Since it’s that time of the year. Let’s have a bit of fun with the Hollywood tropes, and juxtapose real world concepts atop a chance encounter on a wilderness camping trip with a psychopathic killer.
Note: this is obviously meant for entertainment purposes and you should check your local and regional jurisdictional legalities (as well as the campground’s) to ensure you can use all these items in the areas you are camping. Also, please exercise caution using defensive weapons and prioritize proper handling, and techniques to ensure you know what you are doing, and how to use them.
Trigger warning! This article talks about some disturbing horror concepts, and real life violence in general terms. If you are not comfortable with this, maybe skip this one.
What to expect when you’re expecting… Jason…
So we can set the scene a bit: It’s summertime, pushing into fall, and you’ve scored a prime lakefront camping spot with your sweet significant other – this weekend is going to be great!
Hot partner – check! Marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars – check! Plenty of drinks and a cooler full of ice – Check! What else could you possibly need?
The fact is, no one really ever expects an emergency, and no one ever complained that they were too prepared after an emergency, so we think this practical exploration, even if aligned with a fanciful, Halloween twist might help you envision what you’ll need to bring to ward off the crazies, and make it home alive.
You need the three basic essentials: food, water, and warmth, of course. These can come in a variety of forms, and in this case, we want to be a bit more robustly prepared than usual, even if you don’t adhere to the Friday the 13th lore.
Food – your basic car camping, glamping fare is probably going to suit you just fine. Besides, there are plenty of snacks available at the campground, and you’ve got a nice cooler full of good food. That’s probably covered.
An emergency bug out bag or similar is probably never a bad idea, even when you can control the situation, though, and we’d recommend some lightweight, calorie dense foods, or easy to prepare calorie bombs or freeze dried foods to ensure you have a 1-3 day backup plan. In reality, you’re car camping in this scenario, so the basics are probably covered with a short car ride or your normal trunk bug out bag.
Water is always underprepared for. We recommend having at least a gallon on hand per person per day when you are doing little, up to mild exertion activities. This target should basically cover minimal needs for hydration. Having a potable water source is also helpful.
Camp Crystal Lake of Jason Voorhees fame is a real-life campground, but it’s located in Hardwick, NJ, and isn’t really available for public use, except for tour dates [https://crystallaketours.com/]. Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco is a Boy Scout (BSA) camp most of the year and they are very protective of the campers on site, so the public does not generally have access.
If you’re by a lake as big as Sand Pond, which is the actual real life name of what we know as “Crystal Lake”, there are generally viable potable water hookups, and fountains to service campers.
You can never go wrong having a gravity fed water filter for longer more leisurely trips, and prepackaged water (either in disposable or reusable containers) – we prefer reusable water carrying solutions. If you’re self contained, with no access to clean water; cooking heavily, and need clean-up water, pack about 1.5-2 gallons a day per person, minimum.
Scale that number up if you are doing extreme exertion activities like mountaineering, climbing, trail running, hardcore backpacking, etc. You can use backup handheld filters, too.
Warmth could be provided by firewood and some fire starting materials (see below for some great options), and a shelter that is suitable for summer and fall camping, which is generally a 3 season style, by a reputable company. We like this model (4 season tent) for it’s flexibility and space, but there are great options on the lower end of the scale price wise, and on the upper end of the scale (our pick trends towards the “buy it for life” category and will be suitable for 4-season hardcore backpacking and mountaineering with the right small additions).
In some campgrounds you may even have access to a yurt or cabin, and that’s going to help a lot with keeping warm, even if it won’t keep mask wearing nut-jobs from penetrating your fortress.
Fire starting ideas:
Additionally, you may want to bring a large bushcraft knife – you could consider a machete, but it may be overkill in a manicured campground unless you really are expecting to need to defend yourself.
Great Bushcraft knives:
Great wood gathering tooling:
Both of these categories of tools can be used as legitimate self defense items. Any of the well-built items listed above would be high quality alternatives to normal EDC, or defensive carry hand to hand items.
How to pack for an eventual meet up in a lakeside campground with Jason Voorhees
You’re probably going to want to wear something warm. Wool makes sense because it’s warm when wet, and can be a lot more breathable too. We would also recommend a good windbreaker if you chill easily. The extra thick construction of a quality wool outer layer or mid layer might provide a bit of extra protection against offensive attacks, and general scrapes and bruises too.
A phone and an external battery charging pack also make some sense. How many movies have you seen where they can’t call for help because there is only 1% left on their phone and it dies before the call can be completed. Don’t be that horror movie victim.
Also, having a whistle or other attention grabbing device can help alert others to danger and call in the “cavalry”. Having witnesses can be important. Having others who can distract an attacker or who can get help is important too.
What items would you want to have with you just in case Jason Voorhees is real, and you have a campground reservation at Camp Crystal Lake?
Let’s be realistic though, you’re probably mostly prepared for a camping trip and if you are like most of our readers, you have a “prepper” mindset – and are already thinking ahead and have many survival type items on hand.
That said: First Aid should never go overlooked. In the case of puncture wounds, sucking chest wounds or hacked limbs, you can never be prepared enough:
Here are some obvious trauma pieces you will want in case you’re attacked in a public place and need to keep from bleeding out before the medics and law enforcement arrive.
Here are some important heavy trauma additions to a first aid kit:
Which items for self defense should you bring when you’re expecting a supernatural threat next to a lake in the wilderness?
And since the elephant in the room hasn’t really been discussed at length, let’s dive in head first (pun intended Mr. Voorhees) and explore what you might want to have in place if you are trying to avoid losing a defensive showdown with a violent criminal psychopath.
Distance is important:
Get something that can keep your attacker far enough away from you for good reaction time.
You might consider a small shovel or a tomahawk, which offer some ancillary benefits at a campground (certain campgrounds). You can dig poop pits, and take care of certain bushcrafting needs with both of these tools.
If that’s not enough distance you might consider a hiking staff or or defensive staff.
You can also use surroundings, like a large picnic table or outbuildings, or a canoe rack, or other normal items found around a lake as defensive positioning enhancements. Anything a bit longer than a machete is probably going to put you in a better position than no protection. So, know your surroundings – be situationally aware.
And that may be the best defensive trick in the world: knowing when to not be in a place. If you are aware of your surroundings and understand when it is ideal to retreat or bug out, you will avoid a large percentage of the issues that less prepared people will find themselves in.
Mass shootings, unexpected attacks, and other horrendous, and despicable acts notwithstanding. Situational awareness cannot prevent all risk, but it can mitigate immediate threats with minimal downside if properly implemented.
Knowing how to feel comfortable handling yourself in a knife fight is also important, and you might consider hand to hand defensive concepts like Krav Maga.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The best way to handle yourself in a knife fight is to never find yourself in a knife fight at all.
There are no winners in a knife fight. No matter how strong, or tough, or smart, or fast you are, a single cut can be life ending. A single stab wound can be enough to kill you. Using a knife in an aggressive manner often leads to personal defensive wounds like major cuts near arteries and around the hands and wrists. Cut palms from knife handle slippage and severe damage to knuckles and other parts of the hands and forearms are very common in knife fights.
There is literally zero glory or prestige about being in a close quarters combat situation. Having a firearm, legally obtained and used, with proper training and the right carry configurations can have a much better impact on overall CQB defensive scenarios, and even then, a handgun is not preferable to a rifle or shotgun in a vast majority of defensive scenarios, and firearms are not always appropriate or suitable in all environments.
In this case we are going to assume you cannot carry a firearm at a public campground in your area for the sake of this article. Though properly trained users of firearms can equalize the playing field quickly.
You should consider, if you are comfortable with the idea of having a knife in play for a defensive scenario, a fixed blade, legal, and easily retrieved knife that has more than a 3.5 inch blade, and ideally more than a 5 inch blade for defensive purposes. Here are some you might consider (some are folding knives):
If you are a hardcore bushcrafter, or are doing a lot of cutting tasks regularly, you might consider the purchase of cut resistant gloves that could pull double duty in a nightmare scenario, though if you are ambushed, time will not permit putting on some gloves before you defend yourself. Again, situational awareness is your friend.
A camp axe may not be a viable option in a typical campground, but certainly makes sense in the wilderness and proves utilitarian even without the defensive potential. But swinging a heavy axe or even a shortened one might not make practical sense defensively. Distance and good decision making is a differentiator here.
You might also consider OC pepper spray or a substantially similar spray (WASP SPRAY IS NOT A REALISTIC OPTION), which can incapacitate all but the most hardcore of assailants – given the lore of Jason Voorhees, it may not be practical, but for bears it can do the trick and even more so, on human assailants.
The practicality of having a very bright, disorienting flashlight can be huge. Not only for normal campground tasks, but to keep you aware of the perimeter, and allow you a momentary advantage if you feel someone or something might be stalking you. You can change the tide of an attack by temporarily blinding someone, or, by just making sure that they know that you know they are there, lurking.
Flashlights that make sense for this scenario:
If you manage to stop, and eventually subdue Jason or whoever [insert crazy serial killer name here], having some paracord on hand could prove to be pretty handy. You could also consider some plastic restraints.
It should be noted: it is generally illegal to detain any person, unless you are clearly able to establish threat to life or public safety, so be smart about where you use such tactics and techniques and prepare with a good defense attorney as soon as you call your loved ones after a major incident.
Under some circumstances, legalities can be quite tricky and the victim often can be charged as the aggressor depending on what is provable. Exercise restraint (see what we did there?).
Last but not least re: paracord and ropes, etc., you should be familiar with important knots, not just as a defensive preparation, but for normal practical skill building. You can learn more about knots here on this website, or look into this book here.
Cold Steel (just an example, many other companies have products too) has an entire lineup of legal, hard wearing defensive products that make sense for putting distance between you and an attacker. Their heavy duty solid polypropylene products are amazing, purely defensive weapons that can double as makeshift alternative weapons, and they are reasonably priced:
There are also some crazy interesting “hunting options” that include spears with a solid build quality. These are generally not going to be accepted in a normal public campground, but may be good for a backwoods trip. You get distance between you and an attacker, and a real world lethal weapon potentially, in a single item.
Some final thoughts about camping in a situation where you might be at risk of criminal activity
In reality, this scenario is one built out of fun and fantasy. Jason isn’t real *(right?). And the chances you will ever find yourself in a mass casualty event, as much as the media would like you to believe is possible, is actually very low (this does to mean impossible).
You should train with weapons, and become more situationally aware. You should not put yourself into vulnerable situations, and you should travel with trusted companions when it makes sense. Generally, you should be very aware of laws and force on force concepts, and decide where you stand on the matter early on in the planning cycle for such a mindset.
It is not legal to assault people out of just fear, generally – in fact in most states there must be a clear and present danger to life or limb from an aggressor before you can react with certain levels of force. You should never stick around a situation you feel could turn ugly, dangerous or scary. You should attempt to keep open lines of communication to rescue or law enforcement personnel and or backup and family/friends if possible.
A best practice is to let trusted people know when and where you are traveling and when you expect to return.
You should not take anyone captive or detain them unless you cannot physically use another option. Please understand this is potentially a serious legal concern and you are very likely to be charged with a felony if you do not have legal standing to do so.
Someone starting a fight with you or possibly even punching or otherwise assaulting you in a non-life-threatening way, is generally not grounds to detain them. It is far better to remove yourself from the situation first, and seek remedy beyond the event. Nevertheless, do not hesitate to protect yourself in any life threatening situation. Be trained to do so, and prepare to do so as needed, within reason. Meet force with appropriate return force.
The psychological, emotion and physical drawbacks to serious, aggressive close quarters combat can be massive. Knife fights are not pretty. Being attacked with weapons is not pretty. Be aware of these considerations.
And if you are in a campground, if you see a silent, big aggressor in a hockey mask, maybe it’s time to not be in that campground anymore. Even if it’s a prank sometimes it just makes sense to leave, and sort it out later.
We live in a world that is historically safer than ever before in history (this is a great book about that), and yet, we all have some idea of fear or vulnerability in our minds. The best possible outcome is a well prepared person, a good defensive mindset, great situational awareness and smart decision making under stress. All of these things can be taught, practiced and improved.
Lastly, trauma treatment is important. At the very least, as a practical skill set, you should attend classes about, or understand how to render life saving aid to people who you travel with, or for yourself, and pack for potential medical concerns. Pack your first aid kit too.
Even if the nightmare scenario of a psychopathic killer never manifests, you’ll be able to confidently state you are ready for most of what is potential on a trip to the backcountry, or a campground visit with a dangerous mishap or accident.
We hope you had a bit of fun with this Halloween/Horror themed article about items that you should have in place if you plan to meet up with a hockey mask wearing psycho. Let us know in the comments what types of content you’d like to see in the future too!