View topic - To hang or not to hang??

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 Post subject: To hang or not to hang??
PostPosted: January 21st, 2019, 2:37 pm 
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I have not been hanging my food packs for many years now - instead I have been using Backpacker's Caches (https://www.mec.ca/en/product/4013-928/ ... %27s-Cache) for all canoeing, kayaking & backpacking trips.

I happened on this article published by OR "Outdoor Research", written by Andrew Skurka which summarizes very well my feelings on the subject: Ineffective & Outdated: Six reasons to not hang a bear bag

Do many of you still rely on hanging your food? Or do you use other methods?


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2019, 2:53 pm 
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Reason 1, 2 and 5 are key to me. I used to hang all the time but have slowly realized that it is likely a waste of my time. Last year I gave up on it completely.

Solo or small group everything goes in an Ursack and tied to strong branch where it meets the trunk. I don't worry about height.

Large groups now food is in a barrel and I put a bear bell on it and tie it to a tree. If something tries to get into it I will wake up and deal with it.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2019, 3:36 pm 
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The author of the article does the following.....

https://andrewskurka.com/2018/admission ... h-my-food/

When I returned to paddling in the 80's (previously in the early 60's when I never hung anything) I tried hanging a few times. I quickly realized the futility and gave it up. Over the past 20 years I have used a variety of bug/rain shelters in which can be found all my food, gear and ME! I do use a regular tent some of the time and I've been known to cook inside (oh the horror!).

I have had one wildlife encounter, southern Ontario and it was a raccoon intent on stealing my dessert, the bugger managed to rip a small hole in the tent, stick his paw in and run off with my cherry danish! This was in a heavily cottaged area, it was no surprise really as at the portage into that lake my food bag had been "attacked". The only other time was arriving at a George Lake campsite (Killarney) just before dark, while setting up camp a raccoon tried to run off with my box of Timbits.

I would completely review my practice if I was paddling in grizzly country (haven't yet) or at your typical Provincial Park campground (it's been a long time and at current camp fees not likely to happen again).

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PostPosted: January 21st, 2019, 4:07 pm 
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ShawnD wrote:

Solo or small group everything goes in an Ursack and tied to strong branch where it meets the trunk. I don't worry about height.

Large groups now food is in a barrel and I put a bear bell on it and tie it to a tree. If something tries to get into it I will wake up and deal with it.


+1 on Ursack they've been my goto solution for 10 years.

Question on those blue food barrels I see all you canoe folk using - are they bear proof/resistant at all? I thought they were but have seen people hang them....


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2019, 4:28 pm 
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I stopped hanging food well over a decade ago. The core of my standard answer to the question of hanging food is:

"It's a valid but recurring topic. Most Ontario Parks don't provide options for meaningfully storing food. Hanging just adds wear and tear on trees. National Parks out west provide bear cables strung between posts. Those work fairly well for grizzlies which don't generally climb. Lots of videos of black bears happily climbing and traversing ropes to get to hung bags so I doubt even a proper cable set up with have much value in Ontario with black bears. Even with the cables, to be effective you need to cook at least 100 yards from the tents and then hang at least another 100 yards from there.

Pukaskwa National Park and (I just heard) Frontenac Provincial Park provide food lockers. The ones in Pukaskwa are concrete with galvanized steel doors. Those are likely effective.

Then again, if you're eating chili (which is a standard meal on our trips), then your sleeping bag probably smells pretty good by morning anyway. "

To take a quote from MartinG "This idea that you have to hang a barrel in a tree because it's not bear proof is dogma."

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PostPosted: January 21st, 2019, 6:07 pm 
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Hanging or using certified bear resistant canisters have long been the option. In the Adirondacks Eastern High Peaks region, commercially produced hard-side certified canisters are required by regulation. Hanging or doing nothing (or ursacks) don't cut it and could result in a fine from a ranger. Hanging or canisters are strongly recommended, but not absolutely required, in the remainder of the Adirondacks (which is by far the majority area of the ADKs). Blue barrels are, by the way, not certified as bear resistant. As a trainer of wilderness guides in NY, I must train to the regulation, and to methods of hanging and canister use where required.

In all honesty, when I am in the backcountry myself, usually solo, I usually don't fully do either unless I am in a commonly used campsite ( which would be a rarity). I feel that in a random remote location not associated with any established campsite, I am good enough to place my food and smellables out of reach tied up on a tree trunk as much as possible mainly to keep away from mice and other ground dwellers. I do worry about squirrels, but have never had a problem with my bag lashed a few feet up on a tree trunk.

see:
http://igbconline.org


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2019, 7:49 pm 
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Location: Courtice Ont
Stopped hanging long ago. Now.... even though I'm putting this out there I know it's stupid, so plzzz don't yell at me. I put my food into ziplock bags, I then put the ziplocks into Coglans odour free bags. They en turn go into my Sea to Summit dry bag. The dry back stays in my pack and my pack stays in my vestibule.

So the moral of this story is that I sleep right beside my food. No bears, no raccoons, no mice, just me, my dog and our food all together like one big happy family.

I used to be apart of a Algonquin Forum until one day I read several people giving bear/food advice to newbie. Several "highly" experienced backgrounder campers (so they called themselves) told him that he needs to not only hang his food (following all the proper criteria) but he should also hang the clothes he was wearing when he cooked his meal and anything that the wind may have blown the food smells onto. I KID U NOT !!!!!! I couldn't let that one go, so I chimed in and said he should also hang his tent and sleep on the ground naked, burn all the pines needles and any other debris on the ground and chop down and burn all the trees within a 25 yard radius. That way all the smells are taken care of and he/they won't get eaten. Like I said I just couldn't help myself.

@Nessmuk ... glad your still apart of this forum. I'll never forget your kind words you had for our province when the forest fires were rampant.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2019, 11:49 pm 
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When I'm on heavily travelled routes such as the Pet or the Dumoine I always look up at the big trees around the campsite and note how many branches are missing 10 - 20 feet up the tree. I gave up on hanging packs in rangers when I was 17. I was part of a group breaking off dozens of branches trying to hoist a ridiculously heavy pack into the sky. Now my food security plan is to put it back in the barrel and put the lid on. The barrel sits within a few feet of the tent. I've never had an issue nor do I worry. Then again I'm often on the river with Recped and take a certain level of comfort knowing that the bear is more likely to go for the easy target first.


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2019, 2:13 am 
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I work on the theory that having "snacks" easily available to a bear means they will be too busy eating to go after me.

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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2019, 8:25 am 
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Never hang. 99% of food is in a barrel. Sometime will clip barrel to a tree, but not always. Have never had an issue with bears, raccoons, mice...
When I worked for a camp, in the early '90s we'd float the food in a canoe, anchored and tied off to a tree.

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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2019, 10:50 am 
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I'm in never-hang camp, like almost everyone else in this thread. But I wonder if there's any evidence of campers having issues with creatures attacking smell-proof (as much as possible) food containers, e.g. ursacks or blue barrels. I've never seen anyone admitting to such occasions.


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2019, 11:29 am 
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Oh yes.. Critters attack a blue barrel when you are looking for something in it sometimes.. In Florida its been raccoons and mice and in the North red squirrels. Depends what went on in the camp before.. animals are creatures of habit.

Back twenty five years ago always hung.. Since.. never hung.. A ranger out West said hanging was ineffective in most ways but one advantage is it reduced the possibility of injury by separating you from your food. Made sense out there as I have seen people invaded by bears in their tent while eating food ( this was Yosemite.. campers are generally bear dumb)

Well aware that blue barrels are not bear proof but my nemesi have always been small things.. I have seen many a bear while on canoe trips and not had one in camp to my knowledge.. My barrel is just a bit away from camp.

Haven't tried an Ursack and do have a bear canister but the thing is ungawdly heavy for its size and its not big.. Its not waterproof either which is a big advantage to those barrels.


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2019, 11:37 am 
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We haven’t hung in a long time, pretty much since getting barrels and other hard sided containers. The reasons not to hang in the article are true, although when we were able to hang food it was done properly. But it was time consuming, especially on a solo trip where I was moving campsite nearly every day, and in some places there was simply no appropriate limb available and the whole traverse rope and pulley system was overly time consuming.

So many reasons not to hang. The injury bit is another possibility, especially when trying to tie off throwing line to (less than perfect) rocks. There are alternatives to that, and better ways to throw (underhand, more vertically and close under the limb, flaking the line cleanly so it doesn’t snag and holding the line so that 6 or 8 feet is being tossed upwards at the same time instead of sprong-ing off the flaked pile immediately).

The arborist line throwing technique was new to me, but once I tried it the combined techniques it made perfect sense and much more accurate throws.


http://www.canoetripping.net/forums/for ... revelation

I don’t buy much of advice offered regarding a rodent hang

“The concept of a so-called rodent hang is the same as a bear hang: suspend your food in the air, out of reach. But it’s simpler and less robust: it can be kept in camp, placed only a few feet off the ground, and needs to protect only against mice, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and maybe an occasional fox.
Unlike bear hangs, I advocate rodent hangs.”
Rodent hang
“As a substitute for a Ratsack or Ursack Minor, food can be successfully protected from rodents by hanging it. Keep it a few feet off the ground, a few feet from the trunk, and a few feet below the limb.
This is not a bear hang. An adult should be able to hang it and take it down without throwing a rope or standing on someone’s shoulders, and it can be set up a few feet from your shelter. To suspend it, use the drawstring on the food sack — or, better yet, add a length of heavy-duty fishing line, which rodent’s can’t climb.”

I’ll agree that “a few feet off the ground” can work for mice and raccoons (never had an issue with rabbits or fox going after food?), but squirrels are quite enterprising. But “A few feet off the ground” won’t cut it; we have a bird feeder on a shepherds crook with a squirrel cone. The cone is 6 feet in the air and the feeders well above that height. The cone preventer part works perfectly.

But the bottom of the feeder is (was) only 4 feet away diagonally from the top of a low railing nearby. The squirrels quickly became adept at leaping from that railing, up and out several feet, and grabbing the bottom of the feeder. They were not always successful, but they didn’t mind falling and would try, try again.

Squirrels can manage 3mm cord, maybe smaller. Mice too I am sure. Using the drawstring on a bag won’t stop them, and Monofilament seems like a PITA.

This rodent hang part needs to be taken with precautions “They’re perfect for bear-free areas, like most of the desert Southwest.” On one desert river trip a companion hung several dry bags with food from a conveniently horizontal, head high branch on a cottonwood.

The next morning his dry bags, including a nice Watershed bag, had holes crewed in them.

Maybe with an Ursack, but stuff bags and even dry bags won’t cut it.

I do still hang unburnable trash sometimes, depending on the days past menu, but that is hung is a 2 gallon gasket sealed Cur-tech drum.


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2019, 12:27 pm 
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Use to hang religiously in Algonquin and Temagami trips. Certainly remember getting clipped a few times by rocks on the end of a rope when trying to hang in the dark.

I can also remember a group trip to Algonquin where one member neglected to hang his pack, and an enterprising raccoon stole his chocolate bars and PB. We followed a trail of wrappers into the bush, that eventually led to the chewed up, but unopened PB.

My major trips now are in Boreal forest, so even if I still wanted to hang, coming upon a tree substantial enough only occurs a couple times a week. We use the barrels and put the dishes on top as an early warning system. So far we haven't had any nighttime visitors despite seeing lots of black bears.


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2019, 2:20 pm 
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Eddy Turn wrote:
I'm in never-hang camp, like almost everyone else in this thread. But I wonder if there's any evidence of campers having issues with creatures attacking smell-proof (as much as possible) food containers, e.g. ursacks or blue barrels. I've never seen anyone admitting to such occasions.


I will admit to that small critter attack, with several experiences, and have reason to believe that “smell proof” is a large preventative factor.

I have never had a blue barrel chewed upon, the lips and edges may not be convenient to most rodentia gnawing. Mostly I think it helps that I have leak tested all of our hard side, “sealed” containers, from Pelican boxes to 60L barrels.

One barrel surprising failed the leak test and I repaired it; it needed a new snap ring. Every gasketed, screw top \_/ pail, from 2.5 to 6 gallon, that I tested failed miserably. On the other used-container hand these Cur-tec wide neck drums all passed the leak test.

https://www.curtec.com/en/products/drum ... neck-drums

We still have a lot of ex-laboratory chemical screw top \_/ buckets, and the only thing we use them for is wag-bag repositories. So far no rodent has gnawed in to shit. We have a couple small Curtec drums we use for food storage, and have paddling friends with larger ones. They really do seal leak tight and more presumably odor-proof.

I have never had a blue barrel or Cut-tec drum rodent chewed upon.

But, before we got blue barrels and Cur-tec drums, we had squirrels/chipmunks gnaw at the little raised lip above the gaskets on screw top pails. Several times on habituated sites.

Once should have been enough. Nothing like getting up in the morning and finding a circle of chewed plastic shavings around the food bucket, have fun cleaning that plastic snowfall up.


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