Backpackers always have bears on the brain. We think about them when we are planning a trip, when we are hiking, when we are in camp, and when we are going to sleep. Most of what we can do to avoid dangerous interactions with bears is preventative. We make noise, we are aware of scat/digs/hair/prints, and we are super diligent with our food products.
One of the best ways of keeping food items (and other smelly items like toothpaste/trash/lip balm) away from bears is by setting up a bear hang. Ideally 12 feet high and 6 feet away from the trunk of a tree, these hangs can sometimes be difficult (and dangerous) to set up. Fortunately, the Ultralight Food Hanging System is here to simplify the process! Recently launched on Kickstarter, we've had the chance to take it for a spin.
General Overview of the Ultralight Food Hanging System:
The Ultralight Food Hanging System comes equipped with:
2 - 36ft ropes
2 - carabiners
1 - neoprene Rock Sok
1 - 9L dry bag
The system as a whole weighs 6.5oz, and all the components fit nicely into the 5.5in x 3in x 2in neoprene Rock Sok.
The Ultralight Food Hanging System is a pulley system that creates a 2 to 1 mechanical advantage when raising and lowering your food or gear. Hoisting up 20lbs of food? Use only 10lbs of pulling force. This allows you to more easily and safely hang your grub. Watch the video above to see specifically how the system works, but the process is simple: find a rock, put it in the Rock Sok, attach 1 rope/carabiner, chuck the Rock Sok over a stable branch, attach your food/remove the Rock Sok, and hoist! The whole process just takes a couple of minutes (and with some practice, it can be done easily in under a minute).
Pros of the Ultralight Food Hanging System:
Super simple: Hanging food at night is not one of my favorite campsite tasks. Hanging happens after eating and before bed, and typically after dinner, the only thing I want to do is curl up and sleep. That being said, the Ultralight Food Hanging System does make the process pretty effortless. While the hardest part will always be finding a quality tree to hang from, once you've found it, the Ultralight Food Hanging System allows you to get your food hung and tied off in just a couple of minutes. Since everything you need to hang your food is tucked inside the Rock Sok itself, as long as you've got your food and the Rock Sok, you won't find yourself walking 100 yards back to camp in search of your missing cordage.
2 to 1 mechanical advantage: While the idea of using a pulley system to hoist food is by no means a new idea, the Ultralight Food Hanging System does make the concept more user-friendly/approachable for those previously unfamiliar. The 2-1 mechanical advantage gained by using the Ultralight Food Hanging System is exceptionally noticeable (since it literally requires half the work), and it's very helpful when hanging food for larger groups. The system can support weights of up to 100lbs, which should be more than enough for most groups. The mechanical advantage also makes for a more measured lowering of your food, which allows for a safer and more predictable decent.
The neoprene pouch: While most backpackers/paddlers/campers travel with cordage and carabiners, the item that makes the Ultralight Food Hanging System stand out most is the neoprene pouch. The pouch is large enough to hold a good-sized rock, but it's small enough to still fit nicely in your hand. A carabiner pinches the top of the pouch closed (holding the rock securely inside), and this combination of factors creates an easy to throw pouch where the rock stays safely inside during the whole process of flight. The pouch itself is plenty durable, and can certainly take the beating of repeated run-ins with tree branches and rocky ground.
Things to be aware of:
While the Ultralight Food Hanging System is simple to use, make sure you give the system a run through prior to leaving on a trip. It takes 2-3 setups to gain fluency, and similarly to setting up a new tent for the first time, it's best to initially attempt when the sun isn't setting, the bugs aren't biting, and your tired brain is clamoring for ZZZzzzzzzzzz.
The Ultralight Food Hanging System is a simple and effective method for those looking to hang their food safely and simply. Got a pulley system of your own? Great! If you don't (and you aren't inclined to make your own), the Ultralight Food Hanging System has you covered! Currently on Kickstarter, the Ultralight Food Hanging System campaign runs through October 26th.