sinking your food

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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MountainMinstrel
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sinking your food

Post by MountainMinstrel » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:40 pm

Anyone heard of this? I was talking with a local shop worker who said that here in Emigrant he puts his food in a waterproof bag with a rock, ties it to a rope, and tosses it into the lake. Seems like it might be a way to keep your food safe where bear cans are not required but...
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AlmostThere
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Re: sinking your food

Post by AlmostThere » Wed Jun 06, 2018 10:30 pm

So you know that bears have better noses than dogs do? They train dogs to find people underwater. Dogs can find submerged bodies using their sense of smell. They put the dog on the boat, go out in the water, and the dog alerts on the scent of the missing person.

Bad, bad idea.

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gary c.
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Re: sinking your food

Post by gary c. » Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:28 am

I've heard and read about submerging in water but never done it myself. It would only be acceptable in areas that don't require bear cans in the first place and I would hate to risk all my food getting wet.

As for dogs smelling people under the water I think that would be more about released gasses coming to the surface compared to food in an air/water tight container under water.
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AlmostThere
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Re: sinking your food

Post by AlmostThere » Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:40 am

Bears that broke into kitchens in the Boy Scout camps ate the canned food. Explain to me how they know there is food in cans....

If it worked, submerging might be an option mentioned by rangers. The food is still in sight - curiosity is still a bear trait, as well, and water doesn't bother them. Either way it's a bad idea.

An experiment run by Backpacking Light used drug sniffing dogs to test OPSAK against multiple layers of ziplock bags, to see if the OPSAK worked. There were many trials. The OPSAk did not perform any better or worse. Plastic is not air proof, and is not smell proof, and bears (again) have better noses than dogs. A few feet of water? Pffft.

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John Harper
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Re: sinking your food

Post by John Harper » Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:02 am

I thought about a mesh sack, bagged food, and a rock a few years ago, but thinking through the practicality of using this system made me toss the idea. Just bought an Ursack instead. Also have a BB Contender if hard sided is required.

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Re: sinking your food

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:13 am

I would worry about getting food wet. How would you sink it? A sealed bag may well float or only partially sink, and move back towards the shore. Other mammals who swim could also raid it. Sorry, but seems like more work and worry than worth it.

Years ago, as an experiment, I put a half full tuna can out on a rock near the shore in the Merced River up by Echo Valley. Next morning, it was still there. This only proved that no bear came around. At another location I put a trail bar inside a stinky sock and a few feet away put a small tube of toothpaste in a bag hung on a bush. The bear preferred the toothpaste! I am sure the bears know where every smelly human thing is; they are unpredictable and curious. Hard to say what strikes their fancy at any given time. I have even had a juvenile bear roll around the bear can until bored, then come to the tent with that "puppy look" that says "come play with me". I had to chase it off swinging trekking poles and yelling.

If you do a lot of shorter 2-3 day trips just buy one of these smaller bear cans.

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Re: sinking your food

Post by longri » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:40 am

The idea isn't new but, as you might guess, it's rarely done because it isn't practical for the average backpacker. I've never tried to assemble the gear to do it but I'll bet it doesn't end up saving you that much weight compared to a canister, unless you have a lot of food to sink.

I've only encountered it once. A group of people were giving away a large amount of food and beer in the backcountry and had sunk their cache in a nearby lake for refrigeration and safe-keeping from animals. I didn't see how they did it exactly but I would be surprised if they had any problems, particularly given the high elevation of the lake they used.

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longri
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Re: sinking your food

Post by longri » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:40 am

AlmostThere wrote:Bears that broke into kitchens in the Boy Scout camps ate the canned food. Explain to me how they know there is food in cans....
Bears can read. They don't use their eyes for this, they can spell out the words with their noses. Yes, their olfactory capabilities are that good. It's been demonstrated with carefully designed scientifically accurate experiments performed by website people. Look it up if you don't believe. On a good day a bear can smell what you're thinking and where your car keys are.

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Re: sinking your food

Post by John Harper » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:48 am

Wandering Daisy wrote: The bear preferred the toothpaste!
I was camping at Big Springs a few years ago. Apparently, a bear was visiting the campgrounds regularly at night. I brushed my teeth and forgot I left the toothpaste tube on the tailgate of my truck. Sure enough, I could hear him rummaging through camp later that night, even outside my tent. When I got up in the morning and I realized I'd forgotten the toothpaste tube. I never found any sign of it.

John

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John Harper
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Re: sinking your food

Post by John Harper » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:50 am

longri wrote:
AlmostThere wrote:Bears that broke into kitchens in the Boy Scout camps ate the canned food. Explain to me how they know there is food in cans....
Bears can read. They don't use their eyes for this, they can spell out the words with their noses. Yes, their olfactory capabilities are that good. It's been demonstrated with carefully designed scientifically accurate experiments performed by website people. Look it up if you don't believe. On a good day a bear can smell what you're thinking and where your car keys are.

I thought they used Google Maps to see what you left around your campsite?

John

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