couple questions about backcountry food

Two questions:

  1. Would a regular package of freeze dried backcountry camping food burst on an airplane? I remember I once took a package of chips on a plane and it expanded like a balloon (but did not burst) due to the presurization.

  2. Do freeze dried packages have a scent that would attract wildlife? Do you need to string them up/put in container/etc.?

Freeze Dried food
1) The packages you normally buy, Mountain House, Backpacker’s pantry, etc. etc aren’t compressed like a hard fuel canister, they won’t explode on a plane, none of mine have ever exploded. :slight_smile:

2)When in doubt, hang it up. The packages when out of their outer sealed containers I would think would have a scent and there are some of us, me included who would even hang unopened freeze dried food. It’s better to be safe anyway and unless you’re really short on space, it’s better to hang it or protect it in some way.


I did a little test…
several years ago with foil-packed freeze-dried food stuffs and their role as an olfactory attractant.

I took a dozen unopened packages and tossed them about the living room floor. I then took another dozen packages with the same contents, opened them, removed 1/3 of the food, rolled the packages back up, and placed them in freezer-style Ziplocks. (Inspection gloves were worn during preparation) This second batch of packages was then scattered about the living room amongst the first group.

And now… enter my two dogs. They run around and check out the intruders with curiosity at first, then settled down for some serious nasal inspection. The Ziplock bags containing the opened packages drew much greater attention than did the unopened meals. When I encouraged the dogs to play with the test subjects, the Ziplocks were again selected. (This may have had to do with the metallic feel of the unopened packs in the dog’s mouth)

Informal and anecdotal data to be sure, but I got the message!

Take care.


If in bear country
try the cantilevered set up which used to be used in yosemite. In many places bears know enough to cut cords.

I am buy no means an olfactory expert but I will weigh in on the subject nonetheless. I think that even sealed up freeze dried meals will have some scent. It doesn’t really matter though, I would still put it out of reach. The problem will be if a curious critter (Bear) gets into it and makes the association of people with easy food then there will be problems. It is possible that if left out, an animal could get into it even if it had no smell. When we used to backpack in Denali, we had to put everything that had a scent into BRFC’s. Toothpaste, deoderant, food, chapstick, etc.


No disagreement at all!
IN bear country bear resistant food containers are the way to go for anything that might smell that can fit into them.

Getting most folks to use them is hard they are heavy and I do not even know if they could fit into an oval hatch, (no problem on my ex boat the qcc 500 though) the double bag cnaitllevered method is absolutely second best.

Ray Jardine’s contention that you need to be time ,energy , and weight efficient so you should keep the food in your tent just ticks me off. Bad for bears (who are innocent) bad for subsequent hikers. Bad for tents as well:-)

No they are not heavy…
They are very light, and yes they fit in our hatches, (Eclipse and Shadow), and our new QCC 600 and 700 have bigger hatches.

We used them all over Alaska and BC., and now we use them in the Keys and other areas to keep the racoons out of the chow.

Get the Garcia brand.

By the way, don’t forget to put any “smellies” in them. That includes soap, toothpaste, etc.

Bears will eat anything that has a pleasant smell to it.

We found a bear scat with the plastic remains of one of those room deorderozers. I don’t know whose cabin it came from, but I’ll bet the place was torn apart.



I’ve heard of backpacking folks recommending Ursack bear bags, as opposed to the rigid canisters:

I’ve only used a bear canister twice while in Denali Nat. Park. I have tied my cinch bags using the standard method but have looked into counterbalancing them. The places I have camped are not as problematic as some of the more popular bear haunts…


It depends. Your chips expanded like a balloon because of a vacuum. Not pressure. Sometimes my shampoo or other liquids in a carry-on have “gushed” in flight. Sometimes they have collapsed. Depends on each plane and how much it has it’s cabin pressure equalized throughout the flight.

Are you carrying them on or are they going to be in the hold? Double bag them using plastic grocery bags tied up so the outer bag can vent and go for it! At least dry foods can’t make a mess like liquids can!

Cache Lake camping food
We found them at Canoecopia and tasted some of their stuff. Excellent. Easy to make. Small packets. You do need a fry pan and pot, but it is so much better than most of the foil pouch brands that I’ve tried.

We have used 5 gal buckets w/ gamma lids and that was enough for coons and skunks. Bear barrels are tougher.

Cliff Jacobson doesn’t hang packs. He puts them about 50yds from camp and either straps them to a tree or to each other. I’ve talked to plenty of folks who have lost stuff that was hung. Real important to have everything sealed so that there’s no scent. Also, remember to wash your hands so you don’t take food scents into the tent.

DO NOT get Mountain House foods!!
Requires “TOO MUCH” water. Especially if you are hiking. If you have a purifier, though, and will always be near a water source…

BUT, if you do go with the Mountain House brand- DO NOT get the pancakes!

Paddle easy,


freeze-dried foods…
no, they won’t burst in an airplane and yes, they can and will, be scented by everything in the woods…they must be properly stored…in bear country either bear canisters; Garcia and Bearikade have been approved by Yosemite (means their very cadgy grizzlies haven’t been able to break into them) and the new Bearvault is presently being tested and will probably pass. …for Black bears the Ursack is great if you don’t mind mangled foodstuffs…(think oatmeal, coffee and lasagna all in one bowl)…that said, if the Ursack used properly (ie using the special bag inside the sack itself) you will probably not have to worry about crushed foods…in Michigan’s Porcupine Mnts the black bears know how to untie hung food so bear poles must be used…I’ve found many bear-opened Mountainhouse food packages near trails…many dumb and hungry backpackers…that said, most of us near water risk raccoon raids more than bear breakins…and the Ursack is good against them…and all gnawing creatures great and small…now that I think about it, I wonder how wolverines would fare? I’ll have to ask Tom Cohen, the very helpful owner of Ursack…he’s personally responded to many Ursack questions in the “” gear forums…for those of you unfamiliar with this forum, you might check it out…it’s a wealth of info from folks who really know their stuff…and have personally used the gear…

Indubitable experiment Mr. Holmes
Your little doggie test is actually a pretty well thought-out experiment. The only thing missing are control packages filled with something scent-free.

Of course my dogs know that the sound of tearing cello or foil packets means that there is food to be had.

I’m With Cliff
I agree with Cliff Jacobson’s contention that bears can be mighty creatures of habit. They frequent certain campsites becasue they have found food there in the past. A rope tied to a tree often leads a bear to food. Add their curiousity and you get bears that bite into cans. There’s no odor coming from the can, but if it’s where food has been in the past, Brer Bear will bite it to check. When the can oozes peach juice, can biting gets rewarded. The same may hold for foil wrapped freeze dried foods. Bite it, try it and if it tastes good, do it again.

So Cliff suggests stashing your food off the trail, away from the bear routine zone. of course, you should take the usual scent precautions.

Another upside to stashing food away from camp is if Brer Bear wants to eat your food, he’s over there and not RIGHT HERE!!!

consider other animals
Keep in mind other animals can be damaging if there are no bears in the area. I once was on a backpacking trip and someone left gorp in their new IF backpack overnite. Nice big hole in the pack by morning, out of which a very full chipmunk exited.

I’m intrigued that I’ve never heard of the cantilevered method of which you speak… care to elaborate?

all debends whether they

– Last Updated: Mar-15-04 10:10 PM EST –

are in your boat or on your back with enough climbing an mountaineering gear for a month long party. Last Time I saw one was about 10 years ago, long before I started paddling.

Seems to be out of favor but…

– Last Updated: Mar-15-04 10:38 PM EST –

I found you a link.

Those lyell(sp. i'm tired and in a hurry) canyon bears are a trip!

Hard cannisters are the best but at 2.6 pounds that is a significant weight to a solo long distance backpacker.

Campmor has them 2.6 pounds, nominal 8 inches diameter

Grizzlies, I'd give them the food and my amex card!