November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Opsack instead of hanging food
Display Avatars Sort By:
Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Opsack instead of hanging food on 08/20/2012 10:55:23 MDT Print View

Who has used an Opsack kept with them in or near their shelter instead of hanging their food? I've done it several times in black bear territory, but mostly in the winter when bears are less active. Also, the bears are hunted where I usually hike.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Opsack instead of hanging food on 08/20/2012 11:40:22 MDT Print View

Andy, I have. Unfortunately I had some of my food broken into. Hanging it from a limb versus on the ground might be better. Trust my Ursack a bunch more

Art Tyszka
(arttyszka) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Ursack on 08/26/2012 17:29:06 MDT Print View

I love my Ursack, I usually never put it more than 50 ft from my tent, but always 4-5 feet off the ground just to keep some of the small critters from having a chance at it. I also use an Opsack to block the odor and feel that is an essential part of using it. I've never had a problem this way.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Opsack on 08/26/2012 22:06:08 MDT Print View

I do it almost always when hiking solo. I trust them. Having the food nearby is quite handy - especially for breakfast when it's raining outside and retrieving a bear hang is a pain. I love some hot oatmeal with berries and a coffee cooked in the vestibule on a rainy morning. I get fed, dressed and happy before heading out into the wet conditions.

When hiking with my wife we rarely do it - simply because we usually have too much food for an Opsak on our longer trips. I still often slip our breakfast into one though to make things easy in the morning.

It's something you have to decide for yourself. I personally trust them and remain vigilant to check for any holes or bad seals. YMMV.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Opsack on 08/26/2012 22:37:20 MDT Print View

Opsacks are pretty much useless when it comes to critters. My dog could smell food through them.

Hang your food.

William Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
fed bear is a dead bear on 08/27/2012 05:03:52 MDT Print View

No. I have a responsibility to the bears and to other hikers to protect my food better than that. Even if it's as odor-proof as I might reasonably hope, it's hard to be sure that no food smells get on the outside, that no small animals nibble a hole in it (after which it no longer provides any protection against a bear smelling my food), or that a curious bear coming through camp doesn't get close enough to smell food in or on it or poke a hole in it while pawing it. Once that happens, I've contributed to a cyle that makes it even more likely that lax methods will fail and that bears and humans will be in conflict. Where bears associate people with getting food, bad stuff happens.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Opsack instead of hanging food on 08/27/2012 08:02:53 MDT Print View

I just got off a trip on the northern AT. I was surprised that no one did a bear hang through there. I talked to a lot of hikers about it. Most through hikers said they only hung their food in the Smokies. They either slept with their food or hung it from a lean-to at about 4 feet high.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Re: opsak on 08/27/2012 09:19:37 MDT Print View

I'd imagine that if you're careful, the amount of smell you transfer to the outside of an opsak wouldn't be any more than the amount of smell you transfer to your own clothes and pack throughout the course of a day. Didn't Andrew Skurka successfully sleep with his food in an opsak for his entire Alaska trek? Of course, I'm sure his "bear avoidance" techniques had some thing to do with his success:

From all that I've read on BPL, it seems that animals will find an opsak if left outside somewhere in plain view. But I can't help but think this is because animals just notice the out-of-place plastic or the smell of the plastic itself and go to investigate. What do you guys think of sleeping with your food using an opsak in conjunction with a nyloflume bag for extra insurance against any small punctures? This would keep the food out of sight and the smell minimal.

Recently, I have switched to using an ursack for my food. I honestly could not always find a good place to hang my food, so I figured this would be the best solution. I think if most other backpackers were honest with themselves, then they'd admit they've had at least one or two sub-par hangs.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Re: opsak on 08/27/2012 11:24:36 MDT Print View

None of us are Andrew Skurka. Having had several bear encounters, if you can hang your it.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Opsack instead of hanging food on 08/27/2012 11:49:21 MDT Print View

Double-bagging in two Opsacks appears to have worked in this casual backyard experiment:

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
fed bear on 08/27/2012 11:55:49 MDT Print View

It MAY work but remember a bear can get through an opsack.

Bears have super hero sense of smell. They can find a carcass from MILES away.

Your opsack probably won't prevent them from finding it... just slowing them down.

The key issue is a fed bear is a dead bear.

If they find it they're going to start associating food with humans.

A dead bear isn't worth 1lb of weight savings.

The ursack is a good optimization though. It's what I use and I LOVE it...

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Opsack instead of hanging food on 08/27/2012 17:53:39 MDT Print View

"Double-bagging in two Opsacks appears to have worked in this casual backyard experiment:"

I have recently started using the Nylobarrier OP sacks from They are larger, lighter, MUCH easier to seal and have stay sealed, and cheaper. This is the case even when double bagging, as I do, just to be on the safe side and have a backup if one gets punctured. I have not run into any bears so far, but I am confident enough in their effectiveness to sleep with my food if I can't find a good hanging branch or am above treeline.

Todd T
(texasbb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: fed bear is a dead bear on 08/27/2012 19:44:42 MDT Print View

"No. I have a responsibility to the bears and to other hikers to protect my food better than that." --William Segraves, above


Just look what's happened in CA.

steven franchuk
Ursacks with OP bags didn't work in California on 08/27/2012 23:34:54 MDT Print View

See page 4 and 5 of the comments on this recent post The food was in OP bags inside Ursacks. The bear ignored the bear proof canisters and then went straight for the Ursacks. The Ursacks didn't hold up well.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Location on 08/29/2012 01:30:14 MDT Print View

I do protect my food from bears properly, but I also believe in the theory that says to put your food somewhere bears do not expect it.

Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
Situational, at best on 08/29/2012 07:07:53 MDT Print View

I've used an UrSack lined with an Opsack full of food in Ziploc freezer bags, and haven't had an encounter... yet. But I think it's important to think about just where you're hiking, what time of year it is, what the weather's been like, etc., before you make up your mind.

I've had success when I've hiked in/around Colorado's Front Range, in the middle of the summer. In that region, at that time of year, all kinds of tourists are in town. The bears tend to trek down to the many established campgrounds, small mountain towns, and cottages-- where there are lots of trash bins, bird feeders, roadkill carcasses, and carelessly stored foods (my favorite: someone left a bunch of half-full beer bottles on the picnic table outside their RV, and was awakened in the night by a bear tipping over the bottles and licking the table clean). Berries are starting to ripen then, too. So, going higher in the range, away from those places, has helped me avoid the bears (or so I think).

Plus, I've found it very difficult to hang my food effectively when all the trees I see are 10-12 ft subalpine firs. So it made sense to me to choose tying an UrSack as high on a tree as I can.

When I head out in Fall, and the bears are going ballistic looking to eat anything and everything in prep for hibernation, I use my bear canister.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
not reliable on 09/05/2012 12:59:35 MDT Print View

The last time I went OPSAK-only, a raccoon promptly dragged away all our food.

Animals have finely tuned senses of smell. Don't trust a thick layer of plastic.

- Elizabeth

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: not reliable on 09/05/2012 13:41:24 MDT Print View

"The last time I went OPSAK-only, a raccoon promptly dragged away all our food."

Did your food bag contain tortilla chips?

Once while car camping, I left the tortilla chips sitting out after dark near the tent. I was hurrying to pack the food away when I heard a noise and looked up to see a blur of something moving rapidly downhill away from the tent. I was relieved to discover that the raccoons had abducted the tortilla chips rather than one of the kids! Investigation by flashlight revealed 8-12 raccoons. Charging at them resulted in being charged myself. I finally gave up, but I was up until 2 am listening to them munch on the chips right outside my tent.

I was tempted to leave the hot salsa out for them.