リズ・トーマスのハイキング・アズ・ア・ウーマン#13 / シエラでクマから食料を守る方法 <その2>ベアキャニスターの実践的な使い方


Alternative methods for protecting food that work for backpackers but not long distance hikers

Bear hanging via the counterbalance method is still allowed in certain portions of the Sierra that are managed by the National Forest Service, but are not a practical method for a thru-hiker in the Sierra. The PCT and JMT have ten-mile stretches that are above treeline in the Sierra. How can a thru-hiker protect their food if there are no trees for hanging?

Bear bagging is a decent method for a typical backpacker who is on an overnighter in the Sierra Nevada and not likely to venture into zones where bear hangs are not allowed. PCT hikers travel through so many zones and often cannot plan exactly where they will camp. Snow, fords, or trying to camp with other hikers can make a thru-hiker’s camp schedule unpredictable.

Bear bagging is also a good way for PCT thru-hikers to protect their food from bears when traveling through other areas of the PCT that do not require a bear canister. For example, thru-hikers are not legally required to carry bear canisters in some parts of Northern California. However, thru-hikers see signs of bears like scat frequently in this area. When I see obvious signs of recent bear activity on a section of trail or near where I am camping, I try to hang my food in a tree.

Other approved ways of keeping food bear-proof in the Sierra

Alternately, in certain areas of the PCT and JMT, thru-hikers can use installed bear lockers, also called bear boxes. These are large metal boxes that are bolted to the ground. They are opened and closed with a chain hook. Bears don’t have opposable thumbs so cannot open the hook.

Unfortunately, bear boxes only exist in certain portions of the Sierra along the PCT and JMT. They are good storage areas if you are carrying too much to fit into your bear canister. But they don’t exist at any reliable frequency along the trail, so aren’t a good option for thru-hikers. Thru-hikers like to have freedom when camping and not be forced into hiking a big-mile day or a short-day just to be able to camp near a bear box. Using a bear canister gives thru-hikers more flexibility and freedom to camp where they want.

For PCT thru-hikers, the logistically easiest way of protecting food from bears and staying within the law is to carry a bear canister from Kennedy Meadows to Sonora Pass. For JMT thru-hikers, you should plan to hike the whole trail from Yosemite Valley to Mt. Whitney carrying a bear canister.

Thru-hiker Information when dealing with bear canisters.

Bear canisters may protect your food from bears, but come with their own challenges. Here are some potential issues you should be aware of:

1) The lightest bear canister is at least two additional pounds. While many PCT thru-hikers start the trail in the desert with an ultralight pack, it is possible that the pack cannot carry the additional load required for travel through the Sierra. An overloaded backpack can sometimes cause a pack to detach from its straps. Hopefully, you will be strong enough to carry the additional weight of your bear canister, extra food for the long resupply-less Sierra section, and cold weather gear, too.

2) Bear canisters are wide. The diameter of a bear canister may be wider than the opening of some ultralight backpacks. Again, the pack you start the PCT with may not be the pack suitable for travel in the Sierra. Some thru-hikers may need to use a different backpack for sections of the trail where they need to carry a bear canister.

3) Bear canisters have limited volume. The law states that you need to carry a bear canister big enough to carry all your food, toiletries, and trash. Some PCT thru-hikers travel from Kennedy Meadows to Reds Meadows (mile 906.6) without resupplying. This means they need to carry 204 miles worth of food! For many thru-hikers, this can be ten days’ worth of food or more!

Recently, thru-hikers have tried to get around the bear canister rule by carrying a very small and lightweight bear canister that does not fit all their food. The hiker will say, “I am carrying a bear canister,” and pretend like they are following the rules. But the rules state that all food and items with odor must be stored in a bear canister. Park Rangers are giving tickets and fines to thru-hikers who cannot fit all their food into their bear canister. Sometimes, ticketed hikers must leave the PCT or JMT and go back to the trailhead. Other times, hikers who are fined and given a ticket must get off trail to appear before a judge in a courthouse. This can get complicated, costly, and may ruin your hike.

Tips and Tricks for PCT and JMT hikers:

Because all your food must fit in your bear canister, when traveling through the Sierra, choose especially dense and calorie dense food.

All items with odor need to be stored in a bear canister at night including food, trash, and toiletries. Reduce the volume of your trash by removing packaging and wrappers before you enter the backcountry.

Before you start hiking, check to make sure all your food will fit in your bear canister. You don’t need to fit snacks and dinner for the first day into your bear canister, though. You’ll eat those before you camp that first night.

To reduce the amount of food you need to carry, consider resupplying several times while going through the Sierra Zone such as at Horseshoe Meadow, Vermillion Valley Resort, or Muir Trail Camp. Many thru-hikers find they welcome the break from trudging through Sierra snow.

If thru-hiking the JMT from Yosemite Valley, consider resupplying at the Tuolumne Meadows store to reduce the amount of food you need to carry on the first few days. This section has a lot of bear activity.

Consider cooking and eating your dinner and then hiking on for another hour or so. Cooking and eating can create odors that attract bears. If you camp in an area far way from where you cooked and ate, the bear will be less attracted to where you are sleeping.

When choosing campsites, look for clean sites that don’t show signs of trash or other human use. If a bear finds food at a campsite, it will revisit the same area hoping to find food there again. That means if last night, a sloppy camper slept in your campsite, you may see a bear there again tonight.

Getting a bear canister

Most PCT thru-hikers will mail themselves a bear canister from their home to Kennedy Meadows. But for international hikers, there are a few better options to make that process easier:


For international hikers, the best plan to get a bear canister is to rent one.

JMT hikers can easily rent a bear canister from the Mt. Whitney permit office near the southern terminus of the trail or the Yosemite Valley permit office near the northern terminus. When you finish the trail, just return the bear canister to a visitor center or mail it to a ranger station with the address provided.

PCT hikers will likely find it easier to rent a bear canister from a company.
Several bear canister companies make it easy to rent a bear canister. Wild Ideas makes the lightest bear canister of its size available and has a lot of experience renting bear canisters to PCT and JMT hikers. Note that they will charge international hikers an extra fee upon booking that will be reimbursed after they verify that the bear canister is being sent to the JMT or PCT, not your home country.


For PCT hikers, when you are in the U.S. already but before you reach Kennedy Meadows, purchase a bear canister on the internet and have it sent to Kennedy Meadows. When you are finished with the bear canister, you can send it back to Japan, give it to an American friend, or ship it ahead to the next place you think you may need a bear canister.

JMT hikers will need to carry a bear canister for the entire trip. It may make sense to purchase a bear canister for the trip and to bring it back with you to Japan when you are finished. Then you can let a friend use it when that friend hikes the JMT.

Borrow or Bring from Japan:

If you own a bear canister in Japan or can borrow a bear canister from a friend in Japan, bring it with you on your flight to hike the PCT or JMT. If you are hiking the JMT, you can start the trail right away with the bear canister. If you are hiking the PCT, you likely will not want to hike the first 700 miles with a bear canister. Instead, mail the bear canister to Kennedy Meadows.


Understanding the rules about black bears along the PCT and JMT can be complicated, but are important to stay safe while on your thru-hike. Learn the rules before you leave home. Your trip will go more smoothly if you make preparations before you leave on how to obtain a bear canister and what food and gear may be needed to carry a bear canister.

More information:

Liz Thomas

Liz Thomas

2011年にアパラチアントレイルを女性の最速タイムで制覇した記録を持っている事で知られている。また、彼女はトリプルクラウンを達成しただけでなく、米国に15以上あるトレイルでのスルーハイクを経験し、今まで15,000マイル以上ものトレイルを歩いてきた。また、彼女はその経験を長距離ハイキングコミュ二ティに還元する事にも熱心で、American Long Distance Hiking Assosication-Westのバイスプレジデンドも務めている。彼女がハイキングを本格的に始める前は、イエ-ル大学の森林環境学部で環境科学の修士課程を修了し、彼女の長距離ハイキングトレイルとその保護及びコミュニティに関するリサーチは名誉あるDoris Duke Conservation Fellowshipの賞を受けた。スポンサーはAltra, Gossamer Gear, Probar, Vermont Darn Tough socks, Mountain Laurel Designs, Sawyer filters, Montbellで、アンバサダーとして活躍している。