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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

Ask A Bear: Do I Need to Bear-Bag Unopened Freeze-Dried Foods?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Q: Is it necessary to bear bag freeze-dried food if the package is not opened?—Rob, via email

A: You humans...always wanting to take the easy way out. Truth is, even if a package of freeze-dried food hasn't been opened, there are a few reasons why you'll want to store it in a bear bag or canister anyway.

The first is the pure acuteness of my nose. I smell up to seven times better than a bloodhound, and 2,300 better than you. Plain and simple, I possess one of the most powerful noses on earth, and I can detect scents through all manner of odor barriers. Packages come in variable grades, and not all are odor-proof. Plus, it's likely you stored your packaged food with snacks or other things that might leave a scent for me to investigate on the exterior.

Even if you buy and use a high-grade, 100-percent-odor-proof bag, there are some compelling reasons not to skip the canister or bear bag. My naturally curious nature means I might investigate a freeze-dried package anyway, and the situation gets worse if I'm a habituated bear with any experience or contact with humans. I might've learned that humans carry around various packages that contain tasty goodness, and I may attempt to investigate them regardless of smell. Better not to give me any chance of finding a reward—it's bad for you, and potentially catastrophic for me.

So remember: Bag it or can it. I know it can be a pain in the butt, but if you can cut a bear a break and go that extra step, I'm way appreciative. I'll reward you by keeping my distance and sticking to fish and berries—where you can hopefully see me from afar.


—BEAR

Got a question for the bear? Send it to askabear@backpacker.com.

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Dan King
Jun 04, 2011

If I ever see Steve camping, I think I will pour blueberry syrup all over his tent and clothes. Jeez, some people...

Bill
Jan 25, 2011

Steve, I also doubt that you are that lucky in Yosemite. First of all even if you don't have a bear encounter what about the next camper in your now odorous camp site. Hopefully next time you have your spread scattered around camp the back-country ranger will educate you with a fine. Bear cans are mandatory in Yosemite for the protection of both humans and animals.

My second thought is how much food is left after the little critters finish. You can't tell me that the ground squirrels, pica and marmots respect you boundaries so much that they leave you along.

This sounds like a nice fantasy. I hope you're never camped near me.

Irishman
Oct 08, 2010

Really Steve? Really?? I bet you are just trying to raise people's hackles here. You would never be able to get away with it that long in Glacier...

steve
Oct 07, 2010

kj,
tempting fate?
i care.
fort knox?
common sense?
it seems you checked yours at the keyboard.
enjoy the hike!
enjoy the wilderness!
relax kj!

steve
Oct 07, 2010

kj,
tempting fate?
i care.
fort knox?
common sense?
it seems you checked yours at the keyboard.
enjoy the hike!
enjoy the wilderness!
relax kj!

Scott
Oct 07, 2010

I like how Mr. Bear says he will stick to fish and berries, when all my backpacking envolves fly fishing. So either way I will be more likely to be visited than most, that is why I carry bear spray.

KJ
Oct 07, 2010

It just takes one time Steve. It seems as though you're tempting fate on purpose. Besides, why take a chance that a bear will get into your food and get sick. Do you not care about that either?. I'm not saying you need to drag Fort Knox around with you to keep food safe but there is this thing called common sense..................

EpicObsession.com
Oct 07, 2010

We really enjoy your blog. Thanks for the advice Bear.

steve
Oct 07, 2010

i disagree with mr. bear on this one. i bp extensively in glacier, yellowstone, yosemite etc. i leave my food out in the kitchen, next to my tent and leave some in my tent, open, unprotected, fully visable and smellable to all grizzlies, black and browns. i have never had a problem in 36 years of bping. i think that bears are attracted to cannisters and bags. i've had others near me with cannisters where the bear spends all night trying to get it open. i wake up once or twice to the frustrated grunts of mr or mrs bear then go back to sleep. you people are overthinking this. just go for it! you will be surprised. enjoy the hike, enjoy the wilderness!

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