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Backpacker Magazine – December 1997

Homemade Bear Bag

A homemade bear bag will make sure your provisions stay safe from hungry critters.

by: Jonathan Dorn, BACKPACKER Editor-in-Chief

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Bear bags make a world of sense, and not just as a foil to hungry bruins. There's a slew of furred and feathered animals who'd like nothing better than to separate you from your precious eats. Just ask the famished Boy Scouts who lost their plump sack of snacks midway through a 10-day outing in New York's Adirondacks. Or the weekend warrior whose tropical trail mix disappeared from beneath his pillow during a midnight raid by two brazen chipmunks. Or any park ranger who deals with problem bears.

Many of us simply toss our food into a plastic grocery bag or backpack, neither of which is a match for kleptomaniacal critters or bad weather. There's a better way, though. With a spare stuff sack, some scraps from your gear closet, and a needle and thread, you can fashion a light, reliable, fully waterproof bear bag.

The beauty in this basic design is the handles, which help you comfortably tote your supplies to a distant tree, and then simplify the matter of pulling the load skyward. A finishing flourish of waterproofing treatment staves off soggy food syndrome.

Here's how the finished product works: Loop your rope over a suitable limb, clip a carabiner to the rope and the bag's handles, and yank. The bag will hang upside down, which keeps rainwater from dribbling through the mouth of the stuff sack.

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