BEAR country

2:03 a.m. on June 20, 2009 (EDT)
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Not to sound like an idiot, but how do you guys store your food in bear country?

I have practiced the whole bear bag thing but I've heard about bear canisters too, whats the difference?

I just wanna know every detail about bears and food to be as safe as possible


9:33 a.m. on June 20, 2009 (EDT)
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Put all your smellable items in a Bear canister and drop it on the ground 100-150 feet from you camping area and your done.

10:49 a.m. on June 20, 2009 (EDT)
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I think the bear canisters should be square not round cause a bear even tho it cant get into a canister can still roll it away. I had one in Yosemite a few years back that managed to roll mine about 150 feet away from where I had left it. Took me an hour to find it in the brush.

But yes they are very good and in some areas like Yellowstone and Grand Teton there are old steel bear boxes already in the designated camping sites. Bear boxes like these put there by the park service are generally large enought to hold all the camping partys food.

11:25 a.m. on June 20, 2009 (EDT)
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I prefer to hang (unless the park rules specify a cannister) simply because the cannisters are bulky and weigh so much. I also hang my food even when not in "bear country" as the only time I have actually come across bears on the trail, I was in wilderness considered not to be bear country. Plus, in the South, the coons are as big a problem as anything.

6:56 p.m. on June 20, 2009 (EDT)
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A couple years ago a friend and I were on the Pacific Crest Trail and in the San Bernando mtns alone we had our food investigated by bears every single night. In one area there were manitory places to hang food but with so many people shaing the cables it was often hard to get out food up as there was so much weight and the steel cables were only thin strands making it hard to grasp with much weight on them.

The Racoons in Yosemite Valley's Camp Four (Sunnyside) were always a hassle during the winters there back in the late 70's and early 80's. They could climb where the bears could not so well and seemingly dangle their way out to the food cables and by morning there would be food and trash everywhere. On e night we stayed up late and managed to chase a bunch of them into a culvert under the raod where we had already blocked off one end and then blocked off the end they went in. We left the ones that went in for a few days then chased them out during midday and made then run deep into the woods.

10:07 a.m. on June 22, 2009 (EDT)
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If I had looked at the ratio of space in the can to the weight of the can sooner, I would have gone with the expensive Bearikade rather than the Bear Vault. Bearikades are only approved for black bears, tho.

Bear cans are easier - we went packing to a wilderness area where hanging is still permitted, and the guys lost 25 ft of cord in a tree because the stuff knotted on the branch. If we had been out more than a night they wouldn't have been able to hang. I walked out and plunked my can 100 ft from camp in a draw. Sometimes I put the can in the hole left by a fallen tree so it would have to be picked up and thrown. A lazy bear would roll it around a bit and hopefully leave it.

My bear can is marked with my name and phone number, and with strips of reflective tape that distinguish it from all other bear vault solos in any given campsite. I can easily find it in the dark with my headlamp. Since I go to Yosemite most of the time this works pretty well.

They make good camp stools and buckets as well. they are also rodent proof. Square would be hard on the pack fabric - corners to wear through while it's riding along. I stuff clothing and other small items around the canister as a buffer zone.

9:42 a.m. on June 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Can you hang the bear canisters, or is that just overdoing it? Where would you store the other items that you brought along as well? Like the stove and pans would that go in the bear canister or would it be alright to cover it and leave it outside. Clothes inside the tent should they be in bags when not in use to mask any scent?

12:20 p.m. on June 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Bear Canisters are meant to be set on the ground, I put every thing that is "smellable" in the bear canister, The rest of my gear I keep in my pack and hang it it a tree.

4:00 p.m. on June 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Hanging a bear can would only give the bear something to grab and drag the whole thing off with - it's not smell proof, just hopefully too big for them to get a real good grip on to muscle the thing open.Your toothpaste, lip balm and other toiletries, plus your trash, need to be put in the canister as well.

Unless you spill a good lot of tuna juice or oil on your clothes, keep them with you. I have managed to stuff a sit pad inside the bear vault after drenching it with olive oil. I also eat out of bags or a single bowl that go inside the canister. Stove and pans (if well cleaned of scraps, I boil water so this is not an issue for me) can be left wherever. I've heard of bears chewing on fuel canisters but generally this doesn't seem to be a problem. Their focus is generally on the food - where this is a problem at all. There are areas where the bears are still so wild you likely won't even see or hear a trace of them other than scat or tracks.

If we're talking someplace like Yosemite, that's an entirely different story. Yosemite bears are a totally different level of nuisance - some areas the bears sneak up behind people to grab their food when their back is turned. There are also places where the earlier versions of the bear vault have been figured out by bears - Marcy Dam in the Adirondaks, and the Rae Lakes Loop in Sequoia/Kings Canyon - but the later versions have been altered and there are bear boxes installed in the Rae Lakes area.

If you want the total skinny on bear canisters, check out websites for the regions you want to visit and see if they have regulations. Also

5:15 p.m. on June 28, 2009 (EDT)
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You are in N.Y. right I think you said that in a earlier post. What areas are you looking to go camping in ? N.Y. only has black bears they are the smallest and the the least aggressive of bears.

6:07 p.m. on June 28, 2009 (EDT)
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I hike in the adirondacks and catskills but so far I have only camped in the catskills.

One time when we were gonna head out after a night of camping, we ran into a ranger that ran into bears on his daily rounds through the trails, but so far had no trouble with them.

I'm mostly worried about Big Foot. All these years of doubt might come back to haunt me, and I never bring a camera. And I heard bears are like sharks and all you have to do is punch them in the nose. Just use those lethal weapons on your wrists to whoop a bears ass!

(note to the gullible- that last part was just humor) :)

7:30 p.m. on June 28, 2009 (EDT)
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First off Kmarr get a cheaper digital camera you will thank yourself later in many ways for doing so.

Big foot ok possibly but i thought the sightings in NY were condensed around White Hall (south eastern adk)

Black bear's 99% of the time all you need to do is clap your hands, make some noise & well at them and they move on. As I said before North Eastern Black Bears are the smallest and least aggressive.

As far as bear prevention goes BE CLEAN at your camping area and that don't mean throw your trash on the trail some place, Burn it or carry it out. Keep ALL of you smellable's in the bear canister or bear bag (food, tooth past, bug spray, cooking equipment, soap, etc) what ever has a sent even if you cant smell it they can. ONLY cook what you can eat so you don't have extra wast. And before you make camp someplace make sure you not on an animal trail or run and my favorite thing to do is have a camp fire. Me being a night person I love to sit up late and watch the fire so when I go to bed I have a good bed of coals I put a couple of pieces of wood on the fire in places that they are not going to just burn up but more or less smolder the rest of the night. Its a natural animal instinct to go the other way from smoke & fire. That works for most all animals but you always have you mischievous animals like raccoons with then its a 50/50 shot lol. And lastly stay away from areas with heavy human traffic the more people the more slobs you will see and that in cause more bear activity looking for a free meal.

If you would like I could give you a few suggestions in the ADK and surrounding area of good areas I just got back from one trip that was absolutely beautiful and no bears to worry about as well.

Here is a link to some pictures

12:03 a.m. on July 2, 2009 (EDT)
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10 Easy Steps to Tie Your Food Up in a Tree
- or - 3 Steps to Using a Bear Canister (Factual Humor)

1. Put a rock into a Ziploc bag and tie bag to rope. Locate a tree with a suitable branch that will hold your food.

2. Try to fling bagged rock over branch and avoid hitting someone with rock, repeat as often as required. Find that Ziploc bag is not strong enough to hold rock securely.

3. (a.) Try tying rope directly to rock, when rock flies off, on first swing, then… try re-tying rock more securely, and once again repeat as often as required. (b.) Bandage head of kibitzing bystander. Try Step #3 (a.) again.

4. (a.) Divide food, trash and ‘smellables’ into two bags of even weight. (b.) Tie one food sack to one end of rope and hoist it high into the air. (c.) Discover your branch choice was a bit to flexible or not high enough.

5. Spend next hour finding a better branch. (Note to self: Start process earlier next time to avoid hunting for suitable tree branch in the dark) Re-fling rock over branch (Step #3. (a.) [Try to avoid Step #3. (b.)] Then repeat Step #4. (b.)

6. Tie second sack as high up on rope as possible. Discover the weight of each sack was not as even as you thought, untie bags and sort contents, repeat as needed.

7. Coil remaining rope and attach it to second sack. Send second sack up even higher, with a great fling. Observe that both sacks are now totally out of reach of the bears …and you.

8. Finally go to bed and spend the night worried about your food, and jerking awake at every noise because you just KNOW that’s the sound of your food being destroyed, because the NPS has told you that: “hanging your food is not considered effective”.

9. When bears, mice, squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines, marmots etc. or bad weather have destroyed your food, then gather the remains and packaging trash and place the entire mess in a garbage bag and carry to the trailhead for proper disposal.

10. Buy new food locally (at outrageous prices) or cancel the rest of backpack outing.

3 Steps to Using a Bear Canister
1. Put food, trash and ‘smellables’ in canister and secure lid.

2. Walk 50 feet outside of camp and put canister down.

3. In the morning walk 50 feet outside of camp, open top and get food. Secure lid.

See this and other BEAR Facts! ...Save a bears life!

info at:

5:13 p.m. on August 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Another newbie here going into bear country. I have the food aspect and smellables down as far as bear cannisters.

My question is about your pack, clothes, sweaty clothes, boots? I have read to empty your pack and leave it outside, as well as leaving the zippers open. Do you just leaves the clothes out on the ground? Sweaty clothes, will those be eaten, perhaps?

Secondly, smellables on your person. If I have used bug spray, lip balm, deoderant, etc., it is on me. Am I not serving as an attractant myself in my tent?

Third, stove, untensils, plates, etc., all left near the cooking area?

5:57 p.m. on August 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace DE3

The reason for emptying your pack and leaving the zippers open is for the smaller animals like chipmunks & raccoons etc. They can be very destructive when trying to investigate they will just chew a hole in your pack. As far as dirty cloths and clean clothes go you can keep them in your tent or in a stuff sack that you use for a pack-liner and you can hang it from a tree it that makes you feel better. I do it different ways depending on where I am and what the local wildlife situation is.

Your human smell will normally over come what you have on your person so you need not worry about that unless you douse yourself down with cologne lol.

Normally I keep my stove, utensils, plates, etc. in my bear canister or in that area.

6:27 p.m. on August 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Thank you for the informative response.

I am about to buy a cannister. Is there one you prefer over another? I'm looking at 5 days. I'm guessing most carry it bungied to your pack?

6:58 p.m. on August 2, 2009 (EDT)
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There are many to chose the best thing to do it check with the forestry service in the area that you are planning to do most of your camping. Some parks have rules on which one you carry. If not I would recommend these.

I have the counter assault bear keg.

8:34 p.m. on August 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Here is a note for the N.Y. backpackers

BearVault brand canisters are not recommended and in some parts they do not meet requirements as set by Parks and Recreation. Here is one story I have located on this brand. There is a bear in the Marcy Dam area of the Adirondacks in upstate New York that has learned to open BearVault food containers. BearVaults are approved for use everywhere except the area encompassing the Lake Colden/Marcy Dam corridor and the Johns Brook valley in the Adirondacks.

Also I have heard that the locale bears in a few cases have been able to bypass the hanging method if a few different ways.

4:46 a.m. on September 26, 2009 (EDT)
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I have always hung my backpack to keep the rodents and raccoons from chewing it up. However that was while ago, and now that they are making Bear Hangs illegal in many areas I will get a Bear Proof container. Nevertheless, I was still thinking of hanging my backpack anyway, even though some will say that is overkill. I use a pulley system that I think will work good, but I suppose that it will be up to a Ranger if he fines me for that. I pay a lot of money for my gear, just to have it trashed by some creature of the night. In addition, I am a photographer and I sometimes leave my backpack hidden while I take pictures, instead of lugging it around, but even though the food would be in the backpack, I doubt a Ranger would be that anal, and call it a Bear Hang, (would he?) I am planning to get the Bare Boxer, which is cheap, $49.95 for the Contender, which has 275 cubic inches of space, and is certified. I will probably put it on the ground, but I am planning to glue a bracket to it with liquid nails or something, so that I can tie it down somehow. That or tie a big branch to it?

8:26 a.m. on September 26, 2009 (EDT)
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(bear) Food for thought: Bear bins are made to be smooth, with no protrusions, on purpose. There's a good possibility that a bear will discover the bracket and it will become a great carry handle. No matter what you tie the bin down with, a bear can break it and carry your container far away in it's teeth. Even if the bear doesn't get the bin open, you may never find it.

3:37 a.m. on October 5, 2009 (EDT)
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Yeah, that is true. I am just going to hang it with my pack on a bear hang. I have heard that a bear can roll the bear containers, with one person that I talked to that said the bear rolled and kicked it down the mountain. That would suck. But I recently got the Bear Vault solo, and I don't think a bear could carry it away in his mouth, as it is so slick. (Maybe a HUGE grizzly) But I have seen many people wrap a strap around a container, tying it to a tree or big log. But yeah, the bracket idea I have ruled out.

12:14 a.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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I notice a comment about black bears not being a threat. Historically, black bears have killed more people in North America than Grizzlies, Kodiaks, and Brown bears combined.

While Grizzlies may bluff charge or stop an attack after a single bite, black bears are known to stalk and kill humans as food. Playing dead doesn't work all that well with something that wants you dead before feasting on your carcass. Fight back and fight dirty.

These aren't just black bears accustomed to humans either. A few years ago in the remote Quebec backcountry, IIRC, an elderly couple was stalked and killed by a black bear.

Also, pepper spray is not as effective on black bears as on grizzlies. Just a note to not underestimate the danger of black bears.

11:49 a.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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The Bear Boxer looks from the photos to be the same (or a nearly exact copy) of the Garcia bear canister. I believe Garcia still makes them, since I got a letter from Garcia a couple months back (relating to the aging of the resins used in plastic canisters due to UV exposure - UV degrades most if not all plastics with time, and your canister will spend at least some time in the sunlight, esp at altitude above treeline).

The rule on bear bagging is two-fold - the basic rule is if a bear gets your food, you are subject to a hefty fine. The secondary rule is that, in certain areas, the bears have learned how to get bear bags that have been hung in the trees, the old-style steel cables strung between trees for bear bagging, the "bear poles" that used to be found in some areas for hanging packs and bear bags (May Lakes, for example), etc. So if a ranger finds you have put your food at risk of bears getting at it, you are also subject to a fine.

The reason for the "approved container" list is that in some areas, the bears have learned how to get into some models of bear canisters (see the earlier comments on this about the Bear Vault in the Rae Lakes area in the Sierra and in the Aidirondaks). Those on the list have not (yet?) been solved by the test bears (problem bears kept at certain zoos which are used for testing containers) or are known to have been breached by bears in the wild.

You mention hanging your pack to keep the rodents and raccoons out of the food. Sorry, but such critters know how to climb trees and how to shinny down the rope to the pack. I have had mice get into a hung bear bag in areas where bear bags were allowed, and have seen bags that were compromised by raccoons and marmots - mice, rats, ground squirrels, pika, raccoons, and marmots will chew right through any fabric, and some can wriggle in or (raccoons) figure out how to open the pack. Best bet is to leave the pack open to access, so they can get in without damaging the fabric (doesn't help with sweaty camera straps, though - they often are looking for salt). One of the most amusing events I witnessed (to me, not the pack owners) was at Boulder Camp on the way up Longs Peak. There is (was) a fenced area for backpackers to put their packs to keep them from the marmots. As I was passing by on a day hike up the Keyhole route, I saw that a group of a half dozen marmots had figured out how to get inside the fence and were busily working on some packs. An Ursack is light and compact enough to deal with such critters, although it is not approved as bear protection in areas where bear canisters are required.

12:34 p.m. on October 12, 2009 (EDT)
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"Overmywaders" is RIGHT about this and here in B.C., Black Bears DO and HAVE killed large, strong, experienced outdoorsmen within the last few years. ALL repeat ALL bears are dangerous, Grizzlies are EXTREMELY dangerous and anyone with an ounce of commonsense governs their behaviour with this fact in mind.

I just shake my head in wonder at some of the crap I see posted on forums dealing with backpacking that concerns bears; it is a bloody wonder that more humans are not killed/injured by these wonderful creatures, given some of the idiocy that is posted as "expertise" by self-styled "experts".

3:48 a.m. on October 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill S,

I have spoke with forest rangers and park rangers, and do so every time I head out for a hike, just to be sure. Not one of them said that I would be fined if they saw a bear canister hanging from a bear hang. I know it seems like overkill, but hey, I was born paranoid. :)

Most of them loved the idea, knowing that I would hang the bear canister out in the open, as opposed to putting it in a pack and then hanging it. This way they can simply see that I have one, and that I am abiding by the rules.

I used to leave my pack on the ground, and that is when the little varmints chewed it up. However, since I have been hanging problem. Of course that doesn't mean it can't happen, and this season I did not go out much. Time will tell. I have an awesome bear hang system, and I use 1/8 inch amsteel blue, which is so thin that the little buggers can't or do not use it. But hey...if they want to do the high wire...then let them have fun.

I have thought of training my boa constrictor to hang by my pack...but hey she's not into it. :)

12:41 p.m. on October 13, 2009 (EDT)
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We recently published a book review of Bear Essentials: Hiking and Camping in Bear Country by John Gookin and Tom Reed.

It sounds like a good, informative read on this topic.

We'll also be publishing more bear safety articles in the future.

4:36 p.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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some of you will get a kick out of this little bear warning:

5:08 p.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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hahahahaha omg that bear sign was freakin hillarious!!

i was reading about halfway through and was wondering what was so funny, then I got to the end and my gut hurts from laughing so hard.

8:10 p.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Nice sign, no doubt!

Wish we had those around here, If I was still a prankster............

9:04 p.m. on October 15, 2009 (EDT)
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That sign is at a retored "ghost town" near where I was born and a friend of mine from college, long ago, is one of the people who have developed this "tourist trap". It IS NOT intended as "official" BC Ministry of Forests or Ministry of Environment policy and I have yet to see bells in any of the thousands of Grizzly "dumps" I have seen...but, who knows, maybe one of the experts who carry this stuff and know just everything about Grizzlies might end up in such a puddle....

BTW, there were just two more guys attacked, while sleeping in their backpacking tent near this site, they could not really "spray" as they were in a tent and asleep when a Grizzly sow and cub chomped them and destroyed their tent. This is the THIRD Grizzly attack in B.C. in one month, that has been reported and there are likely other incidents of threatening that were not reported as many here do not want to be bothered with the hassle involved.

Makes one think that learning from experienced bush people with lots of bea experience might be a good idea, eh.

12:07 a.m. on October 17, 2009 (EDT)
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I wish I had this cartoon that I saw a long time ago, as like the bear sign, it to was really funny.

The cartoon was picture of a man sitting on a branch in a tree, a hunter, and he was looking down at the ground in horror at the spectacle unfolding before him. His hunting partner "charlie" was be attacked by a huge grizzly, it was tearing at him with its big jaws.

The man in the tree was yelling at him, screaming "PLAY DEAD CHARLIE....PLAY DEAD"

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