that they could get their truck at the bottom of the hill. Somehow it had rolled backwards and went thru a fence and over a 50ft hill and was smashed into a big rock and somehow a tree had fallen on it. Hummm. Karma

  • Thanks for sharing your knowledge with the community.

    I feel like there is no need to carry a gun. Keyword being need.

    However, if you’re long term traveling by yourself around the country. I would be hard pressed to not want one for WCS’s.

    The truth and reality is that as you’ve traveled over time, your experience is far greater and you understand a system that makes you feel safe. However, as you’ve stated you already were worried at one point that someone was out to get you. Which was very early on in this blog.

    So, time goes on and you begin to believe that you’re mostly safe. I think you’re correct in that assumption as well. However, that is called being complacent.

    Complacency kills. The firearm is planning for the worst possible scenario not the best.
    Animal attacks, a active shooter situation a shady person snoopy around, these things happen less than 1% of the time. But it only takes one bad confrontation to lose your life.

    But I do think you’re correct, carrying a firearm is not for everyone. It’s just for anyone who wants to be prepared.

    • Hi Chris,

      Thank you for your well-thought-out comment and opinion!

      We will have to agree to disagree about carrying a gun meaning a person is ‘prepared’. Carrying a gun doesn’t guarantee your life is protected.

      Instead of carrying a gun, or any other weapon, I am hyper-aware and listen to gut to stay out of situations and areas that could compromise my life. I use my gut instincts and what I know about men I don’t know (Let’s face it, men are the #1 killer and danger of women, between them or animals).

      Instead of guaranteeing ‘preparedness’, carrying a gun could actually mean premature and accidental death, in the event of an accident while carrying it (or a man getting hold of it and using it to kill me, or you).

      So, wanting to be ‘prepared’ has nothing to do with carrying a gun, in my opinion. Nor does carrying a gun guarantee your life is safe. There are plenty of ways to ‘be prepared’ and not need defense.

      And if someone kills me while I am camping, so be it. I don’t feel right or safe carrying a firearm. It feels like massive overkill and it doesn’t feel right. I lived a good life NOT in a constant state of fear and it was good while it lasted!

      Somehow I’ve made it this long without getting murdered, without carrying. Yay me!

      That’s my opinion. You have yours. I have mine. Neither of us is right or wrong.


  • Based on your primes, you don’t need a gun because you have never needed a gun. DO you carry vehicle insurance, medical insurance, have you ever needed them? if not why do you carry them? Same goes for a camping gun, but if you are going to get one, LEARN HOW TO USE IT!!!! do you know how to change a tire, check your vehicle fluids, hook up your trailer, same goes for a gun!! I have carried a weapon for over 12 years (outside of the military) never had to use it, but like the old saying goes, rather have it and not need it then need it and not have it.

    • Hi Larry,

      So when do I need to kill someone? I’ve been held up at gunpoint. Even if I HAD a gun on me at that moment, possibly the greatest threat to my life by a man ever, no way would I have pulled it out and tried to threaten him with it. There’s a very good chance I would be dead right now if I had. Not worth it. We gave him our valuables and he took off.

      If carrying a gun makes you feel safe, great. But most people DO NOT carry, and don’t feel unsafe. And most don’t get killed by other people (and most people that do get killed by other people are women and their attacker is usually a man they know. What woman carries a gun to protect her from her partner? None.)

      I’m sure wanting to carry has lot of it has to do with how we are raised and what situations we have been in and now put ourselves in, as to whether we feel the need for ‘protection’ or not.

      I do not feel the need (thank god). I never felt more safe than when out camping out west (compared to dwelling in any town or city).

      And yes, I’ve had, needed, and used insurance, home, health, and auto. (Used all three not just had them.) I’ve never needed a gun. Or anything else to defend myself.

      Closest I’ve come to death was A MAN WITH A GUN and a virus that made me septic. No weapon could’ve saved me from the virus.

  • Some really good info and maybe not too. I am not a paranoid or fearful person but I have been raped (almost gang raped, thank you Victoria for scaring these guys) while in a remote area. So, people are not always nice out there. Do not take it for granted. I don’t like guns and see the alternatives. May get one anyway.

    • Hi Tracey,

      Wow, we’re so sorry that that happened to you. That’s unimaginable and it should NEVER happen. It sucks that women must watch out for- MEN. It’s almost always men. We need defense, but from what? MEN. So men who think they need to carry a gun? Good lord, makes us even more (for good reason) fearful of that type.

      It’s understandable that you are now more weary. Yes, it CAN happen. But odds are, the more remote a place is (and I”m referencing out west, not a ‘remote’ area in the east. It’s just… different), the less chance you will ever be in danger from bad men.

      But hey, as I mention in the article, we all have to decide for ourselves whether it’s right for us or not. But I’d sure look into other forms of self-defense before I looked into getting a gun. The laws, if you kill or injure someone with one, are OFTEN not in the favor of the person who was carrying. This was told to me by the teacher in my carry class.

      Hope you’ve healed from your ordeal, as much as one can. So sorry, Tracey. Much love and hugs your way!

  • Sorry but I disagree with you. I’m 77 been camping since I was about ten. I’ve never had to use a gun, except for my 1968 tour in Vietnam, but I’ve always felt the necessity to have a gun. But only in the ten years or so. Politically racially crime wise high numbers of illegals, drug cartels, drug users, poor ones especially. A lot of nasty people out there that do move where you don’t expect them.
    Yes I carry a couple guns actually. One in my vehicle and one in my trailer or with me most of the time.
    I live in an area of very low crime. Central Maine and my camp lot is about 90 miles north of here. I’m usually there alone but am always prepared for the worst and hoping for tge best.
    I totally think you are giving seriously bad advice.
    Bill Braniff

    • Hi Bill,

      That’s ok, we each can have our own opinion, that’s what makes the world go around!

      That said, I might live in a totally different ‘world’ than you, or others. Where I reside, play, hang out, travel to, I don’t need self-protection. Fact is that most crimes are committed in towns and cities, and if you know what/where to stay away from, living in the USA is generally pretty safe.

      And yes, it’s anyone’s prerogative if they want to carry. My OPINION of it, and it’s not right or wrong, just an opinion, is that when I see someone carrying, I immediately suspect THAT PERSON of being untrustworthy.

      I’m pretty sure right away we aren’t going to have much in common. NONE of my good friends carry. It’s never even been on the table/something any of us have in our thoughts. That’s not to say I can’t be friends with someone that feels the need to carry self-protection. I’m not saying that at all. It’s just not something in any of our forethought that even comes to mind.

      And we are all still here, living, somehow we all made it without self-protection.

      Life is good. Stay out of bad areas and away from bad people. If that’s not possible or you don’t want to (not YOU, just speaking in general), then perhaps carrying protection of some sort is necessary.

      But CAMPING????? It’s the very definition of where it’s unnecessary, especially out on public lands out west. Maybe when camping in a campground where not-so-desirables tend to hang, one might feel better with some sort of defense mechanism. But then you could also choose to leave or not to stay in that place (which is what I would do).

      And this is coming from a woman. I am the most common victim type. Women should be the ones who always feel the need to carry, not men. Yet men seem to be the ones who do it the most.

      And for the style of camping we do, boondocking out west, I can easily say protection from humans (men) is totally unnecessary. My opinion, and I’m holding onto that one strong.

      I’m very open-minded, but I see zero reason to have to ‘protect’ ones person while camping out west. Or camping in most places. Or living day-to-day life, unless one lives in ‘the hood.’

      If one is living in an area where crime happens on the regular, sure! I’d have self-protection, too. But I’d also do everything I could to try to move away from that area.

      Love and light!

  • Off the top of my head, I can think of three incidents where campers were murdered by intruders: once at a rest area in New Mexico, once at a beach camping area in Texas, and once on a remote road in Canada. I don’t know about the Canadian incident, but I’m fairly certain the folks in Texas and New Mexico likely had firearms of their own. People who wish to do you harm realize that most RVers are armed, and they prey on people by getting the upper hand, either through surprise, or gaining trust. Guns often create a false sense of security in those who carry them. The best defense is to be aware of your surroundings, as Kelly has stated. Bad things can happen, but they are quite rare.

    • That’s what gets me. Back of your head has that little voice yelling move on something is off here! So what do a lot of people do? Nothing, and they mostly get away with it.
      But when it does go bad it’s usually very bad. Am I always right to go when I feel something off? Of course not but that’s ok compared to what has happened to some people that decided to ignore their instincts.

      • It’s essential to listen to your inner voice! Good for you for doing so.

        But the chances of getting hurt/murdered by a bad man is SO low if you are aware of your surroundings. Use your head, listen to your instincts, move on when it doesn’t feel right, and likely all will be ok.

        (PS, I have only felt the need to ‘move on’ ONE time in now 7 years of camping, most of it full-time boondocking. And that was in that campground I talk about above. But we stayed, after calling the cops. So, I have actually never moved along because I didn’t feel safe.)

        Campgrounds are in more populated areas than public land I usually stay on on public lands. More people always = more chances a bad man could be lurking. But yeah, still feel like a gun would be overkill in a campground (If I do feel like I need a GUN to ‘protect’ myself? Then it’s a campground I am NOT staying in. Hell no.)

  • I travel and camp with a pistol. When I started back packing and day hikes I carried a pistol, a glock 19, not for people but wildlife. Too many experiences with coyotes, mountain lions and a bear or two. It’s for the just in case scenario only. I agree, that you would rarely need it for humans. I’ve camped in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and live in Utah and I have ran into the above animals as well as smaller critters, thankfully I never had to use it. I didn’t buy mine for camping but I do take it for my backcountry treks. All it takes is that once in a million % that can ruin your day. But I will admit it’s burdensome to pack the extra weight. A gun is definitely not for everyone, it’s what you feel comfortable with.

    • Hi Ron,

      Yeah, I have seen bears and plenty of coyotes while camping or hiking. They never want anything to do with humans. But sure, it has happened. (People getting attacked. By bears. Coyote and mountain lion attacks are almost unheard of)

      I carried my Glock on two short hikes when alone, right after getting it and right out of the gate. Felt SO uneasy with it. Ridiculously uneasy, and way over-armed. I didn’t know back then what I know now. I never feel unsafe with people on a trail. If I do, I leave, or I went to a bad area. I simply avoid areas that are more apt to have criminals. (areas close to town, typically)

      I hope you never have to use your pistol on an animal. But if you do, I sure hope it saves your life!

  • Hahhahahahaha. Kelly. You are just a funny writer. I always laugh hard when I read your articles. The RV lifestyle has really made you an interesting and passionate story teller. Nice article.

    • Hi Adventure,

      Well, thank you so much! Nice to hear some kudos, especially on this VERY touchy subject. : )

      I appreciate it and am happy to hear you have enjoyed my work!


  • I do not travel with a gun. I do own a gun, use to own and shoot several. I’m a hunter. I’ve thought of getting some sort of protection especially with my currant hybrid camper, easy access, but like you said i have nothing they would want. Not even a sexy body lol. So is rather spend my money on something else. Just saying.

    • Hi Rhonda,

      Yep, your odds are WAY higher of being killed or attacked by someone YOU KNOW. And it is almost exclusively MEN who kill women. I mean, look at the Gabby Petito case. So, so sad. I highly doubt she ever thought he was capable of killing her. (No, we don’t know yet for sure, but I mean, come on.)

      I guess bringing a man you know for ‘protection’ while camping can sometimes backfire, as it did in Gabby’s case. ESPECIALLY if they have a gun. Maybe she was shot, maybe not. They haven’t told us yet.

      There is so much backward thinking in this country.

      I am with you, Rhonda. No gun is necessary when camping.


  • I very much agree with you that most camping is very very safe but you made one BOLD STATEMENT IN BOLD LETTERING > YOU DON’T NEED A CAMPING GUN or other protectionBut in a time of panic, no way I’d have remembered how to use it, if it was loaded, how to load it, etc. . Whomever sold you the weapon should have versed you in the operation of a semi-auto v revolver and you should have went to a shooting range with both. You also said nothing about protection while parked at Wally World or a rest area which can be much less safe as a campsite. As a 72 year old man that is too old to fight and too fat to run I find your post as very misinforming of the RV gun debate. We are very fortunate to live in America, one of the last places on earth we have the right to defend ourselves with a firearm.

    • Hi Mike,

      I did go to several shooting ranges and practice. Also practiced a few times with friends in places where shooting was allowed. Even so, I would always forget how to use it and if I left it loaded or unloaded. That’s a prescription for trouble in the event I somehow felt the ‘need’ to use it.

      So I got rid of it. And yes, I have other things I can protect myself with if the need ever arose. But somehow, in my 48 years, I have not EVER needed to defend my life from another human being. I hope I never have to.

      • Bought the wrong one.
        Not saying you must have one but a gun can be handy. If I had been the one selling you one I would have suggested a double action revolver. Rather easy to use. Just load it with a round in each hole of the cylinder, close. In a modern revolver you can use it as a hammer or toss it around and it won’t go off. Need to use it? Point the end with the hole at where you want a hole squeeze the trigger (Needs a bit of pressure but not a lot.) and it makes a hole where you pointed it. Didn’t go off or have the effect you wanted? Repeat till it starts just making a click sound. Buy the right one you get 8 tries.
        I have found that most criminals are looking for a “Victim” and just thumbing off a round into the dirt between you and them makes most run. A “Good Victim” doesn’t shoot at you, there are easier ones around.

        • Hi Bob,

          Thank you for your reply and the tips!

          But my entire point is I feel less than zero need to carry a gun or other weapon. I’ve lived my entire life not carrying anything for self-defense. But then I got a gun ‘for the road.’ When I did have it, it was VERY uncomfortable and felt like massive overkill (no pun intended) and unnecessary.

          Besides, to be frank, what is there to fear and what am factually at risk of getting killed by the most? Men. (Definitely not animals)

          So I simply stay out of situations and places where I don’t feel safe around them. It has worked for me for almost 50 years.

          Personally, I’m not going to let those really bad men make me paranoid and live in unnecessary and unwanted fear.

          No weapon carrying for me is necessary.

  • I appreciated your article. Well written and thought out.
    However; I did wish to convey a newbies first rv experience (two weeks ago) that had me wondering…

    First trip out at a State Park in Virginia two days after Memorial Day. (Todd Lake)

    We were the only folk there besides the camp host, until a pickup parked two sites away.
    The middle aged man emerged naked from the showers proclaiming he was the son of God and owned the campground. The host got him settled down, but could not reach the authorities.

    At three in the morning, the man was having a very loud phone conversation , threatening someone with killing them. (there is no cell service at this campground).
    We got up and drove away sans camper.

    As a retired couple; we felt utterly defenseless.
    ( i don’t own a handgun).
    Question to you and your readers. In this situation; would you want a gun or not?

    Just curious and thanks.

    • Hi David, thank you for your story. Sorry you had to go through that. Some people suck!!!

      That said, we once had a similar experience. It was an unmanned campground in California. Drunk car camping idiot. Screaming at top of his lungs about my and my friends RVs being there. Then he mentioned a gun or shooting, and that was it. Police were called. It was tense and we were packing up to leave. Cops arrived and he was arrested for outstanding warrant. (Shocking)

      I did own a gun at the time. I don’t recall even thinking about bringing it out for ‘protection’. We were simply going to remove ourselves from the situation.

      When would I ever possibly have used one? If someone was about to kill me I suppose. It would have to be me or the other person. In my campground drama, would pulling out a gun have settled him down? Likely not. But who knows. And he wasn’t directing his anger at any of us directly. And as soon as the cops pulled in and confronted him, he turned into a teddy bear.

      I think you did the right thing, removing yourself from that situation. That’s what I would do, camping or not. Just leave. If having one around makes you feel safer, I say go for it.

      Ideally, nobody would own weapons that so easily kill others. Unfortunately, that’s not the world/country we live in.

      • Another David here.

        You are absolutely correct that the best defense is to first not get into a situation where you are in danger. Second, if you find yourself in a bad situation, leave as quickly as possible – don’t engage if possible.

        The very last resort is to meet force with force – whether personally engaging or with the aid of a weapon.

        We camp a little. We kayak, fish and drive in remote areas. We sometimes separate and meet back at a designated time/place. Only twice while kayaking have we really felt uncomfortable – once by a guy in a boat and once by an alligator. Calm heads and leaving the area was the solution both times.

        If someone can legally carry and wants to do so, by all means do so safely. Practice loading, unloading, cleaning, disassembly, etc. Firearms are serious tools. Take classes, practice and think through situations.

        If someone doesn’t wish to carry for whatever reason, don’t. This is one of the things that make the USA great and different, the freedom to choose.

        • Hi David,

          This is very well put. Very intelligently stated, David. I enjoyed your words regarding this subject. And I agree with everything you said.

          Thank you for chiming in!

    • I did? Wonderful! 😂 I think it’s a pretty darn good article about camping safety, if I do say so myself. Meeeeeeeeeeeeeee. 😛

      • It is the best article I’ve read on the subject. It offers a reasoned alternative to living in fear, and fear is the only reason to carry a firearm.

  • Kelly..All your articles are on point and refreshingly packed with knowledge. I am so new to this and just about ready to get out there and enjoy the travels while also looking for land and house. I cant thank you enough for these especially the solar panel install. I am a retired contractor and feel that the step by step and interjected tips were amazing. I hope you never stop posting them and I can continually find your pro info and experiences as brain candy to keep my insatiable mind fed..Thank you so much ..Bill

    • Hi Bill!

      You’re about to do it right, my friend! Checking out the country and looking for just the right place to settle down at the same time?! There’s no better way to experience the country and figure out where you would like to live than traveling around in an RV, if you ask me.

      I am so happy to hear you are benefitting from the website! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to send your kind note. Not too many people take that extra step, so I want you to know I very much appreciate it. 😊

      Enjoy the ride! And don’t worry…we will be here for a while. 🤩

      • Very Awesome and Thank you..Not sure if I am looking for a place to settle down but more like a base camp so my little four legged buddy has a place to chase the squirrels and mark out her stake !! But will always have the anchor up for lifes experiences..Looking forward to all your posts …You enjoy the ride as well Kelly and I forgot to mention Marshall who was the force in the solar video ..Be well friends !!

  • I just carry Bear Spray. It’s good for 30, or so, feet, is really painful and quite. No loading, permits, ETC.

  • Sane, sensible evaluation on the ‘need’ (or not) to pack a firearm. Back in mid 80’s I camped (tented) throughout the West for 2 months. It never occurred to me to have a gun. Wasn’t even on my radar. What’s the worse that could happen – someone would steal my camp stove?
    Anyway, in the meanwhile I have acquired a number of firearms (none that I could easily carry in a small holster though). And this year I bought an R-Pod and the thought did occur to me to bring something because, hey, you never know, that boogeyman might be out there in the middle of nowhere looking to pilfer my $1000 lithium battery, or my laptop and bath towels, while I was out on a hike. But the firearm would be in the trailer, so a lot of good that would do (the idea of hiking with a sidearm strikes me as ludicrous, at best).
    Really glad you put this notion of needing a firearm in the boonies to rest. I live in a state with virtually zero restrictions on owning firearms, but as far as I can tell, the only reason to carry is if you’re paranoid. In which case, you might just stay home and watch tv.

    • Lucius, I couldn’t have said it better. I carried my firearm ONCE on a walk from camp (I was a brand-new boondocker and was all by myself and was still in that ‘unsure about this’ head space) and once in bear country. Both times felt SO dangerous and weird and paranoid.

      Never again. I now know it’s unnecessary. And I simply don’t go walking in any area (or spend any time) where it does feel necessary.

      But again- to those who feel better carrying one- fine! We just have to hope they are VERY level-headed citizens. : o

    • I also live in a state (Kentucky) with nearly zero restrictions and I am not paranoid here because criminals are afraid of ARMED citizens.

  • This is probably, actually, it is the best article I have read about safety while boondocking. I am a wannabe and most like I will get my first RV this year. I am interested in going to National Parks and Public lands, therefore I will modify the RV Electrical capabilities to support my needs.
    Great article!!!!

    • Hi Luis,

      Thank you for that! We are adamant in educating people to understand that camping is very similar to being anywhere else in the USA while NOT camping. Use your common sense, street smarts, and guts to judge a campground or boondocking spot.

      Leave if it doesn’t feel right. That’s it! Simple.

      Good luck with your solar setup! Sounds like you are going to dive into that. You may also need a generator. I’ll tell ya, I’ve seen an inverter generator at Costco for under $300!!!!!! Incredible.

      Thank you for the kind comment and have fun camping!

      • Thanks for the suggestion on the generator but in my case I’ll go 100% lithium as much total Wh on batteries I can install. Underhood generator and much solar as well.

  • It only takes once an you will change your mind, if you live long enough. Something that your not takeing into account is your a solo female, an it has happened to solo females when boondocking more than once. Meth heads are moving to the sticks away from prying eyes, I can’t believe you would put out a statement like this, an try an convince people that its totally safe in the boonies, its not ever. I travel all over the country in an RV. Cops are 15 min away or more, you are your only protection.

    • Hi Bill,

      You’re right. There is nowhere that is totally safe. But do I feel safer out on a lone road away from a town or city? You bet your a** I do. Not that I stress while I am in town. I’m fine. If something happens to me, it happens. But staying safe is mostly about being aware of your surroundings, using street smarts, and listening to your gut. I simply don’t park where things don’t feel safe. (And I have only moved ONE time ’cause I didn’t like the area).

      In almost 6 years of full-time RV living, most of it done boondocking, I only ever felt like there was a possible threat once. It was a day-drunk jerk in a mostly deserted campground. Cops were called. They came. He was arrested cause he had an outstanding warrant. Drama over.

      People can carry weapons if they want to. It’s perfectly legal if done right. I choose not to. And I don’t promote that people should live in fear. It’s all about what I said earlier- gut, common sense, etc. 95-99% of people who follow this rule will live until heart disease or some other age-related illness gets them!

      I also hear SO many drawbacks to pulling a gun on someone, even if they are threatening you. They get control of it, or you shoot and they sue you and win (so insane), things of that nature. For ME, the risk is not worth even having one.

      And guess what? Mind won’t be changed- I was held up at gunpoint once in my 20’s. (And I wasn’t using my street smarts/head- that’s why it happened) And I still have the same stance.

      It’s all good. You keep carrying a gun, and I will continue not to. All is well in the world! Cheers!

    • I’ve never camped where any cop is 15 minutes away. That would be like camping at the mall just out of town.
      As for roaming ‘meth heads’ looking to steal your laptop or whatnot, well, meth labs are not out in the middle of Canyonlands, or in the national forests of Wyoming, and your ‘meth heads’ are not buying homes in Cook City, Montana so they can prey on unsuspecting RVers in Gallatin National Forest. Sounds to me like this info is from a tv show…
      I’ve never carried a sidearm while hiking. The notion is ridiculously paranoid. But hey, if it’s the untamed ‘Wild West’ you’re looking for, have at it.

      • I agree with all of this. Actually, there are a lot of folks trying to hide from the law in Montana. Still, I’ve had zero fear or incidents the times I spent up there. I guess Breaking Bad may have impacted some people’s perception of where meth gets made, maybe?

        I don’t know. But yeah, I’m guessing I have parked not TOO far from some people who were possibly using meth once or twice. (or maybe not) Maybe many of us have lived in a neighborhood with a not-too-far away house no-one knew meth was being cooked in, too.

        Doesn’t mean you were in danger or needed a gun.

        I have never found myself in a situation where I needed to defend myself. Not even when I was held up at gunpoint in Atlanta. I just let them have whatever they wanted and they took off. Had I had a gun and tried to use it, I might be dead right now.

        Oh, and the hiking thing- I replied about that to your other post. Totally agree there, too.

        My hope, again, is that people who DO feel the need to carry all the time and even camping are level-headed and sane individuals. Probably many are, but I am guessing just as often that’s not the case. Which is the scariest part of all.

  • I don’t own a gun but if I get one it will be a shotgun. I grew up with guns and know how to safely use them. Some say you don’t need a gun until you really need it and don’t have one. Calling 911 is absolutely useless, by the time help gets there it will be too late.

    • Hi Tim,

      I once took a concealed carry course. The teacher basically promoted to NOT have or carry a gun for home protection. He instead said you could have a shotgun. Just the SOUND of cocking it is pretty much enough to run any criminal off!

  • I have seen extensive Combat in the Military and have Legally Carried a Handgun for Decades. I know Gun Safety and my Firearm is always in my possession or within reach. I have defused some iffy situations just by showing that I was armed, but I have not shot at anyone since the Military. To me carrying a Firearm is just like having Life Insurance, Health Insurance, House Insurance, Auto Insurance, I hope to never have to use any but it is there if I need it. However don’t carry a Firearm without Learning and Practicing Firearm Safety and Learning how to Use it…

    • Hi PH,

      Yes, it’s definitely one thing to carry and KNOW how to use it. It’s another to be so casual about it it becomes a danger to self. That was me. I wasn’t comfortable having it in my RV, not to mention carrying it. And I didn’t practice enough for it to get any more comfortable in my hands.

      And felt zero need for it so I sold mine.

      Since you carry, glad you are well trained and versed in possessing a firearm.

      Camp on!

  • Hi Kelley:
    I am glad I found this site and your article.
    To be upfront, I am a white male. Still, your article is relevant to people other than females. I have the same chances of being victimized as anyone. I too have been stalked and followed home.
    It’s refreshing to finally find an article that brings out the reality that one doesn’t ‘need’ to pack a gun all the time. There is so much marketing out there for the advocacy of gun need and ownership. Why not, it’s a multi-billion dollar business!
    I’m a traveling service technician(not a camping scenario). I work in the infamous city of ‘Chicago’ most days.
    People ask me all the time, “ What do you carry?”
    I don’t and never will- it’s not necessary. I never felt that I ever needed one. I even go into the projects at times. Pish-posh.
    Fear is not my MO. I talk to people and treat them as human beings, not suspicious characters.
    I believe if you want a gun- so be it. I do own guns and train my kids how to use them properly. It is a big responsibility to have to shoulder. One has to remember the consequences and legal ramifications if you use it and if something doesn’t go quiet as smoothly as it does in the movies. i.e. If you miss- that bullet winds up somewhere; could be a camper next to you.
    Then again, how much fun are you really having getting all your tactical gear together each trip to go out and roast a marshmallow over a campfire?
    Relax, be safe, be smart, and HAVE FUN out there.

    • Hey Billy,

      Thank you for your input!! Nice to hear a man saying that carrying a gun is not necessary. It REALLY isn’t. How does that even go well? I mean, if someone else has a gun, what, you pull YOURS out and then you have a standoff??? How is that going to end well for you? Probably in the worst way. (I know, gun holders/carriers are going to reply to this informing me how they know how to use one, practice all the time, etc etc etc.)

      But for most, the general population, it won’t end well. I had a gun for the first few years. It made me uncomfortable. I practiced every now and then with friends, but by the next time I got it out, I DID NOT remember how to use it. It wasn’t like riding a bike.

      So, that’s dangerous. I am guessing most people are the same way. If you don’t love having them and love shooting them and do it regularly, you aren’t going to do well with it if you’ve got crazy adrenaline shooting through your veins.

      And you’re completely right, this article applies to EVERYONE. Anyone can become a victim. Very true. Just women are so much more vulnerable and targeted, I decided to lean a little more to women for my tone.

      Also correct that being fearful is not a good way to be. It’s mostly media that teach us to fear. I choose not to follow that lame storyline. Nope! Chances of one needing a gun (especially when using gut instincts and common sense) EVER are slim to none.

      And yeah, getting tactical gear loaded up onto the body to go roast marshmallows sounds like stress to me, lol!

      Thanks again for commenting with common sense type tips!

  • Hi Kelley, thank you so much for this article (and your others!). This one is very helpful. Half my friends and family say I need a gun (I will be a solo female traveler) and the other half think a gun is crazy. Having lived alone for 14 years in an apartment I think I’m pretty good at being aware, I’ve been followed home, etc. (I live in a rich/entitled area where drivers get aggressive if you drive the speed limit) but have learned to just “keep driving” so they don’t know where I live. As for safety, I carry a very loud noise maker/alarm and pepper spray on my keychain. I just ordered a loud whistle. I carry a stun gun when I’m feeling particularly vulnerable, like walking around anywhere at night. I also wear a necklace “panic button” (invisawear) and wear an apple watch (double click for 911). For my new lifestyle I will carry a Garmin InReach satellite phone, bear spray (for an actual bear), leatherman, flashlight and phone in addition to the pepper spray and stun gun. The stun gun I like has a strap that fits around your wrist and if someone pulls it away from you, it pulls out the pin and disables it.

    • WOW!! Well lordie, I don’t think you’re EVER going to be a victim with that kind of arsenal and awareness!! Yeah, seems half the ‘battle’ is just being aware of your surroundings. In my opinion, you’re plenty protected without having a gun. Stay out of bad areas, use your women’s intuition and general street smarts and you’ll likely never have to use any of your protections.

      Honestly, living in an RV or camping for a weekend is no different from living in a house. The world doesn’t suddenly change. It’s still the same. You are simply in a different area. And if you’re boondocking, remotely, that’s about the least hostile type of environment I have experienced!

      Have fun out there, and don’t worry about needing a gun. Sounds like you aren’t.


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