camping in bear country

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by 69Desert300, Apr 2, 2017.

  1. 69Desert300

    69Desert300 n00b

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    I'm planning a road trip mid-May that's going to visit all the national parks in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California.

    I'm planning to camp in those relatively more remote free campsites that's along the forest roads, I understand that it's unlikely anything is going to happen but I'm still a little worried about bears.

    I've never camped in bear country before and I'm researching about what precautions should I take.

    I'm running into some questions:

    1. What's the smallest ranger-approved bear canister out there on the market? I'm not going to cook at all and I don't plan to bring any food to the campsite(will eat on the road) so I only need to store my water bottle(I heard it attracts bear) and first-aid kit.

    I'm looking for the smallest one because I don't think I have enough space to carry BearVault(the one REI sell), I also don't need a large one.

    2. this might be a stupid question but I'm not sure if the following items will attract bear
    - tubeless tire repair kit?
    - chain lube? if yes, wouldn't motorcycle chain attracts bear?
    - latex gloves ?
    - I'm not going to bring or use any toothpaste, I'm just going to use a plain toothbrush, will the toothbrush attract bear?
    - dirty clothes? (I don't plan to shower and will probably only change underwear once or twice a week, and throw them away after the trip, I'm going to wear everything else(jacket/t-shirt/pants...etc) for 20 days)
    - if I eat wearing my riding jacket and pants 4 hours before I go to sleep, do I need to store my riding jacket and pants away from my tent? If yes, how??? What about riding boots?
    - if I need to pee or take a dumb, do I need to do it far away from my campsite? Will those attract bear?

    I will buy and carry bear spray with me
    #1
  2. KD9SR

    KD9SR Adventurer

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    I don't have a the answers, but I have a few suggestions.
    Try toothpaste powder. Little or no scent.
    Bears LOVE deodorant

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    #2
  3. KD9SR

    KD9SR Adventurer

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    If you get a bear can, cover it with reflective tape. Then if/when the bear gets it and hauls it off, you can find it using a flashlight. They usually give up quickly and dont carry them off too far. Also, look into some synthetic or superwool undergarments. Easy to wash, dry in minutes, and hold less odor.

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  4. froger

    froger Been here awhile

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    I hear people use airhorn's, and another noisemaker I'm not familiar with. Guess they work good.

    I have camped my whole life in black bear country. Snacks in the bag's, don't walk a mile to piss, never had a problem. You'd just about have to leave a pizza on your bike to have black bear trouble. Oh course I'd not camp by any five acre berry patch's either.

    Oregon has no grizzly bears, camp anywhere you want. Don't think Washington or California have either, but am not sure. Don't know about Colorado. But Wyoming, Montana, and part's of Idaho have them.

    I'd never bring food into the tent, but your riding gear or dirty clothing's not going to hurt anything.

    In grizzly country, rely on spray and noisemakers, or stay in campgrounds. But if it's just black bears, use a little common sense and you can camp most anywhere. Some, no doubt will think different, but black bears have left me and everyone I know alone.
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  5. Lycan1

    Lycan1 Grizzly herder

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    I have camped in a tent in Bear country for five decades.

    [​IMG]

    I keep my toiletries, such as toothpaste deodorant and shampoo in a heavy duty freezer ziplock bag. It stays in one of my hard saddlebags along with any dried or canned food. I never put clothes or sleeping gear in the same saddle bag. The other one stores that stuff.

    I cook at my campsite but clean dishes away from camp, usually a lake or river. I almost always camp near one or the other.

    Clothes that you cook in should never go into the tent.

    My saddlebags stay on the bike and I park away from my tent. If it is really remote I will store the food storage saddle bag away from camp, sometimes pulled up on a rope in a tree but most times just well away in the bush. So far no bears have been interested.

    My boots stay with the bike, upside down over the mirrors. Keeps them dry and doesn't stink up the tent. This is for my sake not the bear's.

    I carry bear spray and keep it with me on my hip. I also have a marine air horn that is pump rechargeable. Good for scaring away more than bears.

    I have had bears wander through my camp, one even nudged me through the tent. That was scary but I'm still here. I still camp in their territory, in a tent.

    Just be careful, sensible and develop good ingrained habits and you will be fine.

    Taking a leak in the bushes on the outskirts of your camp won't get the bears excited. As for the other, look after that before heading to the camp at the end of the day. Leave shitting in the woods to the bears.

    Your water bottle should not be a problem either. I use a hydration pack and leave it on the bike at night. The bears that have walked past ignored it.

    When I camp I make sure I have at least 3 liters of water in my pack, it gives me enough to make coffee and oatmeal for breakfast and enough to brush my teeth and wash up in the morning. I refill using a special filter if I fill from a lake or river.
    #5
  6. pranajerni

    pranajerni Been here awhile

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    Like you said in your second paragraph it is very unlikely you will run into any problems especially if you are camping outside the national parks. Several of the states you mention do not have griz and most have a spring bear hunting season. For the most part in remote areas where people are not seen as a food source they are afraid, especialy outside the parks.

    It sounds like most of the information you've gleaned is from the parks [yosimite and yellowstone] that have had major black bear problems in the past or griz activity. Those two plus the Tetons are the only places bears would even cross my mind while wild camping in the states you mention.

    The answer to all of your questions is NO. And come on you should bring tooth paste, take showers, stop by a laundry and not wear underware.

    An alternative to a canister would be para cord and a bag strung properly in the air [small and light]. doubt you will be camping above tree line anywhere that time of year and if so there wont be any bears up there.

    or you could easily make a canister from pvc gathered at any local hardware store put together for the specs you have space for.

    or just stay at a campground in the park and use their bear box if your as concerned as you sound.
    plak 42?
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  7. BgDadddy

    BgDadddy Spectacular!!

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    I spent a few weeks camping in Montana a few years back. I bought a 10mm pistol and carried it everywhere I went. Even for the morning poop. I never saw the first bear the whole time.
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  8. txndncowboy

    txndncowboy Adventurer

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    Shows you where my mind is. I read the title as...camping in beer country. Probably just as dangerous.:D
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  9. Bugzy

    Bugzy 2014 VStrom DL1000a

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    As is usual, the only media you read about, is about bears attacking people, you never read about the millions of people camping every year that never even see one, don't stress about it too much.

    An air horn, bear spray, bear bangers, a knife. Keep food away from your tent. You could go all paranoid and install a perimeter alarm around your tent, it is just a wire with a pull pin that sounds really loud when it goes off, scare the crap out of the bear and likely you too, the only problem with those is if it is just a moose, goat, or deer, which is far more likely.
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  10. froger

    froger Been here awhile

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    I used to camp in grizzly territory. Then one morning I found a giant turd on the road that wasn't there the night before. Now I usually campground in griz's turf.

    But around the National park's, I might give it a try. There are many campgrounds in the National forest's outside Yellowstone. Somewhere nearby should be nearly as safe. A winter snowmobile trail once made me a good camp. Was maybe ten miles from the west entrance. The forest outside northeast Yellowstone is good camping, and not that crowded.
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  11. Boricua

    Boricua Been here awhile

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    Been hiking, camping, and riding in Colorado, UT, and NM for 20 years. I've seen a bear once in a wilderness area about 8 miles from a paved road and it was a quarter mile away from a trail. Follow the general guidelines and not worry about it. With black bears just remember they are more afraid of you than you are of them. However, hunger can trump fear with them. Keep food and trash away from your camp and your bike. A bear can pull the door of a car from its hinges so hard panniers are no match for them.

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  12. ToothDocJay

    ToothDocJay Been here awhile

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    Sure, the smell of food will attract a bear but the truth is that anything that smells "unusual" to a bear may attract it.

    I had a close encounter with a young grizzly many years ago, and we had nothing in our tent or in the area that would qualify as "food". Just sleeping bags and clothing (and a shotgun thank God). The bear was beach combing and got directly upwind of us and made a bee line straight to our tent simply because he smelt something different and went to investigate. Unfortunately for the bear, we had to use the shot gun.

    Honestly, after my experience I'm very bear aware but you should be good just taking the simple precautions that others mentioned, especially the air horn and/or bear spray. There's simply no way you can eliminate all odors from your camp. In most case they will simply pass you by, in the rare case they might snoop around (curiosity) and leave, and very, very rarely will anything else happen.
    #12
  13. Turtletownman

    Turtletownman Been here awhile

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    The UrSack is smaller than a canister. It is acceptable to some national parks, but not all. Florida National Forests do not accept it as bear safe. Over sixty plus years of camping I left a jar of peanut butter on the picnic table with a loaf of bread once and went hiking. When we returned to campsite, the lid was off the jar with deep claw marks, the jar was laying on the gravel, the loaf of bread was untouched and the inside of the peanut butter still showed the marks from the serrated knife I used to spread it. We saw no more evidence of any animal that night. I've been awakened by a racoon, drunk campers and generators but never by a bear.

    Bob
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  14. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Avoid getting the smell of food on anything that goes in the tent, including toothpaste. You shouldn't keep that stuff on the bike either, since it could cause the bear to damage the bike. Yeah, I would shit at least 200 feet from camp. The bears are worse where lots of tourists have left food out and trained the bears to not fear people. In most of California (excluding Yosemite) the bears are pretty fearful of humans.

    As far as storing food, a canister is just way too bulky for a motorcycle. Developed campgrounds in National Parks will probably have bear boxes in each camp site. If you are camping in a remote place, you are on your own.

    I like the method used by hikers, since it only requires a rope and bag. Put your food on one end, and a weight (small log) on the other. Use a long stick to get them equal and out of reach.

    [​IMG]

    National Forests have lots of good places for "dispersed camping". I didn't see a lot of that near Yellowstone, but there was a nice lakeside campground between Tetons and Yellowstone called Lizard Lake Campground.
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  15. White Raven

    White Raven Adventurer

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    In Addition: May is when Bears waking up. They will be feeding on grass first. Old and two year old Grizzlies sometimes come close looking for easy food.... If you see cubs best run because your life is in Danger... Tie food in tree / don't leave scented belongings on bikes great advise from above....
    l'm heading out May also. {before all the bugs} First stop is Port Hardy where a man had his head chewed off by Grizzly last week.. l will take ferry to Bella Coolla.. l will stay in controlled camp four nights as explore area. Then up freedom pass 5000 feet to Mckenzie for night. Then 5 hours north on trail roads to a Native Community on lake... From there back down twisty Duffy Lake road after Clinton.... Who knows by then...

    Have fun, ride safe....
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  16. Gripsteruser

    Gripsteruser Got a handle on it

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    This is my biggest issue - habituated bears. Never had problems when backpacking because I've gone to rarely used places but car-camping campgrounds are where dumbasses teach the bears where the food is. I skipped a group campout. On return the group reported that dumbass Larry left his cooler out for the day and that a blackie the size of a Volkswagen got into it. And the bear completely ignored the screeching of the primates around him as he ate the steaks. Also ignored a warning pistol shot (so I'm told).
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  17. PNWet

    PNWet Been here awhile

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    I camp in bear country, and prefer to hang my stuff that has a scent (any toiletries, cooking stuff, food, etc). I use the PCT Bear Bag technique. Here's a link to read more on it: http://www.wehikedit.com/pct-bear-bag-hang.html

    Some established campsites actually have bear-proof vaults for overnight storage of things that attract bears.

    Other places require bear canisters. I don't camp at those places.

    And, carry some bear spray. Not your typical OC used for 'self defense' or even the law enforcement strength stuff. Get some real bear spray.

    Finally, employ the bear triangle strategy. Basically, sleep at one point on the triangle, 100 yards away on a second point can be the cooking area, and 100 yards away at the third point on the triangle can be where you hang or store your food. More here: http://www.wideopenspaces.com/9-ways-help-make-campsite-bear-proof/
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  18. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    I also read that the human pepper spray is illegal in Canada, while the stuff that is labeled "bear spray" is accepted, so that is another reason to get the real deal. It is also designed to spray much farther.

    [​IMG][​IMG] [​IMG]
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  19. anaheimtex

    anaheimtex Been here awhile

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    Done a few camping trips in Maine (off topic a bit) and woke to find bear tracks outside my tent. A few nose prints on the dew on the outside of my tent. During one bow hunting trip in the fall, I hiked down a logging road with an inch or so of snow on the ground. When I walked out there was bear tracks over mine. Scary thing was the bear was only about a hundred feet behind me and I saw when it took off from the road. Guess it explained why I did not bag anything. Talked to a ranger later about the incident. He told me black bears were like raccoons. Very curious and annoying. I know nothing of grizzly bears. Those worry me.
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  20. anaheimtex

    anaheimtex Been here awhile

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    I like their add. " use bear spray. An angry bear will kill you quicker".
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