How to properly hang a bear bag

Nick

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If you do it right hanging is an excellent means of protecting food and gear from bears; unfortunately very few of us REALLY know how to do the counterbalance method and just tying it off is far less reliable.

Maybe I'm a clutz but to hang it right, like as in 15 feet high between 2 trees, is a total pain the butt imo and seems to take me at least 20 minutes each time (not to mention getting it back down in the morning). And I always seem to be racing daylight to finish dinner, brush my teeth, and hang. I've done the quick 3 minute hang from a branch but we all know that's usually not too reliable, especially against rodents who can climb vertically on cordage. They are required in the ADK's but I took the canister on a local overnight where it wasn't required last year and loved being able to just walk off and drop it without worrying about sunlight and spending what should be a relaxing evening, wandering around looking for the perfect tree, tossing rocks and untangling knots.

These two posts in their respective threads got me thinking I want to hear what people say is the correct way to hang a bear bag.

A quick google search led me to this article and graphic about the 'PCT Method', which is basically what I do minus the stick. Adding that to my routine seems like an easy thing to do, but I want to hear and see what everyone else does.

http://theultimatehang.com/2013/03/hanging-a-bear-bag-the-pct-method/

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Vegan.Hiker

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I've always used the two tree method since it was my understanding that mice can climb down vertical hanging cordage.

I've always used two separate ropes and two separate trees like this video. The video doesn't mention this but you need to throw each rope over a limb that actually faces away from the other tree, then clip each rope to bag and hoist up. After hoisting up I tie both ends to the bottom of a third tree, making sort of an upside down slanted triangle with the rope. Perhaps there's a better way.

 
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Nick

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I like that, particularly for when there aren't decent branches for doing just one line. So mice can't climb on horizontal-ish cordage but can on vertical?
 

Vegan.Hiker

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So mice can't climb on horizontal-ish cordage but can on vertical?

Can't say I have any proof. They definitely can climb down vertically though. Mouse mobiles made with a tuna can or something are common in a lot of the shelters here to prevent mice from crawling down onto food bags. http://sectionhiker.com/mouse-mobiles/

Not sure how well they could climb horizontally but I have heard it's much harder for them. I know for sure that I, myself, would have a much harder time trying to travel across a horizontal rope than down a vertical one.
 
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Nick

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I know for sure they can climb horizontal anchor lines, but that's a lot thicker and has more traction than cordage. People use frisbees as a sort of sideways 'mouse mobile' to keep them off of boats at Lake Powell.
 

Aldaron

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I just throw a cord over a branch, tie my food bag to one end, and tie the other end to a tree. I guess I'm not doing it right, but I've never had any problems with bears in the countless nights I've spent in the mountains. Of course, I think we've previously discussed the fact that I seem to repel all animals. I realize that a bear could cut the cord tied to the tree, but I've never been anywhere that bears are that habituated to people for them to really have a chance to learn how to do that, I don't think.

I tend to use a bear cannister when I'm in grizzly country.

The only time I've ever had a problem with mice was in Buckskin Gulch. And even then I just hung the food bags from a tree about a foot off the ground and the mice never got into the food.
 

Bob

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Never had mice get into my bag on a single line........ now in the desert with ringtails or deer mice, different story.
 

WasatchWill

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I learned about the PCT method a little over a year ago and have used it ever since. Before that, I was just winging it. I did use the counter balance method when I was out with my family last year and had two food bags to do it with. There are a good handful of videos on YouTube that demo both the traditional PCT method and a variation for when you can't find a good strong tree limb hanging high and far enough out, among other methods. Here's the shortest one of them that I could find:


Here's another variation of the PCT method (requires proper branch) where you just freely suspend the end of the rope in the air under the bag.

 

Vegan.Hiker

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This thread has me thinking I've been overly cautious. Seems the PCT method is tried and true and would be easier than the two tree method. I wonder if the name PCT method is supposed to imply it's better suited for out west though?
 

Aldaron

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This thread has me thinking I've been overly cautious. Seems the PCT method is tried and true and would be easier than the two tree method. I wonder if the name PCT method is supposed to imply it's better suited for out west though?
Admittedly I've spent most of my life in the southern Appalachians rather than the northern Appalachians, but I only hang my food in the Appalachians about half the time. The rest of the time it just sets in my tent vestibule. I've never had any problems with mice or anything else. I always hang in the Rockies. I think mice would be a concern if you're camping next to a popular area such as a shelter, but otherwise I'd probably take my chances with the PCT method rather than lugging around the weight of a cannister. But if you don't mind the weight, then the canister works.

I know that at Buckskin where the mice were bad, I didn't have to wonder if the mice were bad: as soon as we turned out our headlamps they went crazy all around us. So my sense is that if the mice are bad enough to worry about, then you'll know it and you can adjust how you hang your food.
 

WasatchWill

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This thread has me thinking I've been overly cautious. Seems the PCT method is tried and true and would be easier than the two tree method. I wonder if the name PCT method is supposed to imply it's better suited for out west though?

It's only called the PCT method because it was allegedly first developed and used along the PCT, not because it's any more effective along the West Coast. It has grown in popularity elsewhere because of its relative simplicity and adaptability.

Keep in mind that a good stretch of the actual PCT goes through the heart of the Sierras where canisters are still required. For that stretch, many thru hikers will pick up a canister at a resupply point prior to the section it's required and then ditch it when they get to the other end they are no longer required and will resort to hanging again.
 

andyjaggy

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Has anyone ever had a bear bag get compromised by a bear? Hung properly or not?

Not hanging it with a bear bag but on a scout expedition in the Beartooth's some scouts didn't hang their food and a bear came into camp that night and completely destroyed most of the packs in camp.
 

Scott Chandler

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While personally I've never had animal issues, I've known a couple people that found squirrels eating bagels that they found in hanging bags.

My worst experience in hanging a bag was not throwing enough rope once with a rock tied to the end. The rock ended up wrapping around the bear hang post multiple times, one of which went over a previous wrap and hitched my cord. Luckily I had tons of cord so cutting and trying again was no big deal, but the cut line just hanging there bugged me all night. I ended up attacking the hanging rock with a long stick the next day until it came out of my knot, thus releasing the weight causing the hitch.

I've also nearly been hit and nearly hit others with the throw rock.

I also had a friend use his boot as the throw weight before...

Moral of the story: be careful with your throws. It wouldn't have been pleasant to have something go wrong with that boot.
 
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