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Food/Bear Can Musings and Questions


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Home Forums General Forums General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion Food/Bear Can Musings and Questions

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  • #3760141
    DWR D
    BPL Member

    @dwr-2

    ““Didn’t Skurka sleep with his food on his big Alaska Yukon trip?”

    Are we preaching ‘monkey see, monkey do” here?  :)))

    Or, one school boy got away with it, so it’s okay for me?  :)))

    Sorry, but I add zero weight to whatever Skurka does or does not do. In fact, I would bet that I have many more years of experience than he does in some areas.

     

    #3760146
    Murali C
    BPL Member

    @mchinnak

    jscott – I have never slept with my food except on the AZT (Arizona trail). I had 3 opsacks. First opsack with several dry bag like folds, then the folds go into the non-opening end of another opsack and this goes into 3rd opsack. Then into a Zpacks DCF food bag, then into nyloflme – again rolled multiple times and then into backpack rolled as a dry bag and then under my feet.

    If you are above tree line, you do not want your Ursack or foood taken away by an animal in the night – like say the West Collegiate loops on the CT. Or say some sections on the PCT-Washington above tree line. I will keep the food inside. On the JMT/SHR, had to carry the canister – and yes – it is worry free as the can works great. But it is a pain to carry – though I can carry it very comfortably in my MLD Prophet. But, would never take it say on the AZT or PCT where it is not required.

    DWR – I have never had critters come in and mess with my stuff – maybe it is because I use a bathtub groundsheet that is 5 to 6 inches in height under a Zpacks Altaplex or Pocket tarp. I never eat close to my tent. – at least 15 to 20 feet. I have had food fall on my clothes (wash with water on the area where food falls immediately) or on the ground – but never close to my tent. My hiking pole is also on the ground next to me in case some animal comes in and I am thinking I can drive it away with my hiking pole. Again never had any critter eat my cork or whatever as I use gloves and keep the handles clean.

    Todd – my bell is a conversation starter. From statements like “I thought I was losing my mind hearing a bell” to “thanks for carrying it as I know someone is coming up the trail” to “stop it, you are scaring away all the critters” etc. You may be right. But dang, my bell is so loud that I am pretty sure animals can hear it. You have to be deaf to not hear it. I have stopped using it in the last year or so. But, maybe I will start it. I mean the trails are so desolate, that you probably hear my bell for 100 years before and 100 yards after you cross me. Not a big deal.

    AK Granola – I am perfectly fine with folks wanting to protect bears and I too would not want them to become extinct. I don’t think we want any species to become exticnt because they may hold secrets that will benefit all of mankind. But there is a limit. I just think it is hyprocritical to care for bears when we kill so many other animals using our credit cards. There are 1000 times more species that are becoming extinct than species being created (according a biologist on NPR radio). We just being humans have driven innumerable species into extinction. So, when people start saying, c’mon, we need to protect this crazy, unpredictable animal, I usually roll my eyes. But, hey, we all love dogs here and I am a dog owner. When I was in Korea on a work trip (with Samsung), I was asked if I wanted to eat dog meat at a restaurant. I said no and the Korean guy asked me – why not? You can eat chicken/fish – but not a dog? What is the difference? He makes a valid point. There is no difference. I mean people eat snakes, snails and what not.  Each to their own. One thing the book says is that bear spray doesn’t work on black bears. They seem to come back after the initial burst. So, maybe Yosemite made the right decision by not allowing bear spray – and too many people carrying bear spray will not be good. My main problem with grizzlies are they are so unpredictable. A few years back, a guy in Yellostone I think got killed as the bear was protecting a kill. I mean there is no way for the person to know that there is a kill that is being protected by a grizzly. And then the California cyclist who got killed in Montana or somewhere – though she was very careless with her food. Of course, things have vastly improved from the 1960’s where National Parks used to have open pits for garbage which added to the problem. Nowadays, it is much better.  I have hiked/camped  in Yellostone, Tetons, Banff and Jasper without encountering any bears – I did see lot of bears while driving – but luckily never on the trail. Always with a bear spray.

    Anyways, nice to hear all the perspectives.

    #3760253
    Steve Thompson
    BPL Member

    @stevet

    Locale: Northeast

    I am a bear canister fan regardless of requirement.  And while I’ve never had a bear mess with one there have been various critters and birds in Grand Canyon attempt to find a way in.  To me they offer 3 advantages:  nothing gets my food, pack organization, and a “stool” to sit on.

    I have 2 of the bearikade weekenders (usually need/carry only one).  I can get 8 days at ~3000 calories into it which requires repackaging AND putting a pinhole in every package so the air can escape.

    Air seems to be the number one space culprit, second would be the thick foil/plastic laminate pkging used by most of the dehydrated food mfgrs.  Without pinholes make it 5 days.  Without repackaging make it 7 days.  And note this leaves no space for other stinky stuff like sunblock, hand sanitizer, etc.

     

    #3760596
    Fredrick B
    BPL Member

    @fwbirt

    I’m with AK Granola in not liking to eat out of ziplock bags. It does carry a “bouquet” from your first packaged meal, but I carry one packaged and use that package over a five day trip to pour my other meals (in ziplocks) into. Again, beef stroganoff with a hint of red curry, but it does save a lot of volume in the bear vault!

    #3760611
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    @Steve you can get 8 days food into bearikade weekender? I barely got 8 days food into my brarikade blazer last week on the NPT.  And that’s using freezer bags for everything.

    #3760614
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    So I just went back and read this thread from the beginning. If bear can is NOT required, why not use an Ursack or just hang pct style?  My first time ever using a bear can was last week on my 7 day trip on the Northville-Placid trail. Why? The first 40 miles of the trail from Lake Placid are in Adirondack Hi Peaks region, where bear cans are mandatory. ( Well , still iffy about mandatory on that section of the NPT), I have heard and read both ends yes and no. Any way, since I was planning 8 days thru with no resupply, I opted to use my Bearikade Blazer. Normally in the Catskills I use an Ursack and over many years I have never had any problems,  that I am aware of.  Back to the NPT and my bear can. I had to use my winter pack, ULA Circuit to accommodate the large bearikade, so yes larger pack needed. From all of my previous posts and trip reports on here, its obvious that I do pack minimal gear and weight on all of my trips, all 4 seasons.. So obviously the majority of my pack space and weight was that darn bear can.  Whatever.. It didn’t bother me that much, really. It was nice at night to just place the can away from my camp and also being able to sit on it in camp was a little pleasure.  Another reason why a few years ago I stopped pct hanging and started using the Ursack. Minor weight penalty for huge pleasure! After hiking all day, finding camp before sunset.. Hated having to find tree and branch and proper hang. Then if I needed something or forget something?? Ughhhh.. Ursack made my backpacking trips a lot less stressful and more pleasurable for sure. I do have a very small bare boxer that claims to hold food for 2-3 days… And it is so very small, I may consider it on future weekend trips just to see how I like it but honestly, I am hard pressed to switch out from the Ursack. Also, if you are worried about a bear moving your can around at night.. I put red and white reflective tape strips around my cans so it would be easier to locate.. at night and early morning pre sun rise too.. Even if a bear didn’t move it or knock it around.

    #3760617
    bradmacmt
    BPL Member

    @bradmacmt

    Locale: montana

    Here in grizzly country I’d always rather hang my food in the light Sea To Summit silnylon dry bag than rely on something laying on the ground, either a Bearikade or Ursack. No way I’m doing that. A grizzly will breach either, and in a best case scenario it will become a game I don’t want to participate in. I’m so used to hanging food I never think about it, and planning for it becomes a matter of habit. It’s just not that hard.

     

    #3760621
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    A grizzly will breach either

    I’m sorry but I don’t think that is accurate and I don’t think that is a good message to promote online. I encourage people to read about how certified bearcans are tested with grizzlies:

    https://igbconline.org/programs/bear-resistant-products/

    #3760625
    Steve Thompson
    BPL Member

    @stevet

    Locale: Northeast

    Yes, “8 days” but first day lunch and first night dinner aren’t actually in the can.  Commercial dehydrated meals are repacked into ziplocs and every package item, including ziplocs get a pinhole.  I sit on the lid and mash, mash, mash and can make it go.  Make sure breakfast #1 and lunch/snacks for day2 are on top.  it is hell getting things that tight when in the field.

    #3760626
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    “A grizzly will breach either”

    I also don’t agree with this statement. Denali National Park has been requiring bear canisters for 30+ years starting with the old Garcia can. They have had phenomenal success keeping bears and human food separate by requiring backpackers to use canisters. And there are few areas where you could actually hang a bag from a tree. As long as humans read and follow directions and use the canisters appropriately, they are darned good at keeping bears out.

     

    #3760628
    bradmacmt
    BPL Member

    @bradmacmt

    Locale: montana

    Okay, maybe not “will” breach but “CAN”… and a determined grizzly darn sure can. I think leaving food on the ground is irresponsible when not necessary.

    #3760629
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    I think the canisters can work if used consistently, i.e., required. Bears aren’t going to expend a lot of energy on something that doesn’t work very often, or ever, which is why canisters work in a densely grizzly populated Denali. We don’t really have car break-ins by bears up here either (except in a few Anchorage locations). Once they get a few rewards though…

    In areas with suitable trees, do you think backpackers will be more likely to do a proper hang, or more likely to secure their bear canisters correctly? Whichever they use, they must do it correctly.

    As part of either of these strategies, keeping a clean camp, not cooking where you camp, etc. are part of it. With so many on here proclaiming gladly their ability to defend food under their pillows against a determined bear (????!!!!), I’m skeptical that anything except actual installed bear lockers will work in problem areas. We have lost the concept of putting community over self, and with that loss, an abandonment of personal responsibility. Cynic here! It’s what I’m reading here there and everywhere, and witnessing in person as well.

    #3760632
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    Yeah. I agree with the last two posts.

    A member sent me a post by Skurka that I read several years ago about bearcan failures. These reports seem to highlight user error but it is reasonable to acknowledge that no solution is perfect. AK is right, of course, that camp hygiene and cooking away from camp are important strategies for protecting the bears.

    #3760633
    jscott
    BPL Member

    @book

    Locale: Northern California

    “I think leaving food on the ground is irresponsible when not necessary.”

    and when hiking in Alaska, or in alpine regions, or even on trail in the PNW, you’re going to hang your food effectively…where now?

    Or do you really thing that getting your food “off the ground” will keep it from bears, who after all, can climb trees?

    In the Sierra, where I hike, the very smart bears have given up on messing with canisters. sure, theoretically, a bear ‘could’ eventually crack open a bear canister. Over a week it could also break into a concrete bunker. But they don’t.

    #3760635
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    Whats the wrong way of using a bear cannister?

    #3760636
    Murali C
    BPL Member

    @mchinnak

    Rangers (in 2018) advised a bunch of us when we were getting on to Kearsage trail from JMT to treat our bear canisters as refrigerators – open, take item out, close it immediately. Some people will open it, tend to other activities while the bear can is open and in a few minutes a bear has been known to get hold of the open bear can and do its thing! And this happened on the Kearsage trail that year and the guy who lost his bear can to this was apparently video taping telling the bear gently to go away – instead of yelling, throwing stuff at the bear.

    Also, if you don’t close the bear can properly like all the 3 bolts on a Bearikade, apparently they have been compromised as well.

    If done properly, of course, they are very safe unless you keep it close to a cliff or water and run the danger of some animal knocking it off a cliff or into water….I always make sure that I keep it away from drop offs, lakes etc. But they have never been moved.

    #3760637
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Whats the wrong way of using a bear cannister?

    Yeah, hard to imagine, isn’t it? it doesn’t work when open. But people do strange things. My new kitchen stove/oven manual says “do not store gasoline or other flammable liquid in the drawer” [under the oven].

    #3760643
    bradmacmt
    BPL Member

    @bradmacmt

    Locale: montana

    “I think leaving food on the ground is irresponsible when not necessary.”

    and when hiking in Alaska, or in alpine regions, or even on trail in the PNW, you’re going to hang your food effectively…where now?

    Or do you really thing that getting your food “off the ground” will keep it from bears, who after all, can climb trees?

    In the Sierra, where I hike, the very smart bears have given up on messing with canisters. sure, theoretically, a bear ‘could’ eventually crack open a bear canister. Over a week it could also break into a concrete bunker. But they don’t.

    @jscott I’m pretty sure you didn’t read what I wrote on the previous page:

    Why not go with what is not only a lighter solution, but also a better bear defense? I can understand if you’re above timberline and run out of trees (like much of the Sierra), but here in MT that kind of country is also not typically bear country, in which case I’d rather use a Ursack.

    And referring to me alone where I live:

    Here in grizzly country I’d always rather hang my food in the light Sea To Summit silnylon dry bag than rely on something laying on the ground, either a Bearikade or Ursack.

    Also, wherever there are grizzlies, there are usually black bears. A good hang, where possible, works for both. I’d only leave food on the ground in a bear can when forced to do so, or where required to.

     

    #3760646
    jscott
    BPL Member

    @book

    Locale: Northern California

    It’s been determined by the NPS and others that bear cans are far more effective at keeping bears away from food than hangs. Far more. I hung my food for a couple of decades in the Sierra. I was very good at it. But…one time while tending a small fire in the rain I was distracted for a moment and cub made off with my food bag. Another time, there was no ideal hang, I was very tired, it was dark, and a bear simply broke off the sturdy branch I was using. I short, user error is more likely with a hang. I would chat with hikers who lost there hangs fairly frequently. Bears in the Sierra are (were?) extremely smart about getting hung food. That’s becoming a lost art for bears.

    I understand that Mt. is not the Sierra. Or Alaska. I’ve seen hangs in the PNW that made me laugh out loud. A Sierra bear would have them in five seconds flat. They seem to work though. My guess is that they’ll stop working over time.

    #3760647
    Murali C
    BPL Member

    @mchinnak

    Yosemite/Sierra bears have a PhD on getting food from hikers because lets face it – Yosemite is like Disney land – too many people and even the Sierras are pretty crowded. So, bear can is a must there and it is enforced. Bears in other regions probably just have a GED. So, I think everybody’s experiences are different based on where they hike and what works.

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