Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Have a favorite trail recipe or technique you'd like to share? Please do! We also like reviews of various trail food products out there. The Backcountry Food Topix forum is the place to discuss all things related to food and nourishment while in the Sierra wilderness (as well as favorite trail head eateries).
User avatar
John Harper
Topix Regular
Posts: 308
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:54 am
Experience: N/A

Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Post by John Harper » Mon May 28, 2018 5:22 pm

What regulations/practices for a certified bearproof cooler at a trailhead with/without bear lockers? Could I just lock it and slide it under the back end of my truck? Would that pass muster with the rangers? What if there are bear lockers, but they are full? I have seen people leave their Bearikades and such out at night in campgrounds, so I would think a locked cooler would be okay?

I would not leave it in the bed, but it will slide under the step bumper, I can even chain it to my frame receiver hitch. Hopefully thieves would not bother, seeing it securely locked. I don't think a bear could do much more than drag it out from under the bumper. It's heavy, so if I can just drop it out of my truck and slide it under the bumper, that would work great for me.

John








User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4348
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon May 28, 2018 5:51 pm

Trailheads are not as safe as in the past. Popular trailheads such as Whitney Portal are the least safe. I have even had stuff stolen out of the bear boxes. I definitely would not leave my Bearikade ($$$) out in the open to be stolen. I would at least hide it in the bushes. Bear cans are not supposed to be tied to anything because that just gives the bear something solid to pull against. The idea is that bears cannot pick up bear cans and just roll them around. Also, if a bear can is left in the sun, food inside could be compromised. Try to put it in a shady spot.

Rule is that food in a bear box has to be labeled ; owner name, when you plan to return and would be good to put your permit # on it too. If it is still there past the return date, the FS employees just will pick it up and dump out the food. Thus, best to put the pick up date a few days after you plan. I have successfully left food in a bear box, packed with dry ice, in one of those cheap foam coolers. I tape it up good and label it. Then when I pick up my food I just put the cooler in the dump.

When I did the SHR, I also left my car at North Lake CG for three weeks. I put a sign in the window regarding when I would return so my car would not get towed. The regular parking lot was full so I had to park down along the road.

User avatar
John Harper
Topix Regular
Posts: 308
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:54 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Post by John Harper » Mon May 28, 2018 7:19 pm

I've used bear boxes to leave food and regular coolers, and always give myself a few days leeway on my attached note, same as my wilderness permits. This is just a Walmart cooler, mostly got it for bear proof rather than 10 days of ice. So, not that worried about theft, as it is heavy and not wallet busting to replace. I got it to take to Idaho and Yellowstone so I can car camp and/or lock it up when I go fishing.

I just wondered about leaving it shoved under the truck. I'm not really planning on leaving it at such a busy spot as WP, but maybe HM campground lot instead of the CWL TH parking lot. Not sure anyone would even notice it. I guess, technically, it's not inside the car and visible, and it is secured by an approved bear proof container. Just don't want to find a ticket from the rangers after coming back from the CW Lakes area. My buddy got one for leaving a Starbucks cup in the console inside his Explorer at the CWL TH parking lot. I was not there, but I do believe him.

John

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4348
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon May 28, 2018 7:38 pm

I was not under the impression that Walmart coolers were "approved" bear proof containers. Unless you consider jammed under your truck as "bear-proof"?

Perhaps call Inyo NF and see what they say. I have an old Garcia bear can that I no longer use backpacking, and I sometimes just set that under my car. It is not jammed at all- free to roll. I worry that if I jammed it under the car, a bear may damage my car to get it.

User avatar
John Harper
Topix Regular
Posts: 308
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:54 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Post by John Harper » Tue May 29, 2018 7:35 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:I was not under the impression that Walmart coolers were "approved" bear proof containers. Unless you consider jammed under your truck as "bear-proof"?

Perhaps call Inyo NF and see what they say. I have an old Garcia bear can that I no longer use backpacking, and I sometimes just set that under my car. It is not jammed at all- free to roll. I worry that if I jammed it under the car, a bear may damage my car to get it.
I have a Bear Boxer Contender and an Ursack already as additional secure storage. Here's the Walmart cooler, IGBC certified, allegedly:
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Trail- ... /430853931

I picked it up for $62, but mainly as it's rated bear resistant and small enough for one person use. Not as worried about ice retention, but it is nice to be able to disperse camp and have a secure cooler for food storage. Believe me, I would just slide it under the bumper, nothing that would let him damage my truck. Better than leaving in the bed of the truck and having him climb in there. :eek: :eek:

I'll call the Inyo ranger office and find out, good idea!

John

User avatar
longri
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1082
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:13 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Post by longri » Wed May 30, 2018 10:21 am

I've had food stolen from bear boxes at trailheads more than once. Had a small cooler taken one time. If it were me I wouldn't just leave what is likely an expensive item sitting out. Can you chain it to your vehicle somehow? Or maybe carry it into the woods to hide?

It could be I've just been unlucky with the thieves. But it sure sucks to get ripped off.

User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
Posts: 10471
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Post by maverick » Wed May 30, 2018 11:38 am

I too would rather find a place away from the trailhead parking lot or campground, especially a more popular one. Personally have never had anything stolen, but know of several people who have had their coolers and other items stolen. :(
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

User avatar
John Harper
Topix Regular
Posts: 308
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:54 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Post by John Harper » Wed May 30, 2018 12:51 pm

longri wrote:Can you chain it to your vehicle somehow? Or maybe carry it into the woods to hide?
Yes, I can chain it to my receiver hitch, and slide it under the hitch at the tailgate, that is Plan A. It's pretty heavy when filled, so schlepping it a distance is not that practical. I can even chain it to a tree if I wanted (Plan B). Security is not paramount, getting a citation is more my concern.

I called the ranger station, they weren't that enlightening. Ranger said to use bear boxes if possible. She had no idea what I could do if no box at TH, or the boxes are full. I would think with the boom of YETI style lockable coolers, someone would have tried something similar somewhere.

I guess I can be the first kid on the block to try it, as usual.

John

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4348
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:35 pm

I know that the intermountain grizzly approvals are not the same as the Sierra approvals. Each group tests its bear containers with a different set of bears. The Bearikade is technically NOT approved for grizzlies. It is a bit political in my opinion; funny that most of the approved cans for grizzlies are made by companies in Montana. Unless that cooler has specifically been tested on Sierra bears, I do not think it would be technically approved. If it were, I think the product information would specifically say so. But a ranger who reads the law as "intent" to protect food from bears, may not ticket you.

I cannot remember the name of the organization that tests with Sierra bears. You may try to google and find their web page. I think they would list approved containers.

Horse packers have to have their food in bear proof containers so perhaps a packer would have some information.

The trailhead is not technically the wilderness, so I am not even sure that the bear can zones apply. I have seen signs on the bear boxes that say all food is REQUIRED to be stored in the bear box. Not sure if that is really the law, or just what they say.

If you got a ticket, it would be an interesting case to fight in court.

User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Addict
Posts: 2660
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Post by AlmostThere » Mon Jun 04, 2018 7:32 pm

You should also consider whether or not a bear could drag the thing off. The only thing that saves canisters is the lack of a "handle" of any kind for them to get their teeth in. If there's a handle on the cooler and a habituated bear can get their teeth on it, kiss it g'bye. Doesn't matter at that point whether it is really bear proof, it's been stolen and might or might not be somewhere close by when you get back. And if you think chaining it will help... a bear is mighty strong, if it gets a hold of something and is able to yank, whatever you fastened the chain to the cooler with will be busted.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests