BWCA Bear container rules 2023 Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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06/18/2023 10:27AM  
I was on the dreaded FB and a couple of the posters were saying that if you don’t use a USDA certified bear container then you need to hang. That this is a new rule for 2023? I cannot find anything on this on the USDA BWCAW rules website. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist :) I also know a few people making statements on FB doesn’t mean it exists either :)

I know in the last few years this was a temporary order that has since been rescinded. Is that the confusion?

I have bear vaults and an Ursack—-is the Ursack considered a legitimate bear container for the BWCAW if this rule is in effect?

T
 
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06/18/2023 11:37AM  
I thought that was all over with..... :/

I wasn't planning on hanging on my upcoming trip or using a certified bear container.
 
Deeznuts
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06/18/2023 11:51AM  
My opinion is that every single person should be hanging, even if they have a vault. We are entering their habitat, and they will not go against their nature; if they smell food they will most likely investigate. There's an easy 5 minute rigging system called the PCT method. I'm a dumby when it comes to knots and tying and even I can figure it out. Just get a good sturdy stick and make sure the branch you hang on isn't too thick. I also feel those vault systems are too costly, and I've seen pictures of even the best ones failing. Just my two cents.
 
MikeinMpls
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06/18/2023 11:55AM  
x2jmorris: "I thought that was all over with..... :/


I wasn't planning on hanging on my upcoming trip or using a certified bear container."


When I picked up my permit May 20, they gave the standard "hang your food pack" song and dance, but they did not note it as a rule.

Mike
 
Lawnchair107
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06/18/2023 12:48PM  
Deeznuts: "My opinion is that every single person should be hanging, even if they have a vault. We are entering their habitat, and they will not go against their nature; if they smell food they will most likely investigate. There's an easy 5 minute rigging system called the PCT method. I'm a dumby when it comes to knots and tying and even I can figure it out. Just get a good sturdy stick and make sure the branch you hang on isn't too thick. I also feel those vault systems are too costly, and I've seen pictures of even the best ones failing. Just my two cents."


+1
 
tumblehome
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06/18/2023 12:55PM  
In reality, about 90% of the campsites in the BWCA don’t have an effective branch in which to hang a pack. Most of the time, putting a pack up in a tree makes the camper feel like they bear-proofed their food.

Of all the times I used to hang my pack I bet that only a few times did I really make the food bear proof.
Tom
 
06/18/2023 01:00PM  
Deeznuts: "My opinion is that every single person should be hanging, even if they have a vault. We are entering their habitat, and they will not go against their nature; if they smell food they will most likely investigate. There's an easy 5 minute rigging system called the PCT method. I'm a dumby when it comes to knots and tying and even I can figure it out. Just get a good sturdy stick and make sure the branch you hang on isn't too thick. I also feel those vault systems are too costly, and I've seen pictures of even the best ones failing. Just my two cents."


(Edited)
Getting off topic…really just trying to understand the actual rules…I don’t think any method is bear proof though and there are locations such as in previous fire areas where hanging simply is not an option.

T
 
andym
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06/18/2023 03:02PM  
I’m curious too because of the same FB discussion and was surprised not to see more discussion of this topic here. I looked at this FS web page and the bit at the bottom almost sounds like a rule to hang or use a bear resistant container.

When they did the temporary rule they first only allowed hard containers to be bear resistant but then amended it to allow Ursacks.

I’d be very interested to hear what people are being told at FS ranger stations during permit pickup.

FS Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Regulations and Rules
Q: What rules apply to food storage?

A: Never leave food unattended on portage trails or in camp, or other scented items in your tent at any time. Doing so attracts bears and encourages unnatural populations of some species. Use a bear-resistant container or ropes to hang food packs.

 
06/18/2023 05:36PM  
Here is my take, and I am sure not all will agree.

The rule for food storage in the BWCA essentially says "hang or use a bear resistant container", but does NOT specify what counts as bear resistant. Last year they had the temporary order that essentially defined resistant as passing the test of the machine the FS has hidden somewhere that simulates the pressure of a bear bite. This might be one of the best measures for all I know, but the downside is no one but the FS has access to this machine, so no one knows what passes?

Last year's order seemed to settle on IGBC certification. The IGBC, a group made up of Forest Service, National Park Service, BLM, state wildlife groups, etc., has a testing process and maintains a list of approved products. This process, by the way, may be the best out there currently but is not fool proof. The test allows for a maximum of 90 minutes of "bear time", and if these captive bears get bored the test is pass. It's not perfect.

So what is "bear resistant" seems up to interpretation as far as I can see. I know members here on the site have very strong opinions, but they are not setting or enforcing the rules.

Obviously at the heart of this issue is whether or not traditional blue barrels from like the ones from Harmony are acceptable or not (on the ground - no one disputes it's ok if hung). Earlier this year I did a quick check of several of the bigger outfitters websites, and all but one showed they were renting these blue barrels (no mention of hanging ropes).

I'd be curious to know what outfitters are telling their guests and if indeed they are sending them out with traditional Harmony type barrels, and also what people are being told in the ranger stations.

 
06/18/2023 06:04PM  
tumblehome: "In reality, about 90% of the campsites in the BWCA don’t have an effective branch in which to hang a pack. ...
Tom"


I could not disagree with you more. Perhaps only 10% or fewer sites have a couple of nice white pines with clear branches 20 feet up that make it easy, but for the many years that I hung my food bag I always found a way to get it to the standard of 12 feet up, 6 feet out, and 3 feet down (I'm not going to say "bear proof", as that is a loaded term). I would measure with my arms and a canoe paddle. It was hard some times, but I always managed. Sometimes you have to walk back in the woods a bit further or get creative with cedar trees or others, but I'd say it's entirely possible in at least 95% of the campsites in the BWCA.

I think the biggest problem with hanging is not that the trees in the BWCA make it impossible to do well (at least at all but a few sites), but that too many people are lazy. I've paddled past sites that had their bags hung literally not 7-8 feet in the air.
 
Lawnchair107
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06/18/2023 06:21PM  
Jaywalker: "
tumblehome: "In reality, about 90% of the campsites in the BWCA don’t have an effective branch in which to hang a pack. ...
Tom"



I could not disagree with you more. Perhaps only 10% or fewer sites have a couple of nice white pines with clear branches 20 feet up that make it easy, but for the many years that I hung my food bag I always found a way to get it to the standard of 12 feet up, 6 feet out, and 3 feet down (I'm not going to say "bear proof", as that is a loaded term). I would measure with my arms and a canoe paddle. It was hard some times, but I always managed. Sometimes you have to walk back in the woods a bit further or get creative with cedar trees or others, but I'd say it's entirely possible in at least 95% of the campsites in the BWCA.


I think the biggest problem with hanging is not that the trees in the BWCA make it impossible to do well (at least at all but a few sites), but that too many people are lazy. I've paddled past sites that had their bags hung literally not 7-8 feet in the air. "


Very well said, Jaywalker, and my thoughts completely.
 
Diego
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06/18/2023 08:43PM  
My take is that hanging a bag full of food is still inviting a bear into your camp. Even if perfectly hung, I still don’t want a bear hanging around trying to figure out how to get at that meal up in a tree.

Personally what I do is use a few Urasacks. All food, trash, toiletries, go into the sacks and in the evening we paddle across the lake or to some island and hang the sacks from a tree trunk near waters edge. This puts food items totally out of the normal “viewing or smelling” area for a bear. And even if they do find it, at least the bear isn’t close to us when it trying to maul it to pieces.
 
mgraber
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06/18/2023 09:56PM  
Lawnchair107: "
Jaywalker: "
tumblehome: "In reality, about 90% of the campsites in the BWCA don’t have an effective branch in which to hang a pack. ...
Tom"




I could not disagree with you more. Perhaps only 10% or fewer sites have a couple of nice white pines with clear branches 20 feet up that make it easy, but for the many years that I hung my food bag I always found a way to get it to the standard of 12 feet up, 6 feet out, and 3 feet down (I'm not going to say "bear proof", as that is a loaded term). I would measure with my arms and a canoe paddle. It was hard some times, but I always managed. Sometimes you have to walk back in the woods a bit further or get creative with cedar trees or others, but I'd say it's entirely possible in at least 95% of the campsites in the BWCA.



I think the biggest problem with hanging is not that the trees in the BWCA make it impossible to do well (at least at all but a few sites), but that too many people are lazy. I've paddled past sites that had their bags hung literally not 7-8 feet in the air. "



Very well said, Jaywalker, and my thoughts completely."



+2 I agree, it is rare that I don't get at least very close to a regulation hang. Of course, I kind of get a kick out of the challenge, and have several techniques that work pretty reliably. Nothing is completely bear proof, but I want them to work at it, make a little noise, and have a chance to do something about it!
 
Mattbrome
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06/19/2023 05:23AM  
mgraber: "
Lawnchair107: "
Jaywalker: "
tumblehome: "In reality, about 90% of the campsites in the BWCA don’t have an effective branch in which to hang a pack. ...
Tom"




I could not disagree with you more. Perhaps only 10% or fewer sites have a couple of nice white pines with clear branches 20 feet up that make it easy, but for the many years that I hung my food bag I always found a way to get it to the standard of 12 feet up, 6 feet out, and 3 feet down (I'm not going to say "bear proof", as that is a loaded term). I would measure with my arms and a canoe paddle. It was hard some times, but I always managed. Sometimes you have to walk back in the woods a bit further or get creative with cedar trees or others, but I'd say it's entirely possible in at least 95% of the campsites in the BWCA.



I think the biggest problem with hanging is not that the trees in the BWCA make it impossible to do well (at least at all but a few sites), but that too many people are lazy. I've paddled past sites that had their bags hung literally not 7-8 feet in the air. "




Very well said, Jaywalker, and my thoughts completely."




+2 I agree, it is rare that I don't get at least very close to a regulation hang. Of course, I kind of get a kick out of the challenge, and have several techniques that work pretty reliably. Nothing is completely bear proof, but I want them to work at it, make a little noise, and have a chance to do something about it!"



+3

40+ trips and I recall once not having a place to get it hung. I enjoy this part of the experience and generally exceed the recommendations for height, etc. I've had some real beautiful hangs over the years! I joke with others that bears come to our camp, look up and the hang, feel defeated, and move along. If they can get it way up/out there, they can have it.

With minimal effort I can get the pack up there and sleep comfortably. Having a few ropes and some pulleys makes the job much easier.
 
thatguyjeff
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06/19/2023 07:54AM  
I guess I’m lazy.

Home Depot buckets with gamma seal or leaktite screw on lids. Cheap. Portage well. Doubles as extra seats. I put my effort into keeping a clean camp to minimize the food odors. Never had an issue in 20+ trips. Though there is a first time for everything.

Unless there’s a hard and fast rule or regulation I’m sticking with my buckets.
 
tmccann
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06/19/2023 08:06AM  
We used to pretend we were engineers. 100 feet of mainline with a suspended pulley; a lifting rope passed through a pulley tied low on a tree. The chief engineer got the expensive mainline stuck way up in a tree; another time a pack rope slipped and nearly clobbered us; and a friend got a broken arm when a birch tree broke off from the mainline. Could have hit the head but the arm was in the way. Believe it or not, they still use a hanging system!

Enough playing around like engineers for us!

We bought professionally engineered ursa sacks, a well built fiberglass pack. We use what’s left of the engineering rope to tie everything fast to a tree or a big log. If a bear grabs stuff at a campsite, they likely will tear off into the woods fast and far carrying a heavy food pack like a big Labrador and good luck finding anything. At least with a solid tie-off the bear will either be scared away by the former engineers or leave enough to travel on light rations.

Be careful out there.
 
06/19/2023 08:26AM  
Have not hung in over 15 years, and never will again.
 
AlexanderSupertramp
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06/19/2023 08:34AM  
I use a Ursack, I do not hang it. It's always about head-height or maybe a little less, tied around a sufficient tree outside of camp, using their recommended knots. Never had an issue. Sometimes I dont even bother with hanging it on a tree at all and I just tied it around the base of the tree, but I prefer the bugs and little ground critters stay off of it.

As others have stated, a clean camp is the most effective way to keep bears away in the first place. And quite frankly the amount of discarded rope I find hanging in trees at campsites from failed bear hangs is pretty infuriating.
 
foxfireniner
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06/19/2023 09:49AM  
Diego: "My take is that hanging a bag full of food is still inviting a bear into your camp. Even if perfectly hung, I still don’t want a bear hanging around trying to figure out how to get at that meal up in a tree.


Personally what I do is use a few Urasacks. All food, trash, toiletries, go into the sacks and in the evening we paddle across the lake or to some island and hang the sacks from a tree trunk near waters edge. This puts food items totally out of the normal “viewing or smelling” area for a bear. And even if they do find it, at least the bear isn’t close to us when it trying to maul it to pieces. "


Wow.

I understand what everyone is saying here. I try to hang my food bag. I use a waterproof backpack as my food bag and roll up waterproof bag as my garbage bag. If I can find a tree that I don't break the limbs off of while trying to hang the bag, I'll hang it. If I can't, I don't.

Between the garbage bag, the skillets, human voices, fish cleaning, etc...you can't keep scent out of your camp. Managing your odors is step 1 to keeping bears out of your camp.

The Forest Service just wants you to protect your bag so the bears don't associate human activity and smells with a cornucopia.

The last thing I want is a bear who smells food but can't find it and is searching my camp for a food bag that isn't there.

 
uqme2
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06/19/2023 01:26PM  
Diego: "My take is that hanging a bag full of food is still inviting a bear into your camp. Even if perfectly hung, I still don’t want a bear hanging around trying to figure out how to get at that meal up in a tree.


Personally what I do is use a few Urasacks. All food, trash, toiletries, go into the sacks and in the evening we paddle across the lake or to some island and hang the sacks from a tree trunk near waters edge. This puts food items totally out of the normal “viewing or smelling” area for a bear. And even if they do find it, at least the bear isn’t close to us when it trying to maul it to pieces. "


lol

"It's the good advice that you just didn't take
And who would've thought... it figures"

Laws, rules ... suggestions, same difference.
 
scottiebaldwin
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06/19/2023 02:32PM  
Frenchy19: "Have not hung in over 15 years, and never will again. "


+1
 
scottiebaldwin
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06/19/2023 02:32PM  
AlexanderSupertramp: "I use a Ursack, I do not hang it. It's always about head-height or maybe a little less, tied around a sufficient tree outside of camp, using their recommended knots. Never had an issue. Sometimes I dont even bother with hanging it on a tree at all and I just tied it around the base of the tree, but I prefer the bugs and little ground critters stay off of it.


As others have stated, a clean camp is the most effective way to keep bears away in the first place. And quite frankly the amount of discarded rope I find hanging in trees at campsites from failed bear hangs is pretty infuriating. "


Another +1
 
mschi772
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06/19/2023 03:58PM  
I really wish people wouldn't need official orders before they would handle their food more safely. Why can't people just use best practices because they're the best practices? There is no good reason for slacking off with food storage out there, and doing so only increases the likelihood of creating problem bears which will, in turn, put people in danger and lead to food storage orders being put into place anyway. Just do it right without waiting for someone to order you to.
 
06/19/2023 04:02PM  
mschi772: "Why can't people just use best practices because they're the best practices?"


Hmmm... Could it be that each of us feels that our personal preference is indeed the best practice? Not trying to kick a hornets' nest here, but review some of the hotly-debated issues on the message board: base camping vs distance tripping, single portaging vs multi-walking, innies vs outies, wet-footing vs muck boots, bent shaft vs straight paddles, Kevlar vs carbon vs wood & canvas, freeze-dried vs home-dehydrated vs fresh, tents vs hammocks, and the list goes on.

TZ

 
Diego
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06/19/2023 06:09PM  
foxfireniner: "
Diego: "My take is that hanging a bag full of food is still inviting a bear into your camp. Even if perfectly hung, I still don’t want a bear hanging around trying to figure out how to get at that meal up in a tree.



Personally what I do is use a few Urasacks. All food, trash, toiletries, go into the sacks and in the evening we paddle across the lake or to some island and hang the sacks from a tree trunk near waters edge. This puts food items totally out of the normal “viewing or smelling” area for a bear. And even if they do find it, at least the bear isn’t close to us when it trying to maul it to pieces. "



Wow.


I understand what everyone is saying here. I try to hang my food bag. I use a waterproof backpack as my food bag and roll up waterproof bag as my garbage bag. If I can find a tree that I don't break the limbs off of while trying to hang the bag, I'll hang it. If I can't, I don't.


Between the garbage bag, the skillets, human voices, fish cleaning, etc...you can't keep scent out of your camp. Managing your odors is step 1 to keeping bears out of your camp.


The Forest Service just wants you to protect your bag so the bears don't associate human activity and smells with a cornucopia.


The last thing I want is a bear who smells food but can't find it and is searching my camp for a food bag that isn't there.


"


Im pretty sure a bear knows the difference between a meal that was cooked 2 hours ago and a basket full of food and trash hanging in the tree right over his head.

If it isnt easily identifiable, and the odor of food is not what a bear associates with close proximity, Im wiling to bet he moves on in search of easier targets.

The last thing youd want is a determined bear, who sees and smells a bag overhead, and refuses to leave.
 
Diego
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06/19/2023 06:13PM  
uqme2: "
Diego: "My take is that hanging a bag full of food is still inviting a bear into your camp. Even if perfectly hung, I still don’t want a bear hanging around trying to figure out how to get at that meal up in a tree.



Personally what I do is use a few Urasacks. All food, trash, toiletries, go into the sacks and in the evening we paddle across the lake or to some island and hang the sacks from a tree trunk near waters edge. This puts food items totally out of the normal “viewing or smelling” area for a bear. And even if they do find it, at least the bear isn’t close to us when it trying to maul it to pieces. "



lol


"It's the good advice that you just didn't take
And who would've thought... it figures"


Laws, rules ... suggestions, same difference."


Im complying with all the rules and regulations I know of concerning food storage. Seperation between you and your food is just common sense stuff.
 
billconner
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06/19/2023 06:20PM  
mschi772: "I really wish people wouldn't need official orders before they would handle their food more safely. Why can't people just use best practices because they're the best practices? There is no good reason for slacking off with food storage out there, and doing so only increases the likelihood of creating problem bears which will, in turn, put people in danger and lead to food storage orders being put into place anyway. Just do it right without waiting for someone to order you to."


Too bad there is no consensus on what are best practices.

Aldo, I find it unfortunate the Ursacks and bear vaults are so small, so I guess I'll continue to hang a pack.
 
OHPaddler
member (22)member
  
06/19/2023 06:33PM  
I really want someone to design and certify a bear resistant barrel. 60L. Same dimensions as existing blue barrels. Ideally with “belt loops” across its midpoint, to make strapping it to a tree bulletproof.
 
AlexanderSupertramp
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06/19/2023 08:11PM  
billconner:
Aldo, I find it unfortunate the Ursacks and bear vaults are so small, so I guess I'll continue to hang a pack."


I dont think they were really designed with canoe tripping in mind, if I had to venture a guess. The 30L Ursack Major 2XL is pretty sizable though at 30L. I think I have the 15L XL version. For solo trips it's plenty for a week of my food and the dog's food with room to spare. I may upgrade for next year to a larger one, or maybe the AllMitey.
 
06/19/2023 08:52PM  
I'm an engineer. :) I hang our food pack when tripping with my wife for her peace of mind and so I can impress her with my engineering skills, hazardous as it may be. Solo, (not in BWCAW) my food is on the ground within a few feet of my hammock, noisemaker on top of the pack.
Interestingly, almost every trip with my wife (food pack hung) has resulted in me being rousted at least once during the night to her stating something like: "listen - there's a bear out there. Really! Listen! THAT's a bear FOR SURE!". Yet solo, I've never experienced a bear in or near camp in dozens of trips even though I'm in areas with a healthy population of bears and see bears regularly in my travels. IDK, to me hanging your food is like putting up a scented signpost that only makes it easier for bears to locate your food.

 
billconner
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06/20/2023 06:19AM  
AlexanderSupertramp: "
billconner:
Aldo, I find it unfortunate the Ursacks and bear vaults are so small, so I guess I'll continue to hang a pack."



I dont think they were really designed with canoe tripping in mind, if I had to venture a guess. The 30L Ursack Major 2XL is pretty sizable though at 30L. I think I have the 15L XL version. For solo trips it's plenty for a week of my food and the dog's food with room to spare. I may upgrade for next year to a larger one, or maybe the AllMitey."


Depends what you carry to eat. The almittey is a little over 10 liters. My CCS food pack is a little over 81 liters.
 
AlexanderSupertramp
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06/20/2023 07:51AM  
billconner: "
AlexanderSupertramp: "
billconner:
Aldo, I find it unfortunate the Ursacks and bear vaults are so small, so I guess I'll continue to hang a pack."




I dont think they were really designed with canoe tripping in mind, if I had to venture a guess. The 30L Ursack Major 2XL is pretty sizable though at 30L. I think I have the 15L XL version. For solo trips it's plenty for a week of my food and the dog's food with room to spare. I may upgrade for next year to a larger one, or maybe the AllMitey."



Depends what you carry to eat. The almittey is a little over 10 liters. My CCS food pack is a little over 81 liters. "


Mostly freeze dried meals, some snacks, etc. If the 15L held all of my food and the dog's food for 7 days with probably another 5L to spare then 10L should be fine, but I would probably just go for the AllMitey Grizzly, which is 20L and only weights an additional 4oz over the 15L Major. I almost exclusively trip and camp alone so I cant fathom ever needing more than a 20L food pack for 10 or so days. I dont plan on getting rid of the other one so I will have a collection of these things at some point I imagine.
 
HowardSprague
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06/20/2023 09:21AM  
timatkn: "

(Edited)
Getting off topic…really just trying to understand the actual rules…I don’t think any method is bear proof though and there are locations such as in previous fire areas where hanging simply is not an option.


T"


Exactly what I logged on for Tim, after probably the same FB thread. Looks like no clear conclusion - I do remember that requirement (having to hang the blue barrels) being lifted last year. What "everyone should do" is sort of a separate topic. I haven't found anything either, as far as it being reinstated. If it's the same FB thread we viewed/participated in, the person stated that the rangers told him that specifically - but I imagine it's possible a specific ranger felt they were going above & beyond in terms of advice to ensure the person didn't have a bad experience.

?
 
mschi772
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06/20/2023 09:36AM  
billconner: "
mschi772: "I really wish people wouldn't need official orders before they would handle their food more safely. Why can't people just use best practices because they're the best practices? There is no good reason for slacking off with food storage out there, and doing so only increases the likelihood of creating problem bears which will, in turn, put people in danger and lead to food storage orders being put into place anyway. Just do it right without waiting for someone to order you to."



Too bad there is no consensus on what are best practices.
"


It's safe to say that using a regular pack or other easily breeched container and refusing to hang/secure it properly because no one has ordered you to is not a good practice, and that's the kind of childish behavior I'm seeing from so many people when no one is ordering them to behave otherwise.
 
uqme2
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06/20/2023 12:08PM  
No worries Diego. The line from a song of my youth came into my head a few posts earlier and you sort of doubled down on thoughtfulness and it humored me is all.

Thinking back, I should have also given some credit to this response because that's what made me lol but I wanted to credit the actual source.
foxfireniner: "The last thing I want is a bear who smells food but can't find it and is searching my camp for a food bag that isn't there.
"
 
06/20/2023 12:13PM  
HowardSprague: "
timatkn: "


(Edited)
Getting off topic…really just trying to understand the actual rules…I don’t think any method is bear proof though and there are locations such as in previous fire areas where hanging simply is not an option.



T"



Exactly what I logged on for Tim, after probably the same FB thread. Looks like no clear conclusion - I do remember that requirement (having to hang the blue barrels) being lifted last year. What "everyone should do" is sort of a separate topic. I haven't found anything either, as far as it being reinstated. If it's the same FB thread we viewed/participated in, the person stated that the rangers told him that specifically - but I imagine it's possible a specific ranger felt they were going above & beyond in terms of advice to ensure the person didn't have a bad experience.


?
"

It's also possible the poster didn't hear what the Ranger said correctly. We all have internal bias and partially hear what was said combining it with what we are thinking...I've also had FS personnel give me the wrong info. no one is infallible. That's why I want to see things clearly written down.

T
 
tumblehome
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06/20/2023 12:17PM  
Frenchy19: "Have not hung in over 15 years, and never will again. "


Thank you!
+1
 
gravelroad
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06/20/2023 12:22PM  
TrailZen: "
mschi772: "Why can't people just use best practices because they're the best practices?"



Hmmm... Could it be that each of us feels that our personal preference is indeed the best practice? Not trying to kick a hornets' nest here, but review some of the hotly-debated issues on the message board: base camping vs distance tripping, single portaging vs multi-walking, innies vs outies, wet-footing vs muck boots, bent shaft vs straight paddles, Kevlar vs carbon vs wood & canvas, freeze-dried vs home-dehydrated vs fresh, tents vs hammocks, and the list goes on.


TZ


"






You forgot the truly hot one: Guns in the BWCA. :-)
 
06/20/2023 12:45PM  
FS Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Regulations and Rules
Q: What rules apply to food storage?

A: Never leave food unattended on portage trails or in camp, or other scented items in your tent at any time. Doing so attracts bears and encourages unnatural populations of some species. Use a bear-resistant container or ropes to hang food packs.

As Adam pointed out this is on the USDA website. The difference is in the last few years bear resistant was defined in the rules/orders as IGBC-Certified. This posting on the USDA website does not make that distinction.

T

 
billconner
distinguished member(8589)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
06/20/2023 06:33PM  
AlexanderSupertramp: "
billconner: "
AlexanderSupertramp: "
billconner:
Aldo, I find it unfortunate the Ursacks and bear vaults are so small, so I guess I'll continue to hang a pack."




I dont think they were really designed with canoe tripping in mind, if I had to venture a guess. The 30L Ursack Major 2XL is pretty sizable though at 30L. I think I have the 15L XL version. For solo trips it's plenty for a week of my food and the dog's food with room to spare. I may upgrade for next year to a larger one, or maybe the AllMitey."




Depends what you carry to eat. The almittey is a little over 10 liters. My CCS food pack is a little over 81 liters. "



Mostly freeze dried meals, some snacks, etc. If the 15L held all of my food and the dog's food for 7 days with probably another 5L to spare then 10L should be fine, but I would probably just go for the AllMitey Grizzly, which is 20L and only weights an additional 4oz over the 15L Major. I almost exclusively trip and camp alone so I cant fathom ever needing more than a 20L food pack for 10 or so days. I dont plan on getting rid of the other one so I will have a collection of these things at some point I imagine. "


A combination of dehydrated, freeze dried, summer sausage, cheese, and some fresh for 2 or more people seems to strain the limits of ursacks.
 
ockycamper
distinguished member(1371)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/21/2023 10:15AM  
Jaywalker: "
tumblehome: "In reality, about 90% of the campsites in the BWCA don’t have an effective branch in which to hang a pack. ...
Tom"



I could not disagree with you more. Perhaps only 10% or fewer sites have a couple of nice white pines with clear branches 20 feet up that make it easy, but for the many years that I hung my food bag I always found a way to get it to the standard of 12 feet up, 6 feet out, and 3 feet down (I'm not going to say "bear proof", as that is a loaded term). I would measure with my arms and a canoe paddle. It was hard some times, but I always managed. Sometimes you have to walk back in the woods a bit further or get creative with cedar trees or others, but I'd say it's entirely possible in at least 95% of the campsites in the BWCA.


I think the biggest problem with hanging is not that the trees in the BWCA make it impossible to do well (at least at all but a few sites), but that too many people are lazy. I've paddled past sites that had their bags hung literally not 7-8 feet in the air. "


This is opinion based in tradition, not fact. Our groups have moved to use Bearvaults BV 500's exclusively. People point to one bear in the Adirondacks that breached a BV 500 . . .once. I can tell you many groups that watched bears go from site to site. . . straight to "the tree" that everyone uses to hand their food, destroyed it and scattered it around camp.

Bear tested containers like BV500s are not being lazy. . .they are admitting that "the old way" of hanging just doesn't work.
 
06/21/2023 10:38AM  
Consider me one of the lazy ones using a blue barrel and tying it to a tree trunk. Yes, I've seen the photo of a tied-up barrel gashed open by a determined black bear. No, I'm not worried about it as it seems exceedingly rare. What's much more common is bears getting poorly hung bags. I loathe the process of hanging a food bag especially at dusk in the buggy months.

I guess this reminds me of the Dyson stick vacuum I bought over Black Friday last year. I loathe vacuuming, the hauling of this big "heavy" thing all over the house, swapping between electrical outlets, managing the cord so you don't run over it, trying to do stairs, etc... as a result, I vacuumed far less than one should in their home. But now that I have the stick vacuum, I have no problem just pulling it off the cradle and vacuuming the main floor and stairs for 15 minutes. I may not do the whole house at once like I used to (because if I'm gonna put in the effort, might as well do it all, which increases mental resistance to the task) but at least the most important parts get vacuumed when I just decided to do it on a whim. While the vacuum was very expensive, my mental resistance to this previously tedious chore is now much lower, and I almost enjoy it now.

The same goes for hanging a food pack. Because the barrel is easier to manage, we keep it closed much more often when at camp, and never skip securing it _properly_ at night, because it's never an ordeal to do it. An airtight barrel on the ground, much easier to deal with, is superior to a smell-leaking food pack poorly hung in a tree. Our process is overall more consistent and we have the benefit of an airtight container at the end of it all. When I use Ursacks, I use the OPsak with them to limit smells, but I don't have as much confidence as the barrel. No issues to speak of across half a dozen backpacking and canoe trips using Ursacks in this way, though. Again, it's so easy to tie the Ursack to a tree at head height around some branches that it never feels like a chore, so it always gets done properly.

For those who truly properly hang their food packs, my hat goes off to you. I'm not one of those people and I don't think I ever will be. I'm confident in my solutions and, although just because something hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it never will, I haven't had any bear issues with my barrels or Ursacks. Knock on wood.
 
iCallitMaize
distinguished member (203)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/21/2023 11:32AM  
I have hung packs and used a BV500. Never had an issue with either...well, except for a racoon dragging the BV out of camp one time.
 
06/21/2023 02:04PM  
gravelroad: "
TrailZen: "
mschi772: "Why can't people just use best practices because they're the best practices?"




Hmmm... Could it be that each of us feels that our personal preference is indeed the best practice? Not trying to kick a hornets' nest here, but review some of the hotly-debated issues on the message board: base camping vs distance tripping, single portaging vs multi-walking, innies vs outies, wet-footing vs muck boots, bent shaft vs straight paddles, Kevlar vs carbon vs wood & canvas, freeze-dried vs home-dehydrated vs fresh, tents vs hammocks, and the list goes on.



TZ



"







You forgot the truly hot one: Guns in the BWCA. :-)
"


Oh, I remembered it, but left it in my "..and the list goes on" category!

TZ
 
ockycamper
distinguished member(1371)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/21/2023 03:43PM  
TrailZen: "
gravelroad: "
TrailZen: "
mschi772: "Why can't people just use best practices because they're the best practices?"




Hmmm... Could it be that each of us feels that our personal preference is indeed the best practice? Not trying to kick a hornets' nest here, but review some of the hotly-debated issues on the message board: base camping vs distance tripping, single portaging vs multi-walking, innies vs outies, wet-footing vs muck boots, bent shaft vs straight paddles, Kevlar vs carbon vs wood & canvas, freeze-dried vs home-dehydrated vs fresh, tents vs hammocks, and the list goes on.







"








You forgot the truly hot one: Guns in the BWCA. :-)
"



Oh, I remembered it, but left it in my "..and the list goes on" category!


TZ"


We just bring the guns to shoot hanging food barrels at abandoned campsites!
 
Tomcat
distinguished member(690)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/22/2023 09:13AM  
 
Pack Rat
senior member (63)senior membersenior member
  
06/22/2023 01:13PM  
What if you solo and can't carry a pack and a canoe at the same time? How do you keep the food pack attended at all times?
 
06/22/2023 01:50PM  
I never hang (outside of one time) and over a hundred trips and never had an issue with bears.

Perhaps best practice is not having a smelly food pack and to keep your camp clean. If you do those two things then you likely won't have an issue.
 
Tomcat
distinguished member(690)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/22/2023 04:20PM  
Pack Rat: "What if you solo and can't carry a pack and a canoe at the same time? How do you keep the food pack attended at all times?"


Whether portaging or in camp I would properly stow my certified bear resistant container or hang my non certified food pack when not in possession of it.
 
06/22/2023 05:17PM  
Tomcat: "
Pack Rat: "What if you solo and can't carry a pack and a canoe at the same time? How do you keep the food pack attended at all times?"



Whether portaging or in camp I would properly stow my certified bear resistant container or hang my non certified food pack when not in possession of it. "


I think he was talking about at a portage :) Do you hang your pack at each portage? I’ve never seen that? We try to single portage, but not everyone can do that.

T
 
Tomcat
distinguished member(690)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/22/2023 06:13PM  
timatkn: "
Tomcat: "
Pack Rat: "What if you solo and can't carry a pack and a canoe at the same time? How do you keep the food pack attended at all times?"




Whether portaging or in camp I would properly stow my certified bear resistant container or hang my non certified food pack when not in possession of it. "



I think he was talking about at a portage :) Do you hang your pack at each portage? I’ve never seen that? We try to single portage, but not everyone can do that.


T"


Yes, portaging or in camp I have my food properly secured when not in my or someone else's possession. There are compeling arguments for use of certified bear resistant canisters as opposed to hanging, especially when traveling solo.

Bear and blue barrel encounter video



 
toastedmarshmallow12
member (29)member
  
06/22/2023 07:54PM  
x2jmorris: "I thought that was all over with..... :/


I wasn't planning on hanging on my upcoming trip or using a certified bear container."


Then you are part of the problem. It's standard practice to hang or have a bear proof container in bear country.
 
06/22/2023 08:04PM  
toastedmarshmallow12: "
x2jmorris: "I thought that was all over with..... :/



I wasn't planning on hanging on my upcoming trip or using a certified bear container."



Then you are part of the problem. It's standard practice to hang or have a bear proof container in bear country. "


Nah I don't think so. I believe its more about how clean you keep a camp and the type of food or how smelly your container is. I have never had an issue.
 
Pack Rat
senior member (63)senior membersenior member
  
06/22/2023 08:31PM  
My wife and I hike and camp in the back country in many National Parks and each one is different. In the Smokies at the campsites on the way to Mt Sterling the forestry service has a long cable strung way up high with several cables hanging down for each campsite to hang their food. In Glacier, they have big metal bear proof boxes for the campers to store their food. Is there any way that the BWCA can do this at each camp site? They can install a firegrate and a privy, how about a food hanger or food vault?
 
billconner
distinguished member(8589)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
06/23/2023 06:28AM  
Pack Rat: "My wife and I hike and camp in the back country in many National Parks and each one is different. In the Smokies at the campsites on the way to Mt Sterling the forestry service has a long cable strung way up high with several cables hanging down for each campsite to hang their food. In Glacier, they have big metal bear proof boxes for the campers to store their food. Is there any way that the BWCA can do this at each camp site? They can install a firegrate and a privy, how about a food hanger or food vault?"


Philmont has cables to hang over - works well and reports say effective. I don't like the boxes because they get trash left in them. But a high wire to make successful hanging would be nice. Unlikely to ever happen - just not wilderness enough and too expensive for 1200+/- (?) sites. Works at Philmont since sites are clustered and several sites share a high wire.
 
GeneH
distinguished member (124)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/23/2023 01:29PM  
Deeznuts: "My opinion is that every single person should be hanging, even if they have a vault. ..."


As long as there are not straps or rope on the vault, letting bears grab on and go. It's my understanding that vaults are made hard, smooth, slippery so that a bear cannot carry it away. (and yeah, I think I seen reports of bears biting through thinner ones and carrying them off)

I see your 2 cents and raise a penny. ;-)
 
GeneH
distinguished member (124)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/23/2023 01:41PM  
timatkn: "FS Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Regulations and Rules
Q: What rules apply to food storage?
A: Never leave food unattended on portage trails or in camp, ...
"


I cannot figure out the logistics for a solo paddler doing regular double-carry or two trips across the portage.
 
06/23/2023 06:41PM  
GeneH: "
timatkn: "FS Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Regulations and Rules
Q: What rules apply to food storage?
A: Never leave food unattended on portage trails or in camp, ...
"



I cannot figure out the logistics for a solo paddler doing regular double-carry or two trips across the portage. "


I guess you are supposed to hang it while you portage to the other side LMAO… I single portage so it’s always with me, but this seems ridiculously unrealistic. What happens if a Ranger comes upon you and you are double portaging? Are they going to give you a ticket? I doubt it…but hey I’ve heard of more ridiculous stuff.

The hard part is without seeing the official USDA full written rules it’s hard to know if this is advice or specific rules you need to follow. I mean even if you use a bear vault if you don’t take it out of the pack and tie it down and bear could haul off with your pack and eventually work to get your food, most portages are not sufficient to hang effectively. Trees are too close together so a bear could get your food anyway. So you don’t get a fine for doing “feel good” techniques that really wouldn’t work? Ridiculous!

T
 
Deeznuts
distinguished member (446)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/24/2023 04:56AM  
I saw someone post last year that a bear dragged their food barrel away while they were portaging. I don't hang at portages but I also don't travel solo and the first things to cross are the food packs. Generally 1 person stays with the packs while the others go back and grab the rest of the gear. We tend to try to single portage so usually only 1 of us needs to go back for the fishing rods and paddles.

The logistics of doing it solo seem pretty daunting though. Maybe not necessarily hang the pack but clip it to a tree by the portage so that if I bear would wander up to it they have a more difficult time just grabbing and going? Would love to hear an actual ranger weigh in though. I'm sure we got a few of them on here?
 
toastedmarshmallow12
member (29)member
  
06/24/2023 06:54AM  
x2jmorris: "
toastedmarshmallow12: "
x2jmorris: "I thought that was all over with..... :/



I wasn't planning on hanging on my upcoming trip or using a certified bear container."




Then you are part of the problem. It's standard practice to hang or have a bear proof container in bear country. "



Nah I don't think so. I believe its more about how clean you keep a camp and the type of food or how smelly your container is. I have never had an issue."


It doesn't matter what you think. You are not better than everyone else. Ots not a problem until it is.
 
06/24/2023 09:27AM  
technically_rugged: "Consider me one of the lazy ones using a blue barrel and tying it to a tree trunk. Yes, I've seen the photo of a tied-up barrel gashed open by a determined black bear. No, I'm not worried about it as it seems exceedingly rare. What's much more common is bears getting poorly hung bags. I loathe the process of hanging a food bag especially at dusk in the buggy months.


I guess this reminds me of the Dyson stick vacuum I bought over Black Friday last year. I loathe vacuuming, the hauling of this big "heavy" thing all over the house, swapping between electrical outlets, managing the cord so you don't run over it, trying to do stairs, etc... as a result, I vacuumed far less than one should in their home. But now that I have the stick vacuum, I have no problem just pulling it off the cradle and vacuuming the main floor and stairs for 15 minutes. I may not do the whole house at once like I used to (because if I'm gonna put in the effort, might as well do it all, which increases mental resistance to the task) but at least the most important parts get vacuumed when I just decided to do it on a whim. While the vacuum was very expensive, my mental resistance to this previously tedious chore is now much lower, and I almost enjoy it now.


The same goes for hanging a food pack. Because the barrel is easier to manage, we keep it closed much more often when at camp, and never skip securing it _properly_ at night, because it's never an ordeal to do it. An airtight barrel on the ground, much easier to deal with, is superior to a smell-leaking food pack poorly hung in a tree. Our process is overall more consistent and we have the benefit of an airtight container at the end of it all. When I use Ursacks, I use the OPsak with them to limit smells, but I don't have as much confidence as the barrel. No issues to speak of across half a dozen backpacking and canoe trips using Ursacks in this way, though. Again, it's so easy to tie the Ursack to a tree at head height around some branches that it never feels like a chore, so it always gets done properly.


For those who truly properly hang their food packs, my hat goes off to you. I'm not one of those people and I don't think I ever will be. I'm confident in my solutions and, although just because something hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it never will, I haven't had any bear issues with my barrels or Ursacks. Knock on wood."


I'm with you on this. I think this whole issue is way overblown. And it makes me wonder if this, like so many laws and policies, is the result of some rent-seeking lobby group on behalf of the BV company. Don't sell your product through regular channels, sell it to the lawmakers and have them make your product mandatory. And thanks for the campaign donation. This goes on way more than you know.

Congrats on your Dyson. I hope they are finally making them with removeable batteries. If yours is fixed, you may eventually want to invest in an adaptor and use removeable batteries like Ryobi, DeWalt or Mikita if you have them.
 
06/25/2023 02:08PM  
x2jmorris: "I never hang (outside of one time) and over a hundred trips and never had an issue with bears.


Perhaps best practice is not having a smelly food pack and to keep your camp clean. If you do those two things then you likely won't have an issue."

+1
 
06/25/2023 03:36PM  
tumblehome: " Most of the time, putting a pack up in a tree makes the camper feel like they bear-proofed their food.
Of all the times I used to hang my pack I bet that only a few times did I really make the food bear proof.
Tom"

+3. And if I ever hung it again, I would never be able to look Cliff Jacobson straight in the eye again. I would be ashamed. :)
 
golds009
member (35)member
  
02/09/2024 01:14AM  
I am entering my 27th year of soloing for short trips and long trips of 15 days. I used to hang my food, and I am good at it. Now I use zip locked freeze dried foods INSIDE bear vaults which are inside my CCS food pack. I used to double portage, and at 75, that it is not a good choice for me. So, my CCS food pack is buckled to a heavy object such as a tree, while I am on route. I also have bear bells on my pack, which "might" startle an animal trying to attack my pack. Is it ideal? Probably not. But it IS one way of addressing the situation.
 
02/09/2024 08:13AM  
Argo: "Congrats on your Dyson. I hope they are finally making them with removeable batteries. If yours is fixed, you may eventually want to invest in an adaptor and use removeable batteries like Ryobi, DeWalt or Mikita if you have them. "


Yes, Dyson has been using removable batteries for several years now on newer models. There's no going back for us.

Back on topic...

In the past I didn't hang because the prevailing theory at the time was like some people have mentioned...bears know where food is usually hung and go right to it. I did the "keep a clean camp and stash food away from it" method I read in a book that I can no longer remember the author of. Could very well have been Cliff.

We used BV500s last time but they get awfully bulky for a larger group. I've been considering supplementing with an Ursack for items that for the most part won't matter if they get crushed. I wouldn't want to rely on one for everything, though.

The chances of a bear coming into camp are relatively low. So the "I've never had a problem" argument doesn't really hold water with me unless a bear has actually come into your camp. I notice this a lot with Ursack reviews. People who have had a bear attack the bag don't like them nearly as much as the people who have never had an encounter. Kind of a survivor's bias. If you use one you need to realize that if a bear does try to get it they will likely crush the heck out of it and slobber all over it. They may even puncture it. That's why I wouldn't want one as my only food container.
 
ockycamper
distinguished member(1371)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/09/2024 08:36AM  
For our group it is kept simple:

NEVER clean fish in camp. We send one of the guys across the lake to a rock area where there are no camp sites to clean the fish. Every year we have eagles following us. We leave the fish remains on the rock and the eagles take care of it in minutes.

In camp everything is in bearvaults BV 500's. All trash goes into the empty Bearvaults. 16 years of tripping with 3 or more groups each year and no bears.

Now moose is another story
 
02/09/2024 09:34AM  
ockycamper: "For our group it is kept simple:


NEVER clean fish in camp. We send one of the guys across the lake to a rock area where there are no camp sites to clean the fish. Every year we have eagles following us. We leave the fish remains on the rock and the eagles take care of it in minutes.


In camp everything is in bearvaults BV 500's. All trash goes into the empty Bearvaults. 16 years of tripping with 3 or more groups each year and no bears.


Now moose is another story"

This is the way.
 
02/09/2024 05:12PM  
Since this got revived…

I have since went on my trip and talked to the FS. The is no mandatory food storage container rule currently in place. You could get a fine though for just blatantly not protecting food…there is some discretion in the rules. But if they come in to camp and your food is locked up in blue barrels. They will just inform you they aren’t bear proof.

So I have the BV500’s and so far I hate them. Not waterproof, don’t pack well, not smell proof/air tight. One of the scouts tipped the canoe and filled the BV500 up with water and ruined food. They seemed to amplify food smells and the garbage we put in them. I felt like we were carrying around bear attractor the whole trip.

I am seriously rethinking bringing my old blue barrels. They are Watertight and airtight. I am sure some smell sneaks out, but at least they don’t smell like a bear beacon the BV500 did…

So far in 55 trips blue barrels zero percent food lost. BV500 1/3 trips food lost. Maybe if I just did one portage or base camped the BV500 would be a better option. On an expedition they ultimately sucked big time…

I contacted the BV500 company and if they make the BV airtight and smell proof you may never get the lid off without damaging the BV. They definitely discourage any modifications such as a O-ring for a better seal. The leakiness is by design…makes sense. It’s just hard for me to fathom creating more camp smells is less risk…my whole preparation is to make sure a bear never enters my camp…not how to thwart them once they come in…

T
 
nooneuno
distinguished member(622)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/09/2024 05:16PM  
The reality is that it doesn't matter how clean your camp is, or if your food is hung or in bear proof containers, what matters is how clean the people were that stayed there before you. Most campsites in the BWCA are used all summer every day by someone. this past summer I at many glacier campground in glacier national Park. The site I was in had a bear box made of heavy plate steel Every day it was covered with paw prints from a bear I would wash them off and the next day it would be covered again.


My campsite was spotless and I never cooked outside yet each day she came back and checked out my Bearbox, I also never stored food in it only inside my van. She was sprayed with bear spray multiple times and shot by the forest service using 12 gauge firing beanbag rounds, she would runoff and come back again the next day.






I got these pictures of her twice and she came into my campsite looking for food. She was a collared four-year-old grizzly.

even the campfires didn't deter her from coming back, Cocktail hour looked like this every night:





The morning I left for home the forest rangers switched to live ammo and shot and killed her because once she got the taste of human food, she would not give up in her search for it.

A fed bear is a dead bear.....
 
ockycamper
distinguished member(1371)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/09/2024 06:40PM  
timatkn: "Since this got revived…


I have since went on my trip and talked to the FS. The is no mandatory food storage container rule currently in place. You could get a fine though for just blatantly not protecting food…there is some discretion in the rules. But if they come in to camp and your food is locked up in blue barrels. They will just inform you they aren’t bear proof.


So I have the BV500’s and so far I hate them. Not waterproof, don’t pack well, not smell proof/air tight. One of the scouts tipped the canoe and filled the BV500 up with water and ruined food. They seemed to amplify food smells and the garbage we put in them. I felt like we were carrying around bear attractor the whole trip.


I am seriously rethinking bringing my old blue barrels. They are Watertight and airtight. I am sure some smell sneaks out, but at least they don’t smell like a bear beacon the BV500 did…


So far in 55 trips blue barrels zero percent food lost. BV500 1/3 trips food lost. Maybe if I just did one portage or base camped the BV500 would be a better option. On an expedition they ultimately sucked big time…


I contacted the BV500 company and if they make the BV airtight and smell proof you may never get the lid off without damaging the BV. They definitely discourage any modifications such as a O-ring for a better seal. The leakiness is by design…makes sense. It’s just hard for me to fathom creating more camp smells is less risk…my whole preparation is to make sure a bear never enters my camp…not how to thwart them once they come in…


T"


The leakiness is a very simple fix. We just wrap the lids with duct tape when "under way". As to the smell issues, we make sure the stuff that is in the Bear Vaults is in zip lock bags before going into Bearvaults.

I have had a "blue barrel". Hated it. The stuff I needed was always on the bottom. I couldn't see what was in it. And EVERYONE hated hefting that bad boy up and carrying it.

I divide the Bearvaults up two to a canoe, one per person. Added bonus is everyone has skin in the game on portaging the food
 
02/09/2024 07:47PM  
I don’t think we do the same type of trips or used the same blue barrels.

I used to use 2 30L barrels. They are lighter than any pack. You can do a barrel harness and a 12 year old can carry them pretty easily or in my youth (up until I turned 50 LOL) I put 2 full ones in my CCS pack and carried my canoe as well at the same time. The BV500 just don’t pack as well with my gear/packs and are harder to portage. I need gear that isn’t going to awkward to heft up and cause injuries

Most of my trips are expeditions so to speak. Last year we started at Alice Lake and left Snowbank the same day. I can put in at Snowbank lake and be fishing Lakers on Raven lake in the early PM. Not bragging, I just like to cover miles sometimes if I have the right crew. It gives me pleasure. I know I am not normal, but I refuse to conform to what others do…just because. The BV500 was fine on my basecamp trips. For example the BV500 worked great on my basecamp at Red Rock lake. I will still use them on trips like that. Those are fun too.

The Duct tape would not work on my BV500…we are constantly moving…I am not going to carry a whole roll and keep doing it…over and over. Plus the residual adhesive isn’t a good idea for keeping smells down. Especially when I have a product that already does it…more efficient and easily.

T
 
iCallitMaize
distinguished member (203)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/09/2024 10:10PM  
The BV 500 fits right in the bottom of my 60L barrel. Now I don’t just love it but it works fine. Vacuum sealed meals, inside BV, inside canoe barrel. I think I’m doing enough.

However, I am confused about the post above:

“ I have since went on my trip and talked to the FS. The is no mandatory food storage container rule currently in place.”

I was directed to this page:

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/superior/specialplaces/?cid=fseprd852569

It specifically states:

“Use a bear-resistant container or ropes to hang food.”
 
02/10/2024 08:07AM  
There is no way that you can contain food odors. Doesn't matter if the food is in a container, in a container, in a container. Zip locks, vacuum sealed, and inside a BV or blue barrel, it won't contain food odors.
A bear's nose is more keen than a dog's nose and drug runners have tried pretty much every method to contain the odors of drugs. The dogs always find it quickly.
And as said above by someone, you can be as clean as possible but if the camper before you was not, then the critters will come.
Keep food, toiletries and garbage in containers that can't be breeched.
 
iCallitMaize
distinguished member (203)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/10/2024 08:26AM  
I think we have all debated the methods and ethical responsibilities plenty… I’m just confused on whether there is an actual rule now or not.

I think the website that I posted above it’s the 18th question/answer below the paragraph that tells you breaking these regulations can warrant an up to $5000 fine and six months in jail.

I grew up in bear country on the AT… The rules/regulation won’t affect how I handle my business. Policy is just about like locks… The only thing they do is keep an honest man honest. I just want to know.
 
02/10/2024 03:36PM  
iCallitMaize: "I think we have all debated the methods and ethical responsibilities plenty… I’m just confused on whether there is an actual rule now or not.


I think the website that I posted above it’s the 18th question/answer below the paragraph that tells you breaking these regulations can warrant an up to $5000 fine and six months in jail.


I grew up in bear country on the AT… The rules/regulation won’t affect how I handle my business. Policy is just about like locks… The only thing they do is keep an honest man honest. I just want to know. "


Well that's what started the post isn't it? That's why I went straight to the horses mouth last summer. I still used the BV500 because that's what i brought. I thought I'd convert to them. But there are obvious issues. You still see outfitters renting the blue barrels they are in direct contact with the FS as well so that sort of tells ya the answer. Maybe a lawyer can explain the wording LOL.

TAS58...there is a big difference between creating a ton of smell and minimizing smell. No one is saying we can eliminate...I'm just saying in my experience the BV500 is a bear smell BEACON while my other barrels minimize smells. I can tell you my GSP is attracted to the BV500's while he ignores the blue barrel. Which one is better. To me, minimizing smell is more important than stopping the bear once it is in camp. At least I am not pulling in the bears from miles away. I've never been so nervous of bears on my trip than the last one with the BV500...if I can smell the food...how far away can a bear smell it?

Here is a great video of a bear getting a perfectly hung (so hanging doesn't work) blue barrel down from a tree. Once he got it out of the pack he just left it. Why??? Because he didn't know there was food in there. I guarantee if it was one of the smelly BV500 he wouldn't of left it...Maybe if it was stashed as you are supposed to do the bear would of never even come into camp.
video of bear going after blue barrel--watch till the end
 
02/10/2024 06:45PM  
We bagged everything in our BV500s. They are up front about not being air or water tight, it's the first question in their FAQ and rather obvious. No more of a beacon than anything else if you bag everything in it. They are kind of a PITA though, all bear containers are because if they were easy to use a bear could get in them. I looked at a lot of them before deciding that the BV, while far from perfect, would probably work best for us. Can't say I really liked them though. I think there are still some improvements to be had in that market.
 
nooneuno
distinguished member(622)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/11/2024 07:37PM  
timatkn: "I was on the dreaded FB and a couple of the posters were saying that if you don’t use a USDA certified bear container then you need to hang. That this is a new rule for 2023? I cannot find anything on this on the USDA BWCAW rules website. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist :) I also know a few people making statements on FB doesn’t mean it exists either :)

I know in the last few years this was a temporary order that has since been rescinded. Is that the confusion?

I have bear vaults and an Ursack—-is the Ursack considered a legitimate bear container for the BWCAW if this rule is in effect?

T"


in 2020 the rule went into effect for certain lakes in the Gunflint district, in July 2021 the rule was expanded to cover all of the BWCA. All food must be stored in a bear proof container or Home 12 feet or more off the ground. Anytime you are not actively consuming it, in fractions of this rule carry $5000 fine.
National Forest Order 09-09-21-09, July 27, 2021,
 
iCallitMaize
distinguished member (203)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/11/2024 09:32PM  
Wonder why this order is not searchable? You can google other orders and they pop up pdf.

Googling this “National Forest Order 09-09-21-09” I found nothing.


nooneuno: "
timatkn: "I was on the dreaded FB and a couple of the posters were saying that if you don’t use a USDA certified bear container then you need to hang. That this is a new rule for 2023? I cannot find anything on this on the USDA BWCAW rules website. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist :) I also know a few people making statements on FB doesn’t mean it exists either :)


I know in the last few years this was a temporary order that has since been rescinded. Is that the confusion?


I have bear vaults and an Ursack—-is the Ursack considered a legitimate bear container for the BWCAW if this rule is in effect?


T"



in 2020 the rule went into effect for certain lakes in the Gunflint district, in July 2021 the rule was expanded to cover all of the BWCA. All food must be stored in a bear proof container or Home 12 feet or more off the ground. Anytime you are not actively consuming it, in fractions of this rule carry $5000 fine.
National Forest Order 09-09-21-09, July 27, 2021,
"
 
gravelroad
distinguished member(982)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/11/2024 10:33PM  
iCallitMaize: "The BV 500 fits right in the bottom of my 60L barrel. Now I don’t just love it but it works fine. Vacuum sealed meals, inside BV, inside canoe barrel. I think I’m doing enough.


However, I am confused about the post above:


“ I have since went on my trip and talked to the FS. The is no mandatory food storage container rule currently in place.”


I was directed to this page:


https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/superior/specialplaces/?cid=fseprd852569


It specifically states:


“Use a bear-resistant container or ropes to hang food.”"


Sigh. I have played whack-a-mole against that damn website statement for several weeks. It is sadly time to get the hammer out again.

THERE IS NO SUCH RULE. THE WEBSITE MISSTATES THE LAW ON THIS POINT.

ALL FOOD STORAGE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE BWCA AND THE SUPERIOR NATIONAL FOREST WERE OFFICIALLY WITHDRAWN AS OF TWO YEARS AGO.

Read this thread in its entirety and the earlier one referenced in it. Take a copy with you to wave at any USFS employee or outfitter who tries to tell you otherwise. And please spread the word:

Updates and/or confirmation of USFS bear/food rules
 
02/12/2024 07:18AM  
nooneuno: "
timatkn: "


T"



in 2020 the rule went into effect for certain lakes in the Gunflint district, in July 2021 the rule was expanded to cover all of the BWCA. All food must be stored in a bear proof container or Home 12 feet or more off the ground. Anytime you are not actively consuming it, in fractions of this rule carry $5000 fine.
National Forest Order 09-09-21-09, July 27, 2021,
"


How can you not know that these orders were officially rescinded? The 2020 order was officially rescinded by the FS at the end of 2020 (almost 4 years ago) and the 2021 order you referenced was rescinded in February 2022 (2 years ago). The post above is completely false. The rescinded orders have been posted multiple times on FB and this site and every outfitter was sent this as well by the FS. No offense, but there really is no excuse to not know this in 2024... You are perpetuating false information.

T
 
nooneuno
distinguished member(622)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/12/2024 02:32PM  
timatkn: "
nooneuno: "
timatkn: "



T"




in 2020 the rule went into effect for certain lakes in the Gunflint district, in July 2021 the rule was expanded to cover all of the BWCA. All food must be stored in a bear proof container or Home 12 feet or more off the ground. Anytime you are not actively consuming it, in fractions of this rule carry $5000 fine.
National Forest Order 09-09-21-09, July 27, 2021,
"



How can you not know that these orders were officially rescinded? The 2020 order was officially rescinded by the FS at the end of 2020 (almost 4 years ago) and the 2021 order you referenced was rescinded in February 2022 (2 years ago). The post above is completely false. The rescinded orders have been posted multiple times on FB and this site and every outfitter was sent this as well by the FS. No offense, but there really is no excuse to not know this in 2024... You are perpetuating false information.


T"


after further research, it looks like you might be correct and the order was rescinded in 2022. and no, I didn't see it posted on Facebook because I don't use Facebook, and in 40 years of tripping I've never been to an outfitter other than to grab a permit
 
EmmaMorgan
member (36)member
  
02/12/2024 03:20PM  
I wouldn't be surprised to see a new food storage order implemented at some point. In my experience last summer, the Forest Service seemed to be quite focused on the issue. Each time I picked up my permit at a ranger station (once in Ely, once in Tofte and once in Grand Marais) they asked me about my specific food storage plans. This question was above and beyond the LNT quiz. And in Grand Marais, they had a mangled blue barrel on display at the counter, to show what a bear could do to one.

Also, when I encountered a pair of rangers on a portage, they too asked me what I was using to store my food. They were happy I was using Bear Vaults, and we then had a nice conversation about food storage. They told me that the Forest Service was planning to issue a "forest wide" food storage order like the one that had been in place in 2021, and indicated that it would happen "soon." This was in mid July (2023) and I expected it to happen sometime last summer, but it never did. I guess they decided to focus on education instead. I imagine if there continue to be problems, they might put out another order. Hopefully everyone does what's needed to keep bears out of their food, so we can all go on bringing our food in the way that works best for us and our groups.
 
02/12/2024 05:21PM  
EmmaMorgan:

Also, when I encountered a pair of rangers on a portage, they too asked me what I was using to store my food. They were happy I was using Bear Vaults, and we then had a nice conversation about food storage. They told me that the Forest Service was planning to issue a "forest wide" food storage order like the one that had been in place in 2021, and indicated that it would happen "soon."


I have also heard the very thing you quoted.
 
02/12/2024 09:42PM  
LindenTree: "
EmmaMorgan:


Also, when I encountered a pair of rangers on a portage, they too asked me what I was using to store my food. They were happy I was using Bear Vaults, and we then had a nice conversation about food storage. They told me that the Forest Service was planning to issue a "forest wide" food storage order like the one that had been in place in 2021, and indicated that it would happen "soon."



I have also heard the very thing you quoted."


Figures… Never let common sense get in the way of government decisions. LOL

I am sure the public hanging bear piñata’s is way better than the blue barrels (sarcasm)…even though the evidence doesn’t support that.

I can find just as many pics of BV500’s or Ursacks destroyed by bears as blue barrels…so the FS is picking on the wrong culprits. All the evidence indicates hanging is the most often breached method of food storage by bears. Are they going to outlaw that too?

I think the FS intentions are in the right place…just don’t trust their actual use of evidence.

T
 
Stumpy
distinguished member(2139)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/12/2024 10:47PM  

Just go camping
 
02/13/2024 07:42AM  
timatkn: "Figures… Never let common sense get in the way of government decisions. LOL


I am sure the public hanging bear piñata’s is way better than the blue barrels (sarcasm)…even though the evidence doesn’t support that.


I can find just as many pics of BV500’s or Ursacks destroyed by bears as blue barrels…so the FS is picking on the wrong culprits. All the evidence indicates hanging is the most often breached method of food storage by bears. Are they going to outlaw that too?


I think the FS intentions are in the right place…just don’t trust their actual use of evidence.


T"


Ursacks and Bear Vaults and others pass testing while blue barrels do not. That makes it a lot easier to regulate. You still have a valid point, because as far as l know all the common cannisters and Ursack have been breached. Bearikades appear to have the best track record but even they have failed and are ridiculously expensive.

So that tells us...not much. Most of the "evidence" is anecdotal. I didn't have an issue using the "seal and hide on the ground" method. Maybe it worked, or maybe there weren't any bears around. Same with your blue barrel or my Bear Vaults. I've only seen one attempted study, the Yosemite one. Most of those failures were improper use, and it didn't (and couldn't) consider how many people were using each method in the first place. It was simply a compilation of 199 documented incidents.
 
ockycamper
distinguished member(1371)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/13/2024 08:56AM  
What a thread. Everyone has an opinion on this.

While I would disagree that a BV500 is a "scent rocket" (we don;t just pour gravy and sausage into them), I understand why some like the blue Barrels.

I am of the opinion that a bear will get a foot stash regardless of the method. The reason we use Bearvaults is that they can't be dragged off, crushed, or torn apart. A hanging pack can easily be dragged off into the woods. A blue barrel (particularly with the harness) is also easy for dragging off. A Ursack can be dragged off or at the least have the food crushed that is in it.

The pluses for us with the BV's is how we use them . I load each days food into one BV 500 (we typically have 6 guys in a camp). I label the container and screw the lids on until the ratchet. We use the food in the BV 500 and put the trash back in the same container when done. We also use the containers for tables, etc.

That is what works for us. We are base campers to we typically go to lakes we don't hae to portage, or only have one portage. I can see that for smaller groups then ours, or for guys that travel every day, a different system may work better.
 
02/13/2024 09:11AM  
ockycamper:" The reason we use Bearvaults is that they can't be dragged off, crushed, or torn apart. A hanging pack can easily be dragged off into the woods. A blue barrel (particularly with the harness) is also easy for dragging off. A Ursack can be dragged off or at the least have the food crushed that is in it. "


BearVaults can and have been dragged off and torn apart. At least one bear out west was throwing them off a cliff on to rocks to break them open. Another out east figured out how to open the lid. Here's one that was torn open:

BearVault Failure

An Ursack properly tied to a tree should not be able to be carried off. This one was not tied properly and fell to the ground, giving the bear more leverage, but I've also seen other pictures of punctures even when hung correctly:

Ursack Failure

I wonder how much the aluminum liner would help. Probably would still end up crushed and full of slobber.

Moral of the story, never put full trust in any container.
 
nooneuno
distinguished member(622)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
02/14/2024 07:20PM  





" I wonder how much the aluminum liner would help. Probably would still end up crushed and full of slobber."

this is the exact reason why my paddling partner no longer brings bite-size snickers, I have been known to chew right through the Ursaks liner or not......
 
02/16/2024 11:12AM  
Jaywalker: "Here is my take, and I am sure not all will agree.

...Obviously at the heart of this issue is whether or not traditional blue barrels from like the ones from Harmony are acceptable or not (on the ground - no one disputes it's ok if hung). Earlier this year I did a quick check of several of the bigger outfitters websites, and all but one showed they were renting these blue barrels (no mention of hanging ropes).


I'd be curious to know what outfitters are telling their guests and if indeed they are sending them out with traditional Harmony type barrels, and also what people are being told in the ranger stations.


"


I have only been on only one canoe trip (north side of Quetico), but I have been backpacking in bear country for over 30 years. I always hang when backpacking.

When prepping for my Quetico trip, I asked a long time outfitter about recommended approach to bear deterrence and was sent out with a blue barrel and the recommendation to secure it at the base of a tree. AND, he gave what is probably the best bear advice out there: If there is any evidence of previous messy campsite occupants (trash, evidence of fish cleaning at/near camp, etc) move along and camp somewhere else. Admittedly, that advice is probably a lot easier to implement on the north side of Quetico than a busy BWCA lake.

The reality is THERE IS NOT ONE UNIVERSALLY CORRECT ANSWER to the bear question, with the exception of all of us being neat and tidy campers strictly following LNT.

The underlying problem is almost always habituation of the bears due to over use of a given wilderness area and sloppy folks that don't practice LNT. In Rocky Mountain NP, Glacier NP, or any backcountry area with heavy use, even if you pull out all the tricks to keep the food and bears separated you may still have bears in camp (see the previous post with bear prints on a plate steel bear vault). In lightly traveled wilderness areas without habituation of the wildlife, more practical and efficient approaches to bear deterrence will be perfectly safe, effective, and ethical. I've had my food "hanging" in an eight foot tall tree at treeline in a lightly traveled area of the San Juan mountains of Colorado for multiple nights without any problems (best tree available without a serious drop in elevation). If I did that at a Rocky Mountain National Park backcountry site, that bag wouldn't last more than a couple hours...
 
02/16/2024 03:58PM  
We always hang. Using the two rope method. You do it most anywhere. We’ve had no problems on the last 3 trips.
But out here in California, we have mandatory bear proof regulations for certain areas. A lot of the backcountry near the national parks, require bear proof containers and hanging if possible. Many generations of bears have learned how to get food from humans. Yosemite and Tahoe have some of the best trained bears in the world. You must hang your food or swing it over the edge of a big rock.
We were camped in Yosemite Valley, standing around a big fire with Miller lights. ( edit because of darn voice recognition, “ standing around in the firelight “ don’t want to plug a product here) I looked over to the edge and saw an adult bear. They’re just standing there. Then I felt something small brush between it around our legs and saw it was the cub. She trained it to go in and steal food while we were standing there in the dark. A few bright flashlights scared them off.
A lot of areas require bear proof trash containers. Both public trash cans and private residence’s garbage cans
So yes, I see mandating bear proof regulations . It’s just a sign of more people in the woods.
 
02/19/2024 09:48AM  
I tested my bear vault at home one year when we had problem bears. They batted that thing around quite a while and the one tried to bite it open. To no avail… I’d quit the hanging nonsense years ago. Never lost anything. Plenty of Bear visits… usually just checking to see if I left something out. The Bear vaults take time for them to get into if they happen to figure out a way… one of my first trips in the 70’s there was a van at Moose River North where someone left a chips wrapper in. A bear made a mess of that… so I never try to bring much that smells are hard to contain.
I’d consider an electric fence set up… if it works for polar bears it should be good for blacky! But I found even the most problematic bears I’ve encountered were consistent but not really a big deal…

Like Stumpy says… just go camping! And I just add… and just use your head. It’s not rocket science…
 
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