Where do you keep food in polar bear country? Well, as well as grizzly?
In the other person's tent!
If there are trees, the food can be hung from a branch which is about 20 feet off the ground. Keep the food at least 10 feet off the ground for black bears, 15 for taller grizzlies. The branch should be large enough to support the food, but too narrow and weak to support a bear. Black bears are excellent tree climbers. Brown bears (grizz) need ladder-like branches to climb. There are a number of ways to hang it. I like the PCT method:
There are also bear-resistant canisters which are required in many popular areas because the bears there have learned how to get food hanging from branches. These would also be necessary in polar bear country, since there are no trees. In grizzly or polar bear country, I'd keep food 200-500 yards from camp, and downwind. In black bear country, 100-200 yards is probably safe. In winter, I've slept with my food in an area which was recently a black bear sanctuary (no hunting), but the bears are rarely active in winter.
Another option is the Ursack, which is a slightly bear resistant bag which can be left tied to a tree or staked down.
Polar bears are the only bears for which humans are considered natural food source.
Do you tend to use tarps mostly JAVO? When/if you use a tent, does it have something separate called a "footprint"? I have 15% off coupon at EMS and am looking at this (but it says footprint sold separately and I'm wondering if I need that): http://www.ems.com/product/index.jsp...lickid=prod_cs
Also, what do you use for sleeping pads? Inflatable or foam?
Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.
I like tarps, but I generally only use them when it's cold enough that the bugs won't annoy me, which tends to be around 50 F. In winter, I also often prefer a tent to block cold wind, and it's often necessary to block snow (unless using a bivy bag). As a teenager, I sometimes slept in a bivy bag made of two trash bags duct-taped together. Cold rain hitting me in the face at 4:00 am was a strangely pleasant sensation. A non-breathable bivy bag isn't a good idea though because it will cause perspiration to collect in the sleeping bag, making it heavier and colder. I usually use a Tarptent Moment now (without that unnecessary extra external pole):
I've heard some good things about that TNF Tadpole tent. There are plenty of lighter options, but they're more money too. You probably only need a footprint if you're going to be pitching the tent on sharp rocky ground, or really hard, rough sites like what is found in many car campgrounds. It might be nice to use when car camping, but I wouldn't buy a special one. If you want a footprint, a piece of window insulating film works well and is cheap and light. Tyvek housewrap is much more durable, but heavier. Tarptent sells pieces for their tents which would probably work for your tent.
In my trash bag bivy days, I slept on the ground with no pad, even in winter. Now that I'm older and no longer invincible (), I use an inflatable. A pad is important for insulation unless there are pine needles, grasses, or leaves which can be piled up underneath. Uninsulated air pads are fine in the summer when temps are around 60 F or above. Back sleepers will likely be fine with just a foam pad, like a Ridgerest. Everyone else will probably want to pay a lot more for a pad. I've tried several foam and inflatable pads, and the one I like best is the Exped Synmat UL7. I use the Downmat 7 in winter because it's even warmer, but heavier.
Cool thanks for all the info. You refer to uninsulated air pads - are there insulated air pads too that are better for colder temperatures or something?
And yeah that tadpole seemed a bit heavy when I looked at the specs but seems like things get more expensive as you go down in weight.
You're welcome. There are both uninsulated and insulated air pads. Just check the specs on the pad. Also, the R-value will give you some idea of how well it insulates. On average snow, the average person needs a pad of R 5 to avoid losing heat through the pad. The Synmat UL7 above is R 3, and I expect to be comfortable on it down to around 25-30 F. This winter, I was warm enough on a R 5.9 pad and a 0 F mummy bag at around 15 F. I think I would have been fine down to 0 F, and -10 F by wearing my coat and mittens inside the bag. The downside of inflatables is that holes can be hard to find, especially at 2 am when half awake and cold. It might turn into a leaf, pine needle, or evergreen bough gathering excursion for emergency insulation. Below 0F, I plan to also bring a Ridgerest (foam pad) for additional and more reliable insulation from the ground (in addition to the Downmat 7 R 5.9 pad).
Originally Posted by gromit
Another question, how much does your pack typically weigh? Is there a rule of thumb percentage of body weight that people can comfortably/safely carry?
My pack base weight (everything except food, water, and expendables like fuel) is usually around 10 lbs. For warm summer trips, it's around 7-8 lbs. For winter down to 0F, it's around 18 lbs. I'm not counting extra fun things I might bring like a larger SLR camera, video camera, lenses, and tripod.
I think the general rule of thumb is that if you're carrying more than 25% of your body weight, you're going to be really uncomfortable and fairly unstable. 10% is probably the barely noticeable value for most people. The best rule of thumb is: Go as light as possible while still being comfortable and having fun.