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.'
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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

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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