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Best UL rope for food hanging/multi-purpose?
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Matthew H

Locale: Boulder, CO
Best UL rope for food hanging/multi-purpose? on 06/16/2014 05:36:12 MDT Print View

Currently looking for the best UL rope for PCT method bear hanging. What is everyone using here?

bear hanging on 06/16/2014 05:48:33 MDT Print View

None would be called "rope"

Thin spectra cord, from 0.5mm to 2mm, depending on your preference and tolerance for tangles.

thicker cords slide easier over branches under heavy bag weight, they dont dig in to bark as deep. Above 10 lbs, hoisting starts getting very hard with some thin cords and soft bark trees.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Best UL rope for food hanging/multi-purpose? on 06/16/2014 07:04:52 MDT Print View

Arborist throw line. If I remember zing it or dynaglide are two of the best. I think mine is zing it.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Best UL rope for food hanging/multi-purpose? on 06/16/2014 08:01:18 MDT Print View

braided Mason's line from big box hardware store - cheap for a roll that will last a lifetime of bear line, guy lines, guy lines for prototype experiments,... - get the flourescent red so you can see it

Spectra is a little lighter but more expensive

Brandon Richards
(ZenDragon) - MLife

Locale: Southern Arizona
IronWire on 06/16/2014 08:57:31 MDT Print View

I use Dyneema Ironwire from Lawson equipment, Its a little bigger than 2mm (2.2mm to be exact) and about 1.25oz for a 50ft strand (0.02oz per foot). This stuff has 1000lb test, which I havent fully verified yet, and may be overkill for most situations but better safe than sorry!

Best strength to weight ratio of any cord I have seen so far.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: IronWire on 06/16/2014 10:07:12 MDT Print View

+1 to Lawson's IronWire

Just used it for the first time this weekend on a family backpacking trip. Easy to work with & very easy to see. Yeah it might be overkill typical bear-bagging, but it's rope, so I never know what it will be used for next. And as ZenDragon said, it's strength to weight ratio really can't be beat.

Gerald L
(Mtngeronimo) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Best UL rope for food hanging/multi-purpose? on 06/16/2014 10:10:58 MDT Print View

" braided Mason's line from big box hardware store "

Although a cheap alternative for guy line I have to disagree with this recommendation for a hang line. Masons line does not have a good 'lay' for throwing, poor handling properties, and can easily cut through the bark on a limb or find its way under a scale to easily become stuck when weighted.

Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Re: Re: Best UL rope for food hanging/multi-purpose? on 06/16/2014 12:04:29 MDT Print View

I'll second the Zing-It - good stuff. Comes in 180' rolls for about $25. 2.2mm and bright yellow. Get it at arborist supply stores.

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
Think about where you camp on 06/16/2014 12:42:13 MDT Print View

I am in the southeast and at elevations encounter trees with lots of moss/soft bark due to cloud and atmospheric moisture.

I've lost 3mm braided PMI line due to it becoming inextricable due to digging into soft bark with a moderately heavy food bag (definitely under 10lbs).

That arborist line is appealing to me for that reason.

Barry P
(BarryP) - F

Locale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
Re: Re: IronWire on 06/16/2014 13:51:26 MDT Print View

+1 to Lawson's IronWire.
You have to be clever rolling it up so it doesn't come out tangled from your bag.

Matthew H

Locale: Boulder, CO
Ironwire on 06/16/2014 17:22:45 MDT Print View

Thanks all for your thoughts.

Is this the Ironwire you guys are talking about?


Craig Johnson
(cljohnson33) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Tech Line from DIY Gear Supply on 06/18/2014 12:47:18 MDT Print View

I just got some 1.9 mm tech line (PU coated dyneema) from DIY Gear Supply that worked well for me this weekend on the AT. It's easy to work with and tie and held the knots well. Low visibility grey line only. That might be a problem if you hang your bag very far from camp and have to go searching for it in the AM (or worse at night). Good price though.

Matthew H

Locale: Boulder, CO
ZPacks on 06/18/2014 19:03:29 MDT Print View

Would the Dyneema cord from ZPacks do the trick? I'm making an order with them already so if it's a good choice I may as well grab it from there. If so, which of those thickness options would be the best?

Edited by vision-quest on 06/18/2014 19:03:59 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Best UL rope for food hanging/multi-purpose? on 06/19/2014 00:48:50 MDT Print View

You might want to define your rope quest better. What is the maximum weight of the food bag?

I have many different ropes and cords, and each has a specific weight rating. You want to know if you want a cord that will stretch or won't stretch, whether you can see it in the dark, will or won't cut into tree bark, etc.

If the cord gets too small in diameter, then it becomes difficult to hold or pull, so you need to wrap it around a stick in order to grab it. Then, instead of pulling it, it is easier to hold the cord on the stick and walk backwards to hoist the food bag.

Of course, what you are asking is about the single-rope method. I always felt that the double-rope method was more effective. Back in the old days, before Yosemite started requiring bear canisters, the double-rope method was quite popular. With it, there is no rope tied off to a tree trunk for Mister Bear to find. For a single food bag of 30 pounds, we would use ordinary 550 parachute cord, although you could do better now. Since we used the double-rope method, we had two 15-pound bags counterbalanced. Parachute cord is cheap and practical, although not perfect.


Barry P
(BarryP) - F

Locale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
Re: ZPacks on 06/19/2014 13:43:01 MDT Print View

"Would the Dyneema cord from ZPacks do the trick?"

2.2 mm / 650lb Z-Line Slick

But not as light nor strong as iron wire.


Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: ZPacks on 06/19/2014 13:50:22 MDT Print View

zPacks offers a bear hang kit in which they provide bags and 50 feet of 2.2mm Z-Line Slick


David Olsen
( - M

Locale: Channeled Scablands
zing it on 06/19/2014 13:50:51 MDT Print View

Zing it tangles less than most, is plenty strong for food for 1 or 2 people and is designed by arborists so it less likely to harm the tree. I like 1 mm or masons twine for a pull cord for the double hang method used with the zing it which bears the weight. Double hang, done right, is superior to the PCT at keeping bears from food.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: zing it on 06/19/2014 15:15:56 MDT Print View

"Double hang, done right, is superior to the PCT at keeping bears from food."


We used to call it the double-rope hang, or the two rope hang. I used it for group trips for twenty years in Yosemite and never lost any group food to the ursine thieves.


John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Double Hang on 06/19/2014 15:24:14 MDT Print View

I use the ZPacks line. Slides over branches very well.

"Double hang, done right, is superior to the PCT at keeping bears from food."

Curious, what makes the double hang superior to the PCT hang? It seems the food bags would end up at about the same location for each technique.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Double Hang on 06/19/2014 16:00:50 MDT Print View

Imagine this:

Single rope thrown over a high limb. Tie one food bag to one end, and pull it by the other end of the rope. The food bag goes up, and you still have the pull end of the rope in your hand. What are you going to do with that? You have to tie it off to a nearby tree trunk. A black bear comes into camp during the night, sees the first rope it can find, scratches that until it breaks, down comes the food bag, and the bear grabs the food and feasts.

Double rope method. One rope is thrown over the high limb the same way, and one food bag is attached to the thrown end. The second rope is -looped- around that food bag and left dangling. That food bag is hoisted up to the limb by pulling on the other rope end. Then you reach high on that pulled rope end and form a loop for attaching the second food bag, with the remaining pulled rope end stuffed loosely into or around the neck of that bag, with only two feet or so left out. In that two feet, you have a bowline loop, and it hangs down ever so slightly below the second food bag. Now go back to the second rope that was looped around the first food bag. There are two ends of it hanging down, so you pull evenly on both ends together. That pulls the first food bag down halfway, and it pulls the second food bag up halfway. When both food bags are halfway and even, you release one end of the "pull-down" second rope and then pull on the other end. That removes the entire "pull-down" rope and the two food bags are left dangling high overhead with no "tie-off" rope to any tree. Mister Bear can't find any rope to scratch at.

In the morning, you grab a loose tree branch, raise it high, and hook the rope loop that is by the second food bag. You pull it down, then pull the second food bag down to release it from its rope. With that weight off, you can lower the first food bag down. Leave the rope on the limb if you need to spend another night there.

If this is not clear, I probably have a diagram that I furnished to the National Park Service about 25 years ago.

Advanced techiques: Use dark ropes and food bags. It makes it harder for the bears to find at night. The bears can smell the food, but they have a harder time trying to figure out which trees to climb and which limbs to attack.

Take an ordinary tan paper grocery bag and string it up with some bright white cord, and tie it to some nearby tree as a decoy for the bear. The bear attacks it first and makes some noise, thereby giving you a minute to wake up and defend the real food bags.