What to Keep in a Bear Canister?

Posted by: ServiceDog

What to Keep in a Bear Canister? - 06/10/16 10:45 AM

I'm afraid that with all the items that I may have to keep in my bear canister, there will be no more room for food. Which of these items would I keep in my canister?
- Medication (all pills/no liquids)
- Incontinence pads (unused)
- Incontinence pads (used)
- Preparation H wipes
- Unscented wipes
- Inhaler
- Vetericyn (liquid wound care product for animals)
Posted by: the-gr8t-waldo

Re: What to Keep in a Bear Canister? - 06/10/16 01:13 PM

from the list you posted, all come sealed. ( except for the used pads-of course) and as such, are non food....no smell no animal enticement. after these things are unsealed the packaging should go into your trash collection and that, into the canister. I have no bases to judge how much you will use in any one day, but as you eat food out of the canister, I would imagine that you'll create the space you require.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: What to Keep in a Bear Canister? - 06/10/16 04:37 PM

I have to use the pads, too, and have found that the volume of used pads pretty much equals the volume of food eaten. At least I never come home with more bulk in the food/garbage bag than when I started. I have been known (when I have sufficient time and privacy) to lay the used pads in the sun for an hour or two to let them at least partially dry, which saves both bulk and weight. I don't know about bears, but lots of other animals (especially deer and mountain goats) go after human urine as a source of salt, so do this with great caution. (Also why it's best to pee on rocks or at least on bare ground.)

At least you and I are proof that those of us with such problems can still go backpacking!

As mentioned, the others are no big deal. However, anything with perfume/cosmetic smells (lotion, toothpaste) needs to be in the canister. One of the reasons I use baking soda as a dentifrice is that it is not scented (the other reasons being that it doesn't leave white residue on the ground after spitting, and that it's lighter).
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: What to Keep in a Bear Canister? - 06/10/16 05:47 PM

"All come sealed..."

Am I understanding you to say that, if an item is sealed, it doesn't need to go in a bear canister? Would this apply to freeze dried food?

Does the packaging material used to do the sealing matter? I'm not sure I'd trust the material granola bars, or prepackaged trail mix, or instant oatmeal, to seal in the odor - they somehow seem less odor resistant than the heavy foil of a freeze-dried entree.

This is not intended to be argumentative, as I have no basis to make informed comments. Here in the Ohio-Indiana region where I usually backpack, I've never had opportunity (or reason) to use a canister or to really consider the finer points of what must be stored in one. My post is simply curiosity about what you said. (After all, bear are headed back across the Ohio River, so maybe I'll yet get the chance to be more than idly curious!)
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: What to Keep in a Bear Canister? - 06/10/16 10:55 PM

Most medication doesn't have strong odors that would attract bears or other varmints (think raccoons, mice, ground squirrels, crows). The exception would be flavored chewable tablets which I, for one, would never take on a backpacking trip--and which do belong in the canister.

Sronger odors (like food, food-like flavorings, and perfumes will certainly go right through the packaging and need to go into the canister, Ursack or hung food bag.

Even odor-proof bags don't block all the odors, although they block most. There was an article on BPL some years ago where the local police and their trained drug dogs tested odor-proof bags containing pot and hidden inside lockers t (this was not in a state where said substance is legal). The dogs went straight for the drugs.

I did some tests with the late Hysson using his dog food. In double freezer bags, he went right to it and started trying to get at the food. With a single freezer bag plus an odor-proof sack, he took a sniff and then walked away, even though he'd already been conditioned with food packages on the floor.

Of course a bear's sense of smell is many times more powerful than a dog's! So all I proved with my experiment was that if I used OP sacks for the dog food, the dog wouldn't get into it!
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: What to Keep in a Bear Canister? - 06/10/16 11:06 PM

Most medication doesn't have strong odors that would attract bears or other varmints (think raccoons, mice, ground squirrels, crows). The exception would be flavored chewable tablets which I, for one, would never take on a backpacking trip--and which do belong in the canister.

Sronger odors (like food, food-like flavorings, and perfumes will certainly go right through the packaging and need to go into the canister, Ursack or hung food bag.

Even odor-proof bags don't block all the odors, although they block most. There was an article on BPL some years ago where the local police and their trained drug dogs tested odor-proof bags containing pot and hidden inside lockers t (this was not in a state where said substance is legal). The dogs went straight for the drugs.

I did some tests with the late Hysson using his dog food. In double freezer bags, he went right to it and started trying to get at the food. With a single freezer bag plus an odor-proof sack, he took a sniff and then walked away, even though he'd already been conditioned with food packages on the floor.

Of course a bear's sense of smell is many times more powerful than a dog's! So all I proved with my experiment was that if I used OP sacks for the dog food, the dog wouldn't get into it!
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: What to Keep in a Bear Canister? - 06/13/16 04:38 PM

I use two criteria-

one is to protect bears (not to habituate them to human food because if they become camp raiders they often get put down).

two is to protect my food! Nobody actually NEEDS all the food they bring. What I am willing to loose has lower priority. My priority (likely the same as a bear) is calories. As much as I love my coffee and spice kit, if they do not fit, the do not go in. I doubt a bear would also get much satisfaction from my instant coffee.

Although stuff like toothpaste may attract a bear, if the bear got it, there is not much reward for him and if I were to loose it, not a big deal.

I take very little medicine, but the few pills I do take I do not put in the bear can. They stay in my FAK. Also, any personal hygiene products will not be a problem if they are unscented. Try to find unscented versions of those products.

Choosing low volume food will also add room. I can pack 10 days in my Bearikade Weekender and still have 2,500 calories per day. For example, freeze dried meals are low weight but some are high volume. Rice and couscous pack really well; almonds pack better than walnuts, cream of wheat packs smaller than oatmeal for the same calories. Loosely packed stuff fills in the gaps better than rigid square shapes (thus gorp is better than trail bars).

I also have a Ursack, in addition to my bear can. If I need a considerable amount of more room, I will supplement with that. Although not exactly legal in many places, it is more bear proof than a simple stuff sack.