How to Set Up a Bear Bag

To be bear-proof, food must be suspended at least 10 feet off the ground and 8 feet from the trunk. To accomplish this: Carry 50-100 feet of thin cord.

  1. Look for a load-bearing branch 20-25 feet overhead that extends far enough from the trunk.
  2. Tie a rock or other heavy object to one end of the cord and toss it over the branch. Before doing so, make sure the cord is fully uncoiled and not a snarled mass. Step on the opposite end of the line so it doesn’t get pulled out of reach in the tossing process.
  3. Divide your food into two stuff sacks.
  4. Attach one to the cord and pull it up to the branch.
  5. Attach the other sack to the cord as high up as you can reach. A small carabiner makes this easier; tie a figure-eight on a bight overhead and then clip the sack to it.
  6. Place the remaining cord inside the sack so it doesn’t dangle.
  7. Push up the second stuff sack using a trekking pole or long stick until it is at the same level as the first.
  8. Sleep well!

This column originally appeared in the print edition of AMC Outdoors along with the column “Gnawing Concerns: Critter-proof your food.” Photograph by iStock.


About the Author…

Matt Heid


Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.

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