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Turbo Bear Bag Hanging
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Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: re: bear bagging on 09/11/2009 21:07:07 MDT Print View

"The important point is that there are clearly many areas where hanging is still an option: nearly everywhere outside of the Sierra, Sierra north of Yosemite including Tahoe region, much of SEKI--at least for 2009."

This is true, Kevin, but with one caveat: The frontcountry types, at least in the Owens Valley Ranger Stations, who actually issue the permits go through a spiel about proper hanging technique, which holds that there is only one permissible way to hang your food, i.e. the old fashioned counter balance method. They even give you a sheet demonstrating same and require you to initial a line on your permit stating that you have read it. I guess this is so you cannot plead ignorance if they catch you using another method. They insist that you follow it if you are not carrying a canister. I tried to reason with one of them about the weaknesses of the old counter balance method and she really got in my face about it. I got the distinct impression she was about to hold up my permit if I didn't back off. A typical front country bureaucrat, but they are the ones issuing the permits. My point is to be discreet if you use another method in SEKI or the wilderness areas on its eastern border, especially where you are likely to encounter a ranger. That said, I use the PCT method anyway, but I frequent areas where running into a ranger is not high on my list of concerns, nor bears for that matter. However, you have just given me a very interesting alternative to the PCT method, which I find problematic because I am only 5" 8" and often find it difficult to tie off the clove hitch high enough to keep the food bag 10' off the ground. I take comfort by telling myself that 99.9% of Sierra bears can't reach 9' off the ground, which is about the max that I can usually achieve. I'm already thinking of switching to your method, though, as it seems easier and more effective. Thanks for putting this article on BPL.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: Clarification on 09/11/2009 21:53:41 MDT Print View

Karl wrote:

"If you meant to say that you split your hangs in places that are like Tuolumne Meadows but are not themselves Tuolumne Meadows, then your phrasing was unclear."

You are correct: my comment was misleading and dates to memories from a more distant time. I've backpacked and camped in Tuolumne Meadows for over 35 years. Bear canisters have been required there only since 2004 or 2005. I used to split my hangs in Tuolumne Meadows--last in 2003 when hanging food was still legal. I still split my food into two hangs in other high bear traffic areas where hanging is allowed but have used a canister since it was required--including my son's and my trip through there earlier this summer.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Turbo Bear Bag Hanging on 09/12/2009 04:37:15 MDT Print View

Nice article with video. Now come East and try that cowboy toss in a dense forest. : ) Good thing to know. As someone else mentioned, being short and female, I too have lightened my load enough to carry a small bear canister and not deal with all that, especially when I'm tired. And while all my other hiking friends are busy finding a suitable tree, I sit on the canister and watch the entertainment.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Re: RE: Turbo Bear Bag Hanging on 09/12/2009 17:09:47 MDT Print View

Instead of throwing a single rock, a small silnylon stuff sack filled with gravel and tied to p-cord works really well, too, and is less dangerous when coming down. About 8-10 ounces is plenty.

Also you get throws to 50 feet if you flake your p-cord on clear ground or your tarp/tent fabric and throw underhand with about a foot of slack or so. Even better is if you have a plastic or metal ring that you can put a loop of cord through and pinch then throw that. Practice makes perfect.

This is standard tree climbing stuff that arborists, recreational tree climbers, and canopy scientists use to get into short trees or inside crowns of tall trees: first they throw p-cord with a throw bag.

Edited by romandial on 09/12/2009 17:10:26 MDT.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: RE: Turbo Bear Bag Hanging on 09/15/2009 00:57:37 MDT Print View

Kevin- great video and some new techniques for me. Thank you!

I've used the PCT method for years- I'm curious why you prefer the tie to the side method?

Ken Charpie
(kencharpie) - MLife

Locale: Western Oregon
Awesome write up! on 09/15/2009 01:51:12 MDT Print View

Thanks for the write up! Looking forward to trying this and the previous write up on this site for the PCT method.

Especially appreciate the video.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
RE: Turbo Bear Bag Hanging on 09/15/2009 09:58:34 MDT Print View

With the PCT method you can't pull the food as high (you're limited to half of your hang height plus your height) and can't pull it away from the tree to make it more confusing. I've never had a bear find the tie off rope except by accident and in that one case she bumped into it and walked toward the food. Having it hit the tie off tree at 5-6 feet prevents these accidental encounters.

Additionally the PCT method is more "fussy" (you have to hold the food while you tie in the string).

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
Hanging the bear bag line on 09/16/2009 12:43:01 MDT Print View

Another method to get your line up into the trees is to use a sling-shot to launch a small line with a weight on the end over the selected branch. Then tie your larger line used for hanging your bear bag onto the end of the lighter line and hoist it up.

To make your sling shot, use the method used to make guy-line tensioners, but do not have the line connected in the middle of the rubber tubing. The tubing will then stretch out to become the sling-shot power cord. Attach one end to the top of an Easton tent peg, the other to webbing to hold the shot

Here are photos of the sling-shot:

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: Hanging the bear bag line on 09/16/2009 12:50:50 MDT Print View

That's pretty slick--and for self defense too! I like how it breaks down into innocent pieces.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Hanging the bear bag line on 09/16/2009 23:51:34 MDT Print View

Yes- good points Kevin. It is tough to get that stick tied in place with the PCT method. Your approach is easier on that end for sure.'ve got me thinking...



Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
RE: Turbo Bear Bag Hanging on 09/17/2009 11:53:31 MDT Print View


I really enjoyed the article and the video! I found them to be very helpful.

Thank you for your thoroughness. :)


Denis Grabill
(gonzo) - F

Locale: west central ohio
re: bear bagging.... on 09/25/2009 15:33:10 MDT Print View

i've found that i am able to roll my 100' of parachute cord up into a ball (sort of like a ball of twine) and i can unwrap a length of cord and toss the remaining ball up over my chosen branch.... if i miss, i just roll the cord back up into a ball and try again.... never failed to get it hung yet in over 30 years of backpacking (better still....yogi's never gotten to my food bag!!)

Derek Ruhland
(DerekRuhland) - F

Locale: Southern California
rope recommendation on 03/23/2011 17:38:26 MDT Print View


Awesome article. Very well written and easy to understand. I know I am a bit late to the party on this thread, but I was wondering if you have a specific recommendation for the type of rope. None of the options on this site are 3mm or over, and all are higher than 300lb test. I looked into parachord, because the sheath is tightly woven, but again the test is higher than is probably realistic to break with body weight (about 450lb for the weakest one). Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Rope on 03/23/2011 21:27:05 MDT Print View

3mm cord is about right, parachute cord also works. While the test is ~300# I've relied on being able to break the rope by leaving the inevitable nicks that develop near the end due to the rock landing on it when throwing the rope. The spectra cord is never going to break. Fortunately I haven't had to break a rope for several years now.