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Will I need a bear canister on the AT?

Hey, Hope all is well and everyone is safe!

I have a small question and was in need of a bit of help from more experienced hikers that have done the AT. I'm about to go on the AT from Neel gap to sassafras gap. My question is if I would need a canister to store my food or will hanging the food be good? I've heard both sides but I wanted to ask someone a bit more knowledgeable in the subject and trail. So I came to REI!

9 Replies

@Jcastillo716, to answer the question - no.  hanging or an ursack will be fine.  But I doubt seriously that any of the thru hikers do so, maybe in great smokey mtns NP.

I mean, there are lots of bears, but with all the folks on the AT, you may not see any

REI Member Since 1979

Thanks for the help!


I believe that a bear canister is required if you're going to camp around Blood Mountain, but I think that's the only stretch that actually requires one.

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Thanks for the help and I put on the matter appreciate it 🤙🏽


Seem to be a couple of places where bear cans are required if you camp there...

here is the official notice...ursacks are not approved...has to be a hard sided container

Also this article ...

which claims bear cans are required in these areas

  • the Shining Rock Wilderness
  • Black Balsam
  • Sam's Knob and
  • Flat Laurel Creek

here is the official notice...

I don't know how much of the AT passes through those areas.


@OldGuyot @nathanu @Jcastillo716  probably best to just call that ranger district, the posted reg only goes thru 2016, and the webpage itself is 2018, according to that page's calendar of events, just saying..



REI Member Since 1979

Yeah it is hard to tell if it is still in effect...why I tried to track down the official notices.   Calling the ranger district for the latest is best. 

Thanks for the help and the image it is of big help! 🤙🏽


Amazing links and time put into my question! Thank you for your genuine help and time invested into helping my trip be a little safer.