Sep 29, 2009 at 7:11 pm #1239757
Greg FosterBPL Member
I know theft is a common problem at trailheads, but what about out on popular backpacking trails?
I'll be doing a short overnight trip this weekend. Leaving my gear at my campsite halfway up the mountian and heading for the peak with the bare essentials seems pretty tempting. I'm fairly new to this backpacking thing, and now that I have a bunch of unnecessarily expensive gear (darn you BPL =) I'm really hesitant to leave gear behind like I used to do with my cheap car camping junk.
Do you guys leave your gear behind while you climb peaks? Do you think there is any reason to be concerned?Sep 29, 2009 at 8:24 pm #1531622
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
I admit we usually cache the stuff a short distance away.
CheersSep 29, 2009 at 8:33 pm #1531624
@antigLocale: Pacific Northwest
Where are you hiking? I'll be there.Sep 29, 2009 at 8:36 pm #1531626
@jasonklassLocale: Parker, CO
You pose a GREAT question that I've thought about a lot. The conclusion I've come to is that most backpackers are cool and you don't have to worry too much about it. I feel safer leaving my campsite "unlocked" in the woods than my car in the Target parking lot. But, on the off chance, what I do is to make sure that when I do a dayhike from base camp, I always bring the essentials: wallet, car key, etc. I can buy another tent or sleeping bag but I would be SOL if someone took my wallet and keys. Those are my main concerns. I'm curious to hear other people's concerns/strategies.Sep 29, 2009 at 9:01 pm #1531639
I share your same concerns, and have asked the question to fellow backpackers myself. The general consensus seems to be, your gear will be fine, but of course there is the still the unlikely chance someone could take your stuff.
I set up a base camp and did some day hikes for the first time a couple weeks ago. My brand new WM ultra lite was on my mind the whole time, I considered taking the extra weight just to keep my mind at ease but in the end decided to leave it.
From my experience, when I am out on the trail most of the people I run into are polite and kind and don't seem like the type of people to rob a vacant tent.Sep 29, 2009 at 10:20 pm #1531649
@carazLocale: bay area
I think of theft more in leaving a rack at a climb than a bag at a campsite. The camper people have to know that taking your gear would potentially be very dangerous if, say, you were to be caught out without it. I feel though in some areas theft would be a greater concern, places close to the border or when camping in the southwest in reservation lands are where I imagine my belongings being the least safe.Sep 29, 2009 at 10:39 pm #1531652
Joe ClementBPL Member
I leave my stuff, and have never given it a second thought. The best people you can usually meet are on trails. Of course, I don't lock my house either.Sep 29, 2009 at 11:12 pm #1531657
i have a camo bivy and in no time i can put my stuff im not bringing in it and hide it all in a good bush.
i usualy do this, in a realy crowded camp we left our stuff all day when we climbed half dome and nothing happened to it.Sep 30, 2009 at 12:12 am #1531668
Denis HazlewoodBPL Member
@redleaderLocale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
I've been leaving my camp for day hikes for more than forty years and have never had anything disturbed. I always clean up my camp and put everything except my "kitchen" in my tent, with the fly zipped.
My car was burgled once, at Bayside Campground (Lake Tahoe) in 1989. Oh, and a Golden Manteled Ground Squirrel chewed his way into my Evolution 2P, at Lake Aloha, three weeks ago.Sep 30, 2009 at 12:36 am #1531672
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
I leave my stuff in my shelter and I've never had anything stolen. And I do it without worrying 90% of the time. Mainly because most of my camps are a little farther afield and what other hikers are around are also experienced and "cool". But I've heard of people having things stolen, the one location that I can remember being Trail Camp which is the crowded high camp on Mount Whitney. I'm a little worried at sites like that where a wider spectrum of humanity visits.Sep 30, 2009 at 7:25 am #1531721
Steve RobinsonBPL Member
The only thing we've had taken was a water filter that we left adjacent to the creek running along our camp rather than stowing it in our campsite. Usually we zip everything up in the tent and haven't had any problems otherwise. Do feel better when we've gone in a ways before setting up camp and leaving stuff.Sep 30, 2009 at 7:36 am #1531724
My experience (~ 30 years)
Trailhead car break in – 2
Gear stolen at climbing area – 1
Backcountry camp – 0
Car camp – 0Sep 30, 2009 at 7:48 am #1531727
Dean F.BPL Member
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
I would probably worry if my base-camp was in a high-use area full of tourists (as opposed to backpackers- if you catch my drift). I've rarely met a backpacker with whom I didn't feel a certain camaraderie and wouldn't trust. Your average tourist, on the other hand…
In a high-use area I guess I would pack it all up and cache it if I didn't want to carry it, but truth is I don't generally do base-camp style camping. If I'm in one of my more typically remote areas then anyone who comes along is highly likely to be just as fanatical as I am, and I wouldn't worry.Sep 30, 2009 at 8:43 am #1531749
Richard LyonBPL Member
@richardglyonLocale: Bridger Mountains
It's never happened in 35+ years, and I'm a frequent base camp backpacker. I have worried about it when in high-use areas. If terrain and regulations permit it, I try to set camp as far off the trail as I can. I heard that Yellowstone Park had a rash of burglaries this past summer. There you are required to camp in established sites so a thief knows just where to go. It's true that nearly all backpackers are trustworthy (especially toward their own breed) but it only takes one rogue.Sep 30, 2009 at 10:06 am #1531771
Elliott WolinBPL Member
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Many years ago two friends of mine left a backcountry camp (in an isolated area of Washington state) to climb a peak, and upon return found everything of value missing: tent, sleeping bags, etc. Fortunately they came down relatively early so they were able to walk out. The theives never considered their theft might have put my friends lives in danger.
I've heard of many trailside car breakins, and indeed this is the norm at a number of parking areas in Washington state (or at least it used to be…I moved away many years ago).
Personally, I've never lost anything.Sep 30, 2009 at 10:19 am #1531775
Thomas BurnsBPL Member
@nerdboy52Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
How interesting it is that most of the trail thefts reported seem to occur at climbing base camps. I've never heard of a theft from a trail campsite in Ohio.
However, we get plenty of trail-side parking-lot break-ins. The smash-window-and-grab approach even has a name: "treasure hunting."
The problem has gotten so acute that rangers at the Shawnee State Forest, the most remote BPing trail in Ohio, now recommend that BPers park at the ranger station and hike the mile or so to the main trailhead.
At least around here, I'd worry more about my car than my camp.
StargazerSep 30, 2009 at 11:19 am #1531795
Stephen BarberBPL Member
Like most others here, I've had no negative experiences with theft while on the trail. Car break-ins are much more of a problem!Sep 30, 2009 at 11:36 am #1531800
Sarah KirkconnellBPL Member
@sarbarLocale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
I don't leave behind my keys, cell phone, wallet, camera and other small items of value (such as my prescription meds). Everything else I can replace.
I also don't leave anything of remote value in my vehicles. I carry my insurance card as well as my registration. I am paranoid for good reason due to the high level of car bashing.Sep 30, 2009 at 11:56 am #1531809
Thomas BurnsBPL Member
@nerdboy52Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
I've heard of one BPer who leaves his car doors unlocked with the glove box open and literally nothing of value in the car. A sign reads something like: "The door is unlocked. There's nothing in the car. Please feel free to go ahead and check."
At least, nobody's ever smashed his window!
StargazerSep 30, 2009 at 11:59 am #1531810
I've been hiking over 20 years and I've never had a thing stolen. I've been on popular routes where a dayhiker could have passed my camp I've broken it down and stashed it – especially if it was a park and I had a permit for the next night. Otherwise, you could lose your site.
As mentioned – most people out there are fine. They don't want to carry their own stuff – let alone yours. I wouldn't leave a GPS, cell phone, wallet, keys, etc. in my tent unatended for that long though.Sep 30, 2009 at 12:23 pm #1531826
@rosierabbitLocale: Pacific Northwest
I worry about theft, too, and take everything with me on the day trip except the tent, bag, and insulation (now a pricey Neoair). I also usually leave the Ursack foodbag tied up a few hundred feet away from the campsite.
First problem I ever had was a few months ago on the PCT north of Stevens Pass – someone had untied the Ursack, gone through it, took only the chocolate pudding, and then did a really lousy job tying the Ursack back to the base of the tree. In this particular case, we had taken down the campsite and had actually forgotten the Ursack (long story) and came back for it the next morning. The plentiful huckleberries kept us alive. I was more upset about the lousy re-tying job than the theft.
Moral of the story – your down bag is probably safe, but by golly, hang onto your chocolate!Sep 30, 2009 at 12:40 pm #1531834
@lori999Locale: Central Valley
I don't tend to worry unless I'm staying in a high traffic area where there is potential of dayhikers who are not "hikers", ie tourists. Hikers are generally good folks who recognize they are endangering a backpacker's life by walking off with gear; people who drive up to Yosemite to sightsee aren't necessarily in the same category, and I've heard of tents being taken from the campground in Little Yosemite Valley (this is the most impacted camping other than car campgrounds, being on the way to Half Dome, the mist trail being the most hiked trail in the park). I am proportionally less concerned the further I get into the backcountry.
In the park, I have broken down the hammock and quilts and stashed them in a friend's tent, simply because of the attention an unusual shelter draws – don't want someone to notice the underquilt is down and easily fits into a daypack.
In car campgrounds in national parks, I'll put the hammock/tarp in the car, not because of theft but because rangers tend to get up in arms due to me hanging it "not in an approved tent site." Doesn't matter that I thoughtfully left the flat spot for my friends with the tent, or that I'm tied off to boulders and trees and not impacting the ground in any way.Sep 30, 2009 at 12:57 pm #1531844
Tad EnglundBPL Member
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
Kathleen- you might be mistaken- someone might have thought you were leaving a food cache for anyone passing by. They were being nice by leaving everything else for the next hikers coming by?
Just a thought.Sep 30, 2009 at 1:58 pm #1531865
@rosierabbitLocale: Pacific Northwest
It was obviously not a trail angel supply spot. I had the bag well-hidden and way away from the trail.
A reasonable reaction might have been it was an abandoned or forgotten food bag (rightfully so!), and they just went through it, took what they wanted, and didn't want to bother packing out the whole bag. I was rather insulted they bypassed the Mongolian Beef dinner I had made from a recipe posted here on BPL.
But, gosh darn it, they could have tied the Ursack back up instead of leaving the tie just draped around the tree! The bear would have made a big mess of it if he'd gotten there before we did.Sep 30, 2009 at 2:20 pm #1531870
George MatthewsBPL Member
A thought about leaving your tent unattended if you are in bear country…
On a recent trip, a black bear checked out my tent while I was inside it quietly lying down on my back. I saw the bear's silhouette on the vestibule of my tarptent. The bear ran away when I made noise turning around.
I reported this a few days later at the Great Smoky Mountains N.P. Backcountry Office. A ranger said a bear had trashed two tents at the same campsite recently.
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