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Bear Bag alternative


Mike & Jess
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Two weeks from now, I am doing a ~36km hike/bike camping trip (accessing an Earth Cache).

We are traveling in an area that rarely see's human activity, and does have plenty of back bears.

 

My question is, what would be a good alternative to the standard bear bag methods found online?

 

I will be in dense Northern Ontario forest, and highly doubt I will have a tree near by that has a branch ~15ft from the ground, and meets all the other recommended critirial.

 

My current thought is locate a dense pine tree a number of feet from the actual campsite(there will be plenty of these) and suspend the double zip-locked bagged food within it's branches. 90% of the food will be dry (require hydration) so there should be minimal smell to begin with.

The smell should be masked by the tree, and it would be reasonably well hidden.

Retrieval will suck, but having food in the morning would be nice.

 

Any other ideas?

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That may put a dent in the available space in the pack.

I think a heavy dry sack could replace it?

 

My only complaint with these Bear canisters is they are a very expensive toy for the bears in dense bush. It'd be my luck that it gots lost in the thick bush. (I have heard of guys loosing packs or even a bike in this area if they didn't set a wadepoint and confirm it.)

Edited by Mike & Jess
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Black bears are intelligent and teach each other how to gain food from and in certain situations. Some are aware of our roping techniques for hanging food and know how to look for the tie off point and tear it to shreds. They have been known to have their cubs stand on their shoulders to reach for the bags. They climb trees and are willing to take a fall for the protein found in these food caches. Then you have issues with raccoons and believe me, these little guys are worse than the bears are.

 

Garcia Bear Canister is the only canister not refused in any park. Most places rent these. You might want to take a look at that as a purchasing alternative and it is usually reasonable.

 

When I use one, I don't pack mine inside the bag. I strap it to the outside, usually on top. It's easy to get at, pull food out of and use as a stool.

 

That's not to say I don't hang my food in a sack. I do, but some parks require the canisters and will kick you out or revoke your camping permit if you can't show you have one and it is typically without a refund of any fees you paid. You'll need to check the authority of the area you plan to be in to be sure you're in compliance.

 

You have some serious misconceptions of being able to mask the food odor. Your ziplock and the trees will do nothing to hide this food. If you hang your food, it needs to be at least 12 feet from the ground and 5 feet or more from the trunk and 10 feet from the branch it is hanging from.

 

Remember this... a habituated bear is a dead bear. They are hunted down and shot due to the danger they represent to people once they get used to feeding from your camp. Do your part to protect that bear from your food.

Edited by TotemLake
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Many years ago, I watched a black bear attempt to score my bear bag, suspended between two trees. It was a dry bag with ziplocs inside, just as you described. I won, but only because the bag was beyond the bear's reach when perched on the nearest sturdy branch. I was three days from a resupply point, so I was happy with that outcome. It made me a life-long believer in hanging bear bags properly, even in lower risk areas. (A raccoon can ruin your dinner as easily as a bear.)

 

So long as you follow the distance recommendations from my friend Totem Lake, the details of your design don't matter. If all I've got to work with is a lone pine tree, I tie the rope as high up in the pine as I can, and then tether the rope to a smaller tree or bush, using that main rope to form the hypotenuse of a triangle with the pine tree and the ground. I pick a point along that line that's high enough and also far enough away from any branches, put a bight in the line, and run a smaller line through the bight to hoist the bear bag.

 

Also, you can use slopes to your advantage when picking tether points. Just remember that the bear uses slopes too.

 

DO NOT PUT YOUR BAG WITHIN THE PINE TREE.

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I agree with others as I stated in the other thread. Our black bears here will essentially mock two zip lock baggies and a little pine scent. You could put that in the trunk of a car and the bears here will still try to get into the car and into the truck to get that food.

 

Just having a bag without securing it between trees is not effective. If the bear can smell it will carry it off (not to mention various other critters that will do the same).

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Thanks for all the feedback.

I have the ropes, stuffsack and carabiners to do both a two tree, and single tree bear bag setup (as per the two most common methods I have seen).

The area we are traveling/camping in is mainly pine and balsam forest, which will make finding the perfect tree arrangement really tough, and or impossible. I have practised using both the two tree and single tree bear bag arrangement, but am still looking for a worst case backup plan.

The camp site will be on the North, North-East shore of a lake, where a fire-warden 's cabbin once stood (~40yrs ago).

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Most places where I live are balsam and assorted other pine forests. It is possible to do a simple two tree set up for hanging your container and not that difficult.

 

I am hoping the two tree method is the avalible option on this trip.

 

Now to figure out what to do with our packs as they won't fit in the tent with us.

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I hate to say it but you're sounding woefully unprepared for this trip...

 

If the packs have any food smell on them up the tree they should go too.

 

The original plan was to string both packs, as the 2person tent we are using will be just big enough for the two of us, and no extra gear. Stringing two packs does pose it's own issues (i.e. they are heavy).

 

I have done a few multi-day trips via kayak or quad, just never via mtn bike/hiking. Previous trips, we'd store all food in a water tight bin or barrle and chain it to a tree. attach a bear bell to the container in case we do have visitors.

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Bears can smell food just about anywhere, so dehydrated or not, they are going to smell it, find it, and try to get it. ;)

 

For a 36 mile trip, a Bear Canister is probably the safest, surest way to go, but they are a pain.

 

If there are rocks in the area, you might stuff or hang the food in a crevice, sort of the opposite to hanging in a tree. Again, you are at the mercy of nature hoping you can find the perfect branch or rock to stash your food. So again, a Bear Canister is a "for sure" solution. Plus, it is fun to watch the bears whack those things around.

 

A few years ago I was on a horse trip into the Sierras. The cook just tossed a tarp over the food and then slept on it every night. :blink: She had a dog, so that would wake her up before the bears got to the tarp, and she shoo them out of camp. Not something I would attempt, but it worked for her.

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Another vote for a Bear Canister. We've been using them for over 10 years now after two disastrous encounters miles from trailhead. Admittedly, the bears in the Sierra are PhD's in raiding food, and many parts of the Sierra require a canister in order to get a Wilderness Permit, but if you need more convincing (or just need a chuckle over other people's misfortune), here's a Blog from a Yosemite Park Ranger that should end the question on how smart and determined bears can be:

 

Tales from Yosemite

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Bears can smell food just about anywhere, so dehydrated or not, they are going to smell it, find it, and try to get it. :laughing:

 

For a 36 mile trip, a Bear Canister is probably the safest, surest way to go, but they are a pain.

 

If there are rocks in the area, you might stuff or hang the food in a crevice, sort of the opposite to hanging in a tree. Again, you are at the mercy of nature hoping you can find the perfect branch or rock to stash your food. So again, a Bear Canister is a "for sure" solution. Plus, it is fun to watch the bears whack those things around.

 

A few years ago I was on a horse trip into the Sierras. The cook just tossed a tarp over the food and then slept on it every night. :D She had a dog, so that would wake her up before the bears got to the tarp, and she shoo them out of camp. Not something I would attempt, but it worked for her.

In our neck of the woods, marmots are good at ferreting out things stuffed in crevices and rocks. Then you also have the raccoons and they're hefty enough to move a fair sized rock out of the way.

 

marmot.jpg

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Another vote for a Bear Canister. We've been using them for over 10 years now after two disastrous encounters miles from trailhead. Admittedly, the bears in the Sierra are PhD's in raiding food, and many parts of the Sierra require a canister in order to get a Wilderness Permit, but if you need more convincing (or just need a chuckle over other people's misfortune), here's a Blog from a Yosemite Park Ranger that should end the question on how smart and determined bears can be:

 

Tales from Yosemite

We had a black bear over here with a preference to Rainier beer over Busch...

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com...g=webbeerbear18

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