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Bear avoidance and packing your cookware
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Robert Larue
(RobertL) - F
Bear avoidance and packing your cookware on 09/13/2010 10:53:40 MDT Print View

The bear discussion is pretty common and the general guidelines for cooking are well known ( example here). What about carrying your cookware?

Here's the situation I run into all the time: I make a meal, clean up and then have to put my pot back into my pack - crammed in there with my sleeping bag, extra clothes etc etc. Doesn't this defeat many of the bear avoidance precautions? Won't my pack and everything else get contaminated with odors? Is it even worth worrying about it? Should cookware be stored in an OP sak?

My cookware has a dedicated silnylon stuff sack, but I have trouble believing that it does anything more than keeping soot off of my other gear.

Thoughts, techniques and comments would be great!

Edited by RobertL on 09/13/2010 14:53:02 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Bear avoidance and packing your cookware on 09/13/2010 13:15:33 MDT Print View

Both links are to this thread.

Edited by jshann on 09/13/2010 13:16:03 MDT.

Robert Larue
(RobertL) - F
RE: Bear avoidance and packing your cookware on 09/13/2010 14:54:52 MDT Print View


Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Bear avoidance and packing your cookware on 09/13/2010 15:20:09 MDT Print View

Try freezer bag cooking. No food goes in the pot so you don't have to worry about it getting on anything in your pack.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Bear avoidance and packing your cookware on 09/13/2010 15:28:20 MDT Print View

I have a large stuff sack food bag which I store my cookware in, along with my food of course.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Dangerous Bears on 09/13/2010 17:59:34 MDT Print View

Amusing, but not for little kids.

Buck Stolberg
(bstolberg) - MLife

Locale: Harlem
Bears Try To Eat Food, Not Smells on 09/13/2010 18:45:42 MDT Print View

In my experience and from what I've gathered from others, bears use their amazing nose to discriminate between food and food smells.

While the smell of cooking on your clothing or gear might attract a bear to your site, they know that people don't harbor Ramen and powdered milk under their t-shirts. They will rustle through your pots if they are left out, but after a cursory sniff they can tell it isn't worth finishing the job your brillo pad started.

Bears use their noses to target the worthwhile stuff, much like a thru-hiker choosing between an AYCE buffet or a stick of sugar-free gum. To them it is an Easter egg hunt, using their smell radar to hunt down your densely packed high calorie goodie bag. They've got things to do and places to be, and will soon be on their way if your candy is locked away.

All bets are off with truly wild bears though. If they can't tell the difference between a bipedal hominid (or quadruped w/hiking sticks) and a trash can, they might feel the need to get a taste. Read some of the journals from folks who walked around Alaska and how bears ran at them to find out what they were.

Michael Haubert
(SoCalMike) - F

Locale: So Cal
Bear Canister/Pots & Pans on 09/13/2010 19:55:45 MDT Print View

If you're using a bear canister but are afraid your pots and pans, etc will attract bears, what you do you do then? You're not going to shove all of your cookware into a canister. Are people placing food, toothpaste, etc in the canister and leaving the pots/pans somewhere else? It seems to me that if you hang your food, you're probably capable of hanging your cookware, etc along with your grub. But those using canisters just keep their cookware with the rest of their stuff. Is this accurate?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Bear Canister/Pots & Pans on 09/13/2010 22:34:41 MDT Print View

If you are not using a bear canister, and then if you are hanging your food in a tree, you can use your cookware on the tree. Tie a cord through the cook pot and mug handles and around the tree trunk about 4-5 feet off the ground. If a bear comes into camp and decides to climb the tree, he will make a racket trying to get around all of the hardware. That gives you some warning to wake up and defend your food hang.


First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Pot on 09/13/2010 22:38:03 MDT Print View

At night I put my pot and cup on top of the bear can. It's never touched. As somebody else said, it may smell like food, but there isn't really food in it so the bear isn't interested.

During the day I often pack the pot inside the bear can. I do it because the pot fits better in the can then anywhere else in my pack.

Early in the trip this means I have to remove some food from the can and carry it in a plastic bag in my pack. That's OK, its at night that you have to make sure all your food is stored inside the can.

Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Re: Bear avoidance and packing your cookware on 09/13/2010 23:02:44 MDT Print View

Most of the food we eat when backpacking just needs hot water to "cook". Our mugs are cleaned after use and the pot smells like smoke, all are placed in the kitchen area at our camp. We also keep our food in the kitchen area in ursacks. We have had bears come through our tarp and kitchen areas while we slept, but none have ever explored the mugs or the pots. I wouldn't worry about a bear tracking you for the smell coming off the pot while you walked either.

Granted, we camp in less visited areas than most, but I would think the pot smelling of smoke would mask any remnant odors.

this is our kitchen area from last Saturday

Alpine Camp at sunset

and, about 150 meters away, the tarp camp

Pyramid Tarp Camp

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Bear avoidance and packing your cookware on 09/14/2010 05:22:15 MDT Print View

While I'm sure there's merit to some of the other advise and experience here, I simply don't take the chance. EVERY smellable, including toothbrush and toothpaste, gets hung every night. I usually only boil water, but if my pot smells like food, it gets clipped to the outside of my pack.