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Bears -n- Bivys
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Chris Jones
(NightMarcher) - F
Bears -n- Bivys on 11/11/2009 17:37:02 MST Print View

When hiking/camping in bear country, would it be advisable to sleep in a tent over a bivy or a bivy/tarp combo, or does it really matter?

I suppose a half-millimeter of fabric (even Ripstop) is not going help in terms of bear protection, but perhaps that a tent could appear more "intimidating" than a bivy in terms of size may have a psychological advantage.


Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Bears -n- Bivys on 11/11/2009 17:45:44 MST Print View

Good question. Without hijacking your post, may I pose an additional question?

What is the best thing to do if you're in a tent or bivy, and you hear/see a bear poking around outside? Lay silent? Make noise?

Edit: I see that there was another thread on this topic, but not too much was offered as real "evidence" or "statistically supported" options as to what to do in the situation. Oh, and I promise I'm not trying to hijack the OP's question! Answer his first!

Edited by T.L. on 11/11/2009 17:55:57 MST.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
one layer or two on 11/11/2009 17:47:45 MST Print View

Put your mind at rest, if he wants to eat ya, one layer or two isn't going to make a difference. That said, I've only heard of this happening twice and it was kids under 12 in both cases. You may want to become a scout master or big brother :o)

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Yum on 11/11/2009 17:49:11 MST Print View

They don't call 'em bear burritos for nothin.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Re: Bears -n- Bivys on 11/11/2009 18:04:10 MST Print View

I think I'd follow the advice that's out there. Black Bear: Raise a ruckus, Brown Bear: Slowly draw back the hammer on your Winchester and wait for him to go away.

Chris Jones
(NightMarcher) - F
Sleeping with Bear Spray Underneath Your Pillow on 11/11/2009 18:24:07 MST Print View


A separate, but related question is, do you sleep with your bear spray underneath your pillow, or within reaching distance?

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
Bears -n- Bivys on 11/11/2009 18:31:29 MST Print View

Those times when I have had a bear visit camp at night, I have just started yelling and waving a flashlight around. Of course these have always been black bears. Every time, the bear has just ambled away looking totally unconcerned. The most recent time was after the bear had chewed a hole in one of the waist belt pockets of my pack. This was to get at the trail mix I had forgotten to put in the bear can before bedtime. I'll swear the bear gave me a smirk, a burp, and a brief chuckle as he/she strolled casually away.

Whether I was sleeping under the stars or in a tent has never seemed to make much difference in the way the bear reacted.

Edited by Rincon on 11/11/2009 18:33:44 MST.

James Patsalides
( - MLife

Locale: New England
Bears -n- Bivys on 11/11/2009 19:57:50 MST Print View

I keep my bear spray in easy reach on my right hand side (in one of my sneakers) and my water bottle on the other side. I always keep it in the exact same place, so I can grab it in the dark. I think Mr Bear will leave you alone if you a diligent about sealing and hanging all your smelly stuff - food, candy, garbage, toothpaste etc. Even those tasty medications and fruity perfumes (!).

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Bears -n- Bivys on 11/11/2009 20:06:32 MST Print View

"Brown Bear: Slowly draw back the hammer on your Winchester", put the barrel in your mouth, and......

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Sleeping with Bear Spray Underneath Your Pillow on 11/11/2009 20:18:10 MST Print View

Actually I don't have a Winchester, but my bear spray hangs from the ridge line of my Hammock.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Sleeping with Bear Spray Underneath Your Pillow on 11/11/2009 20:23:23 MST Print View

>"Brown Bear: Slowly draw back the hammer on your Winchester", put the barrel in your mouth, and......

>>Actually I don't have a Winchester, but my bear spray hangs from the ridge line of my Hammock.

I heard bear spray doesn't taste all that good though....

But seriously, I found this on the Virginia Department of Game and Fisheries website:
"If you hear a bear or other animal outside your tent make sure it is aware that there is a human inside by using a firm monotone voice. Turn on a flashlight or lantern. If the bear enters the tent fight back and yell. Many bears have been driven off this way."

Edited by T.L. on 11/11/2009 20:28:16 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Speculation on 11/11/2009 23:58:56 MST Print View

My speculation is that you will have a small advantage in a tent because it's large and unfamiliar to a bear, so they may leave this 'large unknown object' alone. In a tarp/bivy the bear may be able to discern that you and the tarp are different things and you are just a smaller edible morsel laying underneath a strange tarp.

Maybe I'm over thinking this, but I still feel safer in a tent. If I'm sleeping under a tarp then I'd rather have it pitched pyramid style so I'm mostly enclosed, rather than pitching it with the ends open.

Edited by dandydan on 11/12/2009 00:09:38 MST.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Speculation on 11/12/2009 02:16:10 MST Print View


Edited by jshann on 11/12/2009 02:51:04 MST.

Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Re: Bears -n- Bivys on 11/12/2009 06:14:14 MST Print View

I developed a plan one night when I got to camp early and was laying for hours just enjoying the stars.

That night I decided that if a bear came anywhere near me I would take my sleeping bag (I use it like a quilt), make it into giant pterodactyl wings by grabbing the corners (Color side facing out if possible, ofcourse) and then use my fire steel to make sparks while cawing like a madmen. It made for a good laugh, but to this day, I think that would be my first reaction.

Who knows if it would work, but I imagine the bear being a bit curious and then thinking "What the Eff is that! Forget this, not worth dealing with that thing."

Jonathan DeYoung
(jdeyoung81) - F

Locale: New England
RE: Bears -n- Bivys on 11/12/2009 06:44:17 MST Print View

years ago while on a trip in northern NH we had a bear come in on our backcountry site late at night in the fall. after being woken by a fist to the groin to warn me I let out a yelp and the bear just took off...

That being said it was a black bear and they are a little less scarey in then a neighborhood poodle here in New Enland.

Just the introduction of a new noise to a non socialized black bear usually is enough to get them to move along in my opinion. Not sure about those camp ground bears that have no fear.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: RE: Bears -n- Bivys on 11/12/2009 08:43:30 MST Print View

Not too sure about bears, but I know 9 out of 10 chupacabras prefer people in bivys. Easier to eat your nose off.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Bear suit on 11/12/2009 09:25:21 MST Print View

LOL @ Andrew

If I were to join you on a trip, it would be worth the extra pounds to bring a bear suit, just to see the performance

Zack Karas
( - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Black bears aren't out there to eat you. on 11/12/2009 09:41:42 MST Print View

I was out with a friend who preferred to cowboy camp. He was awoken one night by a wet bear nose rubbing across his cheek. He just calmly starting talking to the bear, and as the bear started to amble away, my friend started to turn up the volume. This is when I awoke, poked my head out of my shelter, and saw my friend standing there in his underwear and shouting into the woods. He was known as "Crazy Dave" for the remainder of that hike.

Jim Carr
(jcarr) - F

Locale: Humboldt County
Bears on 11/12/2009 11:51:31 MST Print View

About 20 years ago on the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway I had a noise wake me up at 2 am. I sat up wondering who is out there when a black bear came to the front of my tent. I was about to make a new door when it stuck its nose into the mesh and took a big whiff emptying the tent of air then turned around and left. I never felt so good about smelling so bad!!

Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
Bears on 11/12/2009 12:11:19 MST Print View

My first reaction to any noise is to yell "who's there?" apparently... the wind in branches wakes me up, I holler. Much to the annoyance of my neighbors in their tents.

One night it was a bear... he didn't answer but I heard him walking. And then a number of yards away, one of the group shouted, and a few seconds later the bear blinked in the light of multiple headlamps as he was licking a large Bear Vault... Bear scrammed under the scrutiny of several yelling hikers and left the can, which was then moved a few more yards away from the tents.... I love the JMT, but not for the amount of sleep you get. Anyway, the only thing the bear touched other than the saliva covered canister was a little pringles can left out on a rock - it had fishing tackle in it. There was a nice big tooth puncture in the side. None of the pots, platypus bladders, tents, tarps or packs were disturbed.