Camp Garbage

Trapper

Author, Writer, Photographer
#1
Since most of my cooking is done in the backcountry, I likely look at camp garbage very differently than most people. But then I'm the one wearing the bacon grease-soaked apron in bear country.

A bear's sense of smell is 2,100 times better than a human. A bear's sense of smell is so acute they can detect animal carcases upwind and from a distance of 20 miles away.

Bears aren't the only critter attracted to garbage. Mice, pack rats, chipmunks, skunks, etc are in most cases a much bigger problem.

So what to do with garbage? First, don't bring unnecessary stuff with you.
– buy boneless chicken, steaks, and pork chops
– remove as much packaging as possible. Use vacuum sealing bags. Core cabbage, shred, bag. Remove ham bones. Use dehydrated eggs for baking and mix with real eggs for scrambled egg breakfast casseroles.
– instead of canned goods, use frozen veggies or dehydrated foods.
– peanuts in the shell. Fun around the campfire but not fun to pick up all those shells that miss the fire.
– detail plan your meals so as to have enough but no leftovers or have a plan for the leftovers. HINT: "Someone will eat it." doesn't work. (unless your trip includes a bunch of 19 year old testosterone fueled football players.)

What to do with garbage even under the best plan. I like to burn it in a wood stove (bacon grease is a great fire starter) instead of the camp fire ring. The reason is simple, campfires don't burn trash and garbage well. Paper tends to lift off like a parachute on fire and wet garbage doesn't burn until the moisture is gone. A wood stove burns at much higher temperatures and what doesn't burn today will likely burn after being in it for hours.

I then use the ashes of the wood stove. I combine it with lime to dust the latrine to cut down odor.

Every year backpackers and other back country campers get unwanted visits by a bear or other critter. Often times it isn't that person who is the camp slob; it's the people who used that site prior to them and buried their garbage or dumped their bacon grease on the ground and kicked some dirt on it. Consider the next camper and pay it forward.

Dishwater garbage. Turn on your inner OCD. Use a spatula to carefully scrape plates, pans, etc. If you still have chunks in your dishwater, run it through a colander after dishes are done, put the chunks in the wet garbage and burn it. When it's time to chuck the dishwater, take it for a walk away from camp. Yes, a pain, but it'll help keep the rodents out of your tent. If you are near a dirt road, dump it there. You'll hear any missed silverware clang on the road and it'll help keep the dust down.

Anyone have any more garbage tips? Feel free to add them to the thread.

Trapper
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
#2
I was just thinking about that - garbage - with respect to multi-day river float trips. I like a clean camp because I'm basically tidy and also for the reasons you discussed regarding unwanted critters. However, you don't know what other floater/campers before you have done. When floating everyone is looking for approximately the same attributes for a camp site, if sites aren't already designated. Either way the same places get used repeatedly. I pass on a site that is visually obviously messy, but it's a lot harder to know whether a prior camper has buried or tossed some trash near by but out of sight.

I apply as many of my backpacking habits as I can to float and even car camping. I pre-make as many meals as I can at home, so they only need re-heating in camp. That minimizes the amount of trash left. I'll burn trash if feasible and legal, but a wood stove to do it in isn't practical for float camping or backpacking. If burning isn't possible or allowed, I put rinsed out food packaging in a large plastic zip lock bag designated for trash. That bag goes in a sack containing the food bags and gets hung from a tree over night. It's harder to keep mice and chipmunks out than bears in most cases.
 
#3
On my floats I'll put my extra beer or dog food in a 5 gallon bucket with a gamma seal. As beers go into the cooler space opens up for trash(in a bag but in the bucket). You can hang the bucket if needed as well.
 
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Trapper

Author, Writer, Photographer
#4
Salmo_g. A wood stove doesn't work for many back country trips. My camps tend to be wall tent and in place for months at a time, so it's something I regularly have access to even on roving trips because we burn in the wood stove when we get back to base camp.

At base camp my mantra is, "Don't throw anything on the ground you wouldn't throw on your mother's living room floor."
 

Trapper

Author, Writer, Photographer
#5
On my floats I'll put my extra beer or dog food in a 5 gallon bucket with a gamma seal. As beers go into the cooler space opens up for trash(in a bag but in the cooler). You can hang the bucket if needed as well.
I couldn't resist this bucket.

https://gearjunkie.com/yeti-loadout-bucket-review

I know it's nuts to spend that much on a bucket and lid, but this bucket is epic and I just couldn't friggin' resist.
 

TDB

Active Member
#6
For super lightweight trips I like the odor proof plastic bags for storing my food. I keep a Ziploc inside that bag for garbage. This is of course only works for truly light and fast style menus.
 

longputt

Active Member
#8
I like your recommendations and approach. We can't over state this, I bring my dogs and I can't believe what they scrounge up around campsites.

One thing I've started doing: I dehydrate my own food and the big advantage is that I only re-hydrate what I need. Those freeze-dried packages are either too big or too small and create a lot of garbage.

The de-hydrated meals do not need to be mixed, so you only re-hydrate a handful if you want more just grab a little more.

Yes they re-hydrate slower then freeze-dry; if I had a freeze-drier I'd use it, but de-hydrating works well. If you have access to coolers you don't need to fully de-hydrate like you need for backpacking, then the meals re-hydrate faster.
 
#9
Everyone should do their best to leave their campsite in better condition then they found It!! Respect the wild places you went out to enjoy and consider those who follow! I think sometimes we are just being lazy and inconsiderate if we do otherwise! Just one man's opinion, no offensive intended!
 

Jerry Daschofsky

Moderator
Staff member
#11
Everyone should do their best to leave their campsite in better condition then they found It!! Respect the wild places you went out to enjoy and consider those who follow! I think sometimes we are just being lazy and inconsiderate if we do otherwise! Just one man's opinion, no offensive intended!
Nah, no offense, you just need to word what you wrote better. "We" isn't quite correct, "there are people who" is more spot on. I've taught and enforce LNT in my camps. Was raised that way before it was a catch phrase. How much time I spend in camps, running and invited into, and my time in the field in general, it's only a small fraction doing the damage. From my experience it's usually the weekend warrior who goes out once or twice a year that's the slobs. Unfortunately when they are slobs they are SLOBS!!!! Like anything, the masses pay the price for the few.

Onto my own camps. I always pack out more garbage than I bring in. So when we police camp, EVERYTHING is picked up, including garbage that wasn't created by us. Again LNT of practiced. I love the bucket idea. I used to use 5 gallon ink buckets. They had heavy snap down lids that would only come loose with a flat head screwdriver but had a smaller screw cap on top. Which is designed for a machine feeding tube to screw into without opening the bucket. Big enough to put all food scraps, plastic, etc in and animals couldn't get into. I killed off last bucket a few years back. My Dad used them at work and he would bring me a couple as I needed them. Eventually the pry lid would split and wouldn't stay on. Then I would just use the buckets for odds and ends around house.
 

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
#12
I picked up a 2-pack of those loksak OPSAK odor barrier bags. If used according to directions, they claim "100% protection from water, humidity, odor, weather"

Anyone here have any experience using these? I figure that I could hang my food and garbage in them in a stuff sack. I did something similar in ONP, and wasn't bothered by any black bears, mice or raccoons.
 

Freestone

Not to be confused with freestoneangler
#13
I picked up a 2-pack of those loksak OPSAK odor barrier bags. If used according to directions, they claim "100% protection from water, humidity, odor, weather"

Anyone here have any experience using these? I figure that I could hang my food and garbage in them in a stuff sack. I did something similar in ONP, and wasn't bothered by any black bears, mice or raccoons.
Jim, I know the owner of the company. I recall her telling me years ago that for awhile, they weren’t allowed to sell the OPSAK except to the Government. Apparently they are so good that the DEA was worried about people using them for smuggling. Finally it was realized that the smugglers would most likely leave enough trace on the outside that she was allowed to introduce them into the commercial marketplace. So while the bags may be smellproof, be careful not to transfer odors to the outside.
 

TDB

Active Member
#14
Jim, I know the owner of the company. I recall her telling me years ago that for awhile, they weren’t allowed to sell the OPSAK except to the Government. Apparently they are so good that the DEA was worried about people using them for smuggling. Finally it was realized that the smugglers would most likely leave enough trace on the outside that she was allowed to introduce them into the commercial marketplace. So while the bags may be smellproof, be careful not to transfer odors to the outside.
I use them and what she said is correct. I started using them for alpine climbing as there's no place to hang stuff and the mice are terrible. I expanded my use to non-alpine stuff as well with good results. I try to eat and cook away from where I sleep.
 

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