Even if you are hiking in an area that doesn’t require a bear canister, it is always a good idea to bring a devoted food bag and a way to hang it off the ground. If actual bears aren’t a threat, there are plenty of other animals that won’t hesitate to burrow into your gear to find the goodies. Not only will you loose your snacks, but your gear can get damaged.
Search for videos explaining how to hang a bear bag from a tree branch, using the “PCT” method.
All you need to hang your bag is a small carabiner, some cordage, and a rock. You can piece meal these parts, or purchase a handy kit like the one below, which includes an ultralight carabiner, a rock/sand sack, and very strong and light weight cord.
The following are the stats and my humble opinions on the only bear bag kit I’ve ever used on the trail:
Total Weight of all components: 3.4 ounces (96 grams)
Bag Flat Dimensions: 17″ wide x 19.5″ tall (43 cm x 50 cm)
Bag Full Dimensions: 11″ wide by 6″ deep by 13″ tall (28 cm x 15 cm x 33 cm)
Volume: 850 cubic inches / 14 Liters
The Kit includes:
Roll Top Food Bag – 1.5 ounces (43 grams)
50 feet of 2 mm Z-Line Slick cord – 1.7 ounces (48 grams)
Rock Sack: .1 ounce (2.8 grams)
Mini Carabiner: .1 ounce (2.8 grams)
One day of my pre-planned daily “menu” for the Florida Trail weighed 1.52 pounds with the gallon ziploc weight (0.02lb) included. I was able, with careful planning and effecient positioning, to fit 7 days worth of food into this 14 Liter cuben fiber bag. The total weight of this load was 12.48 pounds.
The food bag never felt over packed or over stressed at the strap, buckle, seams, or attachment points. Neither did the 2 mm Z-Line Slick cord. The cord swiftly and smoothly hauled up 12.48 pounds to nestle near the hang branch. Knots were easy to tie and never fell out.
The Zpacks Bear Bag Kit comes with a rock sack that you can fill with a small rock or loose soil or sand, and then toss over a tree limb. The old school way is to just find a rock on the ground and tie one end of your rope around it, but a small cuben fiber sack doesn’t weigh too much and does make the chore easier. The rock sack was handy in sandy, rockless soil since you can fill it with ballast of any kind if no rocks are around, however I would probably leave the rock sack at home and just tie my line around a stone unless I know I wont be able to find one at my campsite.
You can find mini carabiners everywhere these days, but I assume Zpacks brands itself on a higher quality metal than would be used on something you purchase in the Walmart Checkout line. That said, most every outdoor cottage company will sell a similar quality version. When you buy this bear kit, though, they are essentially free.
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