Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

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).
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Iriscaddis
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Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by Iriscaddis » Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:58 pm

I know, I know, you’re never supposed to store any food in the car to protect the Bears- I get it and respect it, but here’s a question. We’re car camping down in the San Joaquin and we have a cooler and some nice meals for the evening. But then we decide to pack up camp and head to Saddleback lake and hike into the 20 lakes basin. What do I do with the cooler that’s in my car, that I’ve parked? I know this sounds like an incredibly stupid question but actually it’s a real life situation and I’m curious to see how others sort of manage this. thank you.








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bobby49
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Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by bobby49 » Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:13 pm

Over the last forty years, I've developed my own rule about it. The food must be totally sealed and odor-free. Then I store it somewhere completely out-of-sight to a bear, like inside a car trunk. If the bear can see something inside the passenger compartment, then there is a chance that it will break a window and go after it. So far my rule has worked.

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Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Jul 05, 2020 7:05 pm

Over the years I have upgraded bear cans so I now have three extras, so I just put the food in them and place about 50 feet from the car, hidden from people because bears will be able to smell where they are; people may steal the bear cans. If I have perishables, I put a chunk of dry ice inside with the food.

I thought that bears can smell food even if you seal it in an OP bag. I think it depends on where you are. The Yosemite bears know how to rip into a trunk, not sure all bears in the Sierra do.

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Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by bobby49 » Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:08 pm

"The Yosemite bears know how to rip into a trunk, not sure all bears in the Sierra do."

That is somewhat true. In general, big heavy American vehicles are built strongly enough to withstand a bear attack. Small lightweight vehicles are probably not strong enough. If a bear can get its claws in the narrow gap between a trunk lid and the car body, then you have a problem. If a bear smells something good in the trunk, but if it can't get there, it is likely to break into the passenger compartment and then attack the trunk from that side. A seasoned Yosemite Valley black bear probably knows how to do all of this.

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Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by Iriscaddis » Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:10 pm

Thanks Bobby, I had the same thing in mind. I have a hidden cubby below the floor boards where I can safely seal foods. Great and appreciate the reply.
bobby49 wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:13 pm
Over the last forty years, I've developed my own rule about it. The food must be totally sealed and odor-free. Then I store it somewhere completely out-of-sight to a bear, like inside a car trunk. If the bear can see something inside the passenger compartment, then there is a chance that it will break a window and go after it. So far my rule has worked.

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Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by Iriscaddis » Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:12 pm

Fine responses thank you. Yes Yosemite bears are habituated to human environments.
bobby49 wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:08 pm
"The Yosemite bears know how to rip into a trunk, not sure all bears in the Sierra do."

That is somewhat true. In general, big heavy American vehicles are built strongly enough to withstand a bear attack. Small lightweight vehicles are probably not strong enough. If a bear can get its claws in the narrow gap between a trunk lid and the car body, then you have a problem. If a bear smells something good in the trunk, but if it can't get there, it is likely to break into the passenger compartment and then attack the trunk from that side. A seasoned Yosemite Valley black bear probably knows how to do all of this.

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Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by John Harper » Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:53 am

Be careful storing your food inside the car. Elevated temperatures inside the car seem to magnify the smells. Also, I had a friend who got a ticket for leaving a coffee mug visible inside his car up at Horseshoe Meadows campground. The fine was fairly hefty, maybe $200 IIRC, perhaps more.

I've got a bear resistant cooler, not sure how to consider that. Is putting it in a food locker even necessary? They're technically just like a bear resistant food canister, IGBC approved, so why not just that type of cooler?

John

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Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by Iriscaddis » Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:51 pm

Thanks John H., another good option is to purchase a bear proof cooler. I still have to get it out of sight in the car. But I will think all the threads through. Can’t wait 😊
John Harper wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:53 am
Be careful storing your food inside the car. Elevated temperatures inside the car seem to magnify the smells. Also, I had a friend who got a ticket for leaving a coffee mug visible inside his car up at Horseshoe Meadows campground. The fine was fairly hefty, maybe $200 IIRC, perhaps more.

I've got a bear resistant cooler, not sure how to consider that. Is putting it in a food locker even necessary? They're technically just like a bear resistant food canister, IGBC approved, so why not just that type of cooler?

John
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Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by bobby49 » Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:42 pm

One guy met me at noon in Tuolumne Meadows, so he left his car parked at the horse stable parking lot. We drove off in my car, did Mount Whitney on the next day, and then we drove back to his car. So, it had been left there less than 36 hours. The entire driver's window was pulverized by a bear. I asked him if he had left any food in the car, but he said No. Then I looked and saw an empty McDonald's bag with empty French Fries container in there. The bear had smelled the residual grease, and that was all it took. There was no food, but there was plenty of food odor.

The guy had to drive his car back to Palo Alto without any driver's window.

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Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by Iriscaddis » Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:24 am

Amazing story. I guess the drive back to Palo Alto with the broken window got rid of the French fry scent. 😆. All joking aside, I guess no food is the best practice. Thanks for sharing.

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