Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Have a favorite trail recipe or technique you'd like to share? Please do! We also like reviews of various trail food products out there. The Backcountry Food Topix forum is the place to discuss all things related to food and nourishment while in the Sierra wilderness (as well as favorite trail head eateries).
User avatar
Matthew
Topix Novice
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2016 11:56 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by Matthew » Fri Jul 10, 2020 3:33 pm

I’d break the car storage issue into two components: odor and visibility.

Odor: mylar and other metalized based wrappers (chips, energy bars, oatmeal, Mountain House etc), cans (soda, canned coffee, beer) and glass bottles (again beer) are designed for long term storage without oxygen getting in. This also means that they let very little odor out. Thus, it is reasonable to expect that these food coverings would not be sources of appreciable odors for bears. You could even put a high odor food (jerky) in a canning jar or mylar bag to provide a good odor barrier. This said, any traces of food that you put on the objects might be smellable. So, don’t store these items with your jerky prior to the journey!
     More importantly, any other food residue in the car is odoriferous. My car is well used, so those cheddar rockets stuck between the seats, that peach pit and samosa wrapper from Fresno, or Schatt’s bakery bags, and the Purell would all be odor sources that may attract a bear regardless of how odor proof your energy bar/beer is.

Visibility: A covered trunk would work to screen food in a sedan, but it is difficult for those of us with other cars (I’m sure none of us own a Subaru ;) ). You could put a few energy bars and a bottle of water in the spare tire well. I place my post-trip change of clothes on the driver’s seat, not in a bag that might attract a bear. Also I don’t bring deodorant.

I’ve heard stories of river rafters being harassed by bears that knew how to open, and liked to drink beers. This illustrates that bears are clever, and quite able to recognize that a non-odoriferous object may still contain food.

This doesn't really answer your question about the cooler, but does address the general problem of leaving post-trip food in your car: clear out your trash and put suitably wrapped foods in a place that a bear can’t see.








User avatar
bobby49
Topix Expert
Posts: 903
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:17 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by bobby49 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 6:39 pm

Friends of mine have a vehicle without a normal trunk. When they are forced to leave food in it, they store the food in a large heavy sealed steel box. Then that goes into the back somewhere and covered with a large piece of black fabric. Hopefully the bear doesn't smell anything or see anything that looks like food.

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4986
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:40 am

Although expensive, but there are bear-proof panniers used by horse packers that you could put food outside the car. If worried about human theft, you can chain them to a tree.

Most trailheads that have experienced bear problems have trailhead have bear boxes to store car camping food. Rather than a bulky cooler, I save the smaller foam "coolers" that come when you order fresh meat from Amazon, tape them shut and put that in the trailhead bear box labeled with my permit number and return date (otherwise the rangers may remove your food). It actually makes me mad when I see someone has put a huge cooler, half full, in a bear box, using up all the space so nobody else has room for their stuff. If you put a slab of dry ice on the top the food will stay cool for quite some time.

For all the damage a bear can do to a car, I would rather have the means to place all food outside my car. As for food scraps in the car, that is dramatically reduced when grandkids do not ride in my car and since I have quit snacking while driving. I now do all eating at a rest stop outside my car. It is not just at trailheads, but people who live in bear country have to be careful about this all the time.

Does comprehensive insurance cover "destruction of car by bear"?

By the way, I am headed to the Wind River Mtns in Wyoming, and there, even though there are grizzlies, the Forest Service just recommends that you store all food inside the trunk if a bear box is not provided, this includes the vast amounts of dispersed camping along roads to the trailheads. The trailheads that are heavily used have bear boxes.

User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Addict
Posts: 3005
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Silicon Valley
Contact:

Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by SSSdave » Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:59 am

This has all been discussed years ago. Have never had a bear break into my cars but then have rarely parked overnight in Yosemite Valley. The inside of my Subaru's much like the scratched unwashed exteriors, have always been rather dirty especially food crumbs, as I regularly eat crumbling stuff like cookies while driving and vacuum infrequently. Yeah am pretty bad but hey am single and usually solo. That says much about bears smelling out cars for trivial food and rather their interest rather in someone's opened Gallo salami or potato salad. I will put items in a Garcia canister out of view. I never place items where they can seen through windows at trailheads so it does not only look uninteresting to bears but also thieves. Anyone perusing vehicles at almost any parking lots will see fair numbers of vehicles with all manner of stuff visible since car campers tend to bring tons of stuff stacked high. Thus no wonder I never have had trouble, given choices. In any case, there will never be certainty a bear might not break into a vehicle even if clean and without items visible or food, so use good sense and do your homework on where you will be leaving a vehicle overnight.

User avatar
John Harper
Topix Regular
Posts: 366
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:54 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by John Harper » Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:29 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:40 am
Does comprehensive insurance cover "destruction of car by bear"?
Yes.

John

User avatar
Enigmagic
Topix Novice
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:40 am
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by Enigmagic » Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:34 am

John Harper wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:53 am
I've got a bear resistant cooler, not sure how to consider that. Is putting it in a food locker even necessary? They're technically just like a bear resistant food canister, IGBC approved, so why not just that type of cooler?
depends on where you are... around Tahoe they're okay to use if appropriately locked, in Yosemite they said to empty the cooler and leave it unlocked/open.

a number of years ago we were camping at Whitney Portal and had moved almost everything from the cooler to a bear locker, but had forgot about a baggie of baklava, half a sandwich, and some beer/ice (which I wasn't planning to move anyways)... just locked the lid and chained the cooler to the bed before retiring for the evening. around 11pm a bear hopped into the back of the truck, threw out our hiking poles and some other gear, bit off the cooler latches and wrestled with the locked cooler for a few minutes before giving up. on his way out he left a fresh pile of berry scat next to our tent, obviously unhappy.

the food and beer were unharmed but the now upside down cooler needed some parts, the truck bed was full of slobber and bear hair, and everything was scratched up. I moved the cooler into the bear locker for our walk up Whitney.

precision, not his first go at a Yeti:
_DSC5228.jpg
_DSC5227.jpg
You must be registered and logged in to view the files/photos attached to this post.

User avatar
ERIC
Your Humble Host & Forums Administrator
Your Humble Host & Forums Administrator
Posts: 3229
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:13 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: between the 916 and 661

Re: Car camping and hiking in - where does the food go?

Post by ERIC » Wed Aug 05, 2020 4:43 pm

Wow, @Enigmagic! Impressive! :p
New members, please consider giving us an intro!
Follow us on Twitter @HighSierraTopix. Use hashtags #SIERRAPHILE #GotSierra? #GotMountains?
Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HighSierraTopix

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests