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Do People Steal Camping Gear?

Do People Steal Camping Gear?

It’s common to experience a sinking feeling in your stomach when you discover someone has stolen something from you. Even if the thieves take something of nominal value, it can still be extremely frustrating. While you may have experienced a theft at home or work, that’s not the only place theft can happen. Even if you are camping in a remote area do people steal camping gear? Can you leave your tent unattended during your adventures?

Today, we’ll help you take the proper steps to avoid another camper walking away with your camping gear. Let’s get started!

Can You Leave Your Tent Unattended?

Some of the best campsites will be in areas that provide plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventure. To enjoy these areas fully, you may need to leave your camp for an extended time. Some of the best hiking trails could require hours to complete, which means you will need to leave your tent unattended for the better part of the day.

Many campers do this every day without issue. However, there’s no guarantee that others will leave your belongings alone while away from your tent. Whether it’s humans looking for a five-finger discount on camping gear or an animal that smells your food, an unattended tent is a target. We’ll share safety tips that you should follow anytime you’re leaving your tent to help ensure your gear is safe until you return.

camping setup with tent and guard dog

Do You Lock Your Tent When Camping? 

There are plenty of options available regarding tent locks. While some tent campers utilize these inexpensive locks, they’re far from perfect. These locks may provide very little protection from a thief wanting to get into your tent. Thieves might prefer to cut through the thin canvas and take what they want.

Unlike a thief busting a window to get into your vehicle, cutting through canvas is relatively quiet and won’t attract much attention. Because you can’t prevent all thefts, you should limit what you can leave unattended in your tent while you’re away and take all valuables with you.

Mulitple tents at campsite in forest.
If you’re camping amongst other people, make sure not to store your valuables inside your tent.

Do People Steal Camping Gear?

There’s no way to predict who will walk by your campsite or what might attract their attention. The reports of stolen camping gear are very low, but they occur. Some people will take any opportunity to take something they want, even if it belongs to someone else.

Camping gear is hard to identify because many mass-produced products look the same. An identification label won’t stop a thief who raids your tent when you leave it unattended, but it can help identify your belongings if law enforcement gets involved. 

Pro Tip: If you overpack while camping, you might be making yourself an easy target for thieves. Make sure to avoid packing these 7 Things You Honestly Should NOT Bring Camping.

Person zipping tent closed
Safety is key when camping. Make sure to only camp in places where you feel safe and comfortable.

How Can I Keep My Tent Safe While Camping? 

We want your gear to go home with you at the end of a camping trip. If you want to avoid being an easy target for a thief, there are a handful of things you can do to keep your gear safe. Let’s take a look!

Stay In Safe Areas

One of the best ways to avoid having your stuff taken is to stay in safe locations while camping. You can use resources like Campendium and iOverlander to read reviews from other campers. If other users state an area has frequent traffic from locals or other activity, it might not be a place where you can leave your tent unattended. Anytime you feel you or your gear is not safe, you should take action.

It would be best if you never stayed in a location where you feel unsafe. While items are replaceable, your safety is more important than any piece of camping gear. If you arrive at a spot and don’t feel safe, look for a different area.

Couple setting up tent in forest.
Keep your valuables safe by using a security backpack while camping.

Don’t Take Valuables

If possible, avoid taking anything of value with you while camping. If you have to take it with you, secure it when you leave your campsite. This may mean loading it up in your vehicle, so you take it when you go. If you cannot take it with you, leave it out of sight and secure it as best as you can. Using locks and chains can help secure your items but are not tamper-proof.

Many people who use generators will put away or lock their generator and fuel when they leave their campsite.

Hide Trackers In Your Gear

While not a method of preventing theft, tracking devices could help you recover your gear if stolen. These small devices can be hidden deep in pockets or put in protective cases and zip tied to items.

AirTags, or other similar tracking devices, can potentially help prevent theft by allowing you to locate your lost or stolen items. These devices work by connecting to a network of devices through Bluetooth and can be tracked using the Find My app on an iPhone or iPad. However, it’s important to note that no device can guarantee complete protection against theft, as the effectiveness of a tracking device depends on various factors such as the device’s range and the availability of other nearby devices to connect to.

Use A Security Backpack

Security backpacks are a great option to keep your stuff safe. These backpacks often use slash-proof materials that make it very difficult for thieves to access the contents. They also may have lockable zippers and hidden pockets that can slow down or prevent a thief from taking your stuff while you leave your tent unattended. 

However, a security backpack will not do much good if the thieves take it to get into later. If you’re storing anything valuable in the pack, it might be best to take it. Still, security backpacks can do a great job of making it difficult for someone looking for an easy target.

Familiarize Yourself With Your Surroundings

You should always be alert to what’s going on around you. Be on the lookout for suspicious behavior, and don’t be afraid to report it to authorities. If you suspect that someone has bad intentions, it’s worth reporting. Something as simple as a driveby from local law enforcement or park rangers might be all it takes to get someone up to no good to leave the scene.

Pro Tip: Going camping in an RV instead of a tent? Keep your stuff safe with these tips on How To Prevent RV Break-ins.

Solo tent set up
If you’re camping alone, make sure to check in regularly with a friend or family member to ensure you are always safe.

Is It OK to Go Camping Alone?

Many people enjoy camping alone. However, while camping alone can be a great way to relax and connect with nature, you should be aware of the dangers. Camping alone can make you an easy target if you leave your tent and gear unattended. You’ll also have no one to help if something goes wrong. You could fall and get hurt or experience an unexpected health emergency. Not having someone with you could mean the difference between life and death.

If you’re planning to spend much time camping alone, it’s a good idea to check in regularly with a friend or loved one to let them know you’re doing okay. If they haven’t heard from you in a while, they can come looking to ensure you’re safe. Carrying a personal locator beacon can also help others find you if you get lost or have an accident in a remote location without cell service.

ANTI-THEFT accessories to protect your camera gear while you travel

How Do You Prevent Theft While Camping?

The best way to prevent theft while camping is to avoid being an easy target for a thief. Minimize what you leave out when you leave your campsite and take any valuables with you. If someone does go through your property while you leave your tent unattended, make it so they can only take things that have little value or significance to you. There’s no 100% guarantee that theft will not occur while camping, but you can minimize the impact by taking a few precautions.

Have you ever been the victim of a theft while camping? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Paul Gray

Friday 3rd of March 2023

We went on a 3-day backpack in a national forest years ago. The trailhead began at the end of a dead end road, and we weren't sure how secure things should be. So after I had loaded up everything for the trip I hid my car keys by a tree under a rock and we went off for the weekend. Several miles in I realized I had left my camera on the front seat of the car in plain sight, and there was nothing I could do about it at that time. When we finish the trip I went back to check for the camera and there it was still sitting exactly where I had left it. And the funny thing about this experience was I had left the car unlocked! But the keys were well protected!

Mortons on the Move

Thursday 16th of March 2023

That's pretty funny how it all worked out!