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Carry with Internal Frame Backpack

4085 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  ranger45
Summer is again upon us, and I'll be heading to the mountains with my kids. Does anyone have suggestions for carrying a pistol with a large internal-frame backpack? I'd like to carry my pistol in a robust, secure way while hiking, with it quickly accessible if needed. Here's some of the issues I hit last summer:

  • IWB or OWB (reg side holster carry): Internal frame packs have large belts, so carrying IWB or OWB is out. The belt takes most of the weight and needs to be tight against my body. Smashing the gun between the pack belt and my body is not a good thing.[/*]
  • Shoulder Carry: The shoulder straps of the backpack get in the way. Same problems as OWB.[/*]
  • Pack Belt Carry: I've tried strapping the holster to the thick, padded pack belt itself. This actually held it very securely last summer, but the gun hits the dirt every time I drop the pack. It got the gun really dirty and I started moving it to a different location when we'd stop so it stayed clean. It's a pain (and not really safe) to move the gun every time we take a break so I can take the pack off and put it on the ground.[/*]

Any bright ideas? Or even just ideas? :)
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I have tinkered with this a bit. I use an external frame but maybe the information will be useful to you. I molded a kydex mounting bracket that screws on my frame (Kydex is stupid easy to mold). I hand made a crappy bag for the side of my pack into which my holster projects. It now rides upside down on the frame in a little bag attached to the pack body that has a weak elastic seal about 7 inches from the bottom of my pack. High enough to keep it out of the dirt. To access it I reach straight back and slip my hand inside the crappy bag I made, the handle of my pistol is right there I simply pull it straight back toward me. It is a Little difficult to place it back in the holster as the elastic flap gets in the way (I wish I were a better seamster). The bag does a fair job of keeping it from getting banged up when I walk through brush or fall on my ***.

I have also made a rig to hold a Marlin 1894 and an AR15 carbine too but have yet to fashion an enclosure for them for I lack the sewing skill.
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If your bag has MOLLE style loops on the exterior, you could probably find a nylon holster at military supply stores. This is just a thought, but without knowing what your pack looks like, it's hard to provide much info. Could you post a picture of your bag (manufacturer's web site, etc) so we can see it? I was thinking a holster that was something like this:

Or you could always use a thigh (leg) holster like as SERPA:

Or something more generic:
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I would suggest a drop leg holster, No muss No fuss simple and good for car carry too.
re: MOLLE style loops - Yes, my backpack has these, two on each side. That's an excellent idea because it would keep it up higher on the pack. I don't have a picture of my backpack, and since it is 15 years old, I wouldn't be able to find a picture. It's stored away right now. But I know exactly what you are talking about, and it would work great.

re: leg holster - I considered this; I really like the idea because it keeps the firearm on ME all the time, where it should be. Does anyone use these regularly when hiking? Are they comfortable? Do they get in the way of pockets? They are a bit nerdy -- if I was military, it would look great, but as a hiker I'd get weird looks out of people. Here comes the gun nut up the trail! Just like the scout in every troop that had a bunch of big knives on every campout (no offense anyone :)). No big if I don't know them, but when hiking with friends or ward/neighborhood members, it certainly makes a statement. So I always turned away from them. Anyone feel the same, or am I just self conscious? Perhaps I'll give it another look.

Thanks for the ideas. I'm going to check them both out at the store.
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The only person I know who has a drop leg holster is Sgt. Jensen. You could always PM him and ask.
Thigh or chest carry would be my suggestions. They both look very "military", unfortunately, but that shouldn't be surprising, since you're trying to solve the same problem that soldiers have -- how to carry a quickly-accessible gun when you're loaded down with gear.

I think a thigh rig would be less than ideal for hiking in rough country, though. It seems like the gun would snag all the time, and adding a couple of pounds to the part of your body that has to move the most (your legs) seems like a bad idea. So I'd try to find some way to rig for chest carry. You could use a bandoleer-type harness, or a purpose-build chest holster, but maybe you could find some way to attach a holster to your backpack's shoulder strap positioned chest at chest height, probably weak side. That would mean the gun doesn't stay on your body, but it wouldn't get in the way when you put on or take off your pack.

This rig looks like an interesting option. It's a "do-everything" holster that has a bunch of different accessories designed to allow all sorts of carry, including a kit specifically for backpacking.
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I carry with my IWB attached to the chest belt of my pack. Pretty easy to access.
Thigh rigs arent too bad Ive never had a problem with mine getting snagged. youre leg does get a bit sweaty though
6av457 said:
Thigh rigs arent too bad Ive never had a problem with mine getting snagged. youre leg does get a bit sweaty though
I'd guess that depends what kind of hiking you do. Wouldn't be bad on trails, but if you're doing a lot of bushwhacking... I like to go places that are pretty isolated, part of the reason I have an internal-frame pack is because it's narrower and gets snagged less than an external frame.
When I made my kydex fob and bag setup I tried the on the chest thing. It worked well enough but I didn't care for it. I either had to have a separate rig to carry it or rig it to my pack straps; the former was uncomfortable as the straps would bind and dig in where they went under the pack straps the second was unwieldy when I was shouldering or dropping the pack as well as being hard to draw with my pack off. I would not carry in a drop holster; that is if I liked my gun and my foot. My thigh is constantly rubbing against stuff as I squeeze, slide, and shimmy through obstacles. The whole 4 lbs of iron strapped to your leg as pointed out by swillden seems burdensome.

I have been thinking of making a setup for my day pack (no frame) to do the same thing. I think I could make a kydex stiffener sewn or sewn and glued to the pack fabric with attachment points for my holster. May not be as rigid and repeatable as the on the frame holster fob I made but I believe it should do the job.

If I ever get home I will post pics. It really was easier than it sounds.
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This is the pack I use when I strap the gun to my chest strap, along with the holster:
http://www.whitebuffalooutdoors.com/bac ... rdbull.php

This is the holster:

And since I am working at home today, I strapped on my hunting/hiking backpack and the holstered weapon, just so you could see how I use it.

But honestly, I actually carry a Winchester Model 94 chambered for .44 Magnum most of the time when I'm in the backcountry, unless I'm hunting. The .45 would be used for short hikes or single overnighters.

You could also carry it this way:
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I've been thinking about the same thing and I'm probably going to buy one of these and strap it on my hip strap it has a nice big belt loop that would probably fit around it. and it was originally designed for search and rescue people by a "high-angle mountain rescue operation leader". Has anyone ever used one?
If you're wearing long pants (which I tend to do while in the outdoors), you can use an ankle rig. I've carried my G27 in a Fobus ankle rig in all sorts of climate while trekking through the wilderness. Otherwise, you could get a pair of 5.11 tactical pants or shorts and pocket carry. The rear pockets on the 5.11 pants are nice and deep.

Another option that I have used is to attatch a small bag/fanny pack to the front of your waist belt. it's a great place to carry your gun, and if room, a couple of clif bars etc. Some waist belts are easier to rig than others, but I like keeping the weight lower rather than up on my chest. I have a thigh holster too, but it's not as comfortable, or as convenient.
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