1. Pack heavy foods like uncooked rice and lentils. Definitely pack too much, for example a full bear of honey. This is ideal because honey will also leak and get other items sticky. Bring a month’s worth of hot chocolate even though you’re planning a seven day backpacking trip. If your backpack isn’t taller than you (see exhibit a) you haven’t packed enough food.
2. DO NOT PRACTICE. You did this 10-30 years ago (see exhibit a) on an Outward Bound trip. Trees on the Appalachian Trail are exactly the same as the Pacific Crest Trail. Northwestern trees aren’t significantly taller. The branches don’t start 30 feet up the trunk. It will be fine. (See exhibits b, c, d and e)
3. When you get to camp, first spend half an hour figuring out how to take two person pictures on a two person backpacking trip. This is the first priority (see exhibit b). Then if you have time glance around for a tree you can use for your bear hang.
4. When you choose a tree make sure its surrounded by heavy brush and you’re wearing your camp shoes aka tevas. This way you will constantly be tripping and stabbing your feet with sticks. Another benefit is that after every missed throw you have to untangle your paracord from the shrubberies.
5. Bring at least 100 feet of paracord. You will need it.
6. If you followed step 1 correctly your food bags should be too heavy to pull into the air. One person pull on the paracord, from a significant distance. The other person should attempt to hoist the bags in the air by hand. Once you have gotten them just above your head, stop. This ensures that your food bags are about 6 feet off the ground so bears will have easy access.
7. Tie the excess paracord to all trees in the area. This way when a bear is reaching for your food he or she will have something to lean against in case they lose their balance. It also means that when a bear is walking they will run into the paracord and notice the food bag if they hadn’t seen it already. It’s important to make it obvious and easy so that even the smallest or least observant bear can access your food bag.
Below is perfect example of how not to hang a bear bag (exhibit c). Exhibits D and E are terrible examples of how not to hang a bear bag. The distance from the tree, height off the ground, and efficient use of paracord are side effects of more practice throughout a backpacking trip and are all things to avoid if you’re going for how NOT to hang a bear bag.
Exhibit D Exhibit E