Sinking Food?

Anybody ever try sinking your food in a watertight bag and weighted with rocks in deep water overnight to keep it from bears? Seems like it would work as the smell wouldn’t carry and I don’t think bears forage underwater.I have a canister,but when going light usually hang and hope.


unless you count
all those spawning salmon

Not Practical

– Last Updated: Jan-18-08 9:07 PM EST –

Let's say your drybag is roughly 12 inches in diameter and two feet long when stuffed full. You'd need more than 100 pounds of weight inside to get the bag to sink (a little less than 100 pounds would be enough, but allowing for some inaccuracy in volume measurement of the drybag, I'd say go a little over 100 pounds). That's not such a large food bag for an extended trip, so it'll already be too full to add much weight in the form of rocks, and even packed full, is likely to weigh less than half as much as what it takes to sink. Get a larger bag so there's leftover volume in which to pack rocks, and once you make THAT bag heavy enough to sink it will be too heavy to carry. Why bother.

Update: I suppose the best way to make this work would be to have a separate bag for the rocks, and to tie that to your food bag. That would be better anyway, since that way you could anchor the drybag with the opening facing down to minimize leaking (make it work like a diving bell). It would take much deeper water to sink your food pack this way, and you'll have to wade in with that bag of rocks, so this is probably strictly a warm-weather method.

Wouldn;t something that’s watertight
be fairly air tight?

Rope and tree – much simpler.


Bears forage underwater …
And they follow the smell to the river or lake bank.

You need to watch bears catch fish if you think they don’t look in the water for food.

Hanging food bags in the Adarondacs is becomming a less and less deterant to the bears-even a well hung bag.There are even areas where approved containers are mandated.I am trusting hanging less.Also finding a place and hanging a proper bag can be a real time consuming pain! Since we are right on the water I figgured why not use it.I planed on using a separate mesh bag to put the rocks and the waterproof one in and obviously I would pick up the rocks at each site -not carry them.I would probibly use a rubber banded heavy plastic bag inside a stuff sack for the food.My food bags are much smaller than the sizes mentioned.


You’d get
a ticket if you tried that in Glacier Nat’nl Park. Once I was cited for having a bottle of wine (un opened) in a creek in the back country. (Never saw a bear with a cork screw)

I haven’t dealt with bears…
…but when camping in an area where raccoons were a problem, we simply put the food in dry bags, put the bags in our boat hatches, tied rocks to the boats as anchors and floated them out onto the lake 30’-40’ (tethered, of course). By by carefully balancing the anchor rocks, a quick tug on the tether ropes would cause them to fall off the decks and anchor the boats offshore. Between the airtight bag, the airtight-ish compartment and the masking effect of “kayak hatch smell”, we had no problems. I suspect that the critters couldn’t smell the food, so they didn’t swim out to try to get to it. YMMV.

I use sinking pellets in my aquarium.
And I’ve NEVER had a bear attack. Not even once. . . .


Wouldn’t work here in gator territory…
If you’ve eaten any type of meat then put your food sack in the water without thoroughly washing your hands first a gator will be able to smell any oils lifting off the bag in the water to the surface where scents tend to linger. A gator’s sensitive sense of smell will lead it to the area and they don’t mind “nosing” around under water to find it.

And what about those inquisitive, playful otters? When they find anything new or out of place in their territory they WILL check it out and in the process who knows what condition the bag will be in (if it would be there at all) when you go to retrieve it. Although they might not eat anything out of it since they prefer seafood, if they’re able to dislodge it and it floats downstream and gets caught in rocks or washes up on a bank racoons will take care of the rest of the bag and whatever might’ve been in it.

Stick with the ‘hanging sack in a tree on a rope’ routine. Old school is the best school…

Sinking food may be
the least of your worries if bears get into your campsite at night.

Pray for bares not bears.

Bouyancy example
I was preparing the scouts for a week long canoe trip. Bouyancy of the boat when submerged came up. We took a fully loaded backpack at ~45 pounds and tossed it in- it floated high, would have been a great PFD except the body would be suspended underneath. We waited 5-10 minutes, still floated high. 5000 cubic inch volume pack is almost 3 cubic feet, it would have to weigh 188 pounds to be at neutral bouyancy. Sinking food has the same problem. Lots of assumptions in this example, but the issue is there.

This is a real fun conversation.Gators!! I forget that people read this from all around the country.but it did remind me of something I didn’t consider-snapping turtles.They have a great sense of smell in the water and might be a major problem with my brainstorm idea.In my pond they come to a woodchuck carcas real quick.I may test this here at home when the ice melts with a food bag.The bears in the ADKs are getting amazingly smart.In addition to getting some very well hung bags one even got a bear container open!I don’t worry about attacks, but loosing your food in the middle of a 4 day trip is a real inconvience.


Think the weight/buoyancy ratio
would give you troubles.

Hanging food hasn’t work for bears in years in the high Sierras. Even when using complicated schemes/counterweights. Bearproof containers are now mandatory.

The last time I did a week-long backpack there, I ran into a couple who had been horsepacked into a small lake. They brought a little 2 person toy raft to fish from. The first night they put the food into a dry bag, tethered it to the back of the raft, and chucked it off the back with a anchor weight to keep the bag offshore.

Woke up in the morning to find the bear had climbed into the raft, pulled the food ashore, and destroyed both the raft and bag with bite/claw marks. They were pretty much stunned. Told me a ranger who walked through the next day was not stunned.