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Bear Bag

Bear Bag Hanging Techniques

A brief review of bear bag hanging techniques with a focus on minimizing weight and maximizing simplicity.

by Ryan Jordan | 2004-05-30 03:00:00-06


The primary problem with conventional backcountry food storage systems is weight.

Bear canisters made with plastic (BearVault BV200 or Garcia Backpacker’s Cache) or carbon fiber (Wild Ideas Bearikade) generally weigh two to three pounds; as such, most lightweight backpackers consider taking them only in wilderness areas that require hard-sided food storage canisters. Reinforced fabric stow bags made of Spectra or Kevlar (such as the Ursack) weigh in the range of five to ten ounces. Even with the added weight of a hanging rope, the stow bag system weighs a lot less than a few pounds. We recommend products like the Ursack for climbers and alpine hikers who camp above the treeline and need to protect their food from aggressive rodents and the passing bear.

A Better Way: The PCT Method

UrsaLite Bear Bag Hanging SystemA system that combines the “bear” essentials for hanging a bear bag using the PCT method: here, an ultralight 600 ci food storage sack made with noseeum mesh and sub-one-ounce silicone coated nylon (lined with an odor proof zip closure bag) and a rock sack of the same material, combined with 40 feet of Spectra rope, and a micro wiregate carabiner can weigh as little as three ounces.
(Photo: Bozeman Mountain Works UrsaLite Bear Bag Hanging System)

Affectionately known by the lightweight hiking underground as the “PCT Method” (presumably because it was first used by long distance hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail), a bear bag hanging method exists that is lighter, requires less rope, offers the benefits of counterbalancing, is easier to set up, and offers simple and quick hanging and retrieval of your food.

You can make your own system quite easily by assembling the following components:

  • Food storage bag
  • 40 feet of hanging rope
  • Keychain carabiner
  • Small stuff sack for a rock (“rock sack”)
  • Pencil-sized twig about 4-6 inches long.

Using 1.4-oz silicone-coated nylon waterproof stuff sacks for the rock sack and food storage bag, 1/8″ parachute cord for the hanging rope, and a two-inch carabiner from Wal-Mart, you can achieve a system weight of about five or six ounces.

The system is used as follows:

  1. Tie one end of the rope to the drawcord of the rock sack.
  2. Tie a loop (e.g., bowline) into the other end of the rope and clip the carabiner through it.
  3. Insert a rock into the rock sack, cinch it closed, and throw it over a branch that is 15-20 feet high.
  4. Remove the rock from the rock sack.
  5. Attach the food sack drawcord to the carabiner.
  6. Clip the rock sack end of the rope through the carabiner so that it can run freely.
  7. Pull the rock sack end of the rope until the food bag is at the height of the branch.
  8. Take the twig and reach as far as possible up the rock sack end of the rope (for the average man, this is about six feet) and tie a clove hitch around the twig.
  9. Let the rock sack end of the rope go, until the twig catches on the carabiner and keeps the food sack in place, at least 10 feet above the ground.

This system leaves extra rope hanging freely below the food bag, and unlike conventional hanging systems where the spare end of the rope is tied to a tree trunk, eliminates the possibility of an animal untying or chewing the rope in efforts to bring the food bag down.

In addition, the PCT Method requires less skill, and thus, is faster to deploy than the counterbalance method. Finally, the PCT Method requires a system of equipment that is lighter than the counterbalance method because it uses less rope and only one food storage sack.

Bear Bag Hanging Technique - Hanging the food bag. Bear Bag Hanging Technique - Clove hitch around the twig. Bear Bag Hanging Technique - Twig stopping against the carabiner.This three-panel image set (using different colored cords for clarity only) shows the process of hanging a food bag using the PCT Method: (LEFT) The rope is thrown over a tree limb at least 15 feet high (with the aid of the rock sack, which in this panel, is tied to the bottom of the black cord). The food sack drawstring is then clipped into the carabiner, and the food raised by pulling on the rock sack end of the cord until the carabiner reaches the top of the limb. (CENTER) The hiker reaches as high up the rock sack end of the rope and ties a two-loop clove hitch (see Steps 1-3 here) and inserts a pencil-sized twig into the loops, then tightens the knot. (RIGHT) The rock sack end of the rope (now containing a twig tied in as high up as possible) is then slackened, allowing the twig to come to rest against the carabiner, stopping the sack high enough above the ground for a good bear hang (at least 10 feet). To retrieve your food, simply pull the rock sack end of the cord and reverse the process.

A bear bag system using the PCT Method can be easily assembled from readily available components: existing stuff sacks, rope, and a keychain carabiner. Using 1.4-oz silicone coated nylon stuff sacks (e.g., 600 cubic inches for the food storage bag and 50 cubic inches for the rock sack), combined with thirty five feet of cord such as paracord (3/16 inch minimum so as not to dig into the branches of softwood trees such as pine, spruce, or fir), and a typical keychain carabiner, the system can weigh as little as five ounces. Adding or subtracting weight from this system can be accomplished simply by altering the cost (which buys you higher strength materials for less weight) and durability of the materials used.


Table 1 compares the function and performance of the primary bear-resistant food storage systems using a subjective grading scale of A (most applicable) to C (least applicable). The information provided in the table is not intended to constitute a product review or an endorsement of a particular system for a particular application.

Type Weight Complexity Speed Alpine Use Cost
Bear Canister C A A A C
Bear Resistant Fabric Sack B A A B B
Counterbalance Method A B C C A
PCT Method A B B C A
Table Notes:

  1. Complexity is defined as the technical ability (motor skills) required to activate the system (e.g., ready it for food storage), as well as store (e.g., hang) and retrieve food.
  2. Speed is defined as the time required to ready the system, store food, and retrieve food.
  3. Alpine Use is defined as the system’s ability to resist attack by rodents, bears, and other mammals when lying on the ground (the typical mode of deployment above treeline).

References: Traditional and Counterbalance Bear Bag Hanging How-To

The Backpacker’s Field Manual: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Backcountry Skills, by Rick Curtis. Random House, 1998. ISBN 0-517-88783-5.

Links to Knots on the Web



“Bear Bag Hanging Techniques,” by Ryan Jordan. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/bear_bag_hanging_technique.html, 2004-05-30 03:00:00-06.

MYOG: Knotless PCT Bear Bag Hang

Perform an easier-yet-secure PCT Bear Bag Hang without using the traditional stick + clove hitch. This MYOG is simple, functional, and lightweight!

by Josh Taylor | 2010-04-27 00:05:00-06


First off, for those not familiar with the PCT Method of hanging a bear/food bag, this write-up will not cover that. If this is your first time hearing that terminology, I highly suggest searching “Hanging a Bear Bag PCT Method” on YouTube to get an excellent tutorial on what it entails.

The idea behind this MYOG is how to do a PCT hang without using the traditional stick + clove hitch knot. If you have used the PCT Method, you might find the clove hitch to be the most difficult part of this hang. Reaching over your head as high as you can while tying a clove hitch can be a daunting task. The weight of your food adds to the challenge. Feeding all your surplus line through the clove hitch only adds to the complexity. Additionally you have to hold the line tight during the whole process so that your bag stays up against the throw-over limb while you tie the knot. It’s a lot to try to do with two hands stretched out over your head.

The fun’s not over though, because the following morning the clove hitch will have tightened down to the point that it can be difficult to break the knot, especially when it’s only just in reach because you tied it off so high. Often people will use a stick that they can snap so they don’t have to untie the knot, but using a stick too small could lead to it breaking on its own in the middle of the night. Another common fix is something tapered, like chopsticks, where you can slide the knot off the stick to drop the bag – but even this doesn’t get you past the issue of tying the clove hitch to begin with.

After using the PCT Method just once, I started trying to figure out a way to abandon the stick and clove hitch. They just seemed to over-complicate what was otherwise a minimalist hang. After quite a few goofy “inventions” that were more complicated, heavy, and didn’t work well, I finally focused on simplicity. Ultimately I ended up devising a way to replace the stick and knot with nothing more than a piece of PVC with two holes drilled through it. This is about the simplest MYOG you’re going to come across and the end product is not only light, but very functional!

Making Your Knotless PCT-PVC Stick

Time Required:

  • 15 minutes (max)


  • 1” PVC (you only need a piece about 2 inches long but you’ll probably have to buy a 6 foot piece or longer unless you can find a scrap)
  • Drill with drill bit(s)
  • PVC cutters or a hacksaw
  • Measuring tape
  • File/sandpaper

Making the Gear

MYOG: Knotless PCT Bear Bag Hang - 1
Measure off a 2-inch length of PVC and cut it with PVC cutters or a hacksaw. You could make it shorter, but I find a 2-inch piece of PVC to be easiest to work with. You just need to make sure you don’t make it so small that it can pass through your carabiner (the PVC is replacing the use of a stick).

MYOG: Knotless PCT Bear Bag Hang - 2
Drill a hole in the center of the PVC piece and straight through the other side. Make it big enough for your hang rope to easily pass through the holes. If you’re sadistic about weight, you could speed-drill the whole piece of PVC, putting many holes in it to lighten up. Seeing that weight is already negligible, I don’t find it necessary.

MYOG: Knotless PCT Bear Bag Hang - 3
Use a file and/or sandpaper to smooth down any rough edges.

Implementation of the Knotless PCT-PVC

As you see, making this device is about as simple as it gets, using it is not much harder, and it’s worlds easier than tying a clove hitch around a stick. The PCT Method is no different than what you are already used to: get the line over the limb and attach your food bag.

Before hoisting your food to the limb, pass the open end of your line directly through the two holes in the PVC and bring it up to your hands. As you hoist the line taking your food up to the limb, keep the PVC in your hand, allowing the line to pass through it. Once you have the bag to the limb, it’s time to “tie” your knotless knot using the following steps:

Pull the PVC as high up the line as you can reach, just like you would a stick in a traditional PCT hang.

MYOG: Knotless PCT Bear Bag Hang - 4
Take the line from the bottom PVC hole, pull it straight up and wrap it behind the top line, bringing the bottom line back over the PVC. It should look like this photo, with two lines of cord in front.

MYOG: Knotless PCT Bear Bag Hang - 5
Get some slack into the left line of cord, and pull that slack loop over the right line and around to the backside of the PVC as shown.

MYOG: Knotless PCT Bear Bag Hang - 6
You now have line running on both the front and back side of the PVC. Pull back and forth on the line, giving it a few tugs, and it will cinch up tightly even though there are no knots!

MYOG: Knotless PCT Bear Bag Hang - 7
Untying to bring the bag back down is just as easy. Viewing from the bottom of the PVC just pull the rope that passed closest to the PVC around to the other side of the PVC (in the same direction it’s pointing), then yank the hanging line and the whole system will release.

Some of the descriptions in the implementation section are difficult to communicate, and I’m sure difficult to follow, so hopefully the pictures and videos will supplement. It’s a lot simpler in person than it is on paper. I hope you enjoy and find it as useful as I do. Good luck and here’s to an easier hang!


“MYOG: Knotless PCT Bear Bag Hang,” by Josh Taylor. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/myog_knotless_pct_bear_bag_hang.html, 2010-04-27 00:05:00-06.

The Beautiful Cup

Techniques and gear for the lightweight backcountry coffee connoisseur, because under no circumstances should you let a non-coffee drinker brew your bliss.

by Mike Clelland! | 2010-09-07 00:00:00-06

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in Issue 6 of the BackpackingLight print magazine (now out of print).

If my years as a backcountry traveler have taught me anything, it’s this: backpacking should never EVER be attempted without coffee. If this statement does NOT ring true as a fundamental fact in alignment with the laws of the universe, then don’t bother reading any further.

Okay, lets review the statement above. If backpacking equals coffee, then ultra-light backpacking must somehow equal ultra-light coffee, right? Right.


Under no circumstances should you let a non-coffee drinker brew your coffee.

Non-coffee drinkers CANNOT be trusted to make acceptable coffee. If some well-meaning tent-mate gets up early and offers to bring you coffee in bed, do NOT let them. You will be sadly disappointed, and the entire day may founder in a miasma of negative drama. Let’s face it, the coffee ritual is something those not addicted to coffee will never understand. Politely get up and give them a genuine and heartfelt thank-you. Then make your own beautiful cup.

(Note: it’s possible that your hiking companion will be annoyed at this type of behavior and come to view you as the control freak that you are. But remember, joy is joy, and any impediment to your coffee bliss MUST be avoided.)

As a seasoned backpacker and a coffee drinker, the act of field-brewing the perfect cup is something I have taken to heart and, as a result, I’ve experimented with all-manner of systems and techniques. Over the years I’ve found that there are plenty of ways to make a fabulous cup of coffee in the backcountry, but some systems are decidedly NOT lightweight.

This is serious business and there’s a lot to juggle in deciding how best to approach the coffee conundrum for a given backcountry trip. Factors such as group size, cooking systems, and the extent to which you will ultimately favor weight savings over the aesthetics of the perfect coffee experience will all have an impact on which approach is most appropriate.

As you may have gathered, I’ve got some opinions about this whole coffee thing. So, before we go any further, and in the interest of full disclosure, here are a few of my personal prejudices:

  1. Strong coffee is good coffee.
  2. Except for a very few companions, I don’t trust anyone to make coffee for me.
  3. Adding sugar to coffee is criminal.
  4. Sometimes I add a little milk in my coffee, but black is just fine.
  5. Adding flavors (like hazelnut and almandine) to an already perfect drink is sinful.
  6. Picking grounds out of my teeth is a serious buzz kill.
  7. Coffee equals joy.

The Methods


The Beautiful Cup - 1

Outdoor boutique shelves are overflowing with every conceivable variation on the humble French press. Some make very good coffee, and some seem designed to simply look good. French press systems becomes a good choice when you find yourself in a group. The more coffee you need (a liter or more), the more the press becomes a preferred option.

There are one-cup French press systems out there (and I even have a few), which make very good coffee, but they are NOT a lightweight solution. For a single cup at a time, the small filters are superior and much lighter.

For obvious reasons, glass (or, more correctly, Pyrex) ain’t an option. There are several Lexan versions. There is a robust 33-ounce (1.4-liter) sized Lexan press made by a company called GSI (they also make other sizes), and it costs about $20. As soon as I took mine out of the box, I used a hacksaw and cut off the handle, then ditched the rubber base and the Velcro insulating wrap. I got the thing down to a reasonable 9.1 ounces – a behemoth by ultralight standards, but a good tool for big groups.

Snow Peak makes a titanium French press (6.5 oz), but – alas – it only holds 24 ounces of liquid, making it just a one-cup (albeit a big one) apparatus.

There are a multitude of stainless steel versions of every conceivable size and design. These are for home use and car-camping applications ONLY.

I typically spend thirty days each summer working on massive glaciers in Alaska with big groups (sometimes fifteen expedition members!), and coffee time is an essential part of the experience. Our success as a well-run expedition is absolutely dependent on a well-orchestrated coffee routine. The French press is the glue that binds our teams together.


The Beautiful Cup - 2

There are at least two small filter systems on the market that function well. The MSR MUG MATE, which weighs .98 ounce, and THE PEOPLE’S BREW BASKET from The Republic of Tea. The Brew Basket is actually a little lighter than the MSR, weighing in at an amazing 0.1 ounce! The Brew Basket is a small plastic mesh filter shaped like a cup. It is a simple tool and works great.

The Beautiful Cup - 3

There are two ways to effectively use small filters to make good coffee – first, as a filter through which you pour already steeped coffee to keep grounds from ending up in your mug (and teeth), or second, as a way of containing grounds while they steep in your mug or bowl.

Actually POURING already steeped coffee through a filter makes better coffee, and it’s easier, but it requires using a two-pot system – one to hold the hot water and steep coffee in, and a second to drink from. Here’s how it works:

  1. Make a pot of boiling water with the desired volume.
  2. Shut off the stove and add finely ground coffee to the water.
  3. Stir with a little stick and then let this mixture sit for a while. (How long? How impatient are you? Some purists say four minutes, but I’m way too anxious for that; it would be an eternity. Let’s just say about a minute.)
  4. Then pour this mixture through your filter into your cup.

Dang, I can barely write this without getting all excited

For the second approach, using only one vessel, here’s the low-down:

  1. Boil the water in your drinking cup.
  2. Shut off the stove and take it off the heat.
  3. Prep the FILTER with the coffee grounds – a fine grind is essential.
  4. Carefully set the loaded FILTER right in the cup. This may take some time because the grounds will float (using the MSR with the lid will help here).
  5. Actively swish the FILTER around in the cup, then let it sit for a few minutes.
  6. Remove the filter and drink.

The Beautiful Cup - 4


You can take the Republic of Tea BASKET and cut it (and then sew it up again) so it fits PERFECTLY into a 500ml baby Nalgene bottle! This solves some of the hassle factor, and reduces the filter’s weight below its already wispy 0.1 ounce! Scizzor, sewing needle and unwaxed, unflavored dental floss required.

The Beautiful Cup - 5


Java Juice is the answer to the ultralight backpacker’s prayers.

For the super zealot, these little packets are the hands down winner for the lightest way to make, drink, and enjoy coffee.

Each packet weighs just 0.5 ounce and makes one 12-ounce cup of strong coffee. Vary the water (and the number of packets!) to find your strength preference.

How do you use Java Juice? Heat up water in a mug. Add contents of Java Juice packet and stir. That’s it! To make sure your hot drink tastes fantastic, heat your liquid before adding Java Juice.

Alas, even Java Juice is not quite perfect.

Pros & Cons(+) The lightest!

(+) The easiest!

(+) Pretty darned good taste.

(+) Single vessel.

(+) After careful instruction, even non-coffee drinkers can make it for you.

(-) Not quite as good as fresh brewed, but close.

Where Java Juice truly shines is when it’s served cold during afternoon coffee time on the trail with no need to pull out the stove. Dipping my humble mug in an ice-cold mountain spring, adding two packs of Java Juice and a pinch of powdered milk… oh my goodness, I’m getting all teary-eyed just thinkin’ about it!


The Beautiful Cup - 6

Austin Powers stumbled on Dr. Evil’s plans for global domination, and it was being masterminded out of the corporate tentacles of Starbucks. This was not just some Hollywood scriptwriters idea of a joke – this is TRUE! So, read on with extreme trepidation.

The Darth Vader of coffee exploitation does plenty of stuff that I worry about, but dang if they don’t make a really good coffee in a can.

Search your local grocery store (or gas station) and you’ll find little 6.5-ounce cans called DOUBLE SHOT. Espresso, cream, and sugar. This may sound terrible, but it is actually a distillation of the three most vital food groups: Caffeine, fat, and simple carbs.

I use these as a caffeine delivery system on short stoveless overnights trips. Two cans per morning are enough to screw my head on plenty tight.

Starbucks also sells an 11-ounce canned product called ICED COFFEE made with Italian roast, and (gratefully) this has less milk and sugar. Also very good.

The obvious drawback of these products is that you end up carrying actual containers of liquid into the backcountry, and then of course shuttle the empty cans around with you once you’ve used them.


Cowboy Coffee is an art, but it requires a little patience. And, honestly, patience is not one of my virtues. Nonetheless, Cowboy Coffee can be verygood, and here’s what I’ve learned:

The Beautiful Cup - 7

  1. Heat water in a pot.
  2. Let the water achieve a boil and take it OFF the stove.
  3. Add the grounds, and stir ‘em in. The grounds will float and won’t even begin to sink until they are fully saturated, so keep stirring. A little stick works fine.

You need to get the grounds to the bottom of the pot before you can pour the coffee into a cup. This is where patience is a virtue. Now it’s a race against time: if you wait an hour all the grounds will settle out beautifully – but the coffee will be cold. And if you don’t wait long enough, you’ll end up chewing your coffee instead of drinking it. It’ssurface tension keeping the grounds afloat, and you’ll need to break this with some simple techniques.

Here’s where everybody has a little trick to get the grounds to settle. These all work fine:

  1. Tapping the side of the pot.
  2. Adding a tiny bit of cold water.
  3. Add a pinch of snow (difficult in Arizona in July).
  4. Drop a few pebbles into the pot (my favorite).
  5. Continue to stir with a tiny stick.

Even the best Cowboy Coffee usually leaves a few grounds in the first cup out of the pot, so find out who on your team won’t complain and pour theirs first.

*Important note: You can easily avoid this whole rigmarole by pouring the cowboy brew through a filter and into your cup. This is quick and solves the issue of getting any grounds in your cup. (See “Small Filters” above).


The Beautiful Cup - 8

Traditional Turkish coffee is made with a combination of a specialized little cup, called an ibriks or cezve and very finely ground beans. For true Turkish coffee, beans are ground to a dusty powder – a consistency that might be difficult to achieve at home with a counter top “propeller” grinder. A better option would be to use the grinder in your local grocery store (or better yet, ask at your local coffee shop). If you don’t achieve a fine enough grind, the process won’t work. Your ground coffee needs to be as fine as cake flour!

If you are in a café in downtown Istanbul, your artisan host will put a small amount (usually less than you think) in your ibriksand then carefully bring the mixture to a boil. He’ll even let you use a special spoon to stir it. The ibriks has a bell shape, it’s wider at the bottom. This wide area traps the inky black stuff (affectionately called the “sludge”) as it settles, so you don’t end up drinking it. Simple and elegant. The humble backpacker can use a 500ml Lexan Nalgene bottle as a stand-in ibriks. This vessel has a similarly shaped wide rim, and it functions very nicely.

So, mix some Turkish ground coffee with boiling water right in your Baby-Nalgene, no stirring – just put on the lid and shake. Now let it sit for a few minutes so the sludge can all settle. Then drink it carefully! It’s a beautiful thing as long as there is no disruption of the tar at the bottom.


The Beautiful Cup - 10

You can combine the best of Cowboy Coffee and Turkish coffee approaches for 1-liter volumes. The standard 1-liter soft-sided Nalgene water bottle (6.1 oz) is a solution that is lighter than the French press and less time consuming than the Cowboy in-the-pot system. It also keeps the pot from making the next meal taste like coffee.

Put a very fine Turkish grind in the Nalgene bottle. Add boiling water, put the lid on, and shake it up. Wait a while (maybe three minutes), tapping the bottle periodically. Allow the grounds to settle to the bottom and decant the mixture into waiting cups. The shape of the “rim” on the bottle effectively traps the sediment, but pour SLOWLY. The last few drops will NOT be drinkable.

Sadly, the Nalgene bottle serves only one purpose, it will hold odors and will not make a very good water bottle – unless you don’t mind the strong leftover taste.

(+) A fairly light way to make coffee for two people (a half a liter each).

(+) Makes VERY GOOD coffee!

(+) Keeps the pot clean of coffee taste.

(-) The water bottle will be unusable as a water bottle.



If you can’t handle your coffee black, you’ll need to add some milk. The powdered stuff is actually pretty good (and there is even some organic milk available).

However, creating high quality milk from a powder isn’t as easy as you might think. Powdered milk is a finicky substance. Don’t be lazy and simply shovel the stuff into your brew. If you add powdered milk to hot water it’ll become a thick glop similar to a full hanky during allergy season and about as appealing.

To make proper milk you MUST USE COLD WATER. When combined with cold water, the powder is transformed into a glop-free concoction. That said, you can make it pretty thick so the mixture doesn’t get your final coffee too cold.

The 500 ml Nalgene is a milk frother’s dream tool! Add powdered milk and a tiny amount of cold water. Put the lid on and shake aggressively. You can achieve a powerfully creamy addition to the coffee experience.


Now, I would NEVER put this stuff in my coffee. But, in an effort to inform those who do, here are some tips.

Sugar is a tricky thing to carry in a backpack. It is granular and difficult to pour out of a plastic bag, but dipping a spoon in the bag is an unsanitary solution. Sugar packs poorly in a Zip-loc bag, because the grains clog the zipper, and spilled sugar is a disaster, especially in the rain. Oh Jeeez – the stuff gets sticky!

Brown sugar packs a little better – it stays in clumps for easier travel and serving. It sounds counterintuitive, but actually helps.

The easiest solution is to steal some of those little packets from a diner. Figure out how much you’ll need and count ‘em out exactly before leaving the trailhead.


Instant coffee isn’t actually coffee, and is therefore outside the scope of this discussion. It is quite simply not an option. I will not mention it further. If you’ve no sense of coffee-related propriety and are simply trying to get out of bed in the morning, pop a couple pieces of Jolt gum and hit the trail fer Pete’s sake.

Alternative Caffeine Delivery System

Jolt Gum

Jolt Gum is not coffee; it’s a caffeine delivery system completely devoid of the ritual involving the mug and the heartfelt “Ahhhh!” after the first sip. But it does have its place in the true caffeine addict’s backpack.

Here’s a story: I got up early in southern Utah in the rain, it was cold, and we had a lot of miles to finish up before the end of the day. We didn’t light the stove, we just chewed Jolt gum. While hiking I thought to myself, “What a nice morning!” (and this was in the rain!) This was the opposite of a non-coffee morning where my thoughts would be a frenetic spiral of, “Gotta brew up – Gotta brew up – Gotta brew up!”

This stuff works. Two little pieces have about the same caffeine as one cup of coffee. So, this actually IS a viable substitute to bringing coffee into the field.

A Backcountry Coffee Code of Conduct

Here’s an ethical can of worms.

Coffee grounds are trash, and we can’t be adding trash to the pristine backcountry.

I’ve shared a tent with some very devoted and morally pure backcountry travelers. They have watched me carefully disperse coffee grounds in the morning, and they were extremely clear at communicating their disapproval. Fortunately, I had already jacked my brain on the good-bean, so my debating skills were white hot. Unfortunately, they are right. Coffee grounds are actually trash. But, they are a trash that I can justify leaving in the topsoil in a pretty meadow out in the great wild.

The third Leave-No-Trace principle is “Dispose of Waste Properly,” and used coffee grounds are waste. If you feel you need to carry them out to the road-head and throw them in a trash can, then more power to you. I am of the opinion that with just a little forethought, used coffee grounds can be appropriately left behind. Coffee is a boiled and ground up bean (and hopefully you purchase organic beans!), and they will decompose in healthy topsoil.

For what it’s worth here’s my own “ethical” checklist:

  1. Scatter used coffee grounds in an appropriate area – bushes or brushy areas work wonderfully.
  2. Do NOT scatter used grounds on rocks or rocky areas. If you are above tree line, pack used grounds with you until you get to a zone with living flora.
  3. If you are in an impacted campsite, walk a long way from the site before scattering.
  4. Never dispose of used grounds in a river or pond!
  5. Don’t be lazy. Do the very best you can when you scatter your used coffee grounds.

The Beautiful Cup - 11



“The Beautiful Cup,” by Mike Clelland!. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/coffee_beautiful_cup.html, 2010-09-07 00:00:00-06.

2012 Potential Campsites









West Kennedy Creek



Creek 2.3 miles east of Hwy 1. Within Wolf Ridge ELC boundaries. 7.8 0.1
East Kennedy Creek



Creek 2.4 miles east of Hwy 1. Within the Wolf Ridge ELC boundaries. 0.1 5.8
Section 13



From creek at base of cliffs. 1.4 miles from county road 6 5.8 3.8
Leskinen Creek



Leskinen Creek (Poor water quality) 0.8 miles north of Park Hill Road 3.8 4.7
South Egge Lake



From Egge Lake On lakeshore with view of opposite shore 4.7 0.2
North Egge Lake



From Egge Lake On lakeshore 0.2 3.1
South Sonju Lake



From Sonju Lake 200 feet from lakeshore 3.1 0.3
North Sonju Lake



From Sonju lake, dock allows easy access On lake shore 0.3 1.9
East Branch Baptism River



From river River bank 1.9 0.6
Blesner Creek



From river or creek In cedar grove at intersection of creek and river 0.6 2.1
Aspen Knob



From unnamed creek 300′ away On knob adjacent to SHT. 2.1 5.1
Crosby Manitou State Park

Fee required

28 sites

Pump near parking lot, lake or river Wide variety
Horseshoe Ridge



Creek east of campsite 4.0 miles east of Crosby-Manitou parking lot. On ridge overlooking Manitou River valley. 5.1 3.1
West Caribou River



River 1.0 mile from Caribou Wayside parking 3.1 0.3