Questions about Bear Canisters

WaterSpider

New Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2021
Messages
5
Location
Nanaimo, BC
I have usually camped in areas that have had food cache boxes, but I am going paddling this summer to places where I will need a bear canister. I have visions of the canister being batted off into the water, only to be carried away by the current, or just not being able to find the canister, either by my own choice of location, or some animal deciding to play soccer with it.
Am I being paranoid, or should I hedge my bets by splitting up the food in 2 canisters?
Does anyone have any tips about positioning their canisters, in tree roots, against a rock, etc?
Does anyone have a story about wayward, or AWOL canisters?
What does everyone do when the camp area does not have much room, and the canister may wind up a little closer than wanted?
Does anyone put a sort of alarm system on the canister, bear bell, pots and pans, or?
Seems like a lot of "what if's", I may be overthinking this. I appreciate any tips, or discussion about these canisters.
 

alexsidles

Paddler
Joined
Jan 10, 2009
Messages
510
Location
Seattle WA
Does anyone have a story about wayward, or AWOL canisters?
In Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, they have a rule about bear canisters:

“Keep a clean camp. Store food and any scented items in bear resistant food containers at least 100 yards from your campsite. Do all cooking and eating in the intertidal zone at least 100 yards from your campsite.”

On my first night in the park, I only made it a couple miles beyond the visitor center. The park’s requirement to attend a lengthy, pre-trip orientation put me crosswise with some powerful tidal currents, so I wasn’t able to paddle further the first day. I knew I was still within the “no dispersed camping zone” surrounding the visitor center, but there was nowhere else I could go, and it was the park’s own orientation requirement that had stranded me here. I set up camp.

In compliance with the park’s anti-bear rules, I put all my food and cooking stuff in bear barrels and piled them up next to my folding chair, 100 yards distant from my tent. I even GPSed the distance to keep myself honest. It was a lot of hoofing back and forth to move a month’s worth of food in five heavy bear barrels, plus a separate 200-yard round-trip whenever I wanted a cup of tea or forgot a book back at camp or whatever, but rules are rules. I even set up a separate tarp-tent to cook under when it rained.

Sure enough, just as I was tucking in for the night, here came a ranger to bitch me out for camping within the visitor center zone. I explained the situation, trying not to whine too much about the park’s stupid orientation but also trying to show that this campsite was not mine by choice. I am a rule-follower, not a rule-breaker.

The ranger heard me out impatiently and told me to move on promptly in the morning. Then she pointed to my pile of food and eating equipment, neatly bear-barreled and stacked next to my cooking tarp, 100 yards away, as per regulation.

“Is that also your stuff?” she asked.

“It is.”

“Well, you’re not allowed to have two separate campsites at the same time. You need to consolidate your campsite, not spread everything around!”

And that was the last person I spoke to for the next fourteen days.

Alex
 
Last edited:

Jasper

Paddler
Joined
Jun 8, 2017
Messages
103
Location
Portland, OR, US
Just in case anyone is planning a future trip to Glacier Bay: There are free designated campsites at the visitor center for this express purpose.

On my first night in the park, I only made it a couple miles beyond the visitor center. The park’s requirement to attend a lengthy, pre-trip orientation put me crosswise with some powerful tidal currents, so I wasn’t able to paddle further the first day. I knew I was still within the “no dispersed camping zone” surrounding the visitor center, but there was nowhere else I could go, and it was the park’s own orientation requirement that had stranded me here. I set up camp.
 

WaterSpider

New Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2021
Messages
5
Location
Nanaimo, BC
Alex,
Thanks for that. There are a lot of good messages in your response.

PS: thanks for including the link. Great trip report, and amazing photos!
 

cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
970
Location
Bend OR USA
The ONLY TIME, I (summiteer of most major Cascade peaks, crosser of Spieden Channel several times, etc.) had to ASK an REI salesperson for help (not including, "Where is it now?" when they rearrange the store), was when I tried to open one of those translucent bear barrels. Apparently, I bought version 1.0. I could just picture someone stumbling across my dead body and that of a bear - two skeletons - and that plastic barrel full of food.

Nota Bene: Try to open and close the food container in the store first, before you buy it.

Finally, I bought a black barrel "Garcia". It fits easily forward of the foot pedals in the Mariner. Because the closure is not waterproof, and for ease of sliding, I put it in a drybag. I add a plastic bag to the contents so when stored (away from camp) I put that "raincoat" over the top.

While in camp, the barrel can do double duty as a backless chair. It has two latches that twist to open/lock and you need something like a screwdriver blade, coin, or flat tip of your paddle knife to fit in the slot and turn.

One benefit is no longer having to rig a pulley to raise/lower/raise/lower/raise ... lower your food. You'll still want to place the barrel away from camp when done with it for the night.

One downside is a single barrel has a limited capacity compared to the usual "food" drybag.
 
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