- Sep 20, 2017 at 4:09 pm #3492104
Thoughts? Lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that one day I’ll want to do the JMT and that bear cannisters are increasingly being required in my favorite areas (RMNP, 4 Pass Loop in Maroon Bells), for instance. But I just can’t bring myself to ever think of actually carrying one. It’s kind of ridiculous for those who have a 6-10 base weight to add 2 lb (Bearikade Weekender) to your pack weight. That’s 20% of your total pack weight if you are at 10 lb base, and 33% if you have a 6 lb BPW! That’s plain ridiculous. I’m just curious how the rest of you deal with this heavy, bulky, uncomfortable monstrosity. Do you carry it as a spiritual burden of sorts–like the boulder that Sisyphus carried up and down the mountain, do you just accept the foolishness and move on? Carrying something so antithetical to UL principles just irks me so that I cannot think to actually strap one to my back. Do I need a spiritual awakening? To carry one to prove my worth? Or do I continue to avoid trails with such requirements, or skirt the law altogether? The laws don’t seem to be written by people who have ever heard of cuben fiber shelters, minimalist trail runners, and the like. Are we stuck in the 80’s or 90’s? Is there hope for the future? Is this simply another case of government regulation run amuck? Enlighten me on how to tolerate this requirement–or to embrace it.Sep 20, 2017 at 4:19 pm #3492107
I feel like I am being trolled. I don’t think I’m going to participate further in this thread other than to say that. If you have serious questions about bear canisters I suggest a different approach.Sep 20, 2017 at 4:19 pm #3492108Franco DarioliBPL Member
@francoLocale: Gauche, CU.
A legal requirement is not open to philosophical interpretation or personal choice.
You don’t like the idea ? Don’t go there.Sep 20, 2017 at 4:43 pm #3492112Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
ChaffSep 20, 2017 at 4:46 pm #3492113Nathan WattsBPL Member
I’d definitely be interested in knowing why you think your low base weight makes bears disinterested in your food.
I wouldn’t have even thought the bears would know the difference between a cuben tarp and a heavy tent.Sep 20, 2017 at 4:48 pm #3492114Mark FowlerBPL Member
The easiest solution is to take no food. A couple of ways to do this:
- Massive carbo loading at the trail head and a rather thin you at the end of the trip (wherever that might be – your intended destination or a bit further back down the trail).
2. Join the Breatharians http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/breatharian.htm
3. Just carry alcohol and swap it for food along the trail.Sep 20, 2017 at 5:17 pm #3492121Mike In SocalBPL Member
There are 3 possible outcomes to not taking a bear canister where one is required:
- You don’t get caught (this has to be repeatable for as many days as you think you will be on the trail).
- You get caught by a ranger, fined and/or escorted out.
- A bear takes your food in the middle of the night and you have to bail on your trip and possibly have to hike multiple days without food.
What’s your tolerance for risk?
As for the bear canister being ‘antithetical to UL principles’, no where have I ever read that one must go as UL as possible so as to sacrifice safety. Again, it’s about risk assessment. Your choice.Sep 20, 2017 at 5:17 pm #3492122Jeff JeffBPL Member
.Sep 20, 2017 at 6:31 pm #3492137Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I have actually found that I can go further carrying a bear canister than I can hanging if I am in alpine areas as I can hike until dusk and camp anywhere rather than letting where I can find a large boulder or other place to hang dictate where I camp.
They take a little bit of time to get used to, but they aren’t that bad. I just suck it up and carry it when required and have a 12 pound base weight rather than a 10 pound base weight. It is what it is.
I would never not-take a canister in an area where they are required and kindly ask that you don’t forgo them in areas they are required as well.Sep 20, 2017 at 6:46 pm #3492139JoeBPL Member
@joephishLocale: SF Bay Area
I don’t think having to carry a bear canisters is silly. I think a ranger having to shoot an aggressive bear is far worse.Sep 20, 2017 at 7:07 pm #3492143Tony WongBPL Member
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Honestly, I am so used to carrying a bear canister, I cannot recall the last time I DID NOT have one in my pack.
I accept that my base weight will include a bear canister.
I accept that I will need a larger and heavier pack to accommodate a bear canister.
I accept that the inconvenience of bear canister is the price that I pay to enjoy the Sierras.
I accept that my inconvenience of carrying a bear canister means that a bear gets to live a longer life vs. getting put down by a Ranger because it has become addicted to the same Cheetos that I am addicted to.
I accept that I will lust after the shiny black goodness that is the Bearikade, but my wallet will groan with the thought of getting one.
I accept that I have to focus on other parts of my gear/kit to save weight to make up for the added weight of a bear canister.
As I consume food on my trips, I will put my cook pot and stove into my bear canister to make my pack a little more compact.
Sometimes I am rewarded with the sight of a bear on the trail while hiking in the Sierras.
Then life is good.
TonySep 20, 2017 at 7:34 pm #3492147Brian BBPL Member
Carrying something so antithetical to UL principles…
I don’t think you mean this. If UL principles were “do whatever weighs less,” you’d leave your trash in the backcountry. UL principles fit within and are subservient to broader outdoor ethics, which include LNT and carrying a bear can where required/prudent.
I’ve said it before, UL is more than weight, it’s also efficiency and a bear can can be more efficient than alternatives — you just got to strengthen your city muscles and the two pounds aren’t so bad.Sep 20, 2017 at 7:38 pm #3492150jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
- “A bear takes your food in the middle of the night and you have to bail on your trip and possibly have to hike multiple days without food.
What’s your tolerance for risk?”
I couldn’t care less about the op going hungry for a day or two, and having to abort his hike. The risk is entirely to the bear that just gulped down the packaging of his freeze dried dinners and now may well suffer the horrible consequences. Also, as has been pointed out, he’s now perpetuated the whole cycle…Sep 20, 2017 at 7:49 pm #3492153lee kingryBPL Member
@leek2Locale: Alabama and GSMNP North Carolina
Ditto to Tony, but since David has been a regular on here and did a great video teaser for his Colorado Trail Trip, I believe he’s being serious with the question. And since he’s in New York a good analogy in my mind would be if my car could do 150 should not be able to do it on city streets the answer still no and you know all the reasons why. If I had to carry 20 lb extra to do the John Muir Trail again I’d do it in a heartbeat, it’s fun to consider low weights and be as light as possible but never sacrifice the right to be some place as beautiful as the John Muir Trail and surrounding areas. That privilege outweighs any spreadsheet and protecting Mother Nature, the critters, the bears is worth any extra poundage on my back.Sep 20, 2017 at 8:11 pm #3492162J RBPL Member
Bear canisters save bears’ lives, nothing ridiculous about that.
Your low baseweight doesn’t entitle you to any special dispensation, it give you head room in your carry capacity that allows you to take on that required extra weight and not suffer for it.Sep 20, 2017 at 8:17 pm #3492163
⬆️well saidSep 20, 2017 at 9:05 pm #3492176Greg MihalikBPL Member
“Or do I continue to avoid trails with such requirements… ”
Yes, please.Sep 20, 2017 at 9:10 pm #3492178Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
Next up, Mammals that don’t bury their poo, be like them.Sep 20, 2017 at 9:13 pm #3492179Tipi WalterBPL Member
This discussion is obviously most relevant to Western trails and thank you Buddha we here in the mountains of TN and NC and Georgia and Virginia DO NOT have to carry these things.
I just got back from a 20 day trip into the Big Frog/Cohutta with one food load and can’t imagine trying to stuff all that food into THREE bearvaults. I’d have to become an outlaw backpacker.Sep 20, 2017 at 9:31 pm #3492183
I suspected that I’d get some rather impassioned responses and perhaps some aspersions cast in my direction. :) But all kidding aside, I am rather curious about the whole bear can reasoning–never having backpacked in a region where it is legally required. Can someone educate me as to why bear cans (especially the current ones on the market) are the only effective means of keeping food reasonably safe? Is hanging food properly simply not effective in these areas, or is it that people aren’t properly hanging their food? I have run into plenty of thru hikers who sleep with their food–I am not one of them. I do believe in preventing bears from getting my food, but I also accept that there is no way I can completely prevent them from getting my food, just as I accept that my train may derail as I get on the subway. As someone mentioned, it’s all a matter of risk assessment. I also believe that it is in keeping with the UL philosophy that we cannot completely eliminate risks. I can completely (well almost completely) eliminate the risk of a bear getting to my food by choosing to stay home. Even if we are in agreement that a bear can is the only method of reasonably reducing the chances of a bear getting our food, can’t we agree that it is a little silly to nonchalantly hoist an ungainly, cylindrical piece of plastic weighing 2-3 lbs on top of our packs while religiously counting the number of decigrams that the newest carbon fiber tent stake will save us? Just a thought.Sep 20, 2017 at 9:46 pm #3492185jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
And while we’re at it…seat belts. Why wear them? And disco pants: aren’t they great? And have you heard that the Soviet Union is on the verge of collapse?Sep 20, 2017 at 9:59 pm #3492189Kenneth KeatingBPL Member
@kkkeatingLocale: Sacramento, Calif
Read here for why it’s required.
To me it’s not much of an issue at all for carrying the bear canister. Plus, not all are concerned about decigrams, for me it’s really about taking what’s comfortable as opposed to carrying the absolute minimum amount of weight.Sep 20, 2017 at 10:00 pm #3492190
If I apply your reasoning to backpacking, I wouldn’t be going UL. I shouldn’t bring a 0.51 oz / yd 2 cuben tent because it may tear. I shouldn’t bring my GG LT4 carbon fiber trekking poles because they may break (they have, in fact). I shouldn’t wear trail runners because I may twist an ankle. I should a robust first aid kit just in case. And so on. The way I understand and practice UL is that we are to get by with less to achieve the same objective within a reasonable margin of error. My question is: Can I not carry a bear cannister in bear country and still remain within a reasonable margin of error? I’m less interested such responses as “it’s the law” and more interested in data regarding bear cans vs. hanging techniques so I can better appreciate the situation.Sep 20, 2017 at 10:22 pm #3492194
David, the point of a bear can is not about keep your food or you safe. It keeps the bears safe by preventing them from becoming habituated to eating human food. Once that happens they become bolder and dangerous to people at which point the rangers are forced to put the bear down.
A fed bear is a dead bear.
I don’t love hiking with a bear can but my honest response is that you should either get over it or not hike in areas that require them. It’s really not that big of a deal. A bear can even makes a nice stool to sit on, not that I’d ever carry a two pound stool! There is a lot of information out there about how to pack efficiently in one and how to carry it comfortably in your pack. I’m sure you can find this information with a little bit of googling around or if you ask nice many of us here can share or experiences with you. :)Sep 20, 2017 at 10:29 pm #3492197Mike In SocalBPL Member
@David, I do agree that adding a 2-3 lb. bear canister seems contrary to UL. However, looking at it a different way, lightening up as many things as you can makes it easier to carry the things that are necessary or required. Everyone has different reasons; I lighten up because I sometimes want to take a dSLR or a more comfortable pillow, and coffee. But, to answer your question “Is hanging food properly simply not effective in these areas”, in short, yes. Bears in some areas have figured out how to get to hanging food bags. There is some good information on the SierraWild.gov site.
Also, Josh Mathe posted his account of fastpacking the JMT and when a bear got to his food bag.
“I decided not to bring a bear can on my third attempt and discerned the hard way why they are required or strongly encouraged along the entire John Muir Trail.”
Cheers and happy hiking!
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