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Canadian 12-04-2004 06:16 PM

Bear-Proof Meals
 
Hi all,

As many of you probably know, my favorite place to go hiking is Waterton National Park. It's less than 2 hours from my house and lightly populated. The problem is bears.

Every time I go, I hear some horror story from a camper about how he saw a bear 50 yards up the trail, or how there was a bear in his campsite. I even heard one whopper about how there was a bear just out of sight on a deserted trail. Sure, I've run into bear scats and claw marks, but never an actual bear.

The problem is that I never carry anything with a strong odour. I don't use soap the morning of my hike, I wash my kit in Tide Free (no perfumes), don't use fabric softener, etc. I just need to figure out some tasty meals that don't have any smell.

Some of my favorites are:
Snickers/Mars bars, Clif bars, powerbars, crispy treats, those sealed packs of chocolate cookies, twinkies, etc. Nothing has a terrific smell and nothing smells like meat.

Anybody got any suggestions to add. I've heard about wraps and bagels, but they seem too plain and flavourless. One fellow actually suggested a Tuna sandwich, but I fear that on deserted trails at 6AM in bear country, that might encourage some creative consumption by bears.

I'm not being overly paranoid. One of my professors walked over a mountain to be away from the bears once. 33km with a bad knee and hiking all night. There appear to be bears quite frequently in these parts, as the girls running the front gate are willing to admit.

Any suggestions?

Thomas

blackfly 12-04-2004 09:46 PM

Hi Thomas

This topic has been discussed many times. I'm sure if you do a search you will come up with lots.

It might help to know what kind of stuff you do. Overnights? Dayhikes?

I think wraps and stuff like that are a lot more flavourfull than Clif bars or powerbars! My current favorite lunch on a dayhike is a pepperoni inside a tortilla with hummous spread on the inside. Two or three of those makes a solid lunch! Add some granola bars and perhaps a mandarin orange or two for snacking, and you're all set.

Don't spend too much time worrying about bears - they don't want to see you just as much as you don't want to see them. In the winter season, a Gray Jay is a far more ferocious predator than a bear!;)

hikinguy 12-04-2004 10:02 PM

I havent had any run ins with bears in regards to food, always keep them up a tree or in a cash. My run ins with bears have been on the trails which I dont think had any reason to do with what food I was carrying. The only problems I had with food was anything and everything left within smelling distance of my dog. Once the damn thing ate 4 dehydrated meals in sealed packs. I think that if a dog can smell through those things a bear can...so in that case there aint much you can do to try and hide that smell. Try spraying yourself with pepper spray first.....that should do the trick[^]

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How do i sign this thing????

Canadian 12-05-2004 11:42 AM

Fair responses,

What exactly is hummous?

I remember this one time on the trail with my father, an elderly couple gave my father an orange because they were shocked that we were eating melba toast and cheese as the mainstay of our rations. Actually the cheese was in my father's lunch pack, I was eating melba toast alone (I'm not a huge cheddar fan). You just have to remember that my dad and I grew up eating basic foods.

Some of you have told me about sealed packs of salmon or tuna that come with crackers. I'll look into that.

Also, how about making a baked potato before you leave, wrapping it in tinfoil, then shrinkwrap, then eating it cold on the trail?

I only do dayhikes in the winter. It's been a few years since my last overnighter (which occured on the coldest weekend of the year when it happened).

Thanks,

Thomas





Kootskid 01-07-2021 08:33 AM

This is an ancient thread, but...
I have worked with conservation officers and hunters in my job as a wildlife educator. One thing is for certain, bears will smell your snickers bar and literally anything in your food bag. Studies suggest the surface area of a bears nose is 7x greater than that of a dogs, which is already something in the order of 10,000x greater than our pitiful human noses. Even if you can't smell it — a bear most definitely can!
Nothing is truly “bear proof” when it comes to food. They eat garbage in our communities where people aren't bear safe with their waste. It doesn't have to smell like meat to entice them either - they will seek to chew on plastic and anything with an interesting smell. Their evolutionary advantage is that they are foragers and scavengers in addition to being predators - the word to describe it is “opportunistic omnivore”. But just think of them as hardwired machines that will go to great lengths to discover new and interesting foods from basically anything that has a smell.
The advantage we have with wild bears is that they are likely too scared of you (if they are not habituated to the presence of humans) to bother you, and this fear outweighs their interest in your food. Proper food storage at night is critical because that's when a bear is most likely to feel safe enough to explore near your campsite.
Hope this helps educate any random thread visitors! Your safest strategy is just to choose meals that you like, but have a certified bear-resistant container for all your food and toiletries, and try to cook/clean and leave those things 1km away from your campsite where you sleep at night. When you go to bed, ASSUME a bear will visit your food stash overnight. If you have the proper storage measures, it should be able to smell the reward but will not get it with effort, and so it should get bored/discouraged and move along.
Obviously there are exceptions to the rules I'm sharing above, but there is a lot of great reading about safe travel in bear country out there so please, do your part to protect the wild nature of wildlife am be smart about you food storage :)

zeljkok 01-07-2021 02:55 PM

That's a great post Kootskid, and thank you for that.


Reading I had mental image of bear picking up food crumbs at Whitehorn tent site on Mount Robson trail few years ago. It had to be put away. Importance of proper food management in back-country, not just overnight camp sites, can not be overstated.

ColdBrook 01-09-2021 06:45 PM

The Ursack has come on the market since the OP, as an alternative to the bear canister.
I am not sure that it is fully satisfactory as a replacement because, being soft, it can be picked up or gripped and dragged away by a bear, whereas a hard-sided bear canister would pose more of a hindrance.

zeljkok, that is a sad story about the bear at Whitehorn. There are storage lockers, but I noticed the shelter had quite a colony of mice and flies, so that may be a bear attractant. Nowadays the trail sees many people, which may be more of a deterrent.
Completely agree about proper food management - anywhere.
Would avoid fish, though! In part because it is difficult to confine the oil and not carry odors or aerosol into tent

Jonathen Cooper 01-26-2021 02:02 AM

As far as fish goes, or any meat for that matter, don't cook near where you sleep if you are in known bear or cougar territory. A bit of hand sanitizer should get the oils completely off after washing your hands with camp soap. Never use Dawn or other soaps as they contain chemicals that are water and ground pollutants. The Ursack as I've seen it used was strung up in a tree 50 meters away from camp and I've yet to see anyone have any issue with it however, that being said, even if your food is up a tree, if a bear smells it and wants it they're going to get it. Once I was camping with my grandfather not far from Hells Gate at the mouth of the Fraser near Old Yale just North of Hope. We had salmon for dinner cooked in Tin Foil on the fire, burned the shit out of everything we cooked on and ate off of, and when we woke up in the morning there were cougar tracks all around our camp and a fresh half rotten half eaten salmon on the shore not 30 feet from our tent. Our cooler was tipped over and made a mess of but he didn't eat any of it he just tossed it around sniffing through the contents I guess but the fish was already gone. So yeah. I learned a couple valuable lessons that day. Had we washed out the cooler and maybe had gone somewhere other than our camp to prepare or fish it probably wouldn't have made a mess of our stuff. Neither of us woke up either cuz we were right next to a raging river. All the white noise just drowned out him tipping over our cooler.


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