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Backpacking food storage

In an area where there are bears, but a canister isn't required, what do you use to store food? Also, I rarely hike where there are bears, but there are plenty of other crumb lovers. Raccoons, possums, foxes, coyotes, mice, squirrels, ground squirrels, etc. 

I've considered ratsacks, opsak in a ratsack, opsak in a dry bag, ziplock in a ratsack or dry bag, etc. 

Presently I'm using a dry bag and just hanging it, not necessarily "bear hang" if I'm not in a bear area.

Just wondered what everyone else is using......


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7 Replies

Hey there @SILHiker , happy new year!

I switched to an ursack for times when I was a tad worried about bears and tree hangs would be a hassle, now I've gotten pretty lazy and just use it all the time.  I'll probably never use my canister unless it's required, it's just too heavy.

I don't use anything for scents in the ursack and so far, knock on wood, have lucked out.


REI Member Since 1979

Cool pics.



I have not backpacked since 2017.  Needed to get a tent and a couple other items.  That I did not have to worry about before.  You can use Philmont provided tents at the Philmont Scout Ranch and the troop and Scouting friends had tents.

So, as with other items most of my backpacking was prepping for a Philmont trek and the way Philmont prefers to do things.  Philmont uses bear bags which they provide (and is also used for carrying your crew meals).  Everything that is smellable (including containers taht have had flavored drinks in them) gets hung up.  Philmont strings mettle cable between two trees and you hang the bear bags in the middle of that span.

We don't tend to use a lot of that here in Ohio.  I am looking at LOKSAK's Opsak Odor-proof bags for use here to help deter other critters (like chipmunks).

I do know that there are plenty of parks (around the states) that require you use the provided bear lockers and others require bear canisters (even certainly bear canisters; I believe that a bear or some bears in the Adirondaks have figured out how to open certain bear canisters).


Like you, just a dry sack, but I do use a bear hitch for hanging.   Easy and fun, especially all the laughs I get while trying to get the cord over the tree limb!  Skilman Bear Hitch.JPG

Retired medical technologist and engineer
REI member since 1978
Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Pretty cool method, but just too complicated and too much work for me. I would rather just carry the extra pound or 2 you get with a bear can. After a long day of hiking, it's nice to just be able to toss it on the ground and go to sleep.


We just hang a dry bag in bear areas.   And same in other areas with the other critters. There is to much invested in the gear to let some little critter gnaw it into retirement.   So, anything that smells, hangs. 

Some folks will go to the length, (almost said 'extreme') of cooking food well away, 100' away from where they are camping/sleeping.   I've thought this might be a good idea, to really eliminate the temptations for critters.    But in the Smokies, along the AT, the shelters are notorious for the mice.   A few crumbs in a pocket and in the morning you've got a hole.  



Just a stuff sack with a plastic bag liner, and either hang for bears or pile pots/pans on top so you wake up and scare off the bears if they come around and knock things over.