Introduction: Protect Your Food From Bears Using Paracord

Picture of Protect Your Food From Bears Using Paracord

I've been going on a backpacking trip with my dad every summer since I was 4 years old and one of my strongest memories was making a "bear hang" to store our food.  It keeps your food off the ground and safe from bears and other animals.  The places we backpack now usually require bear canisters, but this year we made one to store our toothbrushes and sunscreen until we had space in our bear canisters.

Step 1: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need

To make a bear hang, you will need:
-a tall branch
-two bags (sleeping bag stuff-sacks work well)
-a very long length of paracord
-a rock that is a good size for throwing

Step 2: Branch Selection

Picture of Branch Selection

You will want to find a branch that is very high off the ground and sticks out pretty far from the tree.  It's also good if it doesn't have a lot of smaller branches sticking off of it for the paracord to snag on.

Step 3: Getting the Paracord Over the Branch

Picture of Getting the Paracord Over the Branch

Wrap one end of the paracord around the rock several times like you would wrap a present and secure with a double knot.  It doesn't matter too much, as long as the rock won't slip out and you are able to untie the paracord.  Secure the other end of the paracord so it doesn't all slip over the branch.  You can tie it to another rock, a belt loop, or have someone hold it.  Give the rock a big heave in the general direction of your branch.  Fortunately, my dad is sporty and has good aim!  Once you have the paracord over the branch, you can untie the rock and put it back in its natural habitat.

Step 4: Attach Your Bags of Food (or Whatever)

Picture of Attach Your Bags of Food (or Whatever)

Fill your two bags with food, or whatever you are trying to keep safe.  Make one bag slightly heavier to make it easier for the paracord to slide over the branch.  Tie the heavier bag to one end of the paracord and hoist it high, almost to the branch.  When that bag is off the ground, tie the lighter bag to the remaining paracord.  You should have a very, very long end, but that's good!
Wrap the extra paracord around your hand and elbow to make a loose coil.  Tuck the coil of paracord into the lighter bag so it still dangles down a bit.  You need to be able to get it down again!
Use a long branch you found on the ground to push the lighter bag up to closer to the branch.  The heavier bag will help you here because the weight of it will pull the paracord more easily over the branch.  If you make it too heavy it may just fall all the way to the ground though, so it might take you a few tries.  When both bags are about level with each other, they should be a good distance off the ground, out of reach of hungry wild animals.

Step 5: Retrieve Your Food

Picture of Retrieve Your Food

To get your bear hang down, use a long stick to pull the coils of paracord loose.  Pull down the lighter bag and untie it, then carefully lower the heavier bag.  To keep the paracord from tangling while you have the bags of food unattached, tie them off on separate lower branches that you can easily reach, or to something else to keep them tight then you can easily re-hang your food!

Comments

dcnelson007 (author)2013-08-01

I thought that next time I would use a somewhat small, light pulley to make it easier to pull up my heavy backpack.

Kiteman (author)2013-08-01

Hehe, the opening image looks like the remains of an horrific skydiving accident...

cfilloux (author)2013-08-01

I do this all the time backpacking in the Sierra Nevada mountains here in California. But instead of a knot for the first bag, I use a carabiner so I can easily detach it and pull the rope back over. Just a different way if doing it.

Kiteman (author)cfilloux2013-08-01

The weight of the carabiner would replace the rock as well.

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Bio: I'm just a lady who likes making stuff. I got my degree in engineering but also enjoy cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening and backpacking, among ... More »
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