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PCT Bear Bag Method
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Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
PCT Bear Bag Method on 09/21/2007 13:37:42 MDT Print View

I recently used the PCT method for hanging food on a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. See the following link for an excellent description of the method: BPL PCT METHOD LINK

Overall, I very much liked the method. However, I do have one question. What do you all do with the excess rope hanging down? Do you leave it laying on the ground? Tie it up high?


Ryley Breiddal
(ryleyb) - F - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
nothing special on 09/21/2007 14:34:47 MDT Print View

I just let it hang to the ground... I'm thinking that a bear (or bears) smart enough to figure out the PCT bear hang deserves your food :)

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
good point on 09/21/2007 17:02:05 MDT Print View

Good point - however, my concern would be could the pull hard enough on the rope to break the branch?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Bears reefing on the rope on 09/21/2007 18:01:42 MDT Print View

I've wondered about that myself, but concluded it was not a problem because bears don't have thumbs and opposing fingers to manipulate the rope and they wouldn't be able to do it with their mouth because the rope is too slippery and small in diameter to give them anything to bite down on hard enough to gain any purchase, especially if you use the BPL ropes. I would be concerned, however, in habituated bear areas, about the bears chewing through the hanging limb, so select carefully. Also, in places like Yosemite NP, and the upper Bubbs creek area of Kings Canyon NP, bears have been reported to lie in ambush, waiting until you retrieve your food(from bagging or canister) and then charging to run you off it. Bluffing?? I don't know. Sort of like Dirty Harry from my perspective: "Are you feeling lucky...?"
Good luck.

Edited by ouzel on 09/21/2007 18:03:18 MDT.

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
to tie or not to tie... on 09/21/2007 21:52:00 MDT Print View

You know... I had not thought about a bear having difficulty either grasping or biting un-gathered rope simply hanging down. If one were to tie up the excess rope (e.g. to keep rodents away from it), but it were still in reach of a bear, they would have more to get a hold of and potentially break the tree limb.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: to tie or not to tie... on 09/22/2007 17:50:01 MDT Print View

Most definitely! I would guess that they would pull it down far enough to get at the clove hitched stick and break that, or pull the rope down far enough to run the bag up to the limb and either over it or break the bag loose from the rope. A good argument for letting the rope hang loose.
Rodents will get at the food anyway in habituated areas. I've personally seen them shinny down a rope from above. It's quite a sight to behold. All that's missing are little black burglar masks. Moral of the story: Stay away from habituated areas, which is close to a mantra on this web site-for a lot of good reasons.

rian cage
(miketyler009) - F
Re: PCT Bear Bag Method on 12/26/2008 21:17:34 MST Print View

I've used a hitch and blood-knots to tie bags while I thru hiked the PCT. I didn't mind setting up camp at night but I HATED tying bags. I know you have to use canisters during certain sections of the PCT in the Sierras, but I recently bought one of these and it works great.

You don't have to tie a knot or carry a canister and I like it better than my Ursack.

Edited by miketyler009 on 12/26/2008 21:18:16 MST.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Bear Bag on 12/26/2008 22:51:59 MST Print View

That is a neat item and concept, I have never seen or even thought of that before. Thanks for sharing.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: PCT Bear Bag Method on 12/27/2008 07:34:55 MST Print View

Can the quickrope method actually get the bear bag high enough as recommended for bear bagging? Isn't the recommended height supposed to be 15 ft?

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Quickrope on 12/27/2008 12:15:11 MST Print View

Looks like you do something out of stiff wire that would fit your pole for less weight and money. I don't see people getting those things high enough either though.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
PCT Bear Bag Method on 12/27/2008 13:00:58 MST Print View

I've seen trail crews use some very elaborate, reliable, and highly effective hangs for base camps where large quantities of non-freeze dried foodstuffs must be protected and where "don't cook within a mile of where you sleep" is just not possible.

That said, I personally do not feel that high hanging is worth the time, effort, and frustration for camps that move every day. There is a real possibility that if you do get it up high enough, you can not get it back down. Then what?

Take a good look at the types of trees along the PCT. WA and OR are mostly conifers - primarily Douglas Fir. The first branch is often 40 feet or more off the ground, and the branches tend to be grouped together (the Sequoia is a master at this). Tossing anything over one of them is iffy at best; and impossible with a Sequoia.

In many years of backpacking in OR and WA, I've slept with or very near, my food bag without bear problems. I do hedge my bets by putting my trash in an odorproof bag hung about 3 feet off the ground about 100 feet away from camp.

Numerous airborne camp robbers have swooped in to help themselves to whatever was handy when I turned my back, and I did lose one bag of gorp to a banzai charge by field mice during the night, but only because I foolishly left it on my hat instead of hanging from my trekking pole.

Using bear cans in the Sierras make sense because much of the trail is above timberline (aka no trees). Below timberline, the bears are well schooled in the subtle art of taking down hangs. That's why they're not legal methods of food protection in Yosemite NP. suck it up, carry the extra weight of the canister, and sleep soundly at night, knowing your food will be safe. Yogi might move the can (if you don't place it right) but he can't get into it (assuming you closed it right).

rian cage
(miketyler009) - F
Re: Re: Re: PCT Bear Bag Method on 12/28/2008 19:13:36 MST Print View

yup, it's 15 feet. the quickrope thing is made so that you don't need to have your hiking poles with you, you can use a stick to get it up there. i take that to mean that you can hang it anywhere with a long stick in a jiffy.

rian cage
(miketyler009) - F
Re: PCT Bear Bag Method on 12/28/2008 19:21:56 MST Print View

there are lots of sections of the PCT where the first tree branch is really high up but i have to say that half the time (or more) you can find suitable trees with much lower branches.

i remember having to throw a rock over high tree branches, having to tie friend's bear bags for them, etc. i remember a morning or two when bears came into our campsite.. even one time when a black bear tried to bite through our canister!

this thing would have saved me a lot of time. as soon as i didn't have to use a canister by law, i ditched it. couldn't wait to mail that home.

totally, this thing would have helped out, especially when it was cold or late in the evening. the worst part of the day is tying a bag or hanging your stuff.. yuck. better to cook some food or go to sleep.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Two things on 10/25/2011 10:04:57 MDT Print View

I have personal experience with letting the tail rope hang all the way to the ground. It makes a fine mouse ladder. Now I coil up the end so it dangles a few feet above the ground.

I've found that a Marlin Spike Hitch is much much easier to get off the stickin the morning than is a clove hitch. It's also easier to tie on the stick.

Edited by herman666 on 10/25/2011 10:11:47 MDT.

Kyle Meyer

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: Two things on 10/25/2011 10:45:35 MDT Print View

What diameter rope are you using that mice can walk up it? I'd suspect some 2.2mm dyneema arborist rope rated to around 600lbs would serve both your pack weight and your food well.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Counter-Balance on 10/25/2011 12:27:44 MDT Print View

It looks like the quickrope domain has been hijacked and the link is broken.

I recently started using the counter balance method on recommendation from David Olsen. He says that some bears have learned to associate the rope with food bags and mess around with the rope until the food drops. The counter balance method keeps the rope away from reach.

Of course this method only works if you have the right kind of trees.
I can see how canisters are your only safe option in many locations.

Peter Griffith
(petergriffith) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Re: PCT Bear Bag Method on 10/25/2011 12:36:51 MDT Print View

I ran the end of my bear bagging cord through the cord sleeve of a very small stuff sack (rock sack) and tied it off to the cord. When I'm done hanging the bag using the PCT method I just stuff the end of the rope in the rock sack until it's about 3-4 feet off the ground and sinch the rock sack closed, leaving the rock sack hanging in the air 3-4 feet off the ground.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Counter-Balance on 10/25/2011 12:56:32 MDT Print View

For 20 years before bear canisters came out, we used the Two-Bag Counterbalance Method in Yosemite, and I never lost any food to a bear in those years. The black bears there have been considered the smartest at stealing food from backpackers.


David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
counter balance +1 on 10/25/2011 14:18:19 MDT Print View

My experience too. A good counterbalance worked even with Bub's creek bears and
60 pounds of food. Bears that routinely charged hikers to get them to drop their
packs on the trail and took packs out from under hikers heads when used as a pillow
just because the packs smelled of food.

The problem is finding the perfect tree(s). Sometimes it took 3 hours to get the right
tree, limb, and the food hung up to the right height.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: counter balance +1 on 10/25/2011 14:52:59 MDT Print View

"The problem is finding the perfect tree(s). Sometimes it took 3 hours to get the right tree, limb, and the food hung up to the right height."

Yes, the elusive perfect tree is as hard to find as a wolverine.

Usually backpackers pick a campsite that has been used before, is flat enough, and has access to water.

Back in the days of bear bagging, I used to pick a campsite that had a perfect tree 50 yards away, used before, flat, and has access to water.