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Food storage & protection

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Food protection techniques in bear country

By Andrew Skurka / December 20, 2011 /

Disclaimer. Ultimately you need to make your own decisions on how to protect your food in bear country. And you are fully responsible for the outcomes of those decisions. In this article I have tried to be candid and realistic, and to cut through some of the BS, red tape, and conventional wisdom that surrounds…

Interview with Ursack CEO: Yosemite food regs, lobbying, & new products

By Andrew Skurka / September 20, 2016 /

Among bear-resistant food containers certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC), the Ursack S29.3 AllWhite is easily my favorite. It weighs just 8 oz, or 80 percent less than my BearVault BV500, which has the same volume. It’s also $10 less. And, Unlike plastic or carbon fiber canisters, it’s soft-sided and collapsible, and as comfortable to…

Buyers guide: Bear canisters || Comparison of volume per weight & cost

By Andrew Skurka / March 29, 2018 /

During the day, properly protecting food is as simple as not leaving it (or a backpack full of it) unattended. The conversation about overnight food protection is longer and more nuanced. Multiple techniques can be used; regulations vary by location; and misinformation and poor practices are abundant. In this post I will focus on one specific food…

Not bear- or idiot-proof: Documented canister failures

By Andrew Skurka / April 7, 2018 /

At least most of the time, hard-sided canisters like the BearVault BV500 successfully protect food from bears and “mini-bears” in the backcountry. But it turns out that they’re not 100 percent bear- or idiot-proof. Recently, I received a spreadsheet that documented 199 food-related bear incidents with backpackers in Yosemite National Park between July 2012 and…

Tutorial || How to store & protect food from bears & mini-bears

By Andrew Skurka / December 20, 2018 /

You’ve set up camp for the night and cooked dinner. Now what should be done with the Snickers, salami, peanut noodle dinners, and the other calories that will sustain you for the remainder of your backpacking trip? Protect from what? Most backpackers seem to protect their food overnight because they’re worried about bears. In places…

Admission: Yes, I sleep with my food

By Andrew Skurka / December 21, 2018 /

In a post yesterday I shared my recommended food storage techniques. Some readers responded skeptically to my fifth method — sleeping with it — so I thought I’d discuss it more fully. I’m intentional about when and where I’ll do it, and I don’t have a death wish. First, a disclaimer Sleeping with your food seems riskier than…

Long-term review: LOKSAK OPSAK || Food storage enhancer

By Andrew Skurka / January 5, 2019 /

LOKSAK OPSAK bags are made of heavy-duty plastic and have a hermetic seal. When closed, the bag is airtight, waterproof, and odor-proof (the “OP” in OPSAK). On some trips, I use the 12″ x 20″ size ($6, 1.5 oz) as a lone food sack or as a liner inside a wildlife-resistant Ursack. I also like the 9″…

Ineffective & outdated: Six reasons to not hang a bear bag

By Andrew Skurka / January 10, 2019 /

Bear bags are a stubborn fixture of the backpacking world. Hanging is recommended, taught, and practiced by influential organizations and individuals even though it is less effective, less foolproof, less reliable, less efficient, and less safe than other food protection techniques, notably hard-sided canisters and (to a lesser degree) soft-sided bear-resistant food sacks. I have not…

Reader Q: Where should I put my bear canister or Ursack at night?

By Andrew Skurka / January 15, 2019 /

In a comment to my recent post about the ineffectiveness of bear bags and recommended alternatives, reader Jim N. asked, I received a similar question via email from David N., so a standalone post on the issue seems warranted. But to give a more comprehensive answer, I’ll broaden the question to: Official recommendations Let’s first look…

Current food storage regulations for Rocky Mountain National Park

By Andrew Skurka / October 15, 2019 /

For the 2019 season, Rocky Mountain National Park made a significant revision to its wilderness food storage regulations, giving backpackers a new option that is lighter and more user-friendly than the hard-sided canisters that have been required since 2014. To date, the park has not consistently or widely communicated this policy change on its website…