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Cloth Mesh Rock Sack for Bear Bagging

Small mesh bags make good rock sacks for bear bagging kits
Small nylon mesh bags make durable rock sacks for bear bagging kits. Note white string used to repair the hole in the mesh.

The most challenging thing about hanging a bear bag is throwing a rock attached to a bear bag line over a tree limb, so you can pull your bag up into the air. Many people tie their slippery Dynaglide line to a rock using a crude knot and pray it won’t fall out when you throw it. It does though, so you have to repeat the process until you get it to work. It can be very frustrating, especially at dusk when the sun is setting or in the rain.

Many commercial bear bagging kits like the ones from Equinox or AntiGravityGear include a small silnylon rock sack that you can put your rock into instead. The problem is that these rock sacks are often too small to fit around the rocks you can obtain and they are quickly shredded when they fall to the ground. They’re difficult to repair in the field and quickly shredded again, turning into a tattered and unusable mess.

I’ve found that the nylon mesh sacks that are used to package outdoor gear, especially stoves, cook pots, and tent footprints, make much more durable rock sacks. They’re large enough to accommodate just about any rock or object you want to throw and they’re super easy to repair in the field if they get torn using a piece of spare cord or even a shoe lace. They’re also free if you hang onto them when you buy new gear. I have a big plastic tub full of them.

This isn’t a profound backpacking hack, but one that I stumbled on many years ago and that has worked well for me ever since.

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  1. A sock can be used as a rock sack as well.

  2. I have a small carabiner attached to the end of my bear bag line that works like a charm.

  3. Each season leads to retrieving several high-up, wound-up abandoned bear-bag lines. My best is three lines in one campsite, a total of five for that year. A vote for others to use bear canisters or Ursacks, my wife thinks I am too ancient to be climbing trees.

    • I’ve often thought that the weight penalty of carrying a bear canister would be worth it so as to not have to do any bear bagging, which is a pain (and I suspect wouldn’t really deter any hungry bear, but I have no experience in that regard). But since I also have only carried a bear canister once, I’m not sure that I’m right about that. I would get an Ursack but they’re not cheap and I don’t backpack enough for it to be worth my while. I guess I’ll be hanging bear bags for the foreseeable future….

  4. I usually use my plastic camping mug instead of a rock. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever used a rock. I did once break the handle on my friend’s mug but since he was the one that taught me that trick, I figured he knew the risks, and he didn’t blame me at all.

  5. I use the small bags that come with inflatable pillows, stoves, or other small things to put the rock in. I have a collection of them.

  6. This is exactly how i do it Years ago i tried tying cord to the rock. Quite comical for observers and frustrating for me. Though I rarely use the stuff sacks supplied with gear I save them for this purpose and like you, have a good collection of them. I prefer the nylon sacks over mesh to minimize snagging on small branches and the abundance of stuff sacks at home leaves little concern for abrasion wearing out the bag. I do try to pick the smoothest stones I can find to help minimize this as well

  7. Lightweight freebies from your kitchen: Bulk produce plastic or string mesh bags (for oranges, onions, apples, potatoes, etc) – useful for lots of things, very compact, adjust size by threading your core through appropriate area of mesh. Note – I haven’t used this for bear bags, simply because 1. bears have been scarce to date locally 2. I can’t throw worth s**t. I do use these orange bags for other purposes.

    For large-volume water fetching or campsite storage: flexible insulated plastic coffee-in-a-box or wine-in-a-box – these fold down nicely. People buying coffee for carry-out office parties etc just pitch them – hoover one or two up.

  8. I seem to belong to the minority who use sticks as throw weights ;)

  9. Why is this even a question, doesn’t everyone have a small nylon sack for their tent pegs? That’s what I always use.

  10. Rather than a rock, which I can NEVER seem to find when it’s time to throw the line, a hiking buddy suggested (and I have adopted) a small plastic water bottle. Mine holds something like 4 ounces, which is enough weight and fits my rock sack just fine. The only downside might be the bottle breaking if/when it hits the ground on an errant throw, but so far mine has survived.

    The bottle travels empty in my food bag with the throw line and rock bag and since I usually have water when I get to camp, it’s no problem to fill the bottle for throwing.

    • This seems like an ingenious solution to the problem of what to use for throw weight. I can USUALLY find a rock, but sometimes have to scout around for a while.

  11. I use a carabiner. Gives me enough weight to get it up and over a limb and it helps keep the paracord stored neatly.

  12. I’ve used the same small nylon (not silnylon) sack for several years with no problem. It’s heavy duty enough that it doesn’t get torn up in the tree or on the ground. I would worry about mesh getting caught up on the bark of a tree or on a small limb.

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