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#88520 - 01/31/08 09:39 AM Storing food overnight.
Mosey Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/18/07
Posts: 13
Loc: Wisconsin
We have lots of critters around Wisconsin, not so much bears but aggressive raccoons, skunks, squirrels.

If I am taking an over night or two night in a state park, would you recommend a bear cannister, and if not how do I carry my food (or do I need to hang it?) and stop the critters from eating my day 2 meals?

Mainly talking about freezerbag cooking (commercial or home made) microwave easy mac, soup in a box (just add water!) and some snackies like Clifbars or jerkey (sealed I hope). There might also be some sugarry product or nuts in a bag at any given time.

My thought was that the ziplocs and commercial bagging will be enough to keep most animals from digging in my stuff, but it wouldn't hurt if I also stored my food in a drysac or something else fairly air tight.

Even if so, where should I store the bag? In a tree? On the ground but not my pack? surrounded by mousetraps?

Feels like there is a simple solution I am not getting.

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#88521 - 01/31/08 09:52 AM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: Mosey]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
In my experience, commercial packaging and ziplock bags won't even slow down mice and raccoons and their toothy compatriots. They will even chew through the side of a pack to get at food stored inside. If you are not worried about bears, then you want to consider something like an Ursack or a hard sided container that is a lot lighter than a bear cannister. Or, you can always do a hang if there are trees handy. In my time, I have had only one problem with a bear, that was over 50 years ago, but have had many, many problems with mice since then. Mice don't eat a lot of your food but they leave mouse turds behind in the food that can sort of spoil your appetite.
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#88522 - 01/31/08 12:12 PM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: Mosey]
sarbar Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
While the odors are reduced by bags the smell is still there - point in case commercial freeze dried meals in sealed packages will attract squirrels! The smell is transfered when you handle food.

An Ursack is a good lightweight choice - but be sure to learn how to use it right, before you take it out. The knot is important. I have had many mornings finding my Ursack covered in little poopies. The mice/squirrels/etc will spend all night trying to get in and poop while doing it. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" /> I have 2 Ursacks..going on 7 years now with my oldest one. And as a benefit you don't hang an Ursack, so no skill needed.
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#88523 - 01/31/08 01:18 PM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: Mosey]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I hike in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio mostly, so we have the same small pests (raccoons, skunks, mice) - but maybe not as numerous or aggressive.

Anyhow, take this with a grain of salt. I've never found the need to use an Ursack or canister. Many nights, I simply take the bag into the tent with me and this seems to be enough to fend them off (like I said, maybe ours aren't as aggressive.) I've never had a critter try to chew into my tent - maybe my odor, overlaid on the food's odor, is enough, or maybe I've just been lucky for 25 years.

The rest of the time, I hang it in the same silnylon stuff sack it travels in. I don't hang it very high - often, just as high as I can reach, and as far out on the limb as possible, works; sometimes, I just loop the cord of the stuff sack over the end of the limb. Again, never a problem.

The only problem I ever had was when I used to sleep out under the stars on a groundcloth, propping my external frame pack behind my head with my hiking pole (pure Colin Fletcher-style - ah, those were the days! Well, except for the mosquitoes.) One night, a raccoon unzipped a side pocket while I slept, and made off with my dried pineapple. However, he didn't try to get any of the food in the main compartment.

I have had problems with mice in shelters a couple of times, but I solved that by not staying in shelters anymore. (In the interim, I simply hung the bag from the rafters.)

Like I said, I may have just been lucky or maybe there's something different about our critters, but I've just never had a problem. Before you rely on my method, test it on a 1-nighter, because I could be way off base here.


Edited by Glenn (01/31/08 01:20 PM)

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#88524 - 01/31/08 04:36 PM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: Mosey]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:

My thought was that the ziplocs and commercial bagging will be enough to keep most animals from digging in my stuff, but it wouldn't hurt if I also stored my food in a drysac or something else fairly air tight.


Nope. trust me, that won't work. you'll have your food bag chewed into and messed with.

If I'm in a park with bear hangs or lockers, I use them.

Otherwise I hang in a tree, using the PCT method. It's easy and it works. At least in my case, no mouse or squirrel is going to shimmy down the 130lb dacron fishline that suspends my hang bag from the branch, and no porcupine is going to climb up it.

If you can't hang, find an ursack - since they are no longer certified as an approved bear canister by the sierra bear gestapo you can probably find one cheap as everyone in california will be unloading them <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> An ursack is "chew resistant" to keep rodents out - OTOH, I've never had a problem with my stuff when
hung. (I often hang my whole pack, not just the food bag.)
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#88525 - 01/31/08 10:03 PM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: Mosey]
billk Offline
member

Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 1196
Loc: Portland, Oregon
An unused paint can, available at paint stores, might be a possibility. The seal is good enough to keep paint from drying out, so may be odor-proof as well. It would certainly keep out mice and squirrels...a persistent (and smart) raccoon might get the top off. A gallon-size can would hold enough for a few days, maybe more. I'm not sure if larger cans exist.

I haven't tried this, but it seems like a good idea. Has anyone here tried it?

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#88526 - 01/31/08 10:49 PM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: Mosey]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Quote:

but it wouldn't hurt if I also stored my food in a drysac or something else fairly air tight.



Two years ago while camping in the Zion Narrows, I stored my food overnight in a heavy vinyl dry sack I normally use for kayaking. We slept out, no tent. The food bag was right next to my head where I was sure, I thought, I could ward off any small critters.

I slept very soundly that night. Too soundly. I woke up only to find a nickel sized hole neatly chewed right through the bottom of the bag. Food had been eaten by some bold, unknown creature.

I'm not sure if an Ursack is the answer. Quoted directly from their site:

"Is Ursack resistant to rodents, marmots, wolves, etc?
Ursack is highly effective against Marmots and raccoons. It should not be considered wolf or dog resistant. That's because they have sharp teeth and strong jaws. Bears have great strength, but their teeth are not sharp.
Other rodents have varying degrees of success. Sometimes mice can chew very small holes, but very little of your food is likely to be taken. Some species of squirrels and (we have heard) pine martens have greater success, and may on rare occasion chew holes in Ursack."

Certainly a bear cannister is the most bombproof solution but they are heavy and expensive.

Hanging works great against earthbound critters but there are some very smart and aggressive birds out there too.

I too have toyed with the 1 gal. paint can idea. Almost bought one at Home Depot. But they're not as light as I'd like and they require some sort of tool to open.

The Ratsack is another possibility. I'm considering one for my upcoming Grand Canyon jaunt since some of the back country food storage containers (i.e. ammo cans) have been removed by the rangers.

I think a metal cookie tin of the right size may work too. I just have to find one. Thin metal IMO is better than thick plastic for this application. Better against sharp teeth and lighter if it's thin enough.

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#88527 - 02/01/08 04:22 AM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: billk]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
The two ideas on paint cans got me thinking (always a dangerous undertaking.) Some paint now comes in plastic gallon "cans" (cube-shaped, with a neat handle and a screw-on lid); I know this because I spent a weekend up close and personal with Sherwin Williams and my wife. It shouldn't weigh much after you remove the drip-guard inside, and the shape is somewhat pack-friendly. Would the screw-on lid pose a problem? (As noted in my post below, I've not been bothered very often by critters, so I don't know.)

If screw-on lids work, what about those gallon-size plastic jars that mayo, ketchup, etc. comes in? Any school cafeteria or fast-food joint probably has tons of them they'd like to get rid of. The shape might even be more conducive to packing.

Just a thought, with absolutely no credible experience behind me.

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#88528 - 02/01/08 09:45 AM bigger paint cans [Re: Mosey]
jaiden Offline
member

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 123
I found some 5 liter paint cans which are just like the regular gallon size, but about 1.5" taller. I think they are 11 ounces or something, if i recall correctly. I have never tried them, but I still think they're a good idea.

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#88529 - 02/01/08 10:26 AM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: phat]
Mosey Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/18/07
Posts: 13
Loc: Wisconsin
Quote:

find an ursack - since they are no longer certified as an approved bear canister by the sierra bear gestapo you can probably find one cheap as everyone in california will be unloading them <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> An ursack is "chew resistant" to keep rodents out - OTOH, I've never had a problem with my stuff when
hung. (I often hang my whole pack, not just the food bag.)


I thought of that since they are now out-of-style and I can't find a Ursack on craigslist (SF and Orange county) or Ebay. I figure that and an odor bag will do me fine.

Trying to find a used one before I pay full price for something people are adding to the rummage sale list.

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#88530 - 02/01/08 12:03 PM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: Mosey]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Mosey
With due respect to my ursack and such using friends... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

I Have probably actually hung my food in a tree or other place to keep bears away maybe ten times in my life. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> I have camped hundreds of nights in bear territory with either - my food in my pack inside my tent, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />or my pack inside the tent and the food tied 6 feet off the ground to keep out chipmunks. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />I have NEVER lost food to anything but a chipmunk. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> I will kill to defend my tent, pack, or self. I keep my spectra pack in the tent, always have. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> [This was meant to be a joke] sorry <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Bears are not only extreme scavengers, they are very inteligent animals and there are other ways to deal with bears. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" /> Bears do not come into my camp. The closer a bear gets to your food, the more it becomes his food, so you have to keep bears out of camp. Also bears are cat burglars who will sneak up, grab an item off a picnic table, and run away and eat it. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

Oh and bears do relate to having things thrown at them, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />unless you actually hit them with it. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />Hit a bear with a pan years ago, he took off at 50mph and kicked the pan about 100 feet, found it in the morning.

I go out maybe 50 yards from my tent and examine the terrain. If a bear approached my tent, how would he get there? Then I locate major trees along that path and urinate on them. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />I create a "circle" of maybe 5-6 marked trees around my territory, and the bears seem to respect it. Oh and I bang on a pot and scream "Hey I'm camped here you stupid bears", <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />just so they know a human is around.

I know a place in the Sierras that is home to a huge bear (or it was years ago) and I used to solo off trail and camp in his home area. I have marked my area and slept with the food in my pack in my tent. Around 8 in the morning I heard him walk past my tent. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> Ten minutes later I was dressed and out of the tent and he was mabey 100 yards away eating some old dried up berries on a bush. Suddenly I spooked him and he ran one way, and ten minutes later I made time going in the exact opposite direction. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />


Edited by Jimshaw (02/01/08 02:35 PM)
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#88531 - 02/01/08 01:54 PM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: Jimshaw]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Quote:
I will kill to defend my tent, pack, or self. I keep my spectra pack in the tent, always have.


Since most of your post was about bears I will assume this applies to them. Defending yourself from a rogue bear is one thing, but are you saying that you would kill a bear that poses no danger to your personal safety simply because it's trying to get to the food in your pack or tent? Food that is stored in a manner contrary to the advice, and sometimes the rules, of just about every agency where bears exist?

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#88532 - 02/01/08 02:27 PM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: Mosey]
sarbar Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
Mosey...the only place Ursacks are out of style is in Ca, in the Sierras. In our hiking group we have over 20 Ursacks, some dating back 8 or 9 years old.
My going on 7 year old one has seen a hundred trips maybe? Still works like new, just has a funky odor from overuse.

And don't forget: while the odor barrier bags work, they only work if you have CLEAN hands when sealing the bag. Otherwise? Well, it smells like food and isn't much better than a freezer bag for durability!
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#88533 - 02/01/08 04:09 PM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: sarbar]
NiytOwl Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/04
Posts: 501
Loc: California
Quote:
And don't forget: while the odor barrier bags work, they only work if you have CLEAN hands when sealing the bag. Otherwise? Well, it smells like food and isn't much better than a freezer bag for durability!


Excellent point! How many wash hands after handling food? (How many wash hands at all in the back country?). We're talking soap and water here; not hand sanitizer.

BTW, does anyone have an idea of what happened to those electric bear fences? I thought they were undergoing the approval process. And wasn't there someone making an electrified bear bag? Now THAT seemed like a great idea!

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#88534 - 02/02/08 05:46 AM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: phat]
jamieS Offline
member

Registered: 09/29/04
Posts: 271
Quote:

Otherwise I hang in a tree, using the PCT method. It's easy and it works.


I camp in Wisconsin and I use that method too. I keep all my food in a plastic bag which I then put into a silnylon bag. (Ideally the silnylon bag you use can be hung so the drawstring opening faces down, remember rain water will travel down the line, so make sure the bag's opening won't collect it!) Then I do the PCT hang using parachute cord. Very simple.

Sometimes when I'm weekend travelling with people and we are dividing the weight, we'll use a small bear canister: BearVault BV-250 Solo Bear Resistant Food Canister, just for the convience of not having to hang it.

But I'd recommend the PCT method. All your practice will come in handy for other trips to bear country!

Hope that helps!

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#88535 - 02/02/08 09:06 AM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: Mosey]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

I wouldn't trust an odor bag mosey - never mind that it will be impossible to keep all the odor off it, even just handling it will leave salt from your hands on it, and rodents are salt
crazy - Trust me, make your food inaccessible if you don't want a food bag with a visitor
in the morning. I worry about rodents a lot more than bears to be honest, and I go in grizzly country <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
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#88536 - 02/02/08 09:43 AM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: Glenn]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I wouldn't do it for rodents.

I had one episode where I got "sloppy" when I didn't think I had - my food and smellibles were hung up, but I left my alcohol bottles (small nalgenes) out, so just left them sitting on the ground, thinking nothing would bother them, clean bottles full of methanol.

In the morning the little buggers had chewed on the bottles, probably out of curiosity or salt craziness, and all my methanol had leaked out the holes. Fortunately for me I was where I could make a fire in the morning to heat my breakfast (and the nalgenes burned well <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> ) - an alky stove doesn't work well without alky.

If they can chew through a nalgene they'll chew through a plastic paint can - metal
probably not, but at that point you might as well carry a bear canister.

Get an ursack or hang it.
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Any fool can be uncomfortable...
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Winter list.
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#88537 - 02/02/08 11:46 AM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: Mosey]
GrumpyGord Online   content
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 846
Loc: Michigan
I live in Michigan lower peninsula and we have a similar situation. Very few bears but lots of raccoons, skunks, mice etc. I have usually used a crittersack (no longer available) or a ursack frequently inside the tent with me. About a year ago I came home from a hike and that night in the local paper there was an article about some hunter shooting a 500 lb. bear right where I had camped the night before. The bears have been moving south due to development further north. I began to think that perhaps I should rethink my casual approach to bear bagging. At least use the ursack tied to a tree.

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#88538 - 02/02/08 08:17 PM Re: Storing food overnight. [Re: phat]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
You're right - plastic is chewable. I didn't think that one all the way through; got hung up on what might be lighter than metal, and didn't take it the next step. Good catch.

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