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Thread: Backpacking question

  1. #1

    Default Backpacking question

    I am curious as to how you guys and gals deal with carrying food in the Chugach area when on backpacking trips? Specifically what do you do with your food if you are above tree line; any options other than Bear Proof Canisters? Is there a convenient place to rent canisters in between
    Anchorage and Girdwood?
    I will be backpacking along the Crow Pass trail area in a couple weeks and am having some problems deciding how to store my food at night. My biggest hang up with the Bear Proof Containers are their bulk and cost. Any suggestions or testimonials would be helpful.

    Also curious as to how often bears hang out above tree line? Doesn't seem like they really would as their sources of food would be pretty limited.

  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Eagle River, AK


    If you're an REI member, I would check with them about canister rentals.

    As for me, I have never used a canister. I pack my food in a mostly airtight bag, and then I sleep lightly with a gun close by. I know this isn't the textbook advice, but I don't worry about it too much. Bear encounters might happen, but I'm not going to carry a canister.

    As for bears and treeline, you might be surprised. I have often camped just above treeline on the first night of a Crow Pass hike and spent the evening counting bears. We always see at least a few above treeline rooting around in the rocks and grass. One year we had a young bear that kept coming into camp all night long, but typically they leave us alone. Below treeline we hang our food in bags from tall tree limbs at night.

  3. #3
    New member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    Hi Max,

    In addition to a bear canister or firearms, there is a kevlar sack that has an odor proof liner that is supposedly bear proof. The sack compresses as you consume your food and is not too heavy. It's called an ursack. It's somewhat controversial but many people swear by them. You can read more about them here:

    Good luck! I'm looking forward to hearning more about your backpacking trips.

  4. #4


    I do all three. I have the BearVault container, the ursack and I have the food near me with "protective devices" real close. I also have a dog who alerts me when the "Boogie man" is nearby So I've never really worry about bears in camp. I consider the ursack a minimal bear protection bordering on worthless (IMHO). the Bearvault I think is the best bear protection of the 3 or so containers but its heavy and it takes up space. I guess I usually take the bearvault when camping with Mrs funhog or friends. when by myself I take the minimalist approach. I suppose it depends on your fear threshold and attitude towards safety. Personally I feel safer in the mountains than I do in town.

  5. #5


    I use a bearikade canister. It's mostly to protect the food from mice & other critters. Canisters aren't all that bad; all of my food, toothpaste, and other aromatic items go in there, and once I close it I don't have to worry about anything. Renting is a good way to go if you can't decide if you'd like them; there are a lot of models out there, and you'll find that some are difficult to use or too heavy. I went with bearikade because they're the lightest for their size, but they really are expensive.

    Some packs won't hold a canister very well. Sometimes they'll fit in the bottom where the sleeping bag normally goes, but often they'll fit on the outside somewhere. I think ursacks are more popular than canisters, but mice can chew through them from the anecdotes I've heard. Plus they do need trees to hang from to be really effective.
    Tsimshian tribe, wolf clan, the house of Walsk.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Valdez, AK


    I use both canisters and an Ursack. It just depends on the conditions. I like using the Ursack if I can hang it or tie it around a big rock. I have not had any mice or bear issues while using my Ursack. The makers are pretty specific about what knots to tie and how to use the sack so that it is bearproof and I follow those to a tee. When there have been problems with the Ursack it is because people are not following directions.

    While guiding in Yosemite and backpacking on the Olympic Coast I have used the canisters that the NPS rents and they have done fine. They are bulky and hard to pack but they are the easiest bearproof canisters.



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