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Bears and rain and packs

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Bears and rain and packs

Postby Captain Slappy » Thu Aug 26, 2010 6:52 am

This might be a silly question. As a hiker from a non-bear area, I am not used to preparing for the eventuality of bears wandering into camp and rooting through my things. But as I prepare to be in Sierra bear country in a couple of weeks, there is one scenario I am wondering about.

Assuming that all of your food is stored safely in a bear canister for the night and that you have stashed your pack with the zippers unzipped in case a bear decides to examine it. But what happens if it rains? Can you still put a pack cover or a garbage bag over your pack without a bear ripping it and/or the pack up? Thanks.
Last edited by Captain Slappy on Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:08 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Bears and rain and packs

Postby rayfound » Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:49 am

Yes. Just keep all scented items away from your backpack and you're fine. I've yet to see a bear in the Sierra.
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Re: Bears and rain and packs

Postby dave54 » Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:46 pm

I see bears several times per year, never been a problem.

If they get too close I just wave my arms and yell, and maybe throw some pine cones or sticks at them. That usually makes them scamper off.

Although attacks by black bears do happen rarely, most of the time they are skittish and timid around humans (one wildlife biologist friend of mine claims humans smell bad to black bears, so they often won't come close to a camp unless hunger and curiosity overcome the malodorous repugnance).
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Re: Bears and rain and packs

Postby alinsdau » Fri Aug 27, 2010 1:00 pm

Hang your pack upside down on a thin branch or just set it upside down, so should be bear take an interest, the pack won't be damaged in the take-away attempt.
I've seen bears many times and after an initial investigation, they move on. But, they're terribly smart and motivated, so there are no guarantees.
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Re: Bears and rain and packs

Postby rlown » Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:03 pm

rayfound wrote:Yes. Just keep all scented items away from your backpack and you're fine. I've yet to see a bear in the Sierra.


what rayfound said, except for seeing bears. Take out the scented stuff, and there'll be no problem. Had a friends pack taken at about 2am, and we pelted it with the complimentary pile of stones, and chased it for a 100 yds.. it dropped it. toothpaste in a pocket (ripped that pocket). I do believe bears don't like human smell, but love everything we use..

not sure you need to hang your pack upside down. I resort to weaving climbing web in my frame, cooking pots and tying it to a tree base or around some rocks. gives me time to unzip the tent, put on the headlamp, grab some rock and throw. as for rain.. I keep everything zipped up after i empty the smelly stuff into the can. some of my clothes are still in it. as it's waterproof, i don't cover it.

Depends on where you're going as to the bears being agressive, or present. Where are you going?
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Re: Bears and rain and packs

Postby Captain Slappy » Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:30 am

Thanks. I really appreciate the input!

rlown wrote:Depends on where you're going as to the bears being agressive, or present. Where are you going?


I'll be on the Rae Lakes loop for a few days next month. I might also do another shorter trail in Sierra National Forest, depending on time constraints. Apparently, there is a lot of bear activity on the Rae Lakes trail, and just I want to be prepared for anything.
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Re: Bears and rain and packs

Postby richlong8 » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:13 am

Rae Lakes has bear boxes at the major campsites. That makes it easy to put everything away that could possibly attract a bear. Here's a link to some of the bear boxes in SEKI:
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Re: Bears and rain and packs

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:01 pm

In Yosemite people's packs get dragged off whether they contain food or not. I've heard four first hand accounts this year, plus it's been posted on the board at the backpacker camp in Tuolumne Meadows for over a year that they want you to stuff the packs in the bear boxes as well as your smellables due to this problem.

In Rae Lakes, I'd stuff the whole pack in the bear box. The bears are pretty bad there. Wasn't there someone this year whose bear vault got broke into on that loop?
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Re: Bears and rain and packs

Postby rlown » Mon Aug 30, 2010 7:22 pm

AlmostThere wrote:In Yosemite people's packs get dragged off whether they contain food or not.


Depends on where you are, but yes.. If there is room in a box, I'd put my whole pack in. Most of the places i go don't have bear boxes, other than the "night before" campgrounds. At Tioga for example, each campground has a bearbox and you can fit 4 packs in each one. If I'm in "bear country", i still tie up my pack on it's leash with pots in the line, so i have time to react. But.. my pack has an external frame.. YMMV.

The further you are away from the masses, the lesser chance of a pack attack. I personally see nothing wrong with covering your pack with a garbage bag at night to protect from rain.
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Re: Bears and rain and packs

Postby Captain Slappy » Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:15 pm

rlown wrote: i still tie up my pack on it's leash with pots in the line, so i have time to react. But.. my pack has an external frame.. YMMV.


Hmm...do you think using the packs straps to tie the pack around a tree would suffice or should I plan on bringing some extra rope? This would be assuming that the pack could not be put in a bear box.

Alternatively, if the pack doesn't have anything smelly in it, would it be too risky to keep it in the tent?
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Re: Bears and rain and packs

Postby rlown » Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:33 pm

Captain Slappy wrote: Hmm...do you think using the packs straps to tie the pack around a tree would suffice or should I plan on bringing some extra rope? This would be assuming that the pack could not be put in a bear box.

Alternatively, if the pack doesn't have anything smelly in it, would it be too risky to keep it in the tent?


Ok.. pack straps mean nothing to a bear. I cant tell you that bringing an empty pack into the tent is a good idea, because if i did, I'd be trounced upon for etiquette.

If your goal is to be Bear safe, put it in a bear box, or empty it and then protect it as best you can. If you are not near a bear box on your Rae Lks loop, then you have to assess the situation and decide.

Um, each situation of backpacking is different, depending on location relative to bears.
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Re: Bears and rain and packs

Postby cvr » Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:28 pm

When I carry a tent (very early and very late season; bivy otherwise), I always store my pack in the tent. I have never had a problem. As long as your food items are stored elsewhere, I see no reason why you should not store your pack in your tent. It is really no different than having spare clothing or any other gear in the tent with you.

I have spent many nights at Rae Lakes and the surrounding areas (as well as most of the other supposed heavy bear activity areas in the Sierra) with a pack in my tent and have never had an issue.
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