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Best UL rope for food hanging/multi-purpose?
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Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Hang on 06/21/2014 18:23:56 MDT Print View

"Uh....what exactly then are the bags suspended from?"

The two food bags are tied onto one rope and counterbalanced. One bag is tied onto the first end, and the second bag ends up tied onto the middle of the rope (with the remainder of the rope hung on the second bag). This is what shows in the diagram.

There is nothing hanging down to the ground, and there is only one small rope loop remaining around the second bag (as a pull-down loop that only a human can manipulate by way of a long stick).

There is only one way for the bear to get to the food. The bear must climb the tree and get out on the branch to the rope. If you have selected the branch wisely, the branch is large enough that an adult bear can't chew the branch, and it is small enough that the bear can't walk out on the branch far enough. A downward tapering branch is the best.

It has been my experience that, due to the friction of the tree branch bark, it is necessary to balance the weight of the two food bags only to about 20% error.

No carabineers required and no bears were harmed in the operation.

--B.G.--

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Hang on 06/21/2014 18:25:17 MDT Print View

"You don't need a carabiner to do a pct hang."

Man, to some people, those are fightin' words.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Hang on 06/21/2014 21:04:19 MDT Print View

"The two food bags are tied onto one rope and counterbalanced. One bag is tied onto the first end, and the second bag ends up tied onto the middle of the rope (with the remainder of the rope hung on the second bag). This is what shows in the diagram."

That is still a counterbalance, the classic one at that, and with one rope, not two, from your description. A bear can easily climb up to the branch, reach out and start reefing on the limb with one arm where it starts to narrow. They are strong enough to cause the branch to move erratically. At that point it is probable that one bag will start to slip lower if they are not equal in weight. That is a known weakness of the counterbalance technique.

"There is nothing hanging down to the ground, and there is only one small rope loop remaining around the second bag (as a pull-down loop that only a human can manipulate by way of a long stick)."

Nothing needs to hang down to cause a failure, as described above.

"There is only one way for the bear to get to the food. The bear must climb the tree and get out on the branch to the rope. If you have selected the branch wisely, the branch is large enough that an adult bear can't chew the branch, and it is small enough that the bear can't walk out on the branch far enough. A downward tapering branch is the best."

I maintain all the bear has to do is to cause the branch to move erratically to unbalance the counterbalance. This can't happen with the PCT hang. If you have selected that mythical perfect branch, and a sow happens along with astute cub(s), they will crawl out on the limb and achieve the same effect from up close. Of course, the PCT hang is in peril in this case as well, but much less so if you have executed it well and your bag is far enough down that the cub can't reach it. The key here is to select a branch ~20 feet off the ground, so the bag is suspended 5 feet or more below the branch and 8-10 feet above the ground.

I suspect we're back to HYOF again at this point, so I will excuse myself. It's a moot point for me most of the time anyway, as I seldom hike in areas where this kind of hassle is much of a concern, and the bears are much less sophisticated than the slick cons that you seem to encounter frequently.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Hang on 06/21/2014 21:31:04 MDT Print View

Tom, I wish that you had looked at the diagram that I furnished. There are two ropes, and that is why it is called the two-rope hang. One rope is used to counterbalance the two food bags, and the second rope is used only to pull down the one food bag so that it is level with the other food bag. The second rope is called the pull-down rope. It is possible to do almost the same thing with a push-up stick, but that gets unwieldy with heavy food bags.

It seems to me that one method might be easier for getting the food hung in the evening, and one method might be easier for getting it down in the morning.

Incidentally, I watched all of this unfold one night when the bears visited. Our group had the food hung sometime well after dark. I wasn't crazy about the way that our leader had hung it, and I thought that the food bags were too close to the tree trunk. So, I had a mini-tent right at the base of the tree. I wasn't in the tent long when I heard claws on the tree trunk, so I came running out with my light. A half-grown bear was already up the tree trunk and was wandering around looking for the correct branch. Unfortunately, the bear had chosen the wrong tree trunk. He was in the wrong one about six feet off. It kept breaking branches and making a fuss, and it wasn't getting the food (as we watched from the ground). It came back to the tree trunk, descended, and ran off into the night. The leader said that he was glad that it was over, but I told him that it wasn't over. We all went back into our tents, but I was staying ready for the next act, so I kept my boots on. Very quickly, I heard more claws on the tree trunk, so I came charging out again. This time it was the little cub brother of the first bear, and he was already up the tree trunk, but again it was the wrong tree. He broke branches and tried to find the food, operating by smell, but he was too far from the food to get to it. The little cub didn't know how to down-climb, so he called for mom. Then we heard the woofing of the mother bear off in the bushes, so we did not want to get between the mother and her cub. We got photos, and all that, and we can see the food bags still hanging. Eventually, the cub descended just a bit and then jumped the rest of the way. Immediately, the mother bear and the half-grown emerged from the woods and all three bears ran off as we chased them. In the morning, our food was still hanging until I got it down, so we started breakfast. Other nearby backpackers came over to ask if we had any extra food. It turned out that the bear family had returned and had hit every other campsite around the lake, and ours was the only place where they did not score any food. Our neighbors got our excess food, but the bears got none of ours.

--B.G.--

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Hang on 06/21/2014 22:29:01 MDT Print View

I used the counter balance method (with a single rope) for many decades before bear canisters. Never lost so much as a candy wrapper to a bear... not one scrap. That despite having bears up the tree and out on the hang limb many times. No amount of shaking of the limb ever made the bags slide in any direction. But I am pretty careful about picking the tree, the limb, and making the hang... did the whole JMT with the counter balance and I'm sure thousands of others have done the same.

One thing that would concern me regarding the PCT hang is that with all the food weight in one bag it seems to me the rope would be much more inclined to saw into the limb than with the counter balance method. If it did to cut deep enough, the friction could be so great that you could end up with all of your food up at branch height and no way to get it down... except the bear out on that limb :)

Billy

Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Hang on 06/22/2014 00:28:38 MDT Print View

The second rope is called the pull-down rope. It is possible to do almost the same thing with a push-up stick, but that gets unwieldy with heavy food bags.


Years ago we used the push-up stick method on Scout trips. I think Tom's point is that the 2nd rope is only used to set up the hang, and is not a structural component of the hang after that initial use. The other half being, if you only need to get the weight of the bags within 20% for them to stay put, would the target still be 20% if the limb is being jumped up-and-down on by a bear cub, or does it decrease to something like 10%?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Hang on 06/22/2014 00:35:38 MDT Print View

"I think Tom's point is that the 2nd rope is only used to set up the hang, and is not a structural component of the hang after that initial use."

I don't think that anybody ever claimed that the second rope was used directly during the counterbalance, only in the setup.

I've never seen any bear that would venture out more than about one foot onto a tree branch, so I don't know how much jumping up-and-down they are capable of.

What got really odd was to watch people putting a bear canister into a nylon bag, and then hoisting that up into the tree. If the bear does succeed in dislodging the bag and it falls to the ground, then maybe the bear canister will be cracked open by the impact. Otherwise, the bear can bite the bag and carry the whole thing off.

--B.G.--

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Hang on 06/22/2014 01:02:23 MDT Print View

You guys are way too fixated on the bags being exactly the same weight or one side will slip down... not going to happen... there is sooooo much friction when the rope saws into the limb as often happens that it is often actually WORK to get it down...

billy

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Hang on 06/22/2014 01:17:14 MDT Print View

"You guys are way too fixated"

Who?

I'm not.

I saw that problem once about 35 years ago, and I've never seen it since.

In fact, many times we didn't even balance the two bags by weight. We would balance them by size, and that was close enough.

Back in those days, some people used to stick a couple of moth balls into the top of each food bag. That was intended to mask the food smell and throw the bears off from which tree to climb. Then one time, a bear managed to score the food anyway, and he discovered the moth balls in there. From then on, the bear would go seeking the moth ball smell as a hint to where the food was.

--B.G.--

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Ford vs. Chevy on 06/22/2014 07:53:40 MDT Print View

I suspect a properly executed PCT or counterbalance method works great. The issue with both methods is that there are often a lack of those perfect trees to do either method so you usually see a bear piƱata.

Bob,
Your contention that a bear will pull from the ground on the thin lines referenced in this thread is laughable. The Achilles of both methods are if the bear climbs out on the branch and bats at the hanging line. Either method will be at risk though personally I see the PCT as more robust but the first point is much more critical.

Bear hang
Every now and then you find that perfect tree.

To the OP,
I had great luck with the MLD bear hang system.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Ford vs. Chevy on 06/22/2014 08:12:36 MDT Print View

Hiking Malto, obviously you have never been corrected by a Yosemite National Park backcountry ranger.

That was what happened up until about 15 years ago. Since then, they've enforced the use of bear canisters, so the hanging method is a moot point.

--B.G.--

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Best UL rope for food hanging/multi-purpose? on 06/22/2014 08:33:45 MDT Print View

+1 w/arborist throw line.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: Ford vs. Chevy on 06/22/2014 08:58:24 MDT Print View

"Hiking Malto, obviously you have never been corrected by a Yosemite National Park backcountry ranger.

That was what happened up until about 15 years ago. Since then, they've enforced the use of bear canisters, so the hanging method is a moot point."

Bob,
There are plenty of hiking areas outside the Sierra where canisters are not required. So it is hardly a moot point.

Edited by gg-man on 06/22/2014 08:59:16 MDT.

David Olsen
(bivysack.com) - F - M

Locale: Channeled Scablands
Hundreds of pounds of food, never lost several seasons SEKI on 07/15/2014 11:28:43 MDT Print View

How to hang food using the counter balance with retrieval cord method.

Pick appropriate tree and branch. In bad bear areas a proper tree may dictate where you camp. As you near timber line there may not be tall enough trees, so you must plan ahead. The limb should be about 20+ feet from the ground. Higher is better as bears are less likely to jump off a limb onto the bags if they know they will take a long fall. The bags should hang about 10' out from the tree. Where the rope goes over the limb, the diameter of the limb should be about the size of your wrist or smaller. Larger and they can climb out the limb, smaller and they can break or chew through the limb. Some bears can get any food hang too. Check with local authorities about food storage methods. Food hangs work best with wild bears that have some fear of humans.

Camping with groups, I have had to hang as much as 200 lbs of food each evening. It can take several hours, and several trees, to do it right for that much food. A bear resistant canister may be a safer and easier choice for some folks.

bear hang

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Hundreds of pounds of food, never lost several seasons SEKI on 07/15/2014 15:29:29 MDT Print View

David, that is a good illustration. I tend to agree with your 65-foot length. I always found 50 to be too short and 100 was too long, so 65-70 was best. For a heavy food weight, more length is useful. It depends on what kind of trees you have.

Instead of bear bells, we used to tie our metal cookware onto the tree. The bear sees about four or five cook pots, each with a rock inside, and wonders whether he really needs to climb that tree. The rock rattles when anything moves it.

For one tree, we used to wrap a space blanket around the trunk. The bear would look at it and wonder what that was instead of climbing it.

The half-grown Yosemite black bears were the worst. They had no fear of falling off tree branches. Sometimes they will see the branch with the food bags, and they climb above it on the trunk. Then they jump off, hoping to catch the food bags on the way down. Those were called Kamikaze Bears.

--B.G.--