Imagine driving down a quiet forest road and discovering a gorgeous spot to pull your truck in and spend the night. Maybe you will be near a creek or river, and can hear the water and watch the animals move through the trees. There’s just one thing, you don’t have any cell phone service. How can you be sure to camp safely in the woods away from campgrounds and other people? (Link to the YouTube video companion to this post is at the bottom of the page)
Personal safety while truck camping is a consideration for just about everyone. And there are as many ideas about how to stay safe as there are truck campers; each person has their own idea of what constitutes being safe.
There are several things to consider:
- How to secure cap from intruders while you are sleeping
- How to deter an intruder
- Animals also pose a danger, how to deter them
In a previous video I discussed how I pick a safer camping spot. (watch it here) and one way to lock your cap to keep intruders out of your cap while you are sleeping which I touch on briefly in this video as well.
Here I want to discuss a few options for deterring intruders.
Vehicle Alarm – Many trucks now have a built-in alarm button that you can press. It makes a big noise and lights. If you hear someone outside your truck or trying to get in, this is the first thing to do. It lets the potential intruder know they aren’t sneaking up on anyone.
Barking Dog alarm – if you don’t travel with a dog, this alarm is a fantastic way to make an intruder think you do have a dog. You set it up facing your window hatch If the alarm registers movement, as in someone tries to pull open the hatch, a ferocious sounding bark goes off. I like this one best if you roll in late to some place that you won’t stay at long, because if anyone is hanging out at a camp area, they are going to notice that you do not have a dog. https://amzn.to/3KTCCjD
Bear Spray or Pepper Spray– this is a very affordable and easy to find option for deterring intruders. A big pro to this deterrent is that many of you may already have pepper spray on hand. There are some things to consider when using a spray deterrent, however. The biggest consideration is the possibility of blow back which means that the spray blows towards you due to wind direction or using the spray in an enclosed area, like your truck cap. If you get caught by your own deterrent, you could also be incapacitated. Sprays absolutely should be tested and practiced so that you can determine the spray pattern and distance of the stream. Bear spray will spray a much greater distance than the small pocket-sized pepper spray but you are not trying to deter a bear (hopefully) so if all you have is the pocket-sized pepper spray, use it. You should test your spray regularly, at least every six months. I had some pepper spray that wasn’t that old, or so I thought, yet it had no propellent in it and depressing the button made no effect. It would have been more effective to waive a serrano pepper around. So, in summary, bear spray or pepper spray is a good deterrent to intruders, but you must practice and know how your spray will work. Think about it, you won’t be standing next to a tree and spraying, most likely you’ll be inside your cap. https://amzn.to/3D0vuAj is the one I bought. I like it so much I gave one to my daughter when she lived in an apartment building, just for extra safety.
Zap Cane or Cattle Prod – I received a Zap Cane (thanks, Mom!) and have been pretty happy with it, though I have never needed to use it in an emergency. The literature says it gives a million-volt zap. I was quite doubtful of this claim, however, so I tested it with my multimeter. I have no idea whether it delivers a million volts. I can say that it literally fried my multimeter. After trying a new battery and new fuses to no avail, I was informed that really one should test such items on a friend. So, if any of you want to be my friend, please let me know. Ha ha! This is my preferred deterrent. However, the Zap Cane is not without its challenges, as a few reviews on Amazon will show. I have a challenge with the battery charging; sometimes it will hold the charge well and other times the charge lasts just overnight. I called the company and left a message but never heard back from them. Since it was given to me some time after its purchase, I am outside the warranty. Still, this cane’s zap light and noise is quite alarming and a good deterrent. See my review on YouTube here https://youtu.be/X15yrw0n5Dc and see the Amazon reviews here https://amzn.to/3Qmn4pK
Fire arm – this is a level of protection that is not to be taken lightly. There are strong opinions on both sides and for good reason. Statistically, your fire arm is more likely to hurt or kill someone you know and love. That is just science and you can argue all you want with it but the numbers stand true. Then there is the fact that one must practice using a fire arm in a high stress situation to be able to reliably use it. There are classes on this kind of training. And then there is the fact that you can very likely be investigated for shooting, even if you are protecting yourself, and you may even face a civil suit from the intruder or their family. You will have to pay for a lawyer and that is just a big mess, in my opinion. With that said, yes, I do carry a fire arm, a couple of them actually, stashed in different places. I have taken classes and practice with them. And I’ll tell you and the whole world, using a gun is the absolute last resort and will be used only if I feel seriously threatened.
Now let me mention something that I think is the biggest aspect of staying safe yet have not heard anyone mention it. Sobriety. I see many people getting pretty drunk while out camping. From the trash left at hunter’s camps in the forest that I’ve come across, it is apparent that high alcohol consumption is common in the woods. Staying sober lets you make good decisions, listen to your gut feelings, and maybe even sleep lightly enough to hear if something is amiss outside. If personal safety is a concern, make sure you are able to make good decisions and take care of yourself.
Alrighty, those are some ways to stay safe out there. Get out, make good decisions, and enjoy our beautiful lands! Wish You Were Here!