Forum Index » GEAR » Opsack + bear canister to avoid bear run ins and to increase safety.


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Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
Opsack + bear canister to avoid bear run ins and to increase safety. on 09/06/2012 17:12:04 MDT Print View

I think I just had an epiphany... maybe someone of you have already had it.

There was a thread here (can't find the link) about someone hanging food up for a month in their back yard and the opsack was never touched (vs a control).

I have always looked at an opsack as a tool to hold things that have a LOT of odor.

But it dawned on me that even if the bar CAN NOT get to your food (because its safely in a bear canister), that NOT attracting him to your camp site is a real solid advantage.

Basically just for YOUR safety (and the bears).

I mean he won't get to your food either way but at 2AM you won't be freaked out with some monster walking around your camp.

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
question. on 09/06/2012 17:12:54 MDT Print View

And my main question.. I forgot to ask it.

... does anyone do this? If I get a LARGE opsack and seal it will the plastic eventually break?

I'm thinking of getting a LARGE opsack and ALWAYS keeping my food in it.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Opsack + bear canister to avoid bear run ins and to increase safety. on 09/06/2012 17:17:15 MDT Print View

Bear Canisters aren't smell proof? I kinda assumed that they were.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Opsack + bear canister to avoid bear run ins and to increase safety. on 09/06/2012 17:37:45 MDT Print View

No Bear Canisters are definitely not smell proof and yes putting contents in an Opsack first is absolutely a good idea. The Opsack is a mandatory piece of gear in my opinion because it is your first line of defense. If animals don't smell it they generally won't come.

Unfortunately in some areas where Bears and other critters have come to associate Human presence with food then they may come investigate the area whether they smell food or not because they smell you. It's also unfortunate that many who ONLY use Bear Canisters contribute to that problem because Bears DO smell their stuff and come investigate and thus the connection between Humans and Food begins.

Edited by randalmartin on 09/06/2012 17:38:25 MDT.

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
regular camp ground on 09/06/2012 22:33:41 MDT Print View

... this is why I hate regular camp sites.

I'm a hammock camper so I can camp pretty much anywhere. In yosemite this means I can come up with some pretty creative sites that few (if any) people have ever camped at.

In Yellowstone we were in bear/wolf country and the regular camp grounds scared me because I was worried about regular visitors.

Kronos Master of Fate
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Opsack + bear canister to avoid bear run ins and to increase safety. on 09/06/2012 22:46:40 MDT Print View

Reread this.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=60464&skip_to_post=573222#573222

Edited by kthompson on 09/06/2012 23:01:11 MDT.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
. on 09/06/2012 22:51:58 MDT Print View

Everyone too worried about getting attacked by a bear, its never going to happen!

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Only my experience, but on 09/06/2012 23:07:17 MDT Print View

we just spent almost two weeks camping in an area where we got pictures of 7 different bears, NONE of whom bothered us. We use Bear Vaults and keep them a distance away. Also, we add a key finder to the canister and add reflective tape. Sometimes the bears take the canister for a bit of a stroll. ;-)

Edited by toesnorth on 09/06/2012 23:14:20 MDT.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Yes on 09/06/2012 23:19:25 MDT Print View

I've seen this recommended several times before. I think it's a good idea. Personally, I use an Opsack plus a PCT hang using an Ursack Minor (the one that is critter proof, not bear proof) away from camp, as the best of all worlds. Wouldn't work in areas where canisters are required / habituated kamikazee bears, but it works really well here.


The one downside is that I really, really hate the design of the Opsack. It is just impossible to make and keep a seal on the opening. It seems the slightest pressure, even just moving the bag around, opens it up completely.

Edited by dasbin on 09/06/2012 23:23:18 MDT.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Re: . on 09/06/2012 23:26:22 MDT Print View

"Everyone too worried about getting attacked by a bear, its never going to happen!"

Um... tell that to the people it has happened to.

It's unlikely, yet it happens every year. Writing off the possibility wholesale while hiking in bear country is as stupid as ignoring the possibility of getting hit by lightning while hiking through a thunderstorm.

In any case, not sure what this has to do with the thread. It seems fairly obvious the primary concern here is food security.

Edited by dasbin on 09/06/2012 23:27:13 MDT.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Alaska
Opsacks? on 09/07/2012 00:09:46 MDT Print View

While Opsacks might be initially beneficial, I just don't see them holding up over multi-day trips. Eventually, residue from your hands (or the food) will get on the bag, and then its effectiveness is compromised. I'm not saying they're totally useless, but bears' sense of smell is quite acute. In addition, f you're having to camp in a designated backcountry site, chances are the bears don't even need to smell you - they'll just make the rounds and find your canister regardless.

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
opsack on 09/07/2012 05:25:07 MDT Print View

I have been thinking of trying an opsack for my hang bag.
They don't require bear canisters around here, and a good hang bag is the generally accepted system.
The raccoons are probably the more likely critter to get the food.

I agree that if they don't smell it, they won't try to get it. But the comments about the opsack sealing are a concern.

Presently, I carry my food and cooking gear in a separate carry bag with a shoulder strap, so none of it is in my pack. All the smells are isolated into the one bag.
When I cook and eat, it's all out of that bag, and goes back into that bag. When I'm done eating, I just attach a line to the bag handle strap and hoist it up to a good hang.
Hopefully, that means that my pack, tent, sleeping gear, and clothes, are not smelling like food to attract critters.....much.

If you are cooking and eating, it's probably impossible to eliminate all odors completely. The animals are going to smell even the slightest whiff.

Edited by towaly on 09/07/2012 05:32:39 MDT.

Andy Chasse'
(AndyC)

Locale: The Front Range
Opsack on 09/07/2012 16:55:25 MDT Print View

Definitely agree with the above comments about the durability/closure issues of the opsack. I've used them for about a year in conjunction with a stuff sack and hang. They could be really awesome bags, but they just don't last. They usually develop some sort of puncture after a few trips, at least in my experience. The big problem though is the closure - the seal just doesn't hold, which makes the whole thing useless.

Edited by AndyC on 09/07/2012 16:56:03 MDT.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Opsac + canister on 09/08/2012 19:41:07 MDT Print View

"There was a thread here (can't find the link) about someone hanging food up for a month in their back yard and the opsack was never touched (vs a control)."

That may have been the one from me. But great care was used in the kitchen at home to get the food into the Opsac (and the Ziplocks in the control bag) without getting any traces on the outside. The purpose of the test was to see if the Opsacs would work for caches hung from limbs in Ursacks. Since then, caches hung in this manner, but much higher, for over a week below tree line in Colorado were not disturbed. Both were not far from areas where backpackers camp, one in the Rawahs, and one on the CDT just off Rainbow Road. People were just as big a concern as bears and other critters, so the caches were well concealed.

But the Opsacs were used only once, double bagged one Opsac over another, and the outer one secured with the 'Clip 'n Seal' bag clips available from Amazon. All that went into a no longer sold green Ursack that was prepared at home, and hung high.

For daily use, it is doubtful that one could avoid getting food odors on the exterior of the Opsacs. I just hang food as high as I can throw a rock in a Kevlar Ursack that is intended for smaller critters, and have never had a problem in the lower Rockies or the Northeastern US, except for the one time I foolishly left a bottle of blueberry kool-aid next to the tent near the AT. Since I seldom camp above timberline in Colorado in order to avoid lightning exposure, there is no issue about finding a tree.

Away from campgrounds, the bears don't seem to be much of a problem in Colorado or the NE, but in other places frequented by bears used to people with food, it seems from the many threads on BPL that canisters work, except in the instances when bears make off with them. Maybe they can be secured somehow against this.

My only foray into serious bear country involved grizzes in the Canadian Rockies, and they went through every inch of my pack even with no food in it - just the odors transferred into the pack through plastic food bags and a stuff sack may have brought them lumbering into the campsite. Since solitude is a major reason I backpack, I avoid such areas now. Good luck on those of you who don't.

Jason G
(JasonG) - F

Locale: iceberg lake
dabearz on 09/08/2012 21:21:11 MDT Print View

"Everyone too worried about getting attacked by a bear, its never going to happen!"

^ in the sierras I pretty much agree(grizzly country is a different story)

I try to avoid cans for the most part and have never had an issue with bears. Mostly do a pct hang and sometimes ill just sleep with it.

I don't know if you guys have seen the commercial I'm in but bears just don't mess with me ;) ya just gotta show em who's the hungrier bear

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f94WI-0chv4&feature=related

steven franchuk
(Surf) - M
Re: dabearz on 09/08/2012 23:30:51 MDT Print View

"it seems from the many threads on BPL that canisters work, except in the instances when bears make off with them. Maybe they can be secured somehow against this."

I have never heard of bear "making off with them". The bear canister is sized so that the bear cannot carry it in his mouth. The beast a bear can do is role it down a hill or off a cliff. Now some bears did figure out how to open some of the earlier BearVaults, but since then they I have read that they changed the latch design to prevent that. If a bear manages to open it (or find one left open) they can easily carry it away in there mouth. Non of my friends have ever lost one or had it fail in California or knows of anyone who has.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: dabearz on 09/08/2012 23:42:49 MDT Print View

"it seems from the many threads on BPL that canisters work, except in the instances when bears make off with them. Maybe they can be secured somehow against this."

There is one way that the bear can make off with a bear canister, and that is when the human gets one of those nifty carrying cases for it. They are typically made of nylon, and it gives the bear something that it can bite into for carrying. A variation of that is when the human stores the bear canister inside the backpack.

--B.G.--

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: dabearz on 09/09/2012 01:29:11 MDT Print View

I have slept a little bit in places with black bears, but not many people and always slept with my food right next to me. I figure that a campfire before bed should scare most of them off, unless they can't see the fire and travel to my camp during the night after it goes out. A black bear walking into my camp in an underused area would probably be a result of the bear not sensing my presence. An encounter would probably be more disturbing than dangerous. On a long trip, I would actually consider not sleeping next (or close) to your food to be completely stupid, you are more likely to end up in a survival situation or a generally crappy situation by losing your food to a bear than end up getting injured by the bear.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: dabearz on 09/09/2012 02:05:28 MDT Print View

> Now some bears did figure out how to open some of the earlier BearVaults, but since then they I have read that they changed the latch design to prevent that.

My understanding is that they did indeed change the design, and that the bear (yellow-yellow, Adirondacks) opened the new design as well. I've never heard of a western bear opening a Bear Vault.

Edited by blean on 09/09/2012 02:06:45 MDT.

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
Opsacks + bearcans on 09/09/2012 20:09:27 MDT Print View

If you are hiking someplace where bear cans are required, such as most of the Sierra Nevada, then the bears are used to seeing and interacting with hikers and campers.
These bears know that campers bring yummy food and furthermore they know what bear cans are and by experience know that they can't get into them!
So put up your tent, put out your bear can a little distance away, and go to sleep with confidence. If a bear comes by she will just move on as there is no food reward to be had. Bottom line, the opsack is not needed.