Radios in the Backcountry? Backpacking etiquette

I just finished an interesting debate on the topic at hand, so I thought I would bring it here as well.

Do radios have a place in the back country? It certainly seems that it depends on who you ask.

The argument:

Radios have their place, but keep in mind not everyone wants to hear it. To many, the back country is the place you go to escape the noise and repetition of society. Bringing a radio along and blaring it into the gentle valleys seems a bit of a contradiction. Consider also, that even if everyone in your party enjoys the music, there is a  good chance that local campers just out of eye sight may have to hear the music as well.

I once camped an entire evening not 20 feet from a couple who were camping on the opposite side of a boulder, they never made a sound, but we sure did, and I’m sure we disturbed them.

Conversely, not long ago I was hiking on one side of the valley, and on the other side of a valley was a radio, probably a full mile away, and I could still here it. I couldn’t them, and they couldn’t see me, but I could hear them. The radio wasn’t loud, but sound carries amazingly well out there. It drove me nuts, as I wanted solitude, and a gap between me and the “real world”. These events were quite eye opening.

So now, I’m more considerate of my actions in the back country.

My opinion:

If you must have a radio, use headphones. It’s not asking much. Even if others are enjoying the music, consider those who you can’t see. If headphones aren’t good enough, please, consider leaving it at home. The extra weight isn’t necessary either.

So, let me ask you guys. What do you think about radios in the back country?




2 thoughts on “Radios in the Backcountry? Backpacking etiquette

  1. Hmm, while playing a radio in the back country what important sounds from nature get un-noticed–say a rattlesnake’s rattling for example? …

    1. That is a great point actually.
      About a year ago, on Watauga lake, a friend of mine had a radio going while we were camping and a racoon made his way into our camp site completely unnoticed. Nearly made off with some of our food!
      Luckily the little guy was spotted near a lamp, and we ran him off in time.

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