Security Tips For Campers

Visiting the great outdoors is a chance to rest and relax, to put your worries on hold and recharge. Except that’s not always the case.

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While camping may be an escape from a lot of things, it’s not an escape from security concerns. It’s just a time when security concerns change — radically. And if you want to be safe, you need to be prepared. To keep you and yours secure on your next nature adventure, try the following tips:

Rent A Satellite Phone

Everyone knows that satellite phones are a must if you’re camping out somewhere desolate and dangerous like Death Valley. But there are plenty of cell phone dead zones in places like the tame old Smoky Mountains. You’ll need a phone, stat, if someone in your party gets injured, if you’re menaced by a bear, or god forbid, another human. You can rent an iridium satellite phone for as little as $8 a day, plus data.   

Keep Valuables Away

BassPro says that campground security strengths vary depending on the budget of the campground in question. And we can all imagine the annual budget of most park campgrounds. The best you can do? Lock all your valuables in your car: that means credit cards, watches, cell phones, and anything else you wouldn’t want to lose.

Don’t Display Expensive Gear

Got a nice new Yeti cooler you want to drag along with you into the great outdoors? Don’t park it in front of your tent and wander away. Same with high-end hiking gear: stow away your brand-new backpacks, that rented satellite phone, and even your expensive outdoor clothing. Or else when you walk off for that morning hike, you may return to find that your shiny new gear has walked off, as well.

Be Cautious Of Fellow Campers

Showing off expensive gear also marks you as the type of person who can afford expensive gear, and out in the wilderness, you’re at the mercy of the elements — and one of the elements is your fellow man. A branch to the back of the head is all it takes to leave you gearless, cashless, phone-less, and in some serious trouble several miles from civilization. Always be cordial, but also be wary.

Bring A Camping Safe

You can buy a lightweight camping safe like this one for a decent price, and you’ll need it: you can slip your wallet in back pocket while you hike to that waterfall, but you can’t take several clattering bottles of prescription drugs with you.

When To Lock It Up

Be sure to bring a tent lock, but to use at the right time. And that time is not, counterintuitively, when you’re out of the tent. SimpliSafe notes that the only thing separating your valuables from the outside is a thin piece of canvas. If people see a lock, it’s a red flag that you’re keeping something valuable inside, and they might have no compunction to ruin your tent to get to it. Instead, put the lock on when you’re sleeping inside. If anyone makes an attempt to invade your home away from home, they’ll get a nasty surprise and flee.

The Illusion Of Companionship

If you’re camping alone, it helps to bring a canine friend — hopefully a large, German Shepherd type. If you can’t get your mitts on a scary-but-sweet hound (the barkier the better) take other precautions. Make it look like you’re camping for two. Bring a two-man tent inside of a tiny solo deal; SimpliSafe recommends setting out two camp chairs instead of one (make sure you stow those safely in your car — those are prime candidates to go on a hike of their own and never return). And remember: the need for a satellite phone skyrockets when you’re without a hiking buddy to run for help.

Have Fun And Be Safe

By and large, camping is a safe activity. It’s fun, it’s invigorating, and it gets you out of the rat race of the modern world for a few days. But that doesn’t mean you can throw caution  to the wind like confetti. Take some simple precautions to assure that you don’t come back without your gear — or worse, with some kind of bodily harm. Get a satellite phone, get a safe, get a buddy, and do your best to exercise precautions when it comes to your fellow campers. Happy — and safe — trails.

Elizabeth Broadbent

Elizabeth Broadbent

Elizabeth Broadbent lives in a medium-sized city in the South with her three children, three dogs, and patient husband. She works as a staff writer for Scary Mommy, and her writing has been featured in The Washington Post and on Time.com.

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