Food and Bears

leatherman

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Jan 24, 2012
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The thread about tips for solo backpacking got me thinking about food storage. I'm not currently planning any trips where they're required, but I was thinking about getting a bear canister. As a kid when we went backpacking with the family we weren't concerned about bears, or mice or anything getting into our food supply and we just left our packs sitting out right by the tents. When I go out now I usually try to hang food and toothpaste in a nearby tree but I'm wondering if having a canister wouldn't be a little easier? My only real concern is the shape of the canister and having it take up more room than I would normally give for food. Anyone out there use a canister, pros and cons?
 

Nick

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I'm anti-canister for the reason you stated, the shape, size and weight. The way I see it, if there are places to hang it, that's just as good, right?
 

Yvonne

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I'm usually only using my food bag that you can hang high enough to have your food supply securely stored.
For some areas here in New York bear canisters are required, but I never bought one and rented one for the few days instead.
Because they are so bulky and somewhat heavy I will definitely not using any of them if not required.
As Nick said before, with places to hang your bag high enough you'll be fine
 

Nick

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Does anyone know why bear canisters required in some places? Is it because they just don't trust you to hang it properly or what?
 

wes242

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My dad was doing the John Muir Trail a couple years ago, and in some places there were no trees to hang stuff from... So he needed that canister. They had a bear get into there packs one night and hit said it ate some of his OLD MAN pills.... I don't know what kind of pills they were, but I hope that bear had a good time.
 

Yvonne

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Does anyone know why bear canisters required in some places? Is it because they just don't trust you to hang it properly or what?

in our area they are required because the black bears got so clever over the years. They developed methods to get to the food even with a hanging bag and there are also cases where they broke the canisters.
They have the regulations in upstate New York, because they want to avoid that bears raid campers at night, get used to the easy method to get food and neglect their natural resources
 

DOSS

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I don't like bear canisters due to their shape etc.. when they are not a requirement I find some of the good odor proof bags and hanging them "properly" is the best way to go for me.. the odor proof bags should keep the animals away anyhow as they won't be able to smell the food and hanging is just in case at that point :)
 

Nurrgle

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I am not a big fan of the canisters. They are required in RMNP near my casa so that the bears don't get used to human food. At least that's what they say when I complain to them about the lameness of the whole idea. I have used them and ended up just lashing it to the top of my pack so it wasn't to bad. I usually just follow the old mantra, cook 100 yards away from your camp, and hang your food 100 yards away from that in the opisite direction of your tent.

I have ran into a few black bears but have never had a problem.
 

Yvonne

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Backpacking vs. day hiking?

Because in the Adirondacks bear canisters are required and my planned hike is only 17 miles with 5k elevation gain, I'm considering it as a day hike.
I could rent a bear canister but they only rent the big bulky ones and I don't want to bring my bike 65l backpack just for a bear canister.
Beside the bear canister requirements there are a lot more regulations what really sucks. :mad:

If you had to decide, what would you do?
Long hiking day or backpack with that bulky canister?
 

Nick

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my planned hike is only 17 miles with 5k elevation gain, I'm considering it as a day hike...

If you had to decide, what would you do?
Long hiking day or backpack with that bulky canister?

Wear your big pack, enjoy the trip, don't day hike that. 17 miles is a looong day. Sure, a 65l pack is a lot to carry, but not bad for that length of trip.
 

Aldaron

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Does anyone know why bear canisters required in some places? Is it because they just don't trust you to hang it properly or what?

I know I'm late to this thread, but canisters can also be required where it's not possible to hang the food. For example, canisters are actually required in the Winds if you're above treeline. Very few people follow the rule, though, and I've felt like the only loser toting a canister both times I've done so in the Winds.

I don't like the canisters, either, but I got one of the solo BearVaults to try to minimize the size and weight problem. One nice thing about it in grizzly country, though, is that you really need to keep all smelly things hung if you're not standing there in camp with it, which means you have to lower your bag whenever you want something (like a midnight snack). With a canister you can just go open it and get out what you need.

But, yeah, I still prefer hanging it when possible.
 

Yvonne

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Wear your big pack, enjoy the trip, don't day hike that. 17 miles is a looong day. Sure, a 65l pack is a lot to carry, but not bad for that length of trip.

that's were I stumbled about it a bit.
Almost everyone here in New York is doing the long trails as a day hike. And there are a lot of hikes with more than 14 miles, respectively.
Maybe the canisters are the reason.

I guess I'll simply check in two weeks, eventually there is a solo bear canister available. That would be great.
Otherwise I will post a TR of a very long day hike
 

Jackson

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Here's a question I've always wondered about. In grizzly country, what do you do with your packs at night? I've never really been overnight in serious grizzly backcountry. I always make sure all my food and scented stuff is in the canister or bear bag, and then I usually keep my pack in the tent. Is the pack alone enough for bears to smell if you have had scented stuff in it?
 

Jackson

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I've always brought my pack into the tent with me.
Thanks for the response, Nick. I figured that's what a lot of people do. My friend from out east asked me and I didn't have a solid answer. My grandfather always hung his pack along with his food. He'd just take out the stuff he needed beforehand.

Anyone else?
 

Nick

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That would really suck if it rained and your whole pack was soaking wet the next day. Not to mention all the small things in the pockets that would get ruined if you left them in, or a total pain if you unloaded them all. I think if you just make a solid effort not to use your backpack as a placemat at dinner time, it should be fine. But yeah, interested to see what others have to say.
 

Jackson

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That would really suck if it rained and your whole pack was soaking wet the next day. Not to mention all the small things in the pockets that would get ruined if you left them in, or a total pain if you unloaded them all. I think if you just make a solid effort not to use your backpack as a placemat at dinner time, it should be fine. But yeah, interested to see what others have to say.
Exactly my thoughts. Which is why I've only left my pack fully outside once. I use the vestibule maybe a quarter of the time.
 

swmalone

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Exactly my thoughts. Which is why I've only left my pack fully outside once. I use the vestibule maybe a quarter of the time.


With two people in the tent it would be overly crowded with our packs so my wife and I typically leave ours under the vestibule. We usually use a hanging bag unless the canister is required or there is no way to hang a bag. We also use the odor proof bags for our food. That is always fun to pull out for the first dinner and when you open the thing up the smell of curry spices smacks you in the face. We dehydrate and package all of our own food so having something to contain the odors is essential or the smells would permeate everything in our pack.
 

Outdoor_Fool

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I leave my pack under the vestibule. I tend to be very anal about food storage, toothbrush/paste storage, cooking, etc but I do not worry about the pack being next to my tent. If I spilled food or gas on it, I'd hang it but so far I have avoided that scenario. The only trouble that I have ever had with my pack was 32 years ago when I left it on the ground for a quick side excursion and a marmot chewed the heck out of the shoulder strap anchor to get some salt from body sweat. I think my experiences with bears not raiding my food are pretty typical.

FYI, I have camped in black bear country for nearly 40 years and in grizzly country for 25, both inside and outside of National Parks, in high use and low use areas. In the glory years, I averaged over 90 nights out/year.

As for canisters, it is required in Denali and other parks with few or no trees tall enough to sufficiently hang your food. Yeah, they add some weight but I did not think it was a big deal. In other areas with few places to hang, I was always able to find some cliffs or large boulders to hang the food from. I finally bought a canister last summer and will use it with the family on a tundra hike in a few weeks. Sure seems like a grizzly that is intent on breaking into could do so but fortunately most bears aren't wired or trained that way.

I have no idea why a park (e.g. Adirondack) in an eastern deciduous forest would require canisters except for the fact that a lot of people do not understand how to properly hang their food. Minimum of ten feet high, four feet from the bole of the tree and four feet from the branch it is hanging from.
 
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