Creepy Stories About Backpackers

Everyone loves scary stories, right? Especially when they’re purported to be real. And the desolation of backpacking just lends itself so well to weird occurrences. These creepy backpacking tales will make you question if you really need to do a solo trip through Europe to find yourself – watching travel documentaries on Netflix sounds a little safer.

Some of the people in these stories were exploring new countries. Other were just exploring nature for a few days. But these backpackers have some truly terrifying stories to tell, so don’t read this if you want to sleep well tonight. 

  • Alabama Hounds

    Alabama Hounds
    Photo: clarissavannini860 / via Pixabay / CC0 1.0

    Reddit user cmvr2256 told a terrifying story about backpacking in the Alabama wilderness with his brother. He was 12 at the time; his brother was 26. They were on their third night in the woods when two strangers wandered into their camp, asking if they had seen any wild hogs. In fact, he and his brother had seen some, because wild hogs were common in the area, and they told the strangers where they had last seen the animals. The two guys hung around a bit longer, then left. They gave cmvr2256 a weird vibe, but neither he nor his brother thought much of it.

    He and his brother went to sleep in their tent. Sometime near midnight, cmvr2256 was woken up by the sound of shouting and dogs barking. The sounds were close, only about 100 yards away. His brother heard the dogs too, but said it was probably the guys from before. It’s common to use dogs to hold hogs down when hunting. Hunting for hogs at night is definitely strange, but at least it’s a somewhat rational explanation, right?

    Fast forward what was probably another three hours, around 2 am. I had managed to sleep pretty well after first hearing the hog hunters when I woke up to my brother squeezing my shoulder firmly, saying, "Wake up, put your shoes on quick and follow me, be as quiet as you can."

    They climbed up a hill overlooking their campsite and hid in some bushes, watching.

    The group of hunters had been steadily approaching our camp and by this time (30 or so minutes) had reached it. There were five of them and like three or four dogs. They all looked relatively young, but two had either rifles or shotguns, and the dogs were going crazy, obviously having smelled our scent.

    We laid there for awhile longer when out of nowhere they started screaming "WHERE Y'ALL AT?!?!" and firing into the woods at random. My brother dragged me back behind the crest of the hill and threw himself on top of me. Thankfully in our position on top of the hill we were protected from any gunfire.

    They shot maybe five or six more times and then started walking back the direction they had come. They got maybe 100 yards away when I heard a blaring siren and saw emergency lights flashing through the woods. Turns out my brother had called the Forest Service Office on a satellite phone my family has for emergencies while I was asleep and they had sent out Forest Service officers and game wardens to our area of the wilderness.

    They never found out if the hunters were caught.

  • Wrong Stop

    Wrong Stop
    Photo: Peggy_Marco / via Pixabay / CCO 1.0

    LadyEmry was backpacking through Asia. She was supposed to take a plane from Malaysia to Singapore to start the next leg of her trip, but missed her flight and had to take a bus instead. It was dirty and covered in cockroaches, but she figured she could deal with it for a few hours.

    The man next to me was Asian, around late thirties to early forties. He was very interested in me, asking me many questions about where I was going (I told him Singapore), was I alone, where I would be staying, how old I was, did I have a boyfriend... I made awkward but polite small talk with him, making up a fictional boyfriend. Eventually it got late and we both tried to get some sleep. Fear of the cockroaches kept me awake though, so I spent an hour or so just lying there with my eyes closed attempting sleep when I felt a hand brush against my left thigh. I ignored it, since maybe it was an accident. Maybe his hand had just slipped from the armrest? I felt it again, squeezing my leg, then the hand moved to my right thigh. Ah. Not an accident.

    She told him to stop touching her. Thankfully, he did.

    I managed to get a tiny bit of sleep, then awoke at 6.30 am when the bus stopped. The man shook my shoulder and told me "C'mon! Get out! It's Singapore!" The time seemed right so, groggy, I hopped off the bus and went up to the bus conductor to get my luggage. Luckily for me, he remembered I was traveling to Singapore, as he told me to get back on the bus - this was still Malaysia, we hadn't crossed the border yet. Singapore was the next stop.

    I turned around to see the man staring at me from a large group of men clustering around the bus and very quickly boarded the bus again. As we drove away I wondered if he'd done that deliberately- then I remembered that I had told him Singapore was my destination the night before, and he knew this wasn't Singapore.

    That story almost ended with, “And no one ever saw LadyEmry again.”

  • Who Knew Zippers Could Be So Terrifying?

    Who Knew Zippers Could Be So Terrifying?
    Photo: bhossfeld / via Pxabay / CC0 1.0

    MacintoshEddie shared a weird tale from July 2015:

    I was just camping last weekend, and when I woke up the next morning someone had unzipped my rain fly the wrong way. It seems kind of unlikely that I woke up in the night, unzipped the tent, unzipped the rain fly, then re-zipped the tent and fell back asleep without noticing it.

    I would blame the dog, but he was sleeping in the camper. Not sure if the conservation officers would ever be unzipping things at night. 

    Okay, then! Don’t know why someone would want to try and soak a backpacker, their tent, and all their belongings, but also don’t really want to find out...

  • Distant Relatives and Locked Doors

    Distant Relatives and Locked Doors
    Photo: MelSi / via Pixabay / CC0 1.0

    Sometimes, a friend of a friend can be even creepier than a total stranger. In this case, belovelife and her boyfriend arranged to spend a night with a relative of one of her friends while backpacking through Germany.

    So we arrive at his house and knock on the door and a scary old lady opens up looking puzzled. We explain that we spoke with her husband and we are friends with his relative. She leads us in. The whole situation is strange and scary. After a couple of minutes, her husband arrives and we sit with him and talk a bit over tea.

    When nighttime arrives, he leads us to the basement, we go down the stairs and he explains where everything is, then he goes up the stairs and locks the door behind him. That was my scariest night EVER. We didn’t sleep at all that night thinking horrible thoughts of what might be, but when morning came and we heard the door unlock we jumped up and ran out of the house never looking back.

  • Kidnapped in Africa

    Kidnapped in Africa
    Photo: Peter Glenday / via Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

    Seasicksquid was kidnapped while backpacking through Africa. Yes, KIDNAPPED.

    I was stranded in Zimbabwe with no money, working my way across the country. I made some friends and we went out one night to a bar... I was the only white person, and one of very few females there. Had a blast though. My friends were watching out for me while I was in the bathroom, but as I was coming out, some other guys grabbed me and threw me into the trunk of a car and knock me out.

    I woke up later to find myself locked in a dark room...voices outside, not in English. A couple hours pass, who knows how long... a guy comes in with a gun screaming at me in Shona. Mind you, I have NO clue what the hell is going on... he grabs me, still waving that freaking gun in my face, and throws me outside. My friends are there, apparently negotiating my release.

    I get butted by the gun, and wake up at my friend's house. No clue WTF happened. Still to this day. My friends won't tell me, to this day, what exactly was going on.

  • A Man, a Pump-Action Shotgun, and an Unclear Motive

    A Man, a Pump-Action Shotgun, and an Unclear Motive
    Photo: pwkpwkpwk / via Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    WaffleHump calls this story “Lakeside Lunatic,” and it’s not hard to understand why. He and a buddy were backpacking through the Adirondacks when they had an encounter with someone. “Creeper” doesn’t even begin to describe this guy.

    We hiked about five miles into a small lake and set up camp on a small beach. This was not a heavily trafficked area, and we did not expect to run into anyone. Our first night there, as we were sitting around the fire, we saw a flashlight moving on the other side of the lake around 10:30. This was fairly unusual, however, we did not think too much of it.

    But, as time went on, this flashlight kept moving around the lake, getting closer to our campsite… Once it was clear that the person (or people) were heading for our campsite, we moved off into the woods nearby to see who wandered up.

    Now, the moment of truth: the flashlight comes near the light of our fire and it is one man. He has a beard and is probably in his mid-40s. The scary part was, he was carrying what turned out to be a pump-action shotgun. He walked around the campsite a few times, and then proceeded to enter our tent. After rummaging around for a minute or so, he came out and started yelling "I know you're out there, why don't you come and say hello?"

    My friend and I remained motionless under a hemlock tree about 50 yards away. That is when the man proceeded to fire his shotgun into the woods (not too far from where we were). He also swung his flashlight around several times. After what felt like hours, he grabbed my friend's backpack and a few articles of clothing we had drying off near the fire and threw them in to burn.

    Thankfully the man moved off from where he had come after a little while. We waited until his flashlight was on the other side of the lake, ran out, grabbed everything we could fit in my pack and took off (it was now around 2 or 3 am) … We immediately went to the police department and reported it, where we also spoke with some forest rangers. That was it, I haven't heard anything back from the police.