Friday, August 5, 2011

Bear Container: BearSaver Bear Box

One of the pleasant surprises hiking the Appalachian Trail through New jersey was the discovery that a bear container wasn't absolutely necessary. When we discovered that official backpacker site after backpacker site hosted a BearSaver bear box, we felt a bit foolish toting our expensive and somewhat bulky Ursack.

We saw our first BearSaver bear box at the backpacker camp just south of Sunfish Pond. That's the one in the photo. We took some time to examine it and become familiar with how it works. The right side door features a release mechanism that is cleverly hidden to foil both bears and clever raccoons. One inserts one's hand upside down in the bottom of the mechanism and squeezes a release lever.

The standard BearSaver bear box is quite large. We were able to stuff our entire large backpack inside with plenty of room to spare at both the AMC Mohican Outdoor Center and Pochuck shelter. The bear box at Mashipacong shelter held two large 5 gallon water containers and still had lots of room for food bags.

While the sign on the left panel instructs hikers that these are not trash cans, we often found trash inside. We suspect a contributing cause is that trash cans have mostly been removed from all parks in New Jersey. Pack it in, pack it out is the general rule. The most egregious mis-use of the bear box was at the Rutherford shlter in High Point State Park were we found not only large amounts of nasty, fetid garbage inside, but also a stack of oatmeal encrusted plates and metal silverware. Eww! We packed out much of the refuse since we knew we would be stopping by the park HQ shortly after departing, but we didn't take on the extra weight of the hard goods.

In addition to the water we found at Mashipacong shelter, we found other trail magic inside several bear boxes. At Pochuck shelter we found several packets of M & M chocolate candies. So, don't forget to stop by all the shelter and backpacking sites and open the BearSaver bear box doors. You may be pleasantly surprised. (This also works in reverse: you can be the one to leave trail magic inside a bear box for other hikers. Just saying.)

The longest distance between bear boxes in New Jersey was the 14 mile stretch between the AMC Mohican Center and the Brinks Road shelter. If you decide to stealth camp between those points, you will be in bear country and will need to bear bag your food. We recommend an UrSack or using the PCT bear bagging method.

Disclosure: We select and purchase the product(s) reviewed. We have no material connection to either the manufacturer nor the retailer(s).


  1. I guess it is your thing, but your constant use of we and us as apposed to I and me gets old after a while. I'm just sayin.

  2. Yes, its pretty much my thing. I have a hard time using I and me even though those may be grammatically correct. Sorry that has become old and trite to you.

    The use of we and us seems a compromise between I and the "Bob Dole" alternative of Timothy.

    Thanks for taking time to read and comment!