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HoosierGal
08-18-2015, 16:16
I am hiking along the TN/NC border for three nights. I want to make sure our food is safe, but I also don't want to buy something heavier and more expensive than necessary. What has worked well for you? I will be just east of GSMNP. Thanks

daddytwosticks
08-18-2015, 16:27
A 40 foot section of rope and some sort of stuff sack like bag. Extra points if the bag is water proof. I use an Ursak Minor (rodent proof). Google PCT hang and practice. Good luck. :)

daddytwosticks
08-18-2015, 16:28
Oh, a carabiner is needed for the PCT style hang also. :)

Rocket Jones
08-18-2015, 16:39
I've seen people successfully use 40' of paracord and a few plastic grocery bags. Keep your food in gallon ziplocs in the grocery bags.

bigcranky
08-18-2015, 16:49
There are some Youtube videos on the proper PCT-style bear hang. It takes a little practice and a couple of extra items (a mini carabiner and a small stick or tent peg), but once mastered it works very well.

I like to keep my food in an "OP Sack" odor proof sack inside my food bag, available at outfitters, because it reduces the chance that critters will find my bag. At least, that's my experience. But it's not required. A simple roll top lightweight stuff sack from WalMart will work as the bag.

garlic08
08-18-2015, 18:07
The trick to everything is being able to tie a stone to a piece of cord and throw the stone over a tree branch about 15-20' high and have the cord follow smoothly. This can be harder than it sounds when the woods are crammed full of trees. It never looks like the nice diagram in the book. It's common for the beginner to get the line stuck in the trees. Don't tie anything important to the cord. The first few camping places on the AT are full of stuff sacks, socks, water bottles and knives hanging from trees on broken pieces of cord. Something as simple as knowing how to roll up cord without twisting it is important, too. It might be worth practicing in a local park. (Also be very careful of the slingshot effect of the stone vs your face as it swings around the branch. If branch height x 2 = cord length and you have a strong arm, you could have a problem.)

I agree all you need, in addition to some skill and a few minutes of time is 40' of paracord and a food bag. You should have the paracord anyway--it can come in handy in emergencies like first aid, repairing a pack strap, storm guys for a tent, or even a spare shoelace. I even repaired a backcountry ski binding with the stuff once.

GoldenBear
08-18-2015, 18:28
I just put my food in an Ursack, close it tightly, then tie it around a large tree branch about 100 feet from the shelter. A bear might well find the bag, but it will never get my food.

I tried to do the PCT method, but found I spent too much time & effort finding an adequate branch, and then throwing the rope over such a branch at just the right distance from the tree.

Obviously, some people have no trouble fully & correctly using the PCT method. I'm just not one of those people.

nsherry61
08-18-2015, 18:50
For minimum weight and expense hanging a stuff sack is hard, or impossible to beat.
Downside: Already mentioned, finding and using a good hang site. Practice is important.
PCT method works pretty well.
I'd argue that THIS (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/112951-New-safer-amp-easier-bear-bag-hanging-method?highlight=) modification is more versatile better in many or most situations.

Also, for what it's worth, the PCT method also works well WITHOUT a carabiner. If you tie a 1-2" loop in the haul line, with say a bowline, and then tie the food bag to that loop with, say a sheet bend, then, instead of threading the tail of the line through a carabiner, you can just thread the tail end of the line through the loop and use the loop just like the carabiner as a stop for your small stick.

Have fun!

ChrisJackson
08-18-2015, 19:25
I just put my food in an Ursack, close it tightly, then tie it around a large tree branch about 100 feet from the shelter. A bear might well find the bag, but it will never get my food.

I tried to do the PCT method, but found I spent too much time & effort finding an adequate branch, and then throwing the rope over such a branch at just the right distance from the tree.

Obviously, some people have no trouble fully & correctly using the PCT method. I'm just not one of those people.

Same here, GB. Protects the bear, protects the food, simple.

pafarmboy
08-18-2015, 19:53
[QUOTE=bigcranky;1996683]There are some Youtube videos on the proper PCT-style bear hang. It takes a little practice and a couple of extra items (a mini carabiner and a small stick or tent peg), but once mastered it works very well.

After a few frustrating times trying to tie a clove hitch on a stick whilst hanging onto a foodbag, I found it was WAY easier when I:

1) drilled a hole through a gutter ferrule I had laying around (a piece of carbon fiber arrow aka the CF toothbrush would work well too)
2) thread the line through the ferrule
3) use a cord lock to keep the ferrule from falling off the cord
4) Tie knot at end of line.

I put the ferrule/cord lock through a belt loop on my pants while throwing so it doesn't go flying off into the woods. As I hoist the food bag, I mosey the ferrule/cord lock until I reach maximum height. Works like a charm. Well, once I get the freaking rock over the tree branch correctly.....

Fredt4
08-18-2015, 22:06
Hanging food will not work, it may make you feel like you've done something appropriate, but you haven't.

Hanging food from a tree, has been, and Will be defeated by any self respecting bear. Using a bear canister (and possibly the Ursack) is the only method that works if you're going to leave your food unattended. The only other option is sleeping with your food. Some may consider sleeping with your food risky, but the data doesn't support their opinion. They're entitled to their opinion, but there's no there there. Your entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. Hang food from trees simply doesn't work.

X-Pat
08-18-2015, 22:16
Hanging food will not work, it may make you feel like you've done something appropriate, but you haven't.

Hanging food from a tree, has been, and Will be defeated by any self respecting bear....

Sorry, but I disagree. IMHO, no bear, large or small, will defeat a properly executed PCT method bear bag hang.

Sarcasm the elf
08-18-2015, 22:30
Sorry, but I disagree. IMHO, no bear, large or small, will defeat a properly executed PCT method bear bag hang.

While I still think that hanging food has merit and recommend the PCT method, certain bears have learned to defeat most if not all styles of hangs. If I recall it was two years ago when bears in GA were reported to be simply climbing out until the branch broke or actually diving at the bag repeatedly until they got it. Once a habituated bear learns that those colorful bags hanging from the trees are full of unattended calorie laden hiker food, they'll go to great lengths to get them.

Eventually I think the needed solution will be steel bear boxes at all established shelters. We have them at almost every shelter in my area and we have almost no problems in areas where they are in place.

Heliotrope
08-18-2015, 22:35
Had 2 bears enter my camp in the boundary water just after cooking a meal and hanging my food. We left the campsite and paddled out into the pond and waited. The Bears left after 15 minutes or so without any food. We returned to camp and slept. My first time camping in bear country (Yosemite) I just climbed a tree each night and tried to reach out far enough on a branch to hang food. Bears had a great feast on the third night. Since my yosemite trip I have hung my food successfully without incident.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

X-Pat
08-18-2015, 22:37
Wow. Couldn't imagine a bear willingly falling from a 20' high branch.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G900A using Tapatalk

nsherry61
08-18-2015, 23:32
. . . Your entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. Hang food from trees simply doesn't work.

If you're espousing "facts", please share what you have that is unequivocal.
Please, provide sources for the absolute failure of bear hangs and the absolute safety of sleeping with your food.

My experience is that bear canisters, bear hangs, and sleeping with food all work in most all cases when managed correctly. AND, there are examples of all of them failing in certain circumstances as well.

All we can do is take reasonable precautions for the area we are in and the animals we expect to encounter. And, to my knowledge, all areas and all animals are not all the same.

Fredt4
08-18-2015, 23:43
Blood Mountain in Georgia: hikers regularly lose food hangs, and this has been going on for years.

That's an indisputable fact.

Please post your fact that bear canisters, bear cables, bear poles or sleeping with food fails on a regular basis.

Fredt4
08-19-2015, 00:03
Sorry, but I disagree. IMHO, no bear, large or small, will defeat a properly executed PCT method bear bag hang.

Ok, let's assume for a moment that you're correct. If a bag is hung properly using the PCT and a bear defeats it, was the bag hung properly? You should now see that your statement makes no sense. In Yosemite and other areas where black bears are a problem the PCT method is prohibited. Why? Because it doesn't work. Why doesn't it work, for various reasons:
People don't know how to do it properly.
People are lazy and won't do it properly.
Try as they might, they can't do it properly.
The trees branches are no high enough to do it properly.
Even if done properly, bears will figure out how to defeat it.

Pick your reason why it fails.
I vote for all of the above.

Rangers simply vote that it's not a suitable method for backcountry use because it's been tried and it doesn't solve the problem, so we'll simply ban it and require bear canisters.

The Smokies went with bear cables.
Other use bear poles.
See a pattern here?
If bears getting the food becomes a problem, then food hangs from trees is prohibited.
I'll grant that perhaps a few individuals may be able to hang a food bag from a tree such that bears can't get to it. But you must grant that most can't no matter how hard they try to get it right.

Fredt4
08-19-2015, 00:26
Please, provide sources for the . . . and the absolute safety of sleeping with your food.

Many AT thru-hikers sleep with their food every year and have do so since the trail was established. To date no hiker has been attacked because they're sleeping with their food. If you have evidence to the contrary please post it as I've been searching for it for years. A few hikers have been attacked in their tents but it's always alleged that there was no food in the tent. If bears were regularly attacking hikers sleeping with their food, then there would be an abundance of credible stories to cite, yet there's none. Perhaps "bears attacking hikers sleeping with their food stories" belong with the Yeti and Sasquatch stories.

nsherry61
08-19-2015, 00:33
There is little doubt that in problem areas, bear canisters or other industrial type bear proofing is prudent. I don't think that is in much dispute.

For what is worth, I can list two examples off the top of my head where bear canisters consistently failed. 1) in Denali NP, in about 1988 a sow grizzly figured out how to sit down hard on the Garcia type canisters they used up there and pop them open. 2) in recent years in the eastern high peaks region of the Adirondacks, a sow figured out how to defeat the tabs on the bear vaults, and taught her cubs to do the same.

I can't name any specific instances of bears entering tents with people in them to get food, but the horror stories abound with first hand accounts being described even on these forums if I recall.

And finally, if park requirements are you standard of responsible bear security choices, many more parks recommend hanging food than require bear canisters. Canisters are generally only required in problem areas. In the other 99% of public lands Hanging seems to work for most people most of the time.

Fredt4
08-19-2015, 01:02
There is little doubt that in problem areas, bear canisters or other industrial type bear proofing is prudent. I don't think that is in much dispute.

For what is worth, I can list two examples off the top of my head where bear canisters consistently failed. 1) in Denali NP, in about 1988 a sow grizzly figured out how to sit down hard on the Garcia type canisters they used up there and pop them open. 2) in recent years in the eastern high peaks region of the Adirondacks, a sow figured out how to defeat the tabs on the bear vaults, and taught her cubs to do the same.

I can't name any specific instances of bears entering tents with people in them to get food, but the horror stories abound with first hand accounts being described even on these forums if I recall.

And finally, if park requirements are you standard of responsible bear security choices, many more parks recommend hanging food than require bear canisters. Canisters are generally only required in problem areas. In the other 99% of public lands Hanging seems to work for most people most of the time.

Yes, I agree that bear canisters aren't perfect. I've seen bears defeat bear cables, bear boxes, bears poles and Ursacks. But overwhelmingmy they work even in areas with bear problems. That can't be said of hanging food from trees. Most parks don't have serious bear problems therefore they allow food hangs as that's the standard. But when the shot hits the fan, food hangs are banned. I've hiked in the Smokies since the 70's and seen many encounters with black bears and food hangs just don't work. There's always a reason why they fail, but by the end of the day they just don't work. That's why the rangers put up bear cables at all the backcountry sites. Same with Yosemite, they require canisters. Shenandoah went with bear poles.

"Hang seems to work for most people most of the time." So does riding in a car without a seatbelt. What matters is what happens when a bear comes around, not most of the time. Bears regularly defeat food hangs. That's vastly different from bears have defeated bear canisters. If there's no bears around any method will seem to work. If there's bears around food hangs from trees will regularly fail.

As I asked earlier, if there's evidence of bears attacking hikers sleeping with food, why isn't it easily cited? Perhaps because it's not there. Just do the math, x hikers per year hiking the AT times years the AT been around and yet no credible and stories that are cited. Something has to give.

daddytwosticks
08-19-2015, 07:20
Many AT thru-hikers sleep with their food every year and have do so since the trail was established. To date no hiker has been attacked because they're sleeping with their food. If you have evidence to the contrary please post it as I've been searching for it for years. A few hikers have been attacked in their tents but it's always alleged that there was no food in the tent. If bears were regularly attacking hikers sleeping with their food, then there would be an abundance of credible stories to cite, yet there's none. Perhaps "bears attacking hikers sleeping with their food stories" belong with the Yeti and Sasquatch stories.

I believe a poster here on Whiteblaze by the name of Chaco Taco had his food taken from him as he slept with it somewhere up in Tennessee. If my memory is correct, it was several years ago. The exact details I cannot remember, but the incident was posted on this forum. :)

Traveler
08-19-2015, 07:25
You guys have this "how to hang bear bags" stuff all wrong. There is only one true, mountaineeringly robust and acceptable way for those steeped in the real out-of-doors. Use the Bear Claw method.

As demonstrated in the Jeremiah Johnson movie by Will Geer, in a lovingly portrayed character Bear Claw, the sport in bear bag hanging is to taunt the bear with your food and have it chase you. During the chase you need to get the food into a bag, secured to a rope, and toss the rope over a tree branch, hauling the bag up with your momentum, and watch the bear go up for it like a fish to a fly. Its easy and so much fun for the children to watch!

MuddyWaters
08-19-2015, 07:55
Nothings perfect.
They are delaying tactics, intended to cause the bear enough trouble it goes elsewhere
given enough time, a bear will figure out how to get at food.
You need to be prepared to defend your food, whether its hanging, in a cannister, or in your tent.

A good hang, can do that. Problem is,most hangs arent good hangs, not even close.
Hanging also can keep it away from rodents and raccoons, things that will chew right thru your tent to get to it.

In yosemite, bears learned to roll cannisters off of cliffs, shattering them on rocks below, then go down and scoop up goodies.
In yosemite, there also is a bear that learned how to open bear lockers.

Hanging is more to avoid an encounter with a bear , than protect your food
Your food is safer with you
You are safer(marginally) with your food elsewhere

I dont carry my bear cannister on the AT, but if it was required, it wouldnt bother me one bit. With enough people and trail usage, it WILL come to that one day.

Lnj
08-19-2015, 09:01
Hanging food will not work, it may make you feel like you've done something appropriate, but you haven't.

Hanging food from a tree, has been, and Will be defeated by any self respecting bear. Using a bear canister (and possibly the Ursack) is the only method that works if you're going to leave your food unattended. The only other option is sleeping with your food. Some may consider sleeping with your food risky, but the data doesn't support their opinion. They're entitled to their opinion, but there's no there there. Your entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. Hang food from trees simply doesn't work.

I was thinking this too. I am new to this entire process, but to me it seems I would be hiking with my food on my back, then stopping at camp to pitch my tent and fix my dinner and bathe to some degree. My whole pack would go inside my tent and I can't imagine I would be too terribly far away from it for any great length of time. Why couldn't I just sleep with it still in my pack... maybe in a Ursack as well? Why would that not work?

Fredt4
08-19-2015, 09:13
I believe a poster here on Whiteblaze by the name of Chaco Taco had his food taken from him as he slept with it somewhere up in Tennessee. If my memory is correct, it was several years ago. The exact details I cannot remember, but the incident was posted on this forum. :)

Had their food taken vs attacked, that's a big difference. In 2011 a big storm was expected. At the Blood Mt. shelter me and three other hiker slept in the back room of the shelter. The wind was driving rain and snow into the front room, so two of us moved into the back room where the other two were. A hiker left his food in the front room, because he was afraid to sleep with it. I slept in the food in the back room. The bear took his food. Earlier during the night the bear had gotten the food hang from the other two hikers staying at the shelter. Yes, bears will take your food if they can, but they don't attack you for the food. In the Everglades (1975) raccoons took a gallon of water from my tent while I slept. I consider raccoons to be more aggressive. Either way I'm still waiting for the bear attacks hiker for their food story links. But even if one credible story is linked to, that would still be only one. There should be an abundance of stories if it was happening.

T-Rx
08-19-2015, 10:12
To hang or not to hang will be an eternal debate among backpackers. I can share with you my personal experiences. I have a couple hundred nights in the woods on various backpacking adventures including 60 days and 600+ miles on the AT this year. I am not a food hanger. I sleep with my food every night. I never stay in shelters. I have never had a problem of any type. I use an opsak inside a zpacks blast food bag. I also have an ursack but the blast is so much lighter and waterproof. I believe bears are inquisitive and opportunistic but if you do not leave your food unattended and you handle your food/cooking appropriately, you will be fine. Just my humble opinion.

SteelCut
08-19-2015, 10:26
To hang or not to hang will be an eternal debate among backpackers. I can share with you my personal experiences. I have a couple hundred nights in the woods on various backpacking adventures including 60 days and 600+ miles on the AT this year. I am not a food hanger. I sleep with my food every night. I never stay in shelters. I have never had a problem of any type. I use an opsak inside a zpacks blast food bag. I also have an ursack but the blast is so much lighter and waterproof. I believe bears are inquisitive and opportunistic but if you do not leave your food unattended and you handle your food/cooking appropriately, you will be fine. Just my humble opinion.

I'm with you on this... it will be an endless debate. I prefer to hang when it can be done conveniently and I can find a great branch for the PCT method. Otherwise I sleep with my food. I've never had a problem either way. But there is no use in hanging for hanging's sake if you can't do it right.

nsherry61
08-19-2015, 10:38
Fredt, Why are you looking for people being attacked for their food?

We store our food to keep ourselves and our food safe within reason.
We have no shortage of stories about bears breaking into bear-proof food storage containers, bear hangs, and yes, even tents with and without people in them.
We also have bear attacks on people walking in along a trail with no food at all.

Maybe we should put this discussion in table form (I am being mostly facetious here) with risk of personal injury and risk of food loss as two different columns letting people decide which column is more important. We would, of course, need a table for each location and each season where people might be found in the outdoors. We could have categories of say 1) just walking along the trail, 2) sleeping with food, 3) sleeping with food in bear hang, 4) sleeping with food in bear canister. . .

Columns could be risk to self and risk to food with sub categories of 1) risk from bear, 2) risk from non-bear animals, 3) non-animal related risks.

In the end, I think we'd find that the greatest danger to our food (and other gear) is non-bear animals when sleeping with our food (plenty of personal experience here) followed by non-animal damage due to heat and water when we are not sleeping with it. Somewhere far down the list is risk to food due to bears . . . with a few important and notable exceptions where bears are a consistent problem.

By far, the greatest risk to our personal safety is non-animal related dangers just walking along, followed by non-bear animal dangers while just walking along, followed by bear dangers while just walking along. BUT, when it comes to minimizing personal risk associated with sleeping and food, sleeping with your food increases the likelihood of a visit from a bear greater than keeping the food away from your person at night, regardless of whether it is hung or kept in a canister.

Finally, in areas where bears have not been regularly getting food from poorly hung food bags (most wild places actually) reasonably well hung food bags do a perfectly good job of keeping both bears and non-bears away from your food overnight. I doubt very much that I am the only person on these forums that has watched a bear that appears interested in food smells either walk right past a hung food bag without paying attention to it, or only pays a short bit of attention to the bag before moving on . . . in other words, bear bag hanging does work, and, done right, it works well in most areas and most encounters. It is just that bear bag hanging does not work well in many of our most popular outdoor recreation areas where bears have become highly experienced in getting human food.

Why do people feel as though there must be answers that are absolutely right or absolutely wrong in all cases, regardless of the subtle and not-so-subtle real differences of different places, situations, and personal priorities?

Lnj
08-19-2015, 10:51
I just like to read the debates to get the pros and cons of all the options. I haven't tried any of it yet, but I am searching for the easiest, fastest way to preserve my food, my tent, and my life for about 8 hours or so while I catch a nap at night. I am just thinking if a bear tried to come into my tent with me, my food will no longer be a concern, they can have my raisins, but more of clean underwear and blood loss stoppers. Raccoons I think would be a much bigger problem and they can be mean, so maybe find a way to lock the zippers of my tent somehow...???

garlic08
08-19-2015, 10:59
I was thinking this too. I am new to this entire process, but to me it seems I would be hiking with my food on my back, then stopping at camp to pitch my tent and fix my dinner and bathe to some degree. My whole pack would go inside my tent and I can't imagine I would be too terribly far away from it for any great length of time. Why couldn't I just sleep with it still in my pack... maybe in a Ursack as well? Why would that not work?

I never turn my back on my food bag any more, not even "just a sec." I've never had a food encounter with a bear, but I respect the rest of the critters trying to get my calories. I once had ravens ravage my supplies when I went twenty feet down to a San Juan Islands beach to watch the wildlife. A Colorado ermine destroyed my pack and some clothing in minutes to get to my food when I walked down a creek bank to get water. A mouse ate my tortillas in an AT shelter as I read the register. I once fought off mice trying to get into an empty cookie bag in my tent, after they chewed a hole in the tent.

Hanging food is a skill you should have in your toolbox, and then you decide whether to use it based on conditions. I don't all the time, but in crowded conditions with habituated mammals, large and small, it can at least save my food and lead to a better night's sleep, if done right.

And if you should ever find yourself in grizzly country, it's definitely a skill to have.

nsherry61
08-19-2015, 11:27
. . . 60 days and 600+ miles on the AT this year. I am not a food hanger. I sleep with my food every night. I never stay in shelters. I have never had a problem of any type.

And I would suggest you probably never will. I've certainly had bears (or some large animal) sniff my tent at night when sleeping with my food, but nothing more, just a nervous night's sleep following the incident. Your odds of a problem are probably < 0.0001. The reason not to sleep with your food is to save you from that 1 in 10,000th moment if it ever happens to you. Sometimes I'm willing to take that chance, sometimes I'm not.

Sarcasm the elf
08-19-2015, 11:37
I was thinking this too. I am new to this entire process, but to me it seems I would be hiking with my food on my back, then stopping at camp to pitch my tent and fix my dinner and bathe to some degree. My whole pack would go inside my tent and I can't imagine I would be too terribly far away from it for any great length of time. Why couldn't I just sleep with it still in my pack... maybe in a Ursack as well? Why would that not work?

Never leave your food unattended on the ground for even a minute. Rodents and critters that live near established campsites and shelters will attack your food the moment you walk away from it. I've seen people's food bags get torn into at shelters when they only left them unattended to quickly grab water or go to the bathroom. We like to use the term "bear bag" but it really is more likely that a mouse or squirrel will be the one causing problems.

If you are walking away from your site, either take your foodbag with you or leave it secured by hanging or other secured method if available.

The Cleaner
08-19-2015, 11:38
Lot's of the prior posts are moot.From I-40 to Spivey Gap, the Carolina Mtn Club has installed bear cables at all shelters.Even the cables are mostly a waste of resources because bears are hunted all along this section of trail. You are very lucky to even get a quick sight of one as they move away very quickly when they see you.Even beyond Spivey Gap all the way to Damascus bears are rarely seen.The only exception is near Watagua Lake where there is a picnic area and locals have left too much leftover food outside of bear proof trash cans.The trail shelter near there was closed for a while too.:rolleyes:

SteelCut
08-19-2015, 11:41
Lot's of the prior posts are moot.From I-40 to Spivey Gap, the Carolina Mtn Club has installed bear cables at all shelters.

That's great that CMC did that but it's only of use if you are staying at the shelter. Otherwise the hang vs no hang decision needs to be made.

Sarcasm the elf
08-19-2015, 11:46
I'm with you on this... it will be an endless debate. I prefer to hang when it can be done conveniently and I can find a great branch for the PCT method. Otherwise I sleep with my food. I've never had a problem either way. But there is no use in hanging for hanging's sake if you can't do it right.

This is about where I am as well.
1)Keep a clean camp and minimize food odors
2)Keep posession of my food whenever it is not secured
3) If there is a permanently installed food storage device at a campsite (Bear box, bear cables, bear poles) I use that.
4)If no installed device is available, I throw a PCT hang if I can find a perfect branch.
5)If I can't find a place to hang it properly the my food bag becomes my pillow.

I only hike out East though, I would reconsider all of this if I were in the Western states.

Sarcasm the elf
08-19-2015, 11:49
Lot's of the prior posts are moot.From I-40 to Spivey Gap, the Carolina Mtn Club has installed bear cables at all shelters.Even the cables are mostly a waste of resources because bears are hunted all along this section of trail. You are very lucky to even get a quick sight of one as they move away very quickly when they see you.Even beyond Spivey Gap all the way to Damascus bears are rarely seen.The only exception is near Watagua Lake where there is a picnic area and locals have left too much leftover food outside of bear proof trash cans.The trail shelter near there was closed for a while too.:rolleyes:

I'll add in that if you are using bear cables, be sure to use a carabiner to clip the bag to the hook/cable as well. All of the ones I have used (GA only) have had hooks that were partially broken which made it possible for the food to be shaken or bounced off.

Berserker
08-19-2015, 12:25
One thing that wasn't mentioned that I thought I'd throw in real quick is that if you plan to hang then make sure to get some dyneema cord. Regular nylon parachute cord binds on some tree limbs, and can get really hard to deal with when it gets wet.

For the record I hang (using PCT method) sometimes, sometimes I use my bear can and sometimes I just put the food in my tent (usually in a garbage bag that's then placed in my bear bag to knock the smells down some). Whether I hang or just put the food in my tent depends on my energy level, the weather and the perceived threat of a bear actually showing up to sniff around in camp overnight.

Lnj
08-19-2015, 13:48
That was my next thought/question... are some or most of these critter infestations regional? Can anyone tell me what just the state of GA is like as far as animal activity in May?

Fredt4
08-19-2015, 21:33
Georgia in May has plenty of critters. Same for almost every other state. Only time I don't see critters is in the winter.

I carry the Ursack for small critters rather than bears, as I believe that by never leaving the food unattended bears are not a problem. Occasionally I'll set up camp and go exploring, having the Ursack gives me the option of stashing the food. Can't say I ever done that in a bear hotspot. Certainly wouldn't leave in a tent.

lonehiker
08-20-2015, 01:15
1. I've always gotten a chuckle out of the argument that, "I've always don't it this way with no problem, therefore it must be right." Oh, and, "my (anecdotal) evidence is indisputable...."

2. When you put rocks in your rock bag to throw over the branch, remember to put a lot of rocks in it. Make it heavy. You will save yourself a lot of heartache.

Lnj
08-20-2015, 10:09
What about if you have a bear canister? Would that help your odds with leaving it in a tent overnight? Surely, it would keep the rodents and raccoons out, right?

garlic08
08-20-2015, 12:16
If you carry a canister, it should not go in the tent. The canisters are not odor proof. The critters know the food is there but they can't get at it. But they will still try to get into your tent to get to your food. There are guidelines for canister placement and protection, and in the tent does not meet them. Same with the animal-proof sacks.

Lnj
08-20-2015, 13:44
Ok. Thanks.

Cobble
08-20-2015, 13:56
For a bear hanging my advice is simple..
1. Strong rope..paracord will just snap. You need heavy climbing rope at the very least.
2. You must find a very strong limb...at least twice as thick as your leg.
3. Finally, catch the bear completely by surprise...you really only have one shot at it.

Lnj
08-20-2015, 14:14
:D Was any part of this serious? It made me laugh though, so thanks!
1. Really, to hang food and trash out of danger, will paracord work or do we need to get something far heavier?
2. You haven't seen my legs.... There will be no such branches/limbs. But I get it, a big one.
3. How far down do you hang the stuff? Like how many feet from the limb? I just feel like a raccoon could easily get it no matter where or how it is hung unless its under my head in my bag, but I don't want to be fighting animals all night instead of sleeping.

garlic08
08-20-2015, 16:19
No, it wasn't serious, it was all a pun on bear hanging. Good one, too--had me laughing as well. Paracord or similar is OK and the limb only has to support the food bag, not a bear swinging in the wind. Some guidelines say the the bag should be at least 10' in the air and 5' from any part of the tree.

MuddyWaters
08-20-2015, 22:30
If you carry a canister, it should not go in the tent. The canisters are not odor proof. The critters know the food is there but they can't get at it. But they will still try to get into your tent to get to your food. There are guidelines for canister placement and protection, and in the tent does not meet them.

Far enough away a bear wont accidentally trip on guylines and knock my tarp down. 10 ft works. Just make sure it cant roll away, especially downhill.

You cant hide from Mr Bear, he knows where you are. He can smell 5x better than a dog, and follow your odorous footprints right to your sleeping bag with his eyes closed if he wanted. Good thing he doesnt want, so no reason to worry.

Traveler
08-21-2015, 08:21
For a bear hanging my advice is simple..
1. Strong rope..paracord will just snap. You need heavy climbing rope at the very least.
2. You must find a very strong limb...at least twice as thick as your leg.
3. Finally, catch the bear completely by surprise...you really only have one shot at it.

All true, to which I would add, speed is essential. The average bear would grow impatient waiting for you to hang it and may grow irritable.

mtnkngxt
08-21-2015, 08:21
I modified my Ursack with 1/4 Amsteel with buried loops and a 1000 lb rated biner. I hypothesize that will be more than sufficient for East Coast bears and Ponies.

Lnj
08-21-2015, 11:27
So show is t his for a plan.... Food and anything smelly at all goes in freezer ziplocs, inside a bear can, which goes inside a Ursack and is slung over a thin branch 10 feet away from my tent, 10 feet from th3eground and 5 feet away from the tree. Will that get it done in GA?

Lnj
08-21-2015, 11:27
Yes, I am a terrible typist.

Cobble
08-21-2015, 15:09
LNJ...that would do it..but even that is probably a tad overkill. Either a ursack tied to a tree, or a bear cannister, or hanging it from a tree. Personally I think the bear cannister is too much for the AT.

So either ursack it or hang it. But halfway thru the trail when you start sleeping with your snickers bars...I promise I won't tell on you.

except where required by park/forest rules of course

Traveler
08-22-2015, 11:26
Yes, I am a terrible typist.

A painful process, typing, but that may be to your advantage in this issue. Include typed instructions of how to get to the food inside the ziplock baggies, inside the bear can, inside the Ursack, attached to your bag cord, thats sure to confound the bear to the point it walks away mumbling.

CarlZ993
08-22-2015, 22:51
Where mandated, I'll use bear canisters. If provided, I'll use bear cables or similar food hanging system. If provided, I'll use bear and/or rodent-proof food containers. If staying in a shelter on the AT (if cables or food containers aren't provided), I'll usually hang my food in a critter-resistant food bag inside the shelter. Absent of those, I'll do a PCT bear hang if I can find an appropriate limb. If none of these can be utilized, I'll sleep w/ my food. In 20+ yrs in backpacking, I've probably slept w/ my food in my tent only a handful of times. It makes me nervous to do so.

Harrison Bergeron
08-23-2015, 20:33
"Step one: Find a branch at least 20 ft off the ground, strong enough to hold your bag at least 10ft from the trunk."


If such a branch exists at a campground on the AT in GA or NC, I must have missed it. But it doesn't matter. Unless you're Paul Bunyan or Nolan Ryan, the odds that you are physically capable of lofting a rock bag attached to a nylon bear line 20 feet in the air to hit a point 10 ft from the trunk is only slightly better than your odds of beating Scott Jurek to Katadyn. For normal human beings, it's a physical impossibility. Go try it in your back yard right now if you don't believe me.

Because of this seldom-acknowledged fact, when you get on the trail you will discover that all of the food bags you see hanging from the trees at night are easily within reach of even the most mentally challenged bear.

But here's the good news -- the odds that a bear will happen across any given bear bag are only slightly better than the odds of a bear beating Scott Jurek to Katadyn. There just aren't that many bears out there. This is also why you will see many people who sleep with their food and yet aren't eaten by bears.

However, there is one difference you may notice between those that hang and those that don't. Those who don't tend to complain endlessly about the mice running around, over, and sometimes through their tents at night. So if you enjoy sleeping at night, that's a good enough reason to hang your food. Fortunately, mice are a lot shorter than bears. You won't need 20 ft.

Cobble
08-24-2015, 00:35
I dunno... I seem to remember a lot of people complaining of mice who hung their food outside...

Seemed better to use the tuna can protected strings in the shelter. I just kept my food in my pack, hung inside the shelter 95% of the time. The 5% was when other people were freaking about bears and I didn't wanna fight about it. 85% of the time others did the same thing or hung their food seperate in the shelter.

LittleRock
08-24-2015, 09:28
I agree that critters are more likely to be a problem than bears. Lots of AT shelters are infested with mice. If you're staying in one, hang your food outside the shelter. Even if there's no food in it, the mice will try to get inside your pack. Keep it unzipped so they don't try to chew a hole in it. The longer I've hiked on the AT, the more I've gravitated away from shelters. On my first couple of trips I stayed in the shelters almost every night. Nowadays, I only stay in shelters if they're unoccupied or if it's raining.

As far as food security, I hang when staying at shelters, otherwise I keep it in the tent. As far as hanging goes, I've heard that the most common reason for failure is the bear chewing through the rope. So I carry 50' of 3/8" nylon rope instead of parachute cord for hanging. On top of being stronger, it's also less likely to get caught in a tree. Only other suggestion is to use green or brown rope and bag to make the hang less visible.

Other than mice, the only encounter I've had with animals trying to steal food was in TN. I was cooking dinner at a shelter, stray hunting dog ran into the shelter area and grabbed my summer sausage right off the picnic table. Managed to get it back and yelled at the dog until it ran off.

Funny thing - the next day I ran into a hiker going the other direction who who told me that the previous night he was sleeping in a shelter with his head toward the outside, and woke up to find a bear sniffing his head. He screamed and the bear ran off, but his food hang was untouched.

Berserker
08-24-2015, 12:24
Personally I think the bear cannister is too much for the AT.
It is too much for the AT. On the flip side though it's great piece of mind, and makes a dang fine camp chair.