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bear bag bust
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Rob Mcrae
(emptyman) - F

Locale: the other, big Ontario
bear bag bust on 08/21/2005 12:02:25 MDT Print View

Anybody have input about what to do when you need to hang a food bag but the trees around you are too thin-limbed to do the trick? Also, I noticed another thread about bear bags: do you really need a special bag? I just use a nylong stuff sack and the thinnest rope possible- it has never failed (and I camp in bear central up here in Ontario). Also, it seems like the common technique is to balance the bag with another bag, but we just tie it to the tree. Which way is really best? TTFN

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: bear bag bust on 08/21/2005 12:09:16 MDT Print View

Active Link to

Bear Bag Hanging Techniques - by Dr. Ryan Jordan

(just click it to view the BackpackingLight.com article)

Edited by pj on 08/21/2005 12:10:10 MDT.

Rob Mcrae
(emptyman) - F

Locale: the other, big Ontario
oops on 08/21/2005 12:26:28 MDT Print View

OK, i didn't see this article - thank you! This looks good. I don't quite get the PCT method, but let me read it again... until then- what about the issue of skimpy trees? Anything to be done about that?

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
secrets of my food-hanging success on 08/21/2005 13:41:29 MDT Print View

If the skimpy trees are sufficiently tall and reasonably close (15 or 20 feet), why don't you toss your cord over a branch on each tree and suspend your food between the two trees? This usually needs more than the standard fifty feet of bear cord, though.

Some other tricks:

For tossing the rope, I keep one end tied with an overhand loop. I wrap a smallish rock in my bandana and tie off the bandana with a big overhand knot -- the whole package looks like a bandana dumbbell, with one end the knot and the other end the rock. Then I girth-hitch the rope with the loop to the thinner part between the bandana knot and the rock. This stays together nicely for the toss, but if the bandana becomes hung up you can usually jiggle the rope free and let the bandana and rock fall to the ground.

A (much) cheaper alternative to mini-biners: most hardware stores stock small steel snap-links for less than a dollar. Even the smallest ones test to eighty or ninety pounds.

For counterbalancing or a two-tree hang, use a short loop with a prussik knot to attach one of the bags, you can then slide the prussik up the hanging rope as far as you desire before final launch.

For several years, I used a nalgene lexan bottle with about a cup of water in it as the tossing weight. Never broke a bottle, never lost one either. But I don't carry a nalgene bottle anymore and the bandana scheme is simpler -- and bandanas are way cheaper than Nalgene bottles.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Bear Bagging on 08/21/2005 14:09:45 MDT Print View

Not much help in the Sierras. Actually illegal in some parts. You don't know how many camp sites I come across with torn rope, string etc. dangling from trees. Hmm wonder how that happened.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Bear Bagging on 08/21/2005 17:50:58 MDT Print View

Actually, if rope is still dangling from a tree, what probably happened was that the cord got hung up (all too common) and the poor hiker tried to recover as much of the bear cord as possible. If a bear chewed through the string there wouldn't be any cord left dangling, and probably wouldn't unless the bear jumped out of the tree and grabbed the food on the ride down. Possible, but there are probably simpler explanations.

Where I live bears are not yet that clever, so hanging food is okay.

It certainly is true that only approved canisters and bear boxes are allowed in much of the Sierra.

I haven't hiked in the Sierras since the mid-1990s. But I took several extended trips (up to six weeks) in the early Clinton years. I rarely saw people hang food with any degree of competence (putting food in your backpack and hanging it by the haul loop from a tree branch that is chest-high isn't proper). My own food was fine, and nicely hung via the counterbalance method.

I have heard a handful of first-hand reports from people I trust and who I know to be competent at hanging food that some bears in some parts of the Sierras can often recover food hung from a tree. This is still quite amazing to me, since there was so much poorly stored food I can't understand why the bears needed to figure out how to get at the properly stored food. Maybe just the principle of the thing. Or maybe all of the bears went to CalTech and worked for .com companies in the late 1990s?

Rob Mcrae
(emptyman) - F

Locale: the other, big Ontario
two trees, eh? on 08/22/2005 06:50:18 MDT Print View

Well, the two tree thing didn't occur to me... that's a great idea if I've got enough rope to do it. I guess I'll experiment.
Bears can be pretty tricky sometimes. You should see the set up they have at the group sites at one of our national parks here in Ontario: they have a whole line of metal ropes with locking cords, pulley systems etc. The bears have destroyed some of the 'bear boxes' and it doesn't take them long to determine that brute force can take care of the metal lines, or just the trees... a whole group site worth of food must drive them bonkers! A few weeks ago a guy i met on the trail had his tent torn to pieces by a bear- and all he had was a bit of granola left in a pants pocket...

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Two Trees and Bear Hooks on 08/22/2005 09:58:49 MDT Print View

I found some BearHooks Wilderness Food Hangers at REI. These look like they would work for hanging between two trees by placing them in branches with a long stick or treking pole.

Rob Mcrae
(emptyman) - F

Locale: the other, big Ontario
bear hooks on 08/22/2005 18:48:40 MDT Print View

Those bear hooks look interesting.. but a bit pricey for what they offer. Thanks for the advice, though. I am trying to go ultralight on my finances too, you see!

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
free bear bag line on 10/07/2005 14:55:50 MDT Print View

Hi all. More and more people are trying to limit the amount of damage done to tree branches from the sawing effect of super small bear bag line. Clearly more of a concern in popular camping areas. Granted, eco line does weight about 1-2oz more for 50' than most regular SUL line, but that's really only a small swallow of water in weight. If anyone would like FREE eco friendly bear bag line, surf to mountainlaureldesigns.com and see the instructions on receiving some FREE bear bag line on the home page.