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Food Storage

cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
1,180
Location
Bend OR USA
I didn't want to hijack the "Bear Protection" thread with a discussion about food storage so I put it here. I used to hang food. Finding a suitable tree and rigging the line always took a bit of time - not to mention raising/lowering the bag for meals and of course those times when there is "one more thing (like the trash bag) that also needed hanging.

These days I use a bear barrel. It fits nicely in a dry bag - the lid isn't waterproof - along with cooking gear. I store it away from camp - as I would with a food hang - and cover the top (lid) with a plastic bag for rain protection.

Later this year I'll get a URSack - bear bag - because sometimes I need a little more room for food. The URSack comes in two models; the Major and the Allmitey. The Major is a tight weave; for bear protection, you must buy an aluminum cylinder that fits inside the sack. The AllMitey has a second layer of Kevlar inside. I asked URSack which would be the best model to use against raccoons, squirrels, and ravens. They said the AllMitey - with its Kevlar second layer - was best for that. If there was a bear concern, then the Major with an aluminum cylinder would be best.

The videos show tying the bag directly to a tree, but I'd feel better stringing a line about head high between two close trees and suspending the URSack in the middle of that line.

I haven't paddled anywhere near "bear" country but I have seen ravens attack and open a hanging food bag.
 
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The videos show tying the bag directly to a tree, but I'd feel better stringing a line about head high between two close trees and suspending the URSack in the middle of that line.
It would be a pretty entertaining evening watching bears trying to get at the sack hung at head height! Maybe a bit noisy after bedtime though.
 
I've been debating whether to go for a bear canister or an ursack. The ability to moosh a bag around a bit seems like a nice advantage over a hard shelled canister. Of course having an aluminum liner negates that advantage.

There's also the potential for a bear chomping and slobbering through the sack which isn't super appealing to me though. The internal debate continues.
 
Maybe I should have made it clearer that the sack choice is to be used in a "no bears" zone. My main concern is Ravens. While on James Island (San Juans), I saw two paddlers hang their food in a nylon dry sack and walk away to admire the view of Mt. Baker to the east. I was just putting up my tarp and in the few minutes it took to do that, and for the other campers to come back, the ravens had torn into their bag and made away with what they could. In other places, I've seen ravens land on picnic tables as soon as the human had walked away - sometimes before - and start pecking at whatever bag was available.

So for bears - sure my Garcia Bear Barrel works great and doubles as a seat around the camp area - stored away from camp when the meal is over. But for smaller critters with teeth, the kevlar lined URSack Allmitey will probably do the job. If the issue was bears, the URSack Major with its metal aluminum liner is designed for that.

There's nothing wrong with hanging food; I've done my share and have a two-line system with a pulley. But if all my food (about 7 days) can fit in the barrel, the setup (open the lid, close the lid, store away from camp) is a lot simpler.
 
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Maybe I should have made it clearer that the sack choice is to be used in a "no bears" zone
:) I figured that. Having the ravens and mice as the main antagonists would be so much simpler. That said, I have had mouse issues more often than bear issues so far. Finding a suitable hang for food is pretty hard in most places so even most of the guided trips I have done use hatch storage when outside of parks that have metal food lockers, not using cannisters or metal mesh bags.
 
Yes food protection and bear safety are different but related. In my opinion the greatest risk to loss of food is rodents and birds but the safety risk is low. Loss of food to bear is far less likely but if it occurs it will cause a habituated bear and a safety issue for subsequent people. I don't believe hanging food is sufficient for either of these. I have hung food in the past and have stored it in kayak hatches and even just left it in packs on the ground but I've seen too many irresponsible campers to think that that is safe anymore. I have switched to bear canisters for hiking and paddling. I can readily fit them in my kayaks and one per 2 people is probably sufficient even for week long hiking trips.
 
" you must buy an aluminum cylinder that fits inside the sack. "
The only reason you would need the aluminium liner as far a I understand is if you are worried about your food becoming a pancake when a bear attempts to get in or if park restrictions say so.
 
I find the hard smooth surfaces of our bear barrels actually make it easier to load other kit around them. Things slide past them easily, unlike vinyl on vinyl drybag friction.
 
In our latest SISKA newsletter, Debbie Leach shared this “Tips from the Trips” from Barry Turner.

Bear Proof and Water Proof

Use 3mm closed-cell sponge rubber (adhesive) tape cut to fit in the channel of the lid.

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