Can You Carry A Gun While Camping? Know The Truth

Can you carry a gun while camping? That’s a reasonable question, given that you might be attacked by a bear or wild dog. However, you’re not inside of your home and you may not be in the same state that licensed you to carry a gun.

That’s why there is no simple yes or no answer to the question, “Can I carry a gun while camping?”

Let's Start Can You Carry a Gun While Camping

Can I Carry a Concealed Gun While Camping?

01. Can I Carry a Concealed Gun While Camping?

The same rules regarding conceal carry apply whether you’re in the grocery store or walking through a field. If you need a conceal carry permit (CCP) carry the gun in that state, you’ll need it to carry it while camping in that state, even if you’re not a resident.

On the other hand, local laws apply. Florida makes it legal to open carry and conceal carry guns, even if your own state won’t permit open carry.

02. Can I Open Carry a Gun While Camping?

Does the county or state you’re in allow open carry like Florida does? If so, the answer may be yes. However, some jurisdictions require you to have a permit and/or handgun license to open carry a gun.

In these cases, you can’t open carry unless you have the necessary permit. And just because you have a handgun license in your state doesn’t mean it will be valid in the state that you’re visiting. 

Know if your handgun license is transferrable before you open carry a pistol.

03. What Are the Rules Regarding Private Property?

What Are the Rules Regarding Private Property?

Are you camping on property that you own? Then gun control laws rarely apply. For example, many states that prohibit open carry of guns will not apply those laws when the gun owner is openly carrying on their own property.

Furthermore, you don’t have to have a permit to openly hold or conceal a gun when you’re in a boat or motor vehicle you own in most jurisdictions.

There are exceptions, of course. You are not allowed to wield the weapon is drunk or stoned.

After all, that makes you a danger to yourself and others. But if you’re on private property, you can take your 12 year old shooting as long as the activity doesn’t put others at risk.

04. Can I Openly Carry a Shotgun while Camping?

Can I Openly Carry a Shotgun while Camping?

Are you hunting? Then you don’t need a conceal carry permit or open carry license to openly carry the gun. Are you traveling to or from the legal hunting activity or a sporting activity where that type of gun is commonly used?

Then you don’t need a license or permit to carry the gun. This is why you probably don’t need a license or permit to carry a shotgun in the back of your pickup truck if you’re going to the hunting lodge or headed to the shooting range.

Note that this is independent of the rules regarding hunting licenses. And you can be arrested for illegal hunting, even if carrying the gun itself is legal.

05. What Happens If You Don’t Meet the Definition of “Traveling” with the Gun?

What Happens If You Don’t Meet the Definition of “Traveling” with the Gun? There are states where you aren’t allowed to possess certain guns or carry more than a certain number of rounds.

People passing through these states have been arrested when they were pulled over and found to be carrying these guns, even if they had permission to legally own those guns in their own state.

You shouldn’t stop while passing

Unfortunately, that means you shouldn’t stop while passing through that state on your way to your destination. It certainly means that you shouldn’t camp in that state.

What is the penalty for not meeting the definition for traveling with a gun? In Texas, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.

In many other states, it is a felony.

06. Can I Carry the Gun While Traveling in My RV or Camper?

Can I Carry the Gun While Traveling in My RV or Camper?

Each state has its own rules regarding gun storage. Are you passing through a state that requires guns to be stored unloaded in a certain type of gun case?

If so, you can get into trouble if they find the gun sitting in a gun rack or holster hanging in the closet.

07. Do I Have to Secure the Gun If I’m Staying in a Tent?

It may be wise to keep a loaded firearm handy while you’re camping. Unfortunately, many states apply the same gun laws regarding a gun in your home to your tent or RV once it is configured for camping.

In these situations, 

you’re not allowed to store a loaded gun in the RV or pop-up camper any more than you could in your cabin or lake house.

08. Can I Carry a Gun While Backpacking?

Can I Carry a Gun While Backpacking?

In general, you can carry the gun in a hip holster while camping, though you should research local laws before you assume you can do so. If the gun is concealed, then the same rules regarding conceal carry apply to the gun in your hidden pocket or your backpack.

Think of it this way: the rules that apply to a gun in a purse apply to a gun in a backpack. And these rules will apply until you set up your tent.

Once the tent is up, the rules regarding storage and use of guns in a dwelling will apply.

09. Can You Carry a Gun When You’re Camping in a State or National Park?

Federal laws preempt state laws. And in a federal national park, federal laws apply regardless of state laws regarding gun ownership. It is almost always illegal to take a gun into a national park without a special license or permit.

You can even run into trouble traveling or passing through the park to another destination. Furthermore, legal hunting in these parks is very limited.

You can ask the local sheriff or fish and wildlife service. This allows you learn what calibers or types of guns aren’t allowed.

10. What Can I Carry for Self Defense When I’m Not Allowed to Carry a Gun?

Bear spray, pepper spray, and similar non-lethal deterrents are always legal to carry in state and national parks. Bear spray canisters are unwieldy, so it may be better to carry a slim pepper spray container that can clip to your belt or key ring.


It is very common to see people openly carrying handguns and shotguns while in the back country. However, you should learn about the gun laws of the places you’re going to visit and pass through before you assume you can carry the gun while camping.

Frank Abraham

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