Pack & Gear Storage While In The Backcountry

1:33 p.m. on June 10, 2009 (EDT)
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How do you people store you gear when you’re camping and do you do things differently in or out of bear country?
I have never been a big fan of bringing my pack inside my tent or in the vestibule I guess I’m old school or it’s just the way I was thought years ago. I normally put my pack on the other side of my campfire across from my tent and put a trash bag over it to keep it dry from the rain and dew. I put all of my food, cooking gear, cleaning stuff and any other things that has a sent in a bag that I hang someplace close to my camping area 4 to 6 feet off the ground. Unless I’m in bear country then I use a bear canister for that stuff and place it about 150 feet away from my camping area. Also when I’m in bear country depending on the bear activity I also hang my pack roughly 75 feet away from my campsite.

If you bring your pack inside your tent or vestibule is there only certain times of year or places that you do that, and have you ever had any problems doing that?

3:51 p.m. on June 10, 2009 (EDT)
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I've only been camping once since I got the hammock, but I just hung my stuff off the ridgeline at my head. That turned out to be a really good call, b/c the 65+mph wind driven rain was coming from the head end and my pack was the only thing that kept me dry.

4:03 p.m. on June 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Don't ya hate it when that happens ....

7:14 p.m. on June 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Since I carry very little that I am not using, I usually bring the pack inside with me, except in "critter country" when I store food, cook gear, and other smellables in a bear canister at 100 feet from the tent, or in places where the critters have not yet become "edicated", in a bear bag at a height that a tall bear on its hind legs can't reach (that's more like 10-12 feet, mike, unless you have awfully short bears in your area).

There are some circumstances even on expeditions where I will leave the pack outside, but often I am in areas where a lot of snow can fall and drift overnight, so that you have to mark the gear well with wands (I have seen skis and snowshoes left flat on the ground require an hour of searching to relocate, plus somewhere up on Denali at the foot of Ski Hill, there is a very nice BD carbon fiber Black Prophet ice tool that disappeared under about 18 inches of snow - supposedly it was right next to one of the gear sleds).

10:31 p.m. on June 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill let me clarify for you when I'm in bear country I use a bear canister and when I'm not in bear country I use a hanging bag method and I only hang the bag 4 to 6 feet because the small critters cant reach it there and the ones that climb trees well it doesn't matter how high you hang it. As far as the bear country I go too 10 foot does fine anything more is just overkill. So yes for the most part we have smaller black bears here, but on the other hand the bears around the Adirondacks are smart they look for the rope so you must use a dark colored or camo rope and there are a few bears in the Adirondacks that can open some bear proof canisters.

For a reference read the bottom of the description of the link
http://www.rei.com/product/768902

8:14 p.m. on June 18, 2009 (EDT)
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You can always do what I did once. Took a nap in the old leanto in Panther Gorge and had my head on my pack full of food etc, woke up with a bear in the leanto sniffing me out-Oops!

Was an interesting 30 seconds while I waited to see what was going to happen but the bear turned away and walked off!

8:43 p.m. on June 18, 2009 (EDT)
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LMAO that's a good story, I'm glad it all came out good in the end. I bet you wont do that again.

7:07 p.m. on June 19, 2009 (EDT)
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mike068 said:

I think next time I'll let one of my friends sleep on the food:)

Kidding aside-it is important to be in the tent' clean'- here's an example. Two friends were in Alaska, both very experienced so when they were in the tent for the night they were in clean clothes and food etc was elsewhere. They heard a brown bear come into camp and the one friend who had a 44revolver pulled it out just in case. He said at one point the bear put his face against the tent and inhaled [smelling to see if there was edibles besides humans in it]. The bears face was well outlined, like a nylon mask, on the tent, but since it smelled nothing it slowly moved off and left them alone. My friend with the revolver said the gun felt like a pea shooter in his shaking hands and the other guy wet his sleeping bag...but because they had done the right thing before crashing for the night they had no other problems and let's face it, with a brown or grizzly things could get deadly serious real quick.

LMAO that's a good story, I'm glad it all came out good in the end. I bet you wont do that again.

1:58 a.m. on June 20, 2009 (EDT)
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TSAR-

If I was in your situation I would have shit my pants!

but now what's the difference between a bear canister and a bear bag? I'm aware that for bears you put all your food in something suspended from a tree about 100 or more feet away from the campsite, but what exactly does that include? I mean do you put sealed energy bars in there, etc?

I think I'm gonna start this on a new thread for people who haven't visited this thread.

10:14 a.m. on June 20, 2009 (EDT)
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A bear canister is a can that a bear can not open, crush, carry etc. They come in various styles & sizes.

Here is link to the one I have but there are many brands also.
http://www.counterassault.com/html/bearkeg.html

12:18 p.m. on June 21, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes Kmarr, you would put sealed energy bars with the rest of your food. Bears can smell things we could never smell. And very few things can contain scents well enough. I take great pains to not put anything with a scent (toothpaste, deodrant, etc) in my pack. I like to keep my pack either in the tent under my feet, or in my vestibule. By taking great pains to prevent scents from getting on the pack I have never had a problem with any critters.

12:53 a.m. on June 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Kmarr -

To expand a bit on mike's comment -

A bear bag is any kind of bag (stuff sack, pillow case, gunny sack, whatever) that you suspend high off the ground, usually over a tree branch. There are a number of techniques for bear bagging, ranging from hauling the bag up on a line over a tree branch or a cable suspended for that purpose then tying the line off to the side, to counterbalancing two bags, .... (several other variations). In many areas this works well. However, in some areas (notably most of the Sierra Nevada, Yellowstone NP, Glacier NP, Denali NP, areas where there is a dearth of trees ...), bear bagging is ineffective. Bears in some areas have learned to spot bear bags and get the bags down.

A bear canister is one of several tested and approved cylindrical containers that have been prove to be bear proof, made of metal (BearIKade), plastic (Bear Vault), or fiber-reinforced resin (Garcia Bear Box). They come in various sizes. They are required to be carried and used in certain areas (Sierra Nevada, and Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Denali NPs, plus some other areas). They also have the big advantage that they keep out other critters (mice, rats, raccoons, marmots) that can gnaw into bear bags.

There is also a kevlar-reinforced soft bag, the Ursack, that will deter bears, but has proven ineffective for bears in the National Parks listed above. Yosemite bears have learned how to readily get into Ursacks, for example. The Ursack is lighter than the bear canisters and seems to be effective in much of the East and some parts of the Rockies. There was a post here a while back that bears in the Aidirondacks have learned to get bear bags and the Ursack.

In some areas, there are permanent bear boxes (steel lockers) permanently emplaced. In those areas, you are required to use the lockers or an approved canister.

1:55 a.m. on June 22, 2009 (EDT)
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The last Grizzly I had in camp was in the Chilcotin area of B.C. in mid-Sept. 2007, after midnight. He had been hanging around our waterhole and this was a "dirty" camp belonging to a drunken slob of a packer who had packed us in. My buddy and I had hung our grub, etc. about 15 ft. up and were asleep when this bear wandered in.

We had three heavy rifles between us in the hut and I shone my Petzl LED flashlight on the Grizzly, who was about 30 yards away, close to the small pole corral. So, I was not too worried and just yelled at him to "bleep off" and he slowly wandered down the hill toward the creek....good thing, too, as I have zero desire to kill a bear and never have had.

I believe in keeping a clean camp, always have and burn EVERYTHING I can as well as hanging anything I have, packs included. I have never had a serious problem with a bear and hope I never will, but, commonsense and caution are the best way of avoiding trouble...and I carry an airhorn and use it.

September 18, 2014
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