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Re: Bear Bag or Canister

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Bear Bag or Canister
June 14, 2007 06:47PM
I purchased and Bear Bag Ursack s29 with alum liner due to it's lighter weight and I can use it on the AP next year, but what are your thoughts on which is better? After seeing the Bag, I am not sure the canister is not better, I mean, the bag would be easy for the bear to carry off. I would love to hear from you who have had experience with both.
Thank you, Steve
avatar Re: Bear Bag or Canister
June 14, 2007 07:09PM
Even if the bear doesn't carry it off the food will probably pretty well chewed up. The is a kevlar rope that can be used to secure it to a tree. I don't think the bag has been approved for use in Yosemite.





Old Dude
Re: Bear Bag or Canister
June 14, 2007 07:27PM
Mike, Thanks again. Actually, the bag is approved, on the condition that you also have the aluminum insert. The thing I don't like about the bag is that it must be closed tightly and that is hard to do. The rope is like 2700 pound test, and according to the advertizements, with the alum liner, the bear cannot crush it unless he jumps on it. Thank you for your input, I am going to keep and open mind and might rent one when I get there. Steve
avatar Re: Bear Bag or Canister
June 14, 2007 08:18PM
skskinner wrote:

> Mike, Thanks again. Actually, the bag is approved, on the
> condition that you also have the aluminum insert. The thing I
> don't like about the bag is that it must be closed tightly and
> that is hard to do. The rope is like 2700 pound test, and
> according to the advertizements, with the alum liner, the bear
> cannot crush it unless he jumps on it. Thank you for your
> input, I am going to keep and open mind and might rent one
> when I get there. Steve

I've heard of cases where an Ursack without an aluminum insert was defeated. A bear can just keep on chewing the bag until it finally punctures it. The aluminum insert is supposed to stretch the bag taut such that it's harder for the bear to chew. There have been some reported cases of hybrid Ursacks (with an older material) being punctured. Supposedly mice will just keep on chewing.

Ursack even has it's own company blog:

http://ursack.blogspot.com

The following discussion contains a photo of a failed Ursack Hybrid (I think it's the older model):

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/xdpy/forum_thread/3801/index.htm



If in doubt, you can rent a Garcia canister for $5 for up to a two week wilderness trip in Yosemite.



Post Edited (06-14-07 22:22)
Re: Bear Bag or Canister
June 15, 2007 08:06AM
Just a note on bagging - I used the plain old cotton bag counterbalance system for years and years before the cannisters became required, and never once had a bear or any other animal get my stuff.

In retrospect, I have to assume that the great majority of people had real trouble doing this right, and thus lost their food and prompted the new rule (in fact, we saw scads of badly performed food hanging, in some case swith bags a couple of feet off the ground :-/ ) - but really, why was it so tough?

We had the food hung safely within 5 minutes, about 12-15 feet out from a tree, on a pencil-thin live branch 20 feet up, every time. When it came time to get it down, we'd lasso one bag and drag it down. Other hikers and rangers would come up to my brother-in-law and me, and be utterly amazed at how we hung those bags - but frankly it was cake, and my throwing arm is worse than most.





Wilderness forever,
Bruce Jensen
Re: Bear Bag or Canister
June 15, 2007 03:48PM
Bruce, thank you for the information. Though the bag or canister is still the law, I may want to try your hanging method too. What does counterbalance mean when it comes to hanging the bag? Do you still hang yours? Also, how many Ursacks do you think are carried off by the bears. Thanks again, Steve
Re: Bear Bag or Canister
June 18, 2007 08:44AM
Steve wrote:

>Bruce, thank you for the information. Though the bag or canister is still the law, I may want to try your hanging method too. What does counterbalance mean when it comes to hanging the bag?<

It means that you have two bags (cotton, nylon or whatever) of roughly equal size, and that you have one bag hanging on each end of the rope slipped over a branch.

First you throw the rope over a suitable *sturdy but flexible* live branch about 20 to 25 feet up, far out from the tree and at a point where a bear can neither shake it loose nor travel to within reaching distance. Use a heavy object tied to the rope (a rock or similar) to provide some momentum to toss the rope over the limb.

Then, with food and odorous materials divided equally between the two bags, you tie off one bag to one end of the rope, and haul it, as though on a pulley, all the way up to the branch. Then, as high as you can comfortably reach, tie off the other bag so that it is secure (leaving a modest loop of rope if you want to hook it back down instead of lassoing it with another rope.) Then, shove it up with a good push or with a stick; and if you have done it right, the two bags should be hanging about neck and neck with each other, at a height of about 12 - 14 feet above the ground.

To retrieve the bags, either grab your loop with a fishing rod or a long stick with little branch nubs on it, or you can lasso the most accessible bag with a loop of rope and haul it down.

be careful when you untie bag no. 1 - because without the counterweight, the other bag can come down pretty fast onto your cranium! ;-)

This all takes a little bit of practice (most folks can usually find a tree near home to experiment), but not too much, and if a total maladroit like me can do it, then you should have no trouble.

See this site:

http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/training/bearbag.shtml

Look for 6.27, Counterbalance. I think the 15 foot height is too low and the 1 inch outer branch size slightly too large, but the basics are there. By no means should any other described method be used - bears will easily figure out or chew through the other rope configurations shown here.

> Do you still hang yours?<

I do where it is allowed. In Yosemite, and in most CA National forests, it is no longer permitted, because the authorities do not trust people to do it right (and sadly, with good reason - too many people screw it up).

> Also, how many Ursacks do you think are carried off by the bears. Thanks again, Steve<

I don't know the number, but if they are hung less than about 8 feet high, or are close to places where bears (or raccoons/ etc) can gain purchase, I imagine the number is high. Animals are considerably more intelligent and adaptable than people generally know, and in their elements will figure out almost any contraption people devise.

I would, however, swear by the method shown here if it is done right.

Bruce Jensen





Wilderness forever,
Bruce Jensen
avatar Re: Bear Bag or Canister
June 18, 2007 03:30PM
A Yosemite bear will go out on the branch the food is hanging on. It will then bounce the branch up and down and due to the mismatch in the counterbalanced bags weight one of the bags will start the downward journey as the other bag starts up. When the downward bag gets low enough the bear comes down the tree, opens the down bag, and lets the upper bag fall. This learning process took years but they finally figured it out.

Even the big dumpsters had to have the latches added to the hatches after decades of being secure with just the hatch. The bears figured out they could open the hatch, climb in, and enjoy garbage to their hearts content. Getting out of the dumpster was easier than getting in as the hatch opens out very easily.

I've used the Garcia can since it was introduced. It does add three pounds of weight to your pack and goes under-filled on short trips but it does have many other uses besides storing food. I use it mainly as a camp stool. Bongo drum, washing machine, water hauler, solar water heater, back rest, a place to find goodies when your hiking partner is out of camp to name a few.





Old Dude
Re: Bear Bag or Canister
June 18, 2007 03:37PM
Wow! I'd love to see this - do you know if anyone has posted any videos of this happening?

That's a darn good reason not to go with that method anymore.





Wilderness forever,
Bruce Jensen
avatar Re: Bear Bag or Canister
June 18, 2007 04:07PM
They've also been known to get on a higher branch and dive for the food. A good reason to not be sleeping under the branch winking smiley

avatar Re: Bear Bag or Canister
June 18, 2007 05:24PM
bpnjensen wrote:

> Wow! I'd love to see this - do you know if anyone has posted
> any videos of this happening?
>
> That's a darn good reason not to go with that method anymore.

The craziest thing I've heard of are the "Kamikaze" bears. Apparently they're not afraid to fall from a higher branch in an effort to break lower branches or dislodge bags/ropes.

http://www.sierrawildbear.gov/foodstorage/index.htm

Quote

Tree Climbing - Other bears risk injury and climb to limbs above a suspended food bag to "kamikaze" jump onto food, dislodging food bags en route to the ground.

http://www.tahoedailytribune.com/article/20060831/Sports/108310043

Quote

Plastic bear canisters are the best method to protect food from hungry bears, but in some areas, you can still risk using the counterbalanced method of hanging food and toiletries.

However, "you can't count on food being safe if you put it in a nylon sack and hang it in a tree overnight," said Harold Werner, a U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. "If you've never lost food by counterbalancing, it's only because you're lucky, no matter how well you do it."

Michelle Gagnon, a bear technician at Sequoia and Kings Canyon said, "I've never seen it myself, but I've heard that some bears will walk out on a branch and make kamikaze jumps at food bags to bring them down. I believe it. You can see blood on the branches they've chewed through to make bags drop. They'll actually hurt themselves to get at food."

Well - here's video, but the bear was tranquilized with the intent that it land on the trampoline:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzqQevK11NM

Re: Bear Bag or Canister
July 10, 2007 10:14AM
I am new to backpacking. I have many years of car camping experience. Before my second backpacking trip,I purchased a Ursack V-21 hybrid back in May of 2006. A few months later, the "Conditional Approval" for the bag's use in the restricted areas of the National Parks and Forests in the Sierra: Yosemite, SEKI, Inyo, Devil's Postpile, and Stanislaus, was revoked.

I got exactly one use out of it.

I now have a $70+ bag that cannot be legally used in the areas that are my primary use areas.

You need to understand that Ursack, has been seeking approval since around year 2000. 7 years!

The Ursack is a wonderful idea....If it is ever approved! Do not buy this unless you can afford a $80+ loss in case of "Conditional Approval" revocation.
Re: Bear Bag or Canister
July 10, 2007 11:00AM
I am a volunteer wilderness ranger in Sierra National Forest, and also lead many backpacking trips yearly (>15), primarily in the sierra.

Lots of information, here, but some other things that people should know.

First, the purpose of the bear protection is primarily to protect bears! It is now the policy to kill problem bears. They are not relocated (doesn't work).
Once a bear tastes human food, it is moving down the path of destruction.
If you like bears, protecting your food is the best way to protect THEM.

Of course, it is a major pain to lose your food, too.

What many people don't understand, is that there has been a major change in the bears, themselves, in the last 20 or so years. They have applied their considerable intellect to the issue of accessing backpacker food, and they have educated each other in their successes.

Hanging food in bear habituated places just does not work. When it does work, it is because no bear came by. They climb upon one another to get high enough. They kamakaze. They branch bounce.

I've used an Ursack since they've been on the market, outside the restricted area, or a can

I use cans in the restricted area. I've never lost food.

I do not allow participants on my trips to bear-bag, but must use containers.

The most likely way that people lose food to bear, is that the first nite out, they have more than fits in the can, and they do something else with it.

Personally, I find that although I've managed well, some folks simply don't like Ursacks. You do risk having food crushed, or have the food mixed with bear saliva.

The great thing is that there are new options that have become available. The old Garcias have their own issues, and newer options mitigate some of the problems.

A brand-new option, for example, that came out about a month ago, is the
Bareboxer Contender, which I've not yet had a chance to try. It is the least expensive, and lightest container on the market, and has provisional approval. I'm hearing a lot of "buzz" about it, but as it seems based on previous designs, it seems likely to work well.
http://www.bareboxer.com/

But as someone else posted, the definitive Sierra bear site is
www.sierrawildbear.gov
Re: Bear Bag or Canister
July 10, 2007 11:23AM
I thought that people might enjoy this story, posted by Dingus Milktoast on another forum:
=====================
ANOTHER KIND OF BEAR ENCOUNTER

Posted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 7:06 pm GMT

While I've never seen a wild mountain lion in my whole life I have regularly encountered black bears,. This is my favorite:

I broke my ankle a while back. During the first summer of my long recovery I was just getting to where I could walk a few hundred yards with a cane, albeit very slowly.

So of course I schedule a hike to Mono Pass with my kids in celebration. A lot of cool things happened that day, maybe I'll type some of them up.

While hiking up to the pass, I of course couldn't keep up with my kids, at the time 8 and 13 years old. And neither of them could even think about out running a bear, haha.

So we stopped for lunch on this boulder in a shady copse of trees. Spread out our food and well, had lunch! We were mostly done when we saw her, a small sow easing into our personal space looking for food. It was immediately clear this bear had associated food with humans. She knew what she wanted and she knew we humans had it.

Hmmmm. I can't even so much as take a quick step, let alone run. Not that I would run from a black bear, I wouldn't. But if things started moving fast, the bear, my kids, the world... I wouldn't be able to keep up.

She got to within 10 feet of us and then started circling, nose twitching. She was looking for something to dart in for, like 'fire-bears' do at wilderness bear-restaurants, I mean designated camp sites.

My reaction was swift but calm -

"Check out the bear girls." They're all, 'oh my!'

I eased myself betwixt the bear and my kids.

"Let's pack everything up kids." Lickity split we had all our stuff secured. The bear was still circling.

"Now let's ease away and head on out." As my kids eased off the back of the boulder the bear lost interest in us and ambled away.

That was that. Calm, reasoned, steady - we even discussed it at length right then and there. I am proud that my childrens' first wild bear encounter was thus.

All right, a bit more. Off we go, on up the trail. I let my kids go on ahead a ways (but still in sight) so I could perform a simple herbal remedy ritual I know. I saw my girls stop to talk to a woman standing on the trail about 100 yards from me. They moved on.

So I come caning up the trail and this woman, she's FREAKED OUT. The very first thing she said to me was,

"I saw a bear!" She sounded spooked. In a couple of sentences she described 'our bear.' She'd seen it on the trail up ahead (headed toward us as it turned out) and froze on the spot. She declared her intention to stay right there till some other party came along, so she could tag with them.

I reassured her, told her the bear had moved on, but also told her that more parties would be along shortly, and off I hobbled.

Later my kids related their discussion, Kaity, my 8 year old told her,

"Its all right lady. That bear came right up to us. She's not a bad bear, she won't hurt you."

So on up the trail we go. I found myself GAINING on this one hiker, a dude dressed in old timey Sierra Club get up, one you might have seen in the 30s or 40s, wool pants, ranger green everywhere, wide brim hat, worn leather hikers.

Only it was a woman, in her 60s at least. She and I chatted. She was back to climb a peak she'd retreated from the previoous year. She beamed at me when I told her what we were up to. She related a story about a convalescing friend of hers who was still bed ridden months after breaking her leg. She seemed to think my proscription for cure was the right one and she told me so in no uncertain terms. I liked her.

In due time we reached the pass and explored the old miners cabins there. As we hiked away I heard my name shouted on the distant wind - "Ding GUS!!!!"

I looked up and the old Sierra Club woman was up there on her summit ridge, success assured, giving me the old hollaback!

It was a LONG walk back to the car. I over did it.

But it was worth it, on many many fronts. A great day to be in the mountains with my children, teaching them how to get along with our closest kin in the wild's of North America.

Cause bears are people too you know.

DMT
avatar Re: Bear Bag or Canister
July 10, 2007 03:14PM
KenM wrote:

> I let my kids go on ahead a ways (but still in sight) so I could perform a > simple herbal remedy ritual I know.


I wonder if the bears were after the herbal remedy??? If so, that might be why bears are so hungry all the time.

They might have the munchies!!!

I wonder if they tried to get his Pink Floyd cd too???





Dan
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