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PostPosted: May 7th, 2021, 8:55 pm 

Sorry if this is in the wrong place but seemed most appropriate to me.

So, I have always found the idea of hanging your food at night to be problematic.
It still attracts bears, even if they can't get at the food,
It is awkward and time consuming to setup.
It is difficult to find suitable trees in certain environments.

I know some people prefer to do the float method. Put all the food in a canoe, float it out in the lake overnight. I have never been a big fan of this method for 3 reasons.
1) if you are on a trip with only one boat, you have to swim in and out to the boat
2) weather conditions could either:
- Sink/swamp the boat
- blow it over to the other side of the lake (leaving you stranded if again you only have 1 boat on the trip)
3) I'm not sure a bear wouldn't try to get at it and dump your boat, leading to a time consuming salvage.

So, I had an idea and I wanted to see if anyone has tried it.

I use old olive barrels (thoroughly cleaned) for my food. These are smaller cuboid ones ~ 9x9x16. I find them quite watertight. I was thinking of attaching them to a sufficient weight and lowering them in the lake.
With the water surrounding them, it seems unlikely that any animals would be attracted.
Assuming that a bear would even know to try to get at them, they would have no leverage in the water. It would also be difficult for a bear to get enough grip to be able to both hold it and bite it.
If the barrels were fully submerged under a meter of water, it makes the attempt even more difficult as the bear would have to go up for air periodically. I don't know what the length of time a black bear can hold it's breath but I understand that Polar Bears can hold their breath for ~2-3 min. I would assume that Polar Bears, which are prolific swimmers/divers would be better equipped than a black bear.

Anyway, if anyone knows of any science or experiences either pro/con for this plan, I would love to hear it.



PostPosted: May 7th, 2021, 10:01 pm 
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Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 3699
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Good luck submerging your food containers one metre underwater!

As far as your standard black bear territory just take your olive barrels, put them in an appropriate dry bag and leave them by a tree/rock whatever, a modest distance from your tent, not too close to shore which is where the bears will be mostly and maybe not along the trail to the thunderbox. You are more likely to have issues with raccoon, porcupine, squirrel & mice

Grizzly country is a different story, I won't comment because I have no personal experience. Polar bears are definitely top of the heap although in my limited experience they seemed more interested in me than my food and they have no fear of humans at all!

"What else could I do? I had no trade so I became a peddler" - Lazarus Greenberg 1915

PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 12:44 am 

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

When I was notified that I got a response, I was excited to see what was said.

When I read your response, I was disappointed. I felt condescended to and that there was no actual response to my question, just the need to tell me what you do.

Hopefully a forthcoming response will be inline with the question I posed.

PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 4:24 am 
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Joined: April 21st, 2004, 10:52 am
Posts: 1146
Location: Near Ottawa ON
recped wrote:
As far as your standard black bear territory just take your olive barrels, put them in an appropriate dry bag and leave them by a tree/rock
It'd be a good idea to tie up to a tree. Even a buffed 'coon could drag off an olive barrel.

wesley wrote:
When I read your response, I was disappointed.
It's a context/scale thing. Some of us think in terms of 30+ day trips needing 60+ liters of food. That's 132 pounds of water to displace. Toward the end of the trip it'd be mostly rock. Difficult and adds potential risk of something going wrong.
If my math is right your 9x9x16 container holds about 21 liters, so displaces about 46 pounds of water each. That's a lot of weight to be manipulating multiple times. I ain't gonna' do it unless it's for something really important - cold beers could best black bears as motivators.

But try it. It may fit your style, gear, conditions, whatever. Fill one of your barrels with water and throw it around. Or put 40 pounds or rocks in a bag.
A dry bag instead of your rigid barrel would get smaller/lighter as it emptied.
Be safe.

PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 6:15 am 
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Joined: January 3rd, 2010, 5:59 pm
Posts: 226
Location: Kanata
First, I didn't find recped's response condescending. He has done more and longer trips than most of us will ever do and is speaking from experience
I've been canoe tripping since the late 1980s. First as a camper, then a counselor at same camp, then a guide up north and now with my friends and family.
Never once have I had an animal get into our food or even show interest in a food pack. Though I have had a dead mouse floating in a pot a few times over the years.
In all of those years I can only remember hanging food once.
In camp days we would float food in canoe. We tied the canoe to shore, never had an issue. For trips with more than one canoe, this is still an easier alternative to hanging food and I imagine way easier than sinking your food.
I doubt a bear has ever successfully retrieved a meal from a floating canoe. Doubt they would think to look there.
Up north - too much food to hang. Food stayed in the kitchen areas or in the canoes or in the rafts. Grizzly and black bears walked near and through camps on occasion - they didn't ever show interest in the food. Not sure why, maybe too many human smells, or not associating us with food?
Now that I just go with family and friends the food either remains in the kitchen area in a barrel or, as recped suggested, some ways from camp off the beaten trail animal trail.
Sinking food seems like it would be very difficult - have you ever tried to keep a ball of any type underwater? You'd need a lot of weight. Plus, I doubt your olive barrels are water tight enough to keep water out after being under water for 10 hours.

Cliff Jacobson has a blog post about what to do with your food - check it out-


PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 7:33 am 
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Joined: August 27th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2636
Location: Geraldton, Ontario Can
To the one is trying to be rude here. However, you will find many trippers here with decades of experience in wilderness situations who do not hang, submerge or float their food. Many of us just place the food barrel away from the tent. Submerging food sounds like a lot of work. If I could ask a the areas that you trip in, is there a bear problem? In 35 years of tripping with large groups, small groups and solo, in Northern Ontario, I have only ever had a bear in camp once, and he left in a hurry when I launched a bear banger at him. As Recep mentioned, I have no experience with grizzlies or polar bears, I'm sure they would merit further consideration.

PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 8:26 am 

Joined: September 4th, 2014, 4:53 pm
Posts: 53
Aside from the weight requirements of submerging even a small waterproof cannister in 1 meter of water, another risk that you would need to consider is losing your food altogether. Without a proper mooring point, your "anchor" would be prone to moving during storms or some such, and if it moved, but not enough to release the container to the surface, your food would effectively be lost underwater forever.

PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 11:03 am 
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Joined: December 19th, 2006, 8:47 pm
Posts: 9143
Location: Rattlesnake Pond ME
Never ever considered submerging my food. On a river the risk of losing all is too great just from water currents.

I have done some Arctic travel and there are no trees to hang from. Rivers can run 10 kph . Leaves you one alternative..Stash away from camp. We did follow that principle of separating food from people in camp and it worked well. We had a grizzly go after bagels ( of all things) and when we heard the rustling ( sound travels well on the Barrens) we banged pots together and he or she left pronto to resume grubbing.

Haven't otherwise had a bear problem in camp though bears have ambled close enroute from berry bush to berry bush in blueberry season. Raccoons and mice and red squirrels are the biggest problem and hard sided containers thwart them. Even the ubiquitous blue barrel which can be destroyed by a bear with sufficient incentive. Ergo I don't trip with fish or fresh meat in it. Nor donuts( bears have a sweet tooth)

Bears are creatures of habit. If they have visited the campsite you are using before and found food laying around from previous occupants they will be back expecting more snacks. For that reason I avoid shore lunch places which often sport fish bones etc as a leaving.

PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 12:34 pm 
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Joined: July 22nd, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1884
I really can't see how your idea is going to work.
I'm guessing the plan is to carrying sufficient netting and rope for rocks as your anchor.
That's a lot of rocks and a lot of netting.
Perhaps if your not going out of any length of time, you won't need that many olive barrels but the barrels, no matter how full of food, are still going to have a lot of buoyancy.
Head out to a pond with what you feel would work and try it out. I think you'll be surprised how much rope, netting, rock, and work this is going to take. Pack it all up as if you're going to portage to a new campsite.
I know that after a particularly long day, I'm pretty tired where just setting up a camp is a pain.

In truth, I think you're too worried about bears when you really need to protect your food from racoons and mice. I've canoed or kayaked for about 50 years from the Everglades to the Arctic Ocean as well as Africa and northern Europe and never worried about carnivores and food (except polar bears and me of course). I've always just kept my food as odor free as possible and my blue barrels within hearing distance.

Algonquin Park as more habituated bears than anywhere else I know of. So there I'd hang my barrel pack. They've even had to put up wire between trees for pack hanging at some locations. Hanging is a ten minute job and only needs a decent parachute cord and small pouch. Every ounce can count on crappy portages.

Anyway, all the best in your endeavours.

To the Silent Places

PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 1:29 pm 

Joined: October 19th, 2013, 6:30 am
Posts: 114
I use Ursack bear bags.Check out their website. Light but strong enough to keep grizzly out. Simply carry out of camp and tie around any tree.
Oh and recep was definitely being helpful not condescending, you simply read it wrong

PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 2:16 pm 
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Joined: August 29th, 2006, 7:57 pm
Posts: 588
Location: Toronto
OP - we gave up on the hanging approach - bear piñata - a decade ago. Since then we have done exactly what recped suggests - we walk the food pack about 50 meters from the tent site, tie it to a tree trunk after having slipped it into a large garbage bag for extra rain protection. If there is a rock or log nearby we lay it on top. We have never had an issue with a bear messing with our food pack. Another part of the answer is that you need to keep a totally clean campsite - no food scraps, spilled food, and fish guts to attract visitors.

I have never heard of anyone making use of either the canoe idea or the submerging in water concept.


PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 2:53 pm 

Joined: March 23rd, 2006, 11:21 pm
Posts: 1219
Location: Burns Lake, BC
wesleykonrad, you're mistaking someone's unwavering confidence of ability for arrogance.
He's told you to do what works.

We live and trip in grizzly country and we do just what Recped does except the food is very near my tent with something set up on it (pots and paddles) to fall and act as a first action deterrent and an alarm for me.
We've never had any bad bear encounter.

Camp clean and you won't have a problem.

Our wilderness trips our very isolated so I'm not willing to take risks when they can be avoided.
Trying to cache your food out in a floating boat or submerging it seems far too risky for so many reasons.
Try something that is being recommended to you and keep track of the problems that you encounter.
Then try what you're suggesting and keep track of the problems with that method.

Don't just think about them, do them. Theorizing leads to unwarranted concerns because of lack of understanding.
By actually doing these things you will quickly learn what works for you and what doesn't.

I'm not trying to be condescending or telling you what to do but this is how I think I can help you.
(just another tripper with 30+ years of experience) 8)

PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 2:55 pm 

Joined: August 28th, 2020, 12:08 pm
Posts: 20
We had a bear problem near the mouth of the Moon River a few years back. Always put all the food in one of the canoes and anchored it out from shore. Eight guys have a lot of food and tieing it up in a tree was a bit of a logistical nightmare. Worked fine for a couple of trips there. One night we missed a bag of unshelled peanuts tucked into one of the pot boxes. A momma and three cubs had been in the area that day and the cubs found the peanuts that night. Two of the lads had put their tents beside the common area and had to put up with the racket of rustling plastic and crunching shells. They were not amused. Momma must have been about 400 pounds and she was gorgeous. Who wants to get up in the dark and deal with that?

Otherwise, mice climbing down the rope hang and chewing through the sides of a pack has been the only other pia critter problem.

Car camping has its own issues.

PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 3:53 pm 
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Joined: November 6th, 2009, 9:37 am
Posts: 651
Location: Kingston, ON
Everyone is being very polite. This is just a bad idea. Overly difficult. Puts you at a higher risk of losing your food than just caching it or hanging. No need to reinvent the wheel. The first response in this thread tells you everything you need to know.

PostPosted: May 8th, 2021, 6:20 pm 

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