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Readers’ Best Advice: Better Bear Bagging

january 2010 bear bag illo 445(Illustration by Supercorn)

I like the counterbalance method, but the last step in the instructions—“use a stick to push one bag of food up and counterbalance the bags”—is virtually impossible. Here’s an easier way. 


1) Put a rock in a stuffsack, then attach it to a 60-foot-long nylon rope with a carabiner. Toss the rock and rope over a 20-foot-high branch. 


2) Put your food into stuffsacks and divide them into two equal piles. Clip the rope to the first set of stuffsacks, but before hoisting them up into the air, run half of a thinner, 60-foot-long cord through the carabiner. 


3) Hoist the first set of stuffsacks to the top of the branch. Clip the other set of stuffsacks to the rope with another carabiner. Pack any extra rope in the stuffsack, then tie a loop at the end of the rope. Leave this loop hanging out of the bag.


4) Now comes the easier part: Grab both ends of the cord and pull the first set of stuffsacks down until the two piles of food are equidistant above the ground, at least 10 feet high. 


5) Separate the two ends of the cord, draping each end over a shrub. Don’t tie the cord to anything. Bears have yet to figure out how to put both ends of the cord together to pull down the food bags. And if a bear yanks the cord out of the carabiner (this happened to me!), you can use a stick or pole to catch the loop you left hanging out of the second set and pull your food down. 


Cheryl Knapp, Escondido, CA


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