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  1. #1
    Registered User GolfHiker's Avatar
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    Default To hang or not to hang?

    Every year, every time I hike on the AT, the Q. of hanging your food at night comes up. Sometimes we have Bear Cables, sometime a Bear Pole, and now we are seeing Bear boxes, so depending on where you are ( shelters, camp sights, or stealthing in the backwoods) the choices can be obvious. The real question beyond convenience is what is the proper thing to do? Many veteran hikers will laugh at those who hang, swear by the method of just "sleeping" with your food bag. They even support their thinking with logic. So, is there any definitive thinking on this topic that might make future decisions easier. Maybe even a study....

    i would note that the focus always seems to be on bears, but those pesky red squirrels have no respect for a cable or pole.

    Thanks.
    "How can something this hard be so much fun".

  2. #2
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    Mice will cause more damage to your gear then bears if you sleep with your food.

  3. #3
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    most folks that use shelters hang food poorly so bears become a problem. i sleep with my food away from shelters because they are trashy, filthy urban areas

  4. #4
    I plan, therefore I am Strategic's Avatar
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    Properly stowing your food is simply good practice, no matter where you are (shelter, campsite, stealthing, whatever). That absolutely does not mean sleeping with your food, which is both a poor practice and a good way to lose it. If there is a bear box available, that's usually a sign of bear activity in the area and you should use it by preference, since these teach bears that food is not accessible at that site. In any other situation, do a proper hang (i.e., a PCT hang) in order to discourage all types of animals from viewing the site you're at and the presence of humans as a food opportunity. This is the main reason not to sleep with your food, since you're basically teaching anything that comes across you that humans and their gear (tents, hammocks, etc.) = food. Not only is this a good way to get your food snatched right out from under you by something small and crafty (mice, raccoons, etc.) but it is teaching the same lesson to any bears who might come around. Even if you don't have a problem, you're setting up others for problems later. Learn how to hang properly and do it consistently, because it's good practice just like other LNT practices.
    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

  5. #5
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    i'll continue to sleep with my food in my tent like i have for 30 years. works for me

  6. #6

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    I certainly agree with hanging food well when the environment supports it, but if that's not a viable option (and it often isn't), then I'll sleep with it under my head also.

  7. #7
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    Just wanted to share my experience here. I'll be thru-hiking the AT when I graduate in 2020. I've never hiked a foot of the AT, but I've done a lot of hiking in the Monongahela National Forest. The Cranberry Wilderness is there, and is crisscrossed with great trails. The Cranberry is also a black bear reserve. The first time I hiked in the Cranberry Wilderness, I decided against hanging a bear bag: it was getting dark and I just wanted to bed. So I slept with my food in my tent. I woke at around 3 AM to the sounds of some large animal (what animal or how large, of course, I couldn't tell) lumbering by the riverside, snapping branches. I lay awake for a while, and I remember getting the feeling that something was near the tent. I was laying with my head pressed against the stretchy fabric of the tent. Well, there was something right outside the tent, and it reached out and scratched my head. I wasn't hurt, just terrified. I lay there for 2 and a half hours, willing the sun to start shining. Now, was it a bear that scratched me? Beats me--could have been anything. But I saw two black bears within half a mile of where I slept when I hiked out early that morning, and I had seen prints and scat near the trail all day long the day before. Granted, this was a black bear reserve, not the AT--I get that. But my lesson was, if I'm hiking where I think it's a good idea to hang a bear bag, and if I'm hiking alone, then I'm just going to hang one. Better safe than sorry.

  8. #8

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    Some people drink and drive for thirty years, the on a magical day they kill a family of four minding there own business. If people want to put themselves in danger, more power to them. My point is donít let your personal choices endanger others. If bears didnít like dumps, you wouldnít find them in dumpsters.


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  9. #9

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    Same for me. Sorry if it upsets the hanging enthusiasts. I've never had an issue and I get out pretty much every weekend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    i'll continue to sleep with my food in my tent like i have for 30 years. works for me
    Let me go

  10. #10
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    Anecdotal evidences suggest that black bears along the AT have less fear of humans. Also, I have read that some bears learn to break the tree branches where the food bags are hanged. Fortunately, most shelters have either/or bear boxes (which are sometimes full of hiker's trash), bear poles and bear cables. As a matter of principal, i NEVER keep anything in my tent that a wild animal may think of as food, and that includes hand sanitizer and tooth paste.

  11. #11
    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    I'm a lazy hiker. I loathe hanging a food bag. I also don't want mice getting into my food or ruining bags/packs trying to. I also want a place to put cool stickers. That's why I use a BV450.
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
    - Kate Chopin

  12. #12
    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    Would I rather take the 1:100 chance that a bear will get away with my hung food bag or a 1:10000 chance that a bear will try to get to the food under my head I'm using as a pillow?

    I would rather take a 1:100 chance that I loose my food than a 1:10000 chance of getting hurt.

    Gravityman

    PS: I made those statistic up, but it illustrates the point

  13. #13

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    I just got an Ursack Almighty. Seems a good choice as hanging is often difficult to impossible in the west. Also I am lazy.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  14. #14
    MuddyWaters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strategic View Post
    Properly stowing your food is simply good practice, no matter where you are (shelter, campsite, stealthing, whatever). That absolutely does not mean sleeping with your food, which is both a poor practice and a good way to lose it.
    Not true.

    Do not confuse issues.

    Your food is always safest with you.

    You, on the other hand, are theoretically safer with your food somewhere else.

    These are two totally different things.

    Several years ago Mountain Crossings kept a tally when the bear problem was at its peak at Blood Mountain. The tally at one point was was something like.... Food lost when hanging ... 78. Food loss when sleeping with it...0.

    Another truism... A poor hang, is worse than no hang at all. They hang has to be darn near perfect to be bear resistant. Good trees are hard to find.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 05-24-2018 at 15:10.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  15. #15

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    After 27 years of hangs, my food bag got taken over the summer by a bear that knew what it was doing. There was nothing wrong with my hang, it was just not going to stop an experienced bear. I threw in the towel and have a bare boxer. You never know when you are going to run in to this kind of bear, so, for the safety of you and your food, a can is worth the effort.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    i'll continue to sleep with my food in my tent like i have for 30 years. works for me
    How can this work? Four nights ago I hammocked with my pack hanging on the hammock line under the tarp. The food bag was hung far away from camp. At midnight the hammock strings were jiggling and a large animal was outside. I climbed out with my headlamp expecting a bear. It was a small deer. After returning home I realized a small piece of cake in a ziplock bag had been forgotten in the backpack and not hung.

    So did I inadvertently sleep with food? It didn't stop an animal from trying to get it. I'm still a novice and still amazed at how fearless the animals are when you settle down and get quiet at night. Sleeping with food sounds like a very bad idea.

  17. #17

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    I'd say you did not sleep with your food. It hung on a hammock line outside of your hammock


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    Let me go

  18. #18
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    Default

    I can't help but notice the large number of posts regarding campsites being closed due to bears. I think Strategic put it perfectly that it is not so much an issue of the bear eating your food or attacking you, but rather the bears seeing it as a food source/opportunity. I, for one, could not care less about your food. After all, it is YOUR food, not mine. But if campsites that I want to use are being closed due to bears seeing them as a potential food source, and the solution that is being suggested by the people who's job it is to manage these areas is to hang my food, then I will hang my food.

    I think this is an issue of problem framing. Are you trying to protect your food or are you trying to reduce impact and prevent the attraction of animals to campsites. The question may change your answer. Perhaps a bear canister is the solution to your problem?

    I congratulate everyone who has never lost their food to a bear. I am sure you are responsibly controlling your food and trash in order to minimize your impact. The unfortunate thing is that some are not responsible, and see you keeping your food in your tent as an excuse to not hang their own food. This isn't the root of the problem, but that does not make it any less true.

    I find "it is how I have always done it" to be a lazy answer to this. I will admit that change is difficult, and I am rarely surprised but still frustrated when people do things solely because of convenience.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by randall_mcduberson View Post
    I find "it is how I have always done it" to be a lazy answer to this. I will admit that change is difficult, and I am rarely surprised but still frustrated when people do things solely because of convenience.
    Could not agree more

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by randall_mcduberson View Post
    I can't help but notice the large number of posts regarding campsites being closed due to bears. I think Strategic put it perfectly that it is not so much an issue of the bear eating your food or attacking you, but rather the bears seeing it as a food source/opportunity. I, for one, could not care less about your food. After all, it is YOUR food, not mine. But if campsites that I want to use are being closed due to bears seeing them as a potential food source, and the solution that is being suggested by the people who's job it is to manage these areas is to hang my food, then I will hang my food.

    I think this is an issue of problem framing. Are you trying to protect your food or are you trying to reduce impact and prevent the attraction of animals to campsites. The question may change your answer. Perhaps a bear canister is the solution to your problem?

    I congratulate everyone who has never lost their food to a bear. I am sure you are responsibly controlling your food and trash in order to minimize your impact. The unfortunate thing is that some are not responsible, and see you keeping your food in your tent as an excuse to not hang their own food. This isn't the root of the problem, but that does not make it any less true.

    I find "it is how I have always done it" to be a lazy answer to this. I will admit that change is difficult, and I am rarely surprised but still frustrated when people do things solely because of convenience.
    Great post. When the bear got my hung food I did not feel bad for myself, I felt I had contributed to the problem. Hanging is really a game of chance. You hang the food in hopes that a bear who shows up looking for food does not know how to get at your well-hung food bag. An experienced bear will get it. It may take a long time but, if you spend enough time in the woods, it's going to happen. I now carry a can because it's my responsibility, to the bears and other hikers, to minimize bear/human interactions.

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