View Full Version : Bear Bagging

05-26-2005, 10:09
Can someone please advise as to how often you bear bagged your food and where it is necessary to hang your food on the AT? Also, what type of rope/bear bag combination did you use? If not staying in the shelter, did you sleep with your food in the tarp/tent or hang? Any advice is appreciated.

05-26-2005, 10:16
From my experience hikers are all over the map on this one. I personally hang a bag just about every night on the AT. Is is absolutely necessary ?? dunno ...but all it takes is one food raid by an animal and you become a believer. It's not that big of a hassle to throw a line over a branch and get the food off the ground.

Honestly, bears are not my big concern by the way ...it is the smaller critters like mice and chip monks that can really reak the havok on a food bag.

If I'm in a shelter I typically hang my bag on one of the mouse lines suspended from a rafter.

AT 2003

05-26-2005, 10:20
The only place I bagged my food was where it was required or where cables and such were provided. I would always hang up my food in shelters to keep it away from mice. Otherwise, I'd sleep with my food in my tent.

Nevertheless, when in areas where there are known bear problems or lots of bears around, it's a good idea to hang your food.

Crazy Larry #1
05-26-2005, 10:47
I'm With Colter On This One................wanderer

05-26-2005, 15:58
Well, I'm almost with Colter.

Where did I bear bag?

A. Everyplace where there was a bear line or bear box,

B. Anyplace where the shelter register noted bear activity in the area.

Where did I hang my food bag?

A. Every night at a shelter to keep mice out of my pack. I also opened up all pockets and zippers to keep the mice from chewing through packs and bags.

B. Every night in a tent to keep others crittes (racoons) out of my food bag.

05-26-2005, 16:11
Think it should be called critter bagging. I stealth camp with a hammock. Make it a point not to eat where I sleep. Last time out, hung everything in a near tree. That includes my cooking gear. Left my poles leaned against a tree. Next morning found a coon had chewed one of my handles. Put everything up!!!!

Red Hat
05-26-2005, 17:12
I hung my food bag every night, whether or not there were cables. Tennessee has no cables and plenty of bears.... Sometimes it worried me when folks just hung their bags in the shelter, seems like an invitation to me... I should say that sometimes it was nice to have someone help me throw the line when the trees were really tall...

Nearly Normal
05-26-2005, 20:01
I haven't had a problem but then again I bear bag it. I don't want that problem.

I hear from a good source that bears are getting smarter about the cables in Georgia. They've been known to lean on the lines causing the food bags to shake. A poorly connected bag will fall.

I've never seen a shelter that didn't have food debris, spilled dog food or unburned trash in the fire ring. Most hikers are good about LNT camping and will even pack out the stuff they find. Little notes or carvings on shelter walls are a problem too.
May all of the ones doing this have "groundhog day" dreams of mice running over your face.:dance

05-26-2005, 20:24
Don't keep your food in your tent unless you like rude awakenings by very unwelcome guests. That is just dangerous, if you ask me.

05-26-2005, 20:46
Not in the shelter-hang by rope, 3 or 4 mil I forget, I think it's 40'. I use a carabiner on the end so I can remove quickly. Unless there are cables.

In the shelter, I hang it from the mouse trapezes.

In the winter, when tenting, in the tent.

I'm pretty sure there are bears in every state the AT crosses through.

Texas Dreamer
05-26-2005, 21:40
It's like training children, folks--all it takes is one successful hit to turn a regular critter into a problem critter.

BTW--had my food bag chewed by mouse at Mollie Shelter (I think that's where) while it was on the bear cables.

---myself, Janet, and B Jack laid up in Erwin feeling pretty crappy. Hope to get back out there soon.

05-26-2005, 21:50
I used 25 feet of 4 milimeter cord to hang my bag.


05-27-2005, 09:11
might want to check out the ursack. more then enough for the at....

05-27-2005, 10:34
might want to check out the ursack. more then enough for the at....=============================
Looked at it before my thru in 2003 and thought it was a tad on the heavy side and a bit of overkill for the AT. But I did see some hikers carrying it during my hike.

AT 2003

05-27-2005, 11:04
I've tented almost 100% of the time on all the trails I've hiked on. I try to not have my food bag, medical bag(tooth paste), dog food or anything else that would attract critters in my tent. I call it hanging my bear bag but it's as much a mouse bag as anything. Most of the time on the PCT or CDT there wasn't anything to hang a bear bag on. I have a bullet proof bear can which I'm not very fond of carrying but it works. I'm looking forward to hiking the COHOS trail this fall and I will hang my bear bag.
The best way to handle a bad situation is to avoid it.

05-27-2005, 21:33
When I was out last year for a week. I hung my bag the first night, the second night, I didn't. Well, that night, we had a visitor. A nice sized black bear was hungry for some Ramen Noodles and got two packs out of my buddies bag that was right below him while he was sleeping. I got closer to that bear than you would have if you went to the zoo when he came back for more. We ended up finally scaring him off without any serious incident. So, I hang my food and any other smelly goodness ALL the time now.

05-31-2005, 09:01
Looked at it before my thru in 2003 and thought it was a tad on the heavy side and a bit of overkill for the AT. But I did see some hikers carrying it during my hike.

AT 2003

UH right its a lot heavier then air but a lot lighter then a bear can. If people keep feeding the eastcoast bears then we all might as well start buying bear cans as it wont be long before they become needed.

Crazy Janey
05-31-2005, 09:11
Does anyone know wher eto get an Ursack bag?

05-31-2005, 10:15
Does anyone know wher eto get an Ursack bag?
From their website at: http://www.ursack.com

"Ursack is currently unable to purchase Spectra fabric (or its equivalent).
The military has requisitioned it all.
Until we are able to get fabric, we can't make Ursacks.
Our suppliers are unable to even predict when that will be.
None of our dealers have Ursacks either."

05-31-2005, 10:39
Hanging your smellables is something you should really think hard about. First, as was stated, it only takes once for a critter to become a problem critter, thus making life miserable for every hiker behind you. Second, if a critter raids your foodbag you can quickly find yourself going hungry. Third, bears may not be a huge issue in a lot of the area the trail covers, but I don't think you want to wake up face to face with one!

I met a guy Thru-Hiking that had, what I consider, an excellent solution for his bear bag line. Sailing line, what he called leech line, weighs almost nothing but is still rated to 250lbs! That is the same rating as the 3/16 cord I was carrying, but the leech line is literally no thicker than dental floss. He carried two lengths of line, and had tied a very small pulley on the end of one. He would toss one line over the limb, then run the second line through the pulley. This made it easier to hoist, and prevented any excess wear and tear on the line by pulling it over the limb while weighted. Instead of a pulley (if you are ultra weight conservative) just tie a bite on the end of one line and use that instead of a pulley. Seems like a tough arguement not to bear bag when you can have a less than an ounce solution.

GA -->ME 2005

05-31-2005, 10:44
I can count the number of times I've bear bagged on one hand, never on the AT. Some folks are afraid of snakes, others people- and thus carry guns. Me? I'm afraid of girls. But the point I'm trying to make: the few people I've met who had their food taken, had it hung. It's against the rules to hang your food in the high Sierra for just that reason. If there's a box or cable by all means use it but of all the millions of folks who use the AT each and every year, I don't recall a bear stealing food story! I'll be disappointed if Jack doesn't have one though ;)

05-31-2005, 11:04
In some places along the AT where there is a large bear population, mouse hangers are either forbidden or severely frowned upon by those in charge. The thought is that food hanging within the shelter is a magnet for bears, and for safety reasons--to protect humans, their food, and the bears--bear-bagging or using other supplied methods of hanging food is preferable.

For example, as a shelter maintainer in SNP, I am expected to take down any "mouse hangers" hikers put up. Hikers are expected to use the bear poles provided at each shelter. If they can't use those (some people just can't get the hang of it, no pun intended) they are expected to bear-bag using a tree limb at least 10 ft. high and 4 ft. from the main trunk.

Several years ago, due to food suspended from mouse hangers in a shelter in SNP, a bear did make a midnight raid. Fortunately, the inhabitants escaped but they lost much of their food and were unable to re-enter the shelter until the bear was gone. It could have been a lot more tragic. Therefore, the no-mouse-hangers policy has been promoted.

In the Smokies and other high-use shelters in the South, a pulley system is employed in lieu of a bear pole. IMHO this is easier to use and also more effective. I wish SNP would adopt this method.

05-31-2005, 11:10
...I don't recall a bear stealing food story! I'll be disappointed if Jack doesn't have one though ;)
Well then let me give you one! I was backpacking, ten years ago, and had a bear steal my entire backpack! There was a group of us, and we had gone away from our camp to have a campfire. We came back after dark, around 21:00. The two guys walking in front of me start saying "Shhh, shut up! There's a bear in the camp!" but we didn't believe them at first, thinking it was a joke. They shone their flash light into the camp and sure enough there was a black bear looking back at us. It ran up the mountain, pulling a pack along with it. Luckily the pack snagged on something (a root or stump as I recall), the bear gave up on it, and continued running off. The owner of that pack was quite relieved to have it, despite the few small tears on it. As we walked through camp looking for any damage, I noticed the vestibule of my tent was pulled up. There was my friends pack laying, untouched, and an empty void where my pack once sat. His Nalgene, which had a drink mix in it, had been utilized as if it were a dogs chew toy and was ravaged with holes. All I had was my bowl, spoon, and a water bottle. The rest was in my pack, now long gone.

The following morning we made a sweep up the mountain in hopes of finding it. I managed to find it, almost 200 yards up the mountain side. It was an external frame pack with a front-zip bottom pouch. The bear had unzipped the pack to get its paws on a pack of pop-tarts. I had made the mistake of asking someone to grab the food out of my pack without specifying what all they should be looking for, so the pop-tarts were overlooked. The bear took the foil pack, slit it neatly length-wise, and had itself a snack. There was not a single mark on my pack from the bear, and nothing else was touched in the pack.

So, now you can no longer claim that you've never heard a beer-stealing-food story! ;):D:o

GA -->ME 2005

05-31-2005, 20:22
Does anyone know wher eto get an Ursack bag?
they said they are unable to produce the product at this time because the U.S. Govt has priority on the, the, is it Spectra fabric? I've forgotten.

06-01-2005, 10:59
they said they are unable to produce the product at this time because the U.S. Govt has priority on the, the, is it Spectra fabric? I've forgotten.

Thats a darn shame , I really love mine. I guess the military boys do need the spectra fabric more then we do so I cant complain too much.