Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Philmont bearbagging
Display Avatars Sort By:
Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Philmont bearbagging on 05/30/2009 08:35:37 MDT Print View

I'm forking a new thread off of this one which had wondered thru many topics

I can understand wanting to go lighter than the rope that Philont provides (5/16" nylon, IIRC) and have no quibble with that.

But the bags? ... They provide woven plastic bags with a weave reminiscent of burlap. They'd certainly be heavy by solo UL standards but they are not heavy for group use.

If a crew has addressed the big three items, kitchen items and their personal gear choices they won't be able to notice the difference between Philmont bags and mythical zero gram bear bags in their pack.

Edited by jcolten on 05/30/2009 08:39:38 MDT.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Philmont bearbagging on 05/30/2009 11:38:05 MDT Print View

Jim, I think you're right. Take care of the big stuff. The Philmont-issued bear bags won't matter for a group. The woven plastic bags aren't heavy. Even carrying two Philmont ropes wasn't a big deal for our crew either.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Philmont bearbagging on 05/30/2009 12:05:13 MDT Print View

I would submit there is another reason to look at smaller, lightweight bags, something we did last year and will do again this year. The total empty weight of our 9 meal bags, 1 crew gear smellable bag and 6-12 personal bags is probably higher than 3 or 4 of the PhilFeedBags. The difference is we can instantly identify which meal we need, or where someones personal stuff might be. Not a big deal on paper, but when it comes to maximizing your time, being able to find the right meal, or your own smellables is a big time saver. Same for packing up.

There isn't an oops bag anymore, everyone puts their stuff in their own (individually decorated) bags in the evening.


Edited by eaglemb on 05/30/2009 12:14:30 MDT.

paul buzzard
(troop208) - F
bearbags on 06/01/2009 15:12:16 MDT Print View

I would agree on using the phil ones. They get drug thru the dirt, etc, and they are heavy duty, but not real heavy. You can save a lot of personal weight with your crew by making sure they have decent personal packs, bags, sleeping pads, right amount of clothes, etc.

But the organizational point brought up is valid. We made sure to pack the bags by meal type before hanging, and the next breakfast was on top of the breakfast bag. We had full crew of 13, and 4 days food starting out, think we had 7 very full bags plus the oops bag, that was a lot to lift.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Ropes and Bags on 06/02/2009 08:48:59 MDT Print View

We used Amsteel blue rope. It is a weight savings but tough on the hands at times. We used Philmont issued bags and they were fine.

What we didn't do is organize our bags effectively like some of you have. Basically, we just dumped everything upside down each day to sort things out. In hindsight I wish we had used one of the methods described above.

Philmont bags aren't too heavy. They only Philmont items we took were the bags and sump kit.

Timothy F Mulligan
(tmulligan) - F
Philmont bearbagging on 07/09/2009 11:39:30 MDT Print View

We used the Philmont bear bags. I didn't have my digital scale with me, but they were very light. They definitely are not waterproof, or even water-resistant. We wished in hindsight that we had brought some light-weight sil-nylon dry bags.

We used the 7/64" AmSteel Blue rope. Hard on the hands, until some Scouts found sticks to use to get a grip and pull the rope.

Richard Haertling
(rhaertling) - F

Locale: Southwest
Using Amsteel Blue Rope For Bear Bags on 02/14/2010 14:45:05 MST Print View

We are planning to use the Amsteel rope rope and plan to use Al Geist's tech where the rope is placed in a small stuff sack and tossed over the bear cable. We tried this and had some problem with the rope tangling as it comes out of the stuff sack. Anyone have any suggestions on how to handle/wrap/store this thin rope so as to avoid tangles?

Thanks for the response below Al. We will try just stuffing the rope in the bag.

Edited by rhaertling on 02/14/2010 22:54:10 MST.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Using Amsteel Blue Rope For Bear Bags on 02/14/2010 20:38:34 MST Print View

> Anyone have any suggestions on how to handle/wrap/store this thin rope so as to avoid tangles?

Hi Richard,

Try just stuffing the rope in the small stuff sack. I found that if the rope was rolled up and put in the sack it had more tendency to tangle for two technical reasons:
1. rolling the rope up puts a twist in the rope that tries to untwist as the rope pulls out of the bag.
2. rolling the rope creates many loops in the bag. When one loop pulls through another, instant knot.

We had much better rope "reel out" from the bag when stuffed

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Coiling thin rope on 02/17/2010 11:08:08 MST Print View

> Anyone have any suggestions on how to handle/wrap/store this thin rope so as to avoid tangles?

Learn the figure eight coil. That does not put a twist in the rope.

For shorter ropes, learn the "over under coil", which also avoids putting twists in the line. I learned that as either the "RCA coil" or "CBS coil", I forget which.

My backstage teacher was picky about how we coiled the microphone cables.

Water rescue ropes are sometimes stuffed into a bag, so that might work, too.

Edited by wunder on 02/17/2010 11:09:03 MST.

Acronym Esq
( - F

Locale: TX
Re: Coiling thin rope on 02/19/2010 14:03:08 MST Print View

> Anyone have any suggestions on how to handle/wrap/store this thin rope so as to avoid tangles?

Stuffing the rope in a throw bag will work fine for thick braided nylon ropes (like a water rescue throw bag). I can see why you might have had trouble with tangles with thiner lines.

The coil I use for thin stuff is to wrap in a figure 8 pattern around my pinky and thumb. You can see an example at 5:43 of this video. I complete the coil by wrapping tightly around the hank 5-6 times and then tucking the final 6" tail through one of the pinky/thumb holes and then under one of the hank wraps. Pull tight.


acronym 2/19/2010 3:01 PM

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Coiling thin rope on 02/19/2010 14:22:37 MST Print View

+1 Acronym, this work very well- I use it for my bear bag line exclusively.
With a long line, it helps to have a larger spanned hand.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Using Amsteel Blue Rope For Bear Bags on 02/19/2010 16:05:33 MST Print View

> The coil I use for thin stuff is to wrap in a figure 8 pattern around my pinky and thumb.

This technique is OK for the thin cord shown in the video. It won't work with Amsteel Blue rope because of its larger diameter. Even a giant's hand would be too small.

Just stuffing the rope in the stuff sack is faster and easier for your scouts to do at Philmont.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Using Amsteel Blue Rope For Bear Bags on 02/19/2010 18:08:34 MST Print View

Al, I can do 50ft of 1/8 one my hand- not as fast as the video but it can be done.
I wouldn't expect the scout to be able to do it.
You cold also daisy chain the rope.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Using Amsteel Blue Rope For Bear Bags on 02/20/2010 14:02:53 MST Print View

> Al, I can do 50ft of 1/8 one my hand

Hi Tad,

That's pretty good. But Philmont wants you to carry 150ft
bear ropes, which is more than a handful!

Why 150'? The Philmont bear bag method requires doubling the rope and tying to separate trees so the effective length is 75ft.

Acronym Esq
( - F

Locale: TX
Re: Re: Using Amsteel Blue Rope For Bear Bags on 02/22/2010 01:07:01 MST Print View

So I just put the google to work for me to get a better understanding of what we are talking about. I'm amazed. This Amsteel blue stuff is magic light and strong. Do you really need to be able to haul 600 kg up in a tree (~30 full packs...)?

Idunno. Neat stuff tho.

45 m of 2.5 mm rope sounds like it would be tough to deal with. Is it stiff like braided nylon?

It's probably too big to palm hank it. I would try to get Al's method of bag stuffing to work. I suggest stuffing lengths a little shorter than the length of your stuff sack.

Another option would be to treat it like a climbing rope:
- butterfly coil
- flake before use (the guy in the video calls it "stacking").

I'm interested to know what solution you come up with.

acronym 2/22/2010 2:06 AM

Tom Wiygul
(twiygul) - F
Re: Philmont bearbagging on 08/11/2011 13:31:34 MDT Print View

Just recently completed a Philmont trek and used the Amsteel Blue 7/64 inch line for the oops bag. Our crewmembers did not find the Amsteel Blue to be worth the effort. It was hard on the hands, slipped more readily, and tangled easily. Next trek we will definitely stick with the Philmont ropes. The weight savings was not worth the bother of having to untangle ropes in the dark.

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Re: Philmont Bear Bagging and Weight Data on 08/19/2011 15:18:34 MDT Print View

Recently got back from a Philmont trek ... here's some data:

Philmont issued bear bags - the weight of ours averaged 4.3 oz EACH (= re-used grain bags ... the average weight is for those that were not cut down because of the edges unraveling).

Everyone in our crew brought their own food storage bag anyway so we used those for overnight storage on the bear-bag hangs and basically skipped using Philmont issued bags because they would have been redundant in terms of both weight & use ... plus, a benefit of this method is that it eliminated the morning "sorting out food" exercise - made for a quicker transition on getting breakfast and breaking camp).
We did use one Philmont issued bag (the only one we brought) for an "Oops" bag to store our lunches, dinners and misc for easy access that day.

Philmont issued bear ropes - the weight of the ones they issued to us averaged 1lb 8 oz EACH (dry).

Amsteel Blue - same length as Philmont ropes - the weight of ours averaged 5 oz EACH (= which is equial significant weight savings from the Philmont issued ropes)

Here is the outline of the techniques to avoid issues with use of this rope:
1.) To pull up loads effectively - these lines needed stick "pull handles". To accomplish this, small sticks needed to be wrapped with the rope. (The sticks are easily found around Philmont's camps)
2.) To avoid tangle issues when storing these ropes, they need to be daisy-chained (knitted) which works well
3.) ... plus, for good LNT practice - use stand-off sticks to protect the tree trunks from the rope wrap)
These techniques are easily done & mastered (with a little practice). The ropes are VERY durable while having the advantages of saving a lot of weight, they don't become water logged from the rain and it will rain and they save a lot space because they store much smaller than the Philmont issued lines.

Edited by tr-browsing on 06/08/2012 08:30:52 MDT.

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Re: Re: Philmont bearbagging on 08/28/2011 14:52:27 MDT Print View

Never thought of using stand-off sticks. Something to keep in mind. Thanks!

Karen Lewis
(karenlewis65) - F
Thanks on 09/02/2011 04:08:28 MDT Print View

That’s some good info on Philmont bear bagging. I was wondering about the preparation before going for it. Thanks for sharing info.

Donald Howard
(DonH) - F
UL Dry Bag Size fro Food on 04/12/2012 16:40:59 MDT Print View

I'm thinking each pair of boys will carry their own food in their own food bag.
What size dry bag should each boy to have?