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Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

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Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Postby mrphil » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:52 am

Regardless of it being "bear resistant" according to IGBC, you have to remember that above and beyond that, it needs to be on the "approved" list of the regulatory agency that governs the specific area. Not on their list, you get cited, then make your case in court. A real gray area, and I would bet that they defer to their list on whether you win or not. At the very least, in handing you the win they would see it as potentially running the risk of every trailhead within their jurisdiction becoming a case of several food lockers and 50 chained up coolers as the new normal. And no ranger is going to whip out their phone and start researching coolers. He/she is going to see a cooler left out, write that ticket, maybe remove the problem, let someone else sort it out later...namely, you.

With bears, others are right, I would be more worried about my truck than my cooler. And if a ranger saw a bear getting hurt trying, or effectively learning a new skill set in manipulating car parts to get it out from under it ( how did my brake and/or fuel line get ripped out?), they'll cut your chain and confiscate your cooler. After all, these food storage regulations are about bear safety, not yours. Chain it to a tree as a "Plan B" you'll probably get cited for damaging the tree as well.

More than that though, I would be even more worried about people taking it. It's small enough, more visually appealing than a stuff sack full of food, and you would be surprised by some of the tools people have in their trunks, like 4 foot bolt cutters and cordless power tools.

For such a small amount of volume and food, it sounds like more hassle than it's worth. We've all seen lockers seemingly packed to the gills, but I've never been unable to do some creative rearranging in order to make my stuff fit in somewhere.



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Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Postby longri » Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:09 am

The "approved list" is a little fuzzy. The Bearikade Scout isn't included and yet you wouldn't get ticketed for that bureaucratic omission. But how your cooler would be viewed isn't clear. There are approved bear-resistant panniers designed for loading on horses/mules that are large enough to hold a cooler. You'd be on safer legal ground with one of those, although at least some of them also could provide purchase for a determined bear to drag some distance. Interestingly, in Yellowstone (Idaho) it is prohibited to use any bear-resistant container as stand-alone food storage in the front country.

Why not give the NPS/NFS a call and ask? If they're okay with it then maybe you could get them to write you a note that you could laminate to the top of your cooler.

Safest bet is to hide it from people. How heavy is it loaded? As long as it's no more than 80-100lbs you ought to be able rig a simple harness and carry it off into the woods a couple hundred yards.
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Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Postby John Harper » Wed Jun 06, 2018 10:46 am

I guess I'll just chain it to a tree in the event I have to leave it and take my chances.

I did call the Bishop Ranger station, they were non-committal about the issue.

John
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Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Postby rlown » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:11 pm

Why do you need a cooler in the first place? If it is a trail head/campground, stuff all your goodies in bags with ice in ziplocks and it all becomes disposable in the bear proof dumpster.
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Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Postby John Harper » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:14 pm

rlown wrote:Why do you need a cooler in the first place? If it is a trail head/campground, stuff all your goodies in bags with ice in ziplocks and it all becomes disposable in the bear proof dumpster.


I'm going on a long road trip this summer to Idaho and Wyoming. I've never been there so I have no idea if there are bear boxes like in the Sierra, or whether I will need to leave my cooler when I go for dayhikes. Semper paratus.

John
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Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Postby rlown » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:34 pm

We went hunting out of Coffee Creek in Trinity. My friend asked if he could put my cooler in my truck.. (had his own truck.) I said NO!
You really need to call the places you plan on visiting/camping at and see what they say. Any cooler is a bad Idea in bear country.
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Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Postby longri » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:09 pm

rlown wrote:Any cooler is a bad Idea in bear country.


I think it depends. A cooler filled with food, or even an empty one in plain view, could attract a bear. But a clean, empty cooler hidden in the trunk isn't a problem. And a hidden cooler with sealed cans/bottles in ice water isn't likely to attract a bear either.

I don't put my cooler in trailhead bear boxes anymore, not after getting ripped off. I'll take my chances that a bear can smell bottles of beer submerged in ice water in a cooler in my trunk.
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Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Postby John Harper » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:21 pm

rlown wrote:We went hunting out of Coffee Creek in Trinity. My friend asked if he could put my cooler in my truck.. (had his own truck.) I said NO!
You really need to call the places you plan on visiting/camping at and see what they say. Any cooler is a bad Idea in bear country.


I got it, and definitely will adjust to local conditions. I just wanted to see what ideas might be out there so I can gain from other's experience. Not much I can do if I'm traveling alone somewhere in Wyoming and I need to camp for the night. Good to have a lockable, sturdy cooler, since I need something that's at least a reasonable deterrent. I'm not expecting candy canes and unicorns.

I got a solid, lockable cooler, a chain, and a couple sturdy padlocks. That should cover most bases.

John
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Re: Leaving Bearproof cooler at Campground/Trailhead?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:34 pm

In the Wind Rivers it is legal to leave food in a vehicle at the trailhead. I think a bear proof cooler in the bed of a truck is OK. Chained to a tree is also probably OK. You would only need a cooler for perishable food or that cold beer you want when you get out!. I store my dry backpack food in the car or counter-balance and buy perishables in town between trips. Each jurisdiction you will travel through has a web site with information on food storage. Most trailheads are FS but some are also BLM. Yellowstone may be different because of the number of grizzlies and that it is a National Park. In general, in the Rocky Mountain West, bears do not have enough human encounters to become wise at breaking into cars like Sierra bears. Grizzlies are strong but do not climb trees. I do not often have bear encounters in Wyoming-see lots more elk, deer and moose and the occasional wolf. (moose can be very nasty and aggressive).

By the way I would not backpack in the northern Rocky Mountains without bear spray.

We trailer camped in Canada a few years ago, and the rule there at campgrounds is "hard sided". If you have a pop-up camper with canvas sides, you then have to go to special "tent" campground areas, which are surrounded by electric wire fence.

There are some good solar powered electric wire fencing that people use for food storage. In fact, NOLS uses these electric wire fences for their courses.
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