Perhaps you’ve made the decision to carry a firearm for your hike. Maybe you want to ensure an effective means of self-defense, or maybe you want to be ready for an impromptu hunt once you get to camp or the morning after. Either way, you will need a pack that can easily accommodate a firearm and I just happen to have two in mind that work very well for the task — The Commander + Pack and Commander X Pack from Alps OutdoorZ.
The Commander + Pack
Once you decide to take a gun on your journey it’s not a bad idea to check out hunting packs as your first option. Hunting packs are built with special accommodations for your favorite shootin’ iron and often make hauling one more comfortable to boot. The Commander + Pack rig from ALPS Outdoors is featured on their hunting line and comes in the Briar color. Its generous 5,250 cubic inch main compartment grants enough room for all gear as well as a compact rifle. The external frame is the ultimate in lashing options and is the most rugged system on the market, with the whole pack weighing just over 7-pounds.
This specialized hunting pack comes with a meat hauler that can be removed if hunting isn’t your primary purpose. The waist belt on this pack also lends the most utility for the pistol shooter. This area includes loops to clip a holster to for either a right or left handed shooter, or a cross draw if that’s your preference. The incorporated pockets are also large enough for a compact pistol like a Ruger LCP, Taurus Spectrum or similar sized pocket pistol. In addition to the waist belt, the depth of the main compartment can easily accommodate a rifle that employs a takedown design.
If external racks aren’t your bag, the Commander X system quickly becomes the go-to for the hiker who doesn’t intend to enter the deep woods unarmed. The massive 6,000 cubic inch main compartment, available in coyote brown, is supported by an attached polymer weight dispersion system. The Commander X weighs in at just over 5-pounds. With this amount of internal storage, the Commander X can fit many carbine rifles right between the rack and bag.
The star on this pack system, however, is the included gun hauler that can hold a full-sized rifle or even a bow. The rear pocket is made of an elastic material and is complete with a locking buckle to hold even the largest of pistols. I’ve had mine packed on the trail with a Desert Eagle L5 with a Bushnell Red Dot. For smaller pistols the Commander X also has the same waist belt pockets as the original Commander should you wish to carry something small and light-weight in lieu of a thunderous hand cannon.
Deciding to carry a gun on trail when hiking comes with an array of concerns and responsibilities. Remember, even though it’s not on your hip a gun in a bag is still considered concealed carry in most jurisdictions. Be sure to follow all federal, state and local laws as they pertain to carrying a gun. Contacting the county sheriff where you intend to hike will likely save you a legal headache.
Local law enforcement will also be able to point you in the right direction for any permitting that might be required. I also recommend a call to the local game warden, as they can tell you what is in season as well as if any dangerous predators have been spotted. Making the right calls and the right gear choices beforehand will go a long way in ensuring that you have a successful, comfortable hike!