Bear bags are the burlap sacks carried while in the backcountry that a crew uses to put their smellables in each night while camping. Depending on the size of the crew, they may receive anywhere from three to four bear bags and possibly more. Once in camp, the crew locates the bear bag line which is a metal line suspended high in the air between two trees somewhere near the campsite, Bear bag lines are usually at least 9 feet high.

Once the crew gathers all of their smellables into the bear bags, they then tie a knot to secure the tops of all of the bags with the mid section of a long rope.

Bear bags2

The object is to gather all of the bear bags into one grouping while leaving enough room on the two ends of the rope in order to throw one part over the bear line. It is important to ball the remaining rope up and to throw it over the bear line until it comes over the other side, being sure to use nothing to help weigh the rope down like a rock, lest it become a projectile. It can sometimes take many attempts to get the rope over the line depending on the height of the bear line. Once over the line, several scouts then help by taking two opposite sections of the rope to lift the bear bags off of the ground steadily until it is suspended in the air.

Bear bags

It is then important to wrap each line around two separate trees in opposite directions so the bears cannot get to them. A bear can easily knock one rope down and get to the smellables. Two ropes will prevent the bear from succeeding in getting to the bags in the night or while at program. Once the rope is securely around the two trees, then it is safe to leave them.