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Tips for Backpacking in Bear Country

Bears are the animals that everybody wants to see and does not wish to see. It’s really only an issue of distance and timing. Spot a grizzly bear on the reverse side of a raging river; fantastic. Move around a blind corner and end up ten meters clear of a cub; not awesome.

When camping and hiking in bear country it’s really important that hikers take some preventative measures, along with understanding what you should do in case of a way too near for comfort encounter. Below is my 2 cents worth in respect to the dos and don’ts of backpacking in bruin territory.


In case you’re a little anxious about the idea of hiking and camping with bears around take solace within the next fact; bruins (and critters in general) are much more serious about your meals than the individual of yours. Take the needed precautions and odds are you are going to be fine.?

Do not cook exactly where you camp 😕 A bear’s good sense of smell is 7 times better compared to a bloodhound?and 2100 times greater than people. By cooking in similar spot you plan to snooze, you might as well ring a dinner bell for just about any bruins that eventually have the vicinity. When backpacking in bear country, make your main meal either at lunch and a minimum of thirty mins before setting up camp.
Stay away from preferred campsites: Whenever possible try to stay away from camping out at very popular campgrounds or campsites. Bears are not dumb. It does not take them long to create the connection between quite a few poor campers along with a likely easy meal.? By much the vast majority of bear encounters (all estimates I’ve noticed are more than ninety %) happen at park campgrounds. When it is about bears, the expression safety in numbers is off the mark. In case you do stay at well-known campsites, utilise bear lockers or maybe poles if available.
Wild Camping: The substitute for camping at websites that are favorite is viewed as crazy or maybe stealth camping. Basically camping within an unused area, at bay out of the trail, other hikers and water resources. This’s the approach of mine of choice unless legally obligated otherwise. In case you decide to crazy camp, the onus is greater to practice Leave No Trace camping principles. This’s crucial both because of the bear’s safety? bears which become habituated to human behaviour (problem bears) are set down? along with the welfare of the backpackers which are available after you.
Noise: When hiking through heavy forest or maybe bush, make sure making some noise. Sing, recite poetry, talk, whatever floats the boat of yours. The own choice of mine will be the standard hey bear mantra. The goal is negating the element of surprise. If bears hear you coming, odds are they are going to want to stay away from an encounter almost as you do.? That said, I don’t recommend?bear bells. Quite frankly they’re overkill. Their constant jingling detracts from the audio of the natural setting, and they comprise a major component of exactly why I’m out there in the wilderness within the very first place.
Bear-proofing a campsite: Through a blend of utilizing pristine/stealth websites but not baking exactly where you camp, you significantly reduce the risks of a bear encounter occurring. The next thing is to bear proof the campsite of yours by safeguarding the meals of yours and other components of the package of yours which could give off unnatural odours (e.g. toothpaste, insect repellent, sunscreen, including the dresses you prepared in). See below for specifics.

Meal Protection

A few things to have in mind: one. There’s no panacea for always keeping your foods secure in the backcountry. The methods described above together with the foods safety recommendations given below, form with a general approach that hikers must practice when backpacking in bear country, and; two. Park regulations trump everything. In case you’ve to utilize a canister, designated poles or maybe food locker, then that is what you’ve to do.

Allow me to share various techniques for protecting the food of yours from bears and another critters:

Bear Canisters 😕

For a helpful introduction on the whys and also wherefores of bear canisters see REI’s Bear Canister Basics. In respect to what type you must purchase, it mainly will depend on whereabouts you backpack, and also for just how long you typically head out for. General I believe the most effective choices already on the marketplace (May, 2018) are as follows:

1. BV450?(33 oz / four days capacity BV500 and) (forty one oz / seven days capacity)? Same canister, various sizes. The very best all around combo of weight, utility and price. For UL or maybe lightweight hikers capable of great miles when needed, choose the reduced variant that is eight oz lighter weight as well as some more affordable (i.e. seventy dolars vs eighty dolars).

3. Bearikade Weekender?(31 oz or six days capacity) The Patagucchi of bear cans. In case you’re a gram counter and cash isn’t a problem, this particular carbon fiber canister is perfect for you. It is in at thirty one oz and can set you back $288.

4. Bare Boxer Contender hundred one (25.6 oz / three days capacity)? Option that is good for shorter trips.

Hanging Your Food:??

I am certainly not been an admirer of hanging food (at very least not before a good trial). It may be time intensive, there’s not a suitable department around if you will need it? not too thin, not far too light, not too much, not far too low? and black bears are extremely great climbers. Having said that, in case you’ve hanging a food bag as a result of park laws, take some little cord, a mini carabiner and then employ the?PCT Method.?


Ursacks?are bear resistant food sacks made of bulletproof Spectra fabric which tips the scales at under eight oz (7.6 oz for the 650 in? capacity Major model). This’s a?huge weight saving over any canister, and also as a bonus, there’s absolutely no requirement to hang them at day’s end; only secure them to some fixed object or even conceal the sack under a stack of rocks from camp.

The trap? Although the?Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (National Parks along with igbc) with big bruin populations like Denali?officially approve the Ursack, different parks in the device do not?(e.g. Yosemite, Olympic and Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park). It is a distinct predicament. In case you’re intending on backpacking in a location frequented by bears, check with the appropriate authorities in case in doubt.

Personally I’ve just applied the Ursack on a few of overnight excursions within the lower forty eight, but Whitney Allgood LaRuffa? President of the American Long Distance Hikers AT/CDT and Association thru hiker? is a normal user of both bear cans (Ursacks and bv500) for a selection of years. He’d the following to say about Ursacks :

I have noticed the Ursack supplies the ideal harmony between body weight, comfort, and ease of use. I have?been by using mine in the past 5 years and are?my preferred option for food storage in bear country. No hanging hassles at day’s conclusion, so the point that they’re soft sided permits them to be easier and much more comfortable to have than canisters.?

Tip:?For most effective results mix your Ursack with a 1220 LOKSAK (0.8 oz). This will likely reduce odors, as well as maintain your meal become dry in case the weather comes in while in the night.?


Because 2009,?LOKSAKS?have been an integral component of my?backpacking kit. Regardless of the season or maybe environment, I have transported these odour proof storage bags for more than a 1000 nights in the backcountry, which includes entire eighteen month, 14,300 mile,?12 Long Walks?journey.

During every one of these trips I’ve slept with the food of mine along with other odorous things (i.e. toothpaste, sunscreen, etc) sealed inside the LOKSAK, that I then place inside a tied off trash compactor bag, that I eventually put inside the backpack of mine that goes under the legs of mine. I’ve never previously had a challenge with critters entering into the food of mine; which has extended periods of hiking in bear country (e.g. High Sierra, Pacific Northwest, Wyoming, Montana, Canadian Rockies).

However (and that is a huge however), LOKSAKS by themselves aren’t an answer for the food storage needs of yours. What they’re is a part of a general stealthy low odor approach which contains all of the safeguards listed above.

LOKSAK Tips: one. Clean the hands of yours before using them; two. Do not overstuff them; three. Change bags before the seal begins to be unsuccessful? generally after 5 or perhaps 6 days of frequent use in the past experience of mine.

Final Take? What I do for Food Protection in Bear Country 😕

1.??Local Regulations: In case I’m legally obligated to have a bear canister than I’ll. But only in case I’ve no other option. Indeed,?if I will discover a way around holding a can, whether it be hiking thirty miles and or even spending a brief detour outside of the canister zone, odds are I am going to take it. This especially is true on trips which last for over four or maybe five days. Why the reticence to have a bear could? Over the years the backpacks of mine of choice have commonly been very small and frameless which do not play nicely with canisters. For future trips where a bear might is needed, I am going to take an inner frame pack.

2.? regulation free Zones: Over the past ten years in case I’ve been hiking in regulation-free bear parts I’ve utilized LOKSAKS and also faithfully practice the preventative steps shown above. I do not carry foods with a strong odor, I do not make, I seldom overnight where others have camped, and also I stay away from putting up virtually water sources.

The operative term is diligence. A great deal of hikers are conscious of the the safeguards that must be brought in bear country, but in my experience relatively handful of place them into practice every day. On popular long distance trails including the PCT, it looks like nearly all thru hikers camp in the same locations and cook besides the shelters of theirs. Why? These places are usually flat & obvious, they show up on their phone apps, and so they can make for quick areas to congregate along with other hikers at day’s end. Can there be any question that bears wind up being attracted to these famous spots?

3.? Future Trips: When I go back to grizzly country in Alaska/Yukon within the next couple of years? I paid a summer up at this time there in 1998 and am long overdue for use back I am going to take a mix of an Ursack, LOKSAK along with a can of bear spray.

Bear Encounters

You might have taken all of the precautions in the planet, but often you’re simply shit out of lady luck. Which simply being the case:

Observe and remain Calm: In case you visit a bear from essentially close distance remain calm and view its movements. In case it does not runoff the second it spots you, speak on the bear in a good, relaxed as well as tone. Whimpering and crying are not advised. Raise the arms of yours making yourself appear larger and (in theory) much more intimidating.
No Eye Contact:?Avoid making eye contact that bears might record as a signal of aggression.
Gradually Back Away: In case the bear appears its ground but normally seems disinterested, slowly back away not losing sight of the bear and not at all turning the back of yours on it.
Do not Run: Within the event that your precautions break and you end up being charged by a bear, anything you do do not operate. That could result in the bear to think about you as prey, and consequently trigger an instinctive response to chase. For the record, bears are able to go at thirty seven miles (sixty km) per hour. By running you’re making a less than perfect situation immeasurably worse.
The Bluff Charge: Most bear charges are bluffs. A bear is going to run towards you plus at?the last moment veer off. I understand what you’re thinking. It will have nerves of metal to stand the ground of yours in such a scenario. Nevertheless, by doing this you boost your chances significantly. In case you use undies while backpacking, I am hoping you brought an additional pair.
Bear Spray: In case it becomes obvious that the cost isn’t a bluff, use bear spray as a last measure. Wait until the bear is within ten to fifteen metres (32 49 ft). Be sure you’re not aiming the squirt into the wind.

Last measure??Grizzly Bears: In case a grizzly bear charge proves to not be a bluff and you’re not equipped with bear spray, fall on the ground and lay on the belly of yours. Spread the legs of yours, tuck the head of yours in, clasp the hands of yours behind the neck of yours and leave the pack of yours on as this will secure the back of yours. Be as yet as you can. In case the bear instantly will lose interest, continue playing dead until you’re certain the bear has left the place. Except in extremely rare instances, grizzly bears will attack in case they feel threatened. By lying as motionless and quiet as they can, the bear will quickly recognize that you present no risk as well as keep on its way. Fighting back against a grizzly generally would make a terrible situation even worse. Nevertheless, in case the strike continues, you might have little or no option but in order to protect yourself (see below).
Last measure??Black Bears: In case you’re getting assaulted by a black bear the process is very diverse. In case escape isn’t possible,?your best option is fighting back again as hard as you are able to. Use any object at the fingertips of yours. The sharper and more challenging the much better. Goal for the nose and eyes.

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