One of the most important things to remember while camping in an area that is occupied by bears is...dun dun dun, they LOVE food. Bears are go-getters and will do anything to obtain food, especially if it's easy to acquire. Bears learn, just like your pet (if you have one), if you eat in a certain area they'll learn to lurk around to look for scraps. Some bears that live around campgrounds become bold and threatening to get food and will go for enough to damage property. When you think about property it's just not a dumpster or a trash can, they'll damage cars, and even try to enter your tent. No one wants a bear inside their tent. So keep food out of it.
Below are some things that bears are drawn to:
- FOOD. If you eat it, they'll eat it too
- Pet Food. No kibbles and bits
- Garbage. One mans trash is another's bears food.
- Any type of cooking oil
- Canned food and beverages.
- Toothpaste. Yes...because it's an unfamiliar and has an interesting smell
- Urine. Pee at least 200 ft away. Separate from anything else e.g: washing area, cooking area, food hanging area, sleeping area.
*For all the items above, you want to have them at least 200ft away from each other*
To correctly hang a bear bag, you're going to need the following items:
- At least 100-150ft. of rope or parachute cord
- 1-2 carabiners
- A bag, preferably something waterproof and large enough to hold all trash, food, and smell-ables.
As mentioned above, the ideal place to for your bear bag is 200ft away from your sleeping area. A bear bag rig is really simple, once you are far enough from your camp, find a suitable tree (long branch, and tall) to hang your items from. Now you are going to need some weight on your rope to get it over a branch. You can use a rock, small heavy log, a sock filled with rocks, stuff sack, pretty much anything that's weighted and can be easily tied to. Most importantly, remember to be careful when you're tossing something heavy over your head, it can bounce back and hit you and anyone around you.
After you get your rope over a branch you can add a carabiner to attach it or just tie it on. Once that is done, pull the bag up to a safe height and anchor your rope.
All in all, setting up a bear bag rig isn't rocket science but can require some practice. You can do this in your backyard or at your local park, heck you can even take someone with you and show them how to do it. Even though it might sound easy, after a long day of hiking and disappearing daylight, it can get difficult and frustrating. Therefore, make it a priority when you first reach your campsite and begin to hang the rig up.
TIP: When you are in bear country, be mindful of the odors you make around your campsite and wipe onto your clothes. You want to avoid covering yourself with "bear perfume."