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hikernutcasey
02-24-2015, 16:26
So the other thread about bear bagging got me to thinking. I was taught to always hang my food but recently have been rethinking this. Especially after reading about so many of you who never hang.

So I figured I would start a poll just to see what the most popular solution is.

bamboo bob
02-24-2015, 16:37
If I hike all day and see no fresh bear sign, meaning prints, scat, scratch marks, overturned rocks. Then tent with my food. If I do see that I do my very best hang job a ways from my tent. Never had a problem. Sometimes a human tells me there's racoons than I'll hang too.

DLP
02-24-2015, 16:53
I use a bear can, but I'm in California and spend a good amount of time in Yosemite and Kings Canyon/Sequoia where bear cans are required. I also use it in Tahoe where it is not required. I've never seen a properly hung bear bag in Tahoe. I've watched others attempt to get a good hang for 45 mins and then give up and settle for a "bear pinata". I do feel sort of dumb carrying it in Tahoe, as I'm pretty sure that most of the Tahoe bears live in town. But it is also about peace of mind. And I've seen too many, "A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear" posters.

I recently took the bear can into the Ohlone Wilderness for 3 nights (in the SF Bay Area where there are NO bears). The thought of a squirrel in my tent or or mice krapping all over my food just grosses me out.

All my stuff, with the bear can, only weighs 13 pounds. Bear can is like my 2 pound sleeping pill or binky. I just sleep better at night, regardless of the size of the critter.

I have thought of changing to the Ursack, but I already own 2 bear cans and just don't want to spend more $$$ on more duplicate gear at this time. And if Ursacks get approved in Yosemite/Sequoia/Kings... I'll totally change to a Ursack.
EDIT: Just read MuddyWater's very convincing explanation for why Ursack won't work in Yosemite. I'll stick with bear cans.

evyck da fleet
02-24-2015, 17:44
If there's bear polls, boxes or cables around I'll use them. If not, I'll sleep with my food unless I've seen posters warning of bear activity in which case I'll find somewhere to hang my food.

Connie
02-24-2015, 17:58
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/109443-Ursak

DLP, that was convincing?

shelb
02-25-2015, 01:19
If the area provides hanging poles, YOU NEED TO HANG YOUR FOOD. If not, use your judgement, based on what the authorities say and you see...

zepphead80
02-25-2015, 02:35
I have always either hung my food or used a bear canister (canister regulation in certain parts of the Adirondacks up here in NY), except in winter when it just stays with me in the lean-to. My intention on the trail will be to hang it every night as a matter of standard practice, because I believe that's the correct thing to do - but I'll admit that it will be a hard habit to maintain.

Lefty

hikernutcasey
02-25-2015, 10:53
So it seems that the majority are not hanging their food unless bears have been present or if they are just trying to avoid the rodents. I think I'm going to move away from hanging every single night and start sleeping with my food more often and leave the hanging to times when bears are active or hang my bag on a bear pole if present.

I usually tent but if forced in a shelter for some reason I always hang to avoid having holes chewed through my bag so I will continue in that circumstance. Thanks all for the input!

Havana
02-25-2015, 11:01
Mice will find the tent too. I came back to my tent after dinner one night and found a field mouse underneath tent sniffing out the food wrapper left in my pack's belt pocket. I hang as a matter of course. Mostly to keep rodents, raccoons and the like from my food as opposed to bears. Plus, the more you hang the easier it gets to get good at it. Nothing like trying to get your rope over a branch when you've never done it before.

Walkintom
02-25-2015, 11:22
Another poll option would be:

I hang if others are hanging, but I sleep with food otherwise.

That's really the reason that we've hung almost all of the time that we haven't slept with the food bag - social conformity so as to not make those who are uncomfortable with sleeping with food to involuntarily do so. Regardless of how we feel about the necessity of hanging in a location, if others are there and hanging their food, then we hang ours.

RED-DOG
02-25-2015, 12:06
when i sleep in my tent which is 90% of the time i sleep with my food never had a problem, if i sleep in a shelter whichis rare i hang just make the other folks happy.

bemental
02-25-2015, 13:09
I offer a story from a friend:

"I did have a few mishaps along the way, but made for great stories and of course, a trail name. Early on, just a few miles past Neel’s gap where the first outfitter is, me and the girl I was hiking with had a run in with a bear.

We decided to camp on our own at a random site, not at a shelter and no other hikers were around, but we had to stop, all hikers from 2013 called that day “hell day” because it just hailed, ...so anyway, it was freezing, we were wet, our stuff was wet, we decided to just set up camp. and I know well enough bears are a concern, and I knew enough to hang my food, I always have either hung or used a canister, so I try to throw a line for a bear bag, and my rope got stuck! just stuck stuck around a branch. it was done for, and my partner didn't have a rope long enough. but I had read on whiteblaze that lots of hikers sleep with their food, so we were like maybe that's ok?

Tent was not waterproofed/seam sealed and was leaking and it was raining, so we decided to put all our gear, packs, stoves, food in her semi dry tent, and we would both sleep in my dry tent, fair enough? but at 2 am I heard our gear rattle. I start yelling bear bear bear bear to try to scare it off, the girl next to me with no backpacking experience has no idea what’s going on, we get out and the bear took the entire tent, with ALL of our things and drug it down a hill and we could hear it eating and ripping through our stuff. It would not leave! any other black bear I’ve encountered has run away when it knows you're there, but not this one!"

zradg7
02-25-2015, 15:30
Extremely easy/convenient to hang your food on the AT at least. If there's other people at your campsite you don't have a choice as far as I'm concerned. If you're all on your own I guess it's up to you.

bangorme
02-25-2015, 16:02
I never camp in shelters. The first thing I do when I stop for the night is put up my tent. The second is get my bear hang set up so I can hang after supper (or in the dark). Although I try to follow the guidelines, I don't break my back to do so. Any hang away from my tent is better than nothing.

msumax1985
02-25-2015, 16:22
I'm like bangorme, it's part of my routine when I set up camp every evening. I set up my bear hang after my tent. When it becomes routine you dont even think about it. And I rest better all night knowing that any rustling or chewing sound I hear isn't causing me problems. (Unless I suddenly remember I left some food in my hipbelt pocket!)

I'm mostly worried about critters, though, not bears. I've heard too many stories of critters eating holes in tents, packs, etc, to get to the food. It's much cheaper to simply replace a food bag if I ever get scavanged.

Colter
02-26-2015, 10:37
I offer a story from a friend:

"...I had read on whiteblaze that lots of hikers sleep with their food, so we were like maybe that's ok?

Tent was not waterproofed/seam sealed and was leaking and it was raining, so we decided to put all our gear, packs, stoves, food in her semi dry tent, and we would both sleep in my dry tent, fair enough? but at 2 am I heard our gear rattle. I start yelling bear bear bear bear to try to scare it off, the girl next to me with no backpacking experience has no idea whatís going on, we get out and the bear took the entire tent, with ALL of our things and drug it down a hill and we could hear it eating and ripping through our stuff. It would not leave! any other black bear Iíve encountered has run away when it knows you're there, but not this one!"

They weren't sleeping with their food.

If you leave your food anyplace a bear can get at it and and your food is not under your direct control, a bear is likely to get it sooner or later.

If you do a poor hang, a bear is likely to get it.

Colter
02-26-2015, 10:57
...Although I try to follow the guidelines, I don't break my back to do so. Any hang away from my tent is better than nothing.

I think this illustrates a huge problem with bear bagging. People OFTEN don't follow the guidelines.

A poor hang is a major reason bears steal food, likely the most common reason on the A.T. Poor food hangs create, or at least encourage, problem bears.

http://trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=339166

bangorme
02-26-2015, 14:15
I think this illustrates a huge problem with bear bagging. People OFTEN don't follow the guidelines.

A poor hang is a major reason bears steal food, likely the most common reason on the A.T. Poor food hangs create, or at least encourage, problem bears.

http://trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=339166

Thanks for the entertaining cite, but it really says nothing but that only a perfect hang 100% guarantees a bear won't get to it. Your contention that "A poor hang is a major reason bears steal food" is overstated. Just like saying that sleeping with ones food is a major reason bears steal food is overstated. The truth of the matter is that the major reason bears steal food is that humans insist upon camping together in large groups with lots of yummy food strung all over the place or under their pillows. If you consider all but the most sophisticated bears, your chances of getting a bear bag taken if hung high enough are infinitesimal. So, IMHO, if you are in heavy growth and can't hang the bag the standard number of feet from ANYTHING, then at least hang it high. It's better than sleeping with it (which all of us know we do because it takes some effort to do a bear bag hang) and smarter than walking a mile away from your campsite to find the "perfect" hang site.

coach lou
02-26-2015, 21:56
I need a fourth category......'Reasonable and prudent'

I always use the 'Bear Box'. In heavy bear country I may hang. In griz country, I hang, about a mile from where I sleep...not quite. If forced into a shelter, I am under my bug net, and so is my food bag. and on most of the AT......


I would like to get one of those Ur-sacs, I have no experience with the cans.

brancher
02-27-2015, 06:49
Folks, we don't need ANY categories! Why even question this? Just hang your food!

Nothing peeves me more than coming up to a camping spot and seeing folks who think they are too clever to too cool to hang their food. It is an accident waiting to happen - whether rodents, bears, 'coons, whatever - and for goodness sake, it only takes a few minutes to hang. So plan to hang, make it a part of your setup routine, and that's one less think you have to debate with yourself...

...and btw, if you've ever hiked with someone who got their backpack totally destroyed by an overzealous and hungry rodent while they slept, you'd think twice about bringing food inside any shelter - AT shelter or otherwise.

Just my 2 cents.

Lone Wolf
02-27-2015, 07:15
i've been sleeping with my food in a tent for 29 years now on the AT. never had a problem with rodents, bears, 'coons, whatever

Sarcasm the elf
02-27-2015, 09:06
Jester posted this to facebook a couple of days ago, I think it's worth a read:


I sleep with my food. There. I said it.
I’ve slept with my food in my tent while hiking in twenty-two different states, including ones that have Grizzlies. When legally required, I’ve used bear canisters (Kings Canyon, Yosemite) and hung food (Yellowstone). I’ve used bear boxes when they’ve been provided. But otherwise, I sleep with my food. And so do a lot of other people.


Why? Simply put, I believe it to be the best strategy for protecting bears.
This statement is probably viewed incredulously by people who have been told over and over again by official agencies that sleeping with your food is a terrible idea, and that people who do it are lazy, irresponsible, and part of the problem. But stick with me, and I’ll explain my line of thinking.


I believe that one of the reasons that official sites post the proper hanging of food as a best practice doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the efficacy of hanging food as a deterrent versus other methods of food storage. I think it has more to do with the safety of the hiker, and the potential liability involved in the event of a attack rather than the result of any studies.


Which is to say, keeping your food in your tent could be 1,000 times more likely to prevent a bear from getting your food, and authorities would still never suggest it due to the relative potential bad outcome should a bear invade a tent, regardless of how unlikely that might be statistically. So if sleeping with your food decreases the chances of a bear getting it by a great margin, but increases only slightly the chance of you having an encounter with a bear, it won’t be recommended.


I have often thought that hanging food isn’t necessarily about keeping food away from bears, but rather keeping bears away from people while they attempt to get people’s food. The argument would say something to the effect of, “well, the bear got my food, but at least I’m okay.” People who hang food aren’t terrified that a bear might get their food if they slept with it, but rather of what a bear might do to them while it was getting their food if they slept with it.


Much of what we do regarding bears and food is, as with water treatment, faith-based. If you hang food with success you are convinced that hanging food is why a bear didn’t get your food, whether there is a bear in the area or not. If you sleep with your food, and are never attacked, you believe that sleeping with your food is a successful strategy. When a bear does get food that is hung, the assumption on the part of those who hang food is that the food was improperly hung. Why? Because they have faith that a bear cannot get to properly hung food -- even though there are bears that have proven that they can learn to defeat just about any unattended system of protecting food (including bear canisters).


As for bears invading tents, it’s incredibly rare, despite the fact that at some point in a trip everything you own probably smells like food. On the very rare occasions that it does happen the first question anyone asks is, “did the hiker have food in their tent?” Why? Because people like to find a cause that tells then that they are relatively safe from this kind of thing, so that they can tell themselves that they don’t have to be afraid. “He had food in his tent and was attacked, I do not have food in my tent and therefore won’t be attacked.” But even if you don’t have food in your tent, you still probably smell like food. You’ve spilled it on your clothing, you’ve stored it (and trash) in your backpack, you’ve got some on your hands, your beard, your mouth. It’s not like you’re taking a shower every day. Putting all “smellables” in a bag doesn’t mean your tent and its contents don’t smell like food. Ultimately, actually having food in your tent might not make it smell any more like food than not having it in your tent.


But there’s not much you can do about that, right? So you do what you can to minimize bad encounters. And if your food doesn’t get taken and you remain unharmed, then whatever you’ve done worked (at least in your mind). Even if there were never any bears near you.


Are people who sleep with their food irresponsible and lazy? Undoubtedly some are. And then there are others who believe that it’s a better way of dealing with food. Do I have any statistical evidence to back up my belief that bears recognize possession as ownership, and that they are more likely to go after hung, non-attended food rather than expend the energy to attack another animal to take its food? Nope. But then again, people who believe hanging is the best strategy don’t have any statistical analysis to back up their belief, either. Anecdotally, I can look at the situation on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and note that the bear or bears who get hikers’ food are getting it exclusively from bear hangs. Is the food improperly hung? Probably, but not necessarily. Does it occur to any of those hikers to sue the ATC or NPS or any other agency for suggesting that hanging food is the best method? Of course not.


On the other hand, you can imagine how quickly someone (or their family) would engage a lawyer if ATC suggested sleeping with food and a bear invaded a tent, regardless of how unlikely a scenario that might be, particularly if that hiker sustained injuries or was killed.


I sleep with my food. Should you? That’s really up to you. If having food in your tent is going to keep you awake all night, probably not. In fact, I’ve hung food when I’ve been around other hikers who were so worried about me not doing so that it seemed a kindness to hang my food so they could get some sleep.
I’m not suggesting what anyone else should or shouldn’t do. I’m explaining my reasoning for what I do, and the fact that it isn’t as lazy or irresponsibe as you might have been led to believe.


I sleep with my food because I think it’s safer for the bears.

Written by Jester

Coffee
02-27-2015, 09:16
Poll needs more options. I always hang my food if I can find a tree within reasonable range of my camp that allows for a proper hang. I sleep with my food otherwise, using aloksak "odor resistant" bags (whether they help or not, I cannot say, but I feel better and sleep better using them). I view improper hanging as irresponsible both to the Bears and for my own security. I use canisters where legally required. If a bear pole or cable exists, I use it.

RED-DOG
02-27-2015, 11:18
Extremely easy/convenient to hang your food on the AT at least. If there's other people at your campsite you don't have a choice as far as I'm concerned. If you're all on your own I guess it's up to you.

i always sleep with my food at my campsite and if theirs someone around that don't like it they can go on up the trail for as i am concerned.

brancher
02-27-2015, 12:15
Well, good reply by Elf, and I agree that if you are successful with whatever your method is - whether it is food storage, camsite selection, or whatever, you will automatically conclude that's the right way to do things.

Sort of detracts from those of us who are TRULY right.......;)

I'll plan to bring some extra food, in case I run into you guys after having been attacked by a manbearpig.

Odd Man Out
02-27-2015, 12:56
They weren't sleeping with their food.

If you leave your food anyplace a bear can get at it and and your food is not under your direct control, a bear is likely to get it sooner or later.

If you do a poor hang, a bear is likely to get it.

Exactly. Bear desire to avoid you is greater than their desire to get your food. By putting your food in another tent, you solved this problem for the bear.

saltysack
02-27-2015, 13:54
My jack Russell keeps the mice at bay in the tent or shelter...thinking of trying one of these on my next hike...http://tapatalk.imageshack.com/v2/15/02/27/9089fc2ce02f65fc02ab97543c0d3d75.jpg[emoji3]


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Hangfire
02-27-2015, 18:49
Always hung my bag when bear boxes or cables were unavailable. I did have squirrels breach my bag a couple of times in very heavy rain storms (go figure) but never had any other problems. What I saw a lot of on the trail and this goes well beyond bear bags was that people just generally got lazy, why make things any harder on yourself than it has to be, the thru hikers motto...

ziameister
02-27-2015, 19:02
In the past I've slept with my food but then I'm also careful about cooking and smells that might draw critters in the first place. On the AT I will hang my food. Crowds of people tend to attract crowds of critters thus better safe than sorry.

Sarcasm the elf
02-27-2015, 20:09
Well, good reply by Elf, and I agree that if you are successful with whatever your method is - whether it is food storage, camsite selection, or whatever, you will automatically conclude that's the right way to do things.

Sort of detracts from those of us who are TRULY right.......;)

I'll plan to bring some extra food, in case I run into you guys after having been attacked by a manbearpig.

Hmmm... Bear bagging certainly is one GOOD method of dealing with food on the trail. I certainly encourage it, often do it myself, and have taught many people how to properly hang a bag using the PCT method. It is also the method that I teach any time I deal with people who are new to hiking. The problem with your comment is that there are many GOOD ways of dealing and bagging is neither perfect nor the "truly right" method.

First off, both standing bear boxes and personal bear canisters are unequivocally better than bear bagging. Second, bear bagging works relatively well, but it's track record does not live up to the near evangelical fervor that some of this methods supporters use to promote it as the one "true" method. Bear bagging has a relatively small, but well established rate of failure that stems from both improperly hung food and from bears who have learned through experience to defeat bear bag hangs. If you doubt this, just start reading the trail journals of hikers starting out NOBO in April, or just hit the trail for a few days. See how many thru hikers have stories of witnessing food being stolen and make note of the piss poor job the average hiker does of hanging a bear bag. The amount of bear bagged food that is lost to bears and critters each year simply doesn't support it as the best or only method for caring for your food.

In contrast, the incidence of animals (besides shelter mice) attempting to take food that is physically posessed by a hiker, whether on their back, in their hand, or inside their pillow, etc. is basically zero. The key here is posession, the moment you step away from your food or put it out of reach or leave it in an unattened pack or tent it becomes up for grabs. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that everyone should sleep with their food, I'm just pointing out that the level of snark shown by bear bagging fanatics is not justified by their track record. But in fairness, keeping your food attended at all times is a pain and it's often easier to do a PCT hang than to carry your food bag around camp with you All the time.

Now to get back to your comment about "TRUELY right." If you want to put effort into pushing for the one true way of food storage on the trail, then forsake bagging, forsake canisters, forsake anything I say about keeping food attended. Instead pressure the maintainjng clubs to put proper bear boxes at all established campsites, especially in Georgia. If you want to keep bears from getting your food, a steel box chained to a tree is hands down the best option. I'm sure that someone (lone wolf:cool:) will be around in a moment to say that bear boxes would end up collecting garbage on the southern A.T., they're probably right about this, but so what? Litter sitting in a bear box is still out of reach of bears and if it results in fewer habituated bears, then I would call it a success.

Lone Wolf
02-27-2015, 20:13
agree on boxes, elf. i'll still sleep with my chow :cool:

Sarcasm the elf
02-27-2015, 22:01
agree on boxes, elf. i'll still sleep with my chow :cool:


By all means. Besides if a bear ever tried to bother you, wouldn't it just end up in your food bag? :D

Connie
02-28-2015, 02:18
I was in Banff when two women were mauled in their tent by a bear that tore right into their tent after food they had inside the tent.

I read at BPL about the boy scout or cub scout that had a half candy bar inside his tent.

I am not keeping food in my sleeping area because I am "carrying my fears" as I have read at this forum: example, big first aid kits. I live where grizzley bears live. I have one living on my property. Okay, the lower 10-acres.

My "take" on all this: I respect bears. If they get human food, they may be "relocated" but they eventually are killed "by the authorities".

And so, I give the bears no opportunity to go after my food: I use Opsak to keep the food odors from the bear.

That is the minimum.

Colter
02-28-2015, 11:01
According to the Backpackinglight study (http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/odor_proof_bags_study.html#.VPHOki6m3nc), Opsaks do not perform as claimed. I believe it, because the ones I bought leaked water.

To the best of my knowledge, there have been four fatal bear attacks in tents on the North American Continent in the last twenty years. (about 1/5 of a victim per year on the continent of of tens of millions of tent-camping nights.) None of the victims had food in their tents.

the campsite was clean and the food was locked in the car (http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/bear-tracked-shot-after-killing--year-old-samuel-ives/article_6e3429ab-d469-5d4a-a890-c96d43da4972.html)

all the victims had put their food into metal food canisters installed at campsite (http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2010/07/grizzly_bear_caught_after_kill.html)

There was no food in the tent (http://comingbackalive.com/animalbears.html)

Bears stealing ANY unguarded, accessible food is business as usual, it's what they do.

Bears killing people for any reason, is very, very unusual behavior. Bears, on a per capita basis, are less dangerous than humans (http://bucktrack.blogspot.com/2011/02/bears-should-you-be-afraid.html).

Connie
02-28-2015, 13:53
Opsaks were developed for special units in the military.

The military uses Opsaks with great success.

I have to say BPL is not my authority, especially so over the years of reading bad advice about everything from tent stakes to JetBoil, by self-styled experts.

There is some excellent helpful information at BPL, but authority? No.

PS. anything can be destroyed, then claim it was "defective".

Denizens of BPL has a lot of that, insisting on warranty replacement.

Colter
02-28-2015, 14:58
...PS. anything can be destroyed, then claim it was "defective"...

I'm not claiming they were defective. They WERE defective. I tried the first bag, new and never used or abused. Water ran right through it. I tried the second new and unused bag. Same thing. leaked profusely. Obviously they wouldn't work for odor-proofing, either. I believe the Backpackinglight tests.

Connie
02-28-2015, 15:25
I have not had that experience.

I would tell the people at Opsak, also where and when purchased, because that might help identify the lot number.

If Opsak contracted out production, Opsak needs to know.

Opsak needs to know about it, in any event.

I have used Opsak's since first available to the public. Before that I saw the rifle version. I immediately thought: what a great product for food.

I know Opsak works.

Opsak works for alder-smoked salmon. I have done it.

My concern telling people it is okay, just get out and hike.

My concern is not getting the public outdoors, on the AT NOBO, starting with a steep trail right off the plane and right out of the car, and have the 80% thru-hiker failure rate. Backpacker Magazine reports 4 tons (8,000 lbs.) of backpacking gear sent home, UPS alone at one outfitter selling more thru-hiker appropriate gear. That doesn't include abandoned gear, or, gear left at "hiker boxes".

My concern is the natural environment experience.

My concern is the public getting a natural environment experience.

The fact is, bears that go after the food we eat or our garbage are almost never relocated: they are quietly killed and that is why there are fewer reported maulings.

Quietly killing bears is destruction of the natural environment experience.