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Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Bingo! We have a winner! on 01/08/2014 20:15:53 MST Print View

"I guess I could just forgo shelters all together, but then I feel like I will miss out on a social aspect of the trail."

Good plan all around, IMO.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Don't waste your money on 01/08/2014 20:20:21 MST Print View

Matthew,
When I was younger, I spent hundreds of summer nights in the southern Appalachian backcountry, both on and off the AT, and during this time I pretty much tested the limits of not protecting my food at night (don't ask me why, it's a long story).

My empirical observations were as follows:

Probability of getting my unprotected food bags nibbled on by rodents while camped in a "stealth campsite" - 5-10%

Probability of getting my unprotected food bags stolen by bears while camped in a "stealth campsite" - effectively zero

Probability of getting my unprotected food bags nibbled on by rodents while camped in an AT shelter - 95%

Probability of getting my food bags (carefully hung on the makeshift food lines inside shelters) nibbled on by rodents while camped in an AT shelter - 5-10%

I never had a problem with bears, although admittedly, I also almost never camped in well established backcountry "campsites."

The one exception to my bear experience was in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In that park, you are forced to camp only in designated campsites, and the park is filled with scavenging bears who know what they are doing and will frequent the campsites specifically to look for food (I saw a few of these guys in person). All my food was always hung a la the park rules and I never had an incident where a bear (or rodent) got into my food.

If I were to hike the AT now, I would hang my food every night and avoid shelters wherever possible. They are infested with mice and other hikers who smell and have weird habits (because, let's face it, that's everyone out there, including you).

If you are camped in a stealth campsite and want to keep an energy bar in your pocket at night while you sleep in an enclosed shelter of some sort, then I would say you are most likely going to be fine.

If you are camping in shelters or in lots of well used campsites, then all bets are off. I would not sleep with my food in those instances, that's just asking for trouble.

Just my two cents.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
And as far as the shelter thing goes... on 01/08/2014 20:34:17 MST Print View

You will find that AT shelters are like dorm rooms:
They seem great while you're in college, but quickly lose their luster as you get older.

I'm not sure what type of hiker you are, or your age, or anything else, but if you are not very young and actually value your own personal space, etc., you will probably quickly tire of staying in shelters.

I think the best use for shelters is to get out of really bad rain storms (day or night), especially to eat a meal.

A small minority of the shelters (at least in the GA, NC, TN, VA area) are very nice, and are great places to stay when nobody else is there, but this situation will be quite rare to find.

As the others have said, just hang your food properly at night and you'll be fine. You'll quickly figure out the shelter situation once you're on the trail. No need to make any plans around them before your hike. You will actually have much greater flexibility if you don't use the shelters very much, so again, there's nothing to worry about.

You'll have a great time.

Edited by dmusashe on 01/09/2014 00:10:04 MST.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
outsacks on 01/08/2014 21:09:21 MST Print View

http://www.simpleoutdoorstore.com/outsak.html

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: outsacks on 01/08/2014 21:21:40 MST Print View

there are also other solutions:
you could put your evening snacks in a hard sided container... like a 1 liter Nalgene bottle (sans the water)...

you can also hang regular stuff sacks using very thin... 1/16" metal cable... use swedges to create loops on both ends... I have never lost anything to a mouse since making one of these... just go to your hardware store...

Billy

Matthew Stenger
(MatthewStenger) - F

Locale: the beautiful but rainy northwest
Re: Re: outsacks on 01/08/2014 22:03:53 MST Print View

Thanks for the suggestions!

I was just thinking a hard sided container could work. I don't plan on using a nalgene but I had considered carrying one of those Ziplock twist mugs, and had pretty much decided against it, but if carrying one means I can sleep an extra 2 hours I may throw it back into my pack.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: outsacks on 01/08/2014 22:33:06 MST Print View

Or, instead of a solid stack... possibly a liquid snack... protein drink or such...

Personally, I used to have the same issue... waking up hungry. I found that eating a bigger dinner helps... but I have also found that the hunger goes away after maybe 15 minutes or a half hour... it's strange, but it does go away and I awake hours later not even hungry...

b

Bill Reynolds
(billreyn1) - M

Locale: North East Georgia Mountains
Re: LiteTrail NyloBarrier Odor Proof Bag on 01/09/2014 07:04:39 MST Print View

I stayed in shelters but I should have added that I always hung my food on the lines with a round barrier between the food and the the rope. These are obviously very common in most all shelters.