047: WILD: The Bear Episode

Show Notes: Episode 047

Today on The First 40 Miles, what do a diminutive military leader and a thousand pound grizzly bear have in common? Today’s Top 5 List may have the answer. Then in today’s SUMMIT Gear Review, a simple knot along with bullet proof fabric that can protect your food. Then on today’s Backpack Hack of the Week, if you’ve seen bear scat with bells in it, then we have the zero gram solution for you. And we’ll wrap up the show with a little trail wisdom from our good friend on the trail, Craig Childs.


Our week in bear country

Grizzly Bears: Idaho, Alaska, Canada, Montana, Wyoming, and possibly Washington

Black Bear: At least 40 states in the US, and through Canada and Mexico.

When you’re in bear country, be smart. Keep a very clean campsite, don’t leave food waste out, and know your risk level before you go, and know what to do if you do have a face to face encounter.

Basic Bear Information


Fatal Bear attacks in North America



Top 5 List of Famous Faces That May help You Understand Bears

Napoleon Bonapart

  • He had the “rare combination of will, intellect and physical vigour.”
  • Napoleon also knew the power of food. In fact, one of Napoleon’s most most famous quotes is: An army marches on its stomach.
  • Bear + food connection
  • Similar to Napoleon, Bear are also not easily defeated once they’ve tasted the goodies in your food stash, which is why it’s best to protect your food with a bear-proof system.
  • Bears who have become habituated to human food is a significant cause of bear attacks.

Archie Bunker

  • Gruff, equally lovable and disliked, somewhat of an anti-hero.
  • Dopey gait where his upper body is always a little ahead of his lower body, and carries himself with a slight hunch.
  • In some ways you can even imagine him sitting in his recliner back in the bear den.

Donald Trump

  • Intimidating, loves bluffing, false charge, somewhat flamboyant because he can be.
  • While bears do possess the strength to do damage to humans, much of the time, they would much rather show their strength with a bluff charge.
  • No matter the type of bear, it appears that the weapon that is the most effective is bear spray. Guns and knives can wound without killing, so it may make the bear angry. Bear spray, when correctly used, can be like a pause button on the bear situation. That gives you time to remove yourself.
  • NOTE: We do NOT recommend using bear spray on any Presidential Candidate


  • He has incredible strength, he’s tracked by the government, sometimes an attack can be triggered by something as a surprise run-in or protecting the people he cares for.
  • To avoid surprising a bear, be sure to make your presence known by traveling in groups of six or more, and making enough noise so that a bear is not surprised when you come around a corner.

Maria von Trapp from The Sound of Music

  • Mama Bears or Sows have solid mothering skills. While bears aren’t know for fashioning play clothes out of curtains, they are known for defending their young aggressively.
  • While they may or may not attack, you are guaranteed to hear their clacking teeth and see a false charge or two as they try to defend their space.
  • As adorable as cubs are, stay far, far away from a mother and her cubs.

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Ursack Bear Bag


  • The Ursack S29.3 AllWhite (IGBC cert. no. 3738)
  • Made of White Spectra Fabric, “bullet proof”
  • Tie it up with an integrated six foot, 2,500 pound tensile strength cord that loops through top
  • The newest version of the AllWhite made since about April 1, 2015, has a tighter weave and more than double the tear strength of previous models


  • Recommended to use with Opsak odor proof liner
  • Aluminum critter resistant liner is also available
  • The Ursack passed the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee test and was placed on its bear-resistant products list on July 31, 2014.
  • The IGBC list is used by many, but not all, wilderness agencies, and restrictions may still apply–check first with the area that you’ll be traveling through. Check before you go!!


  • Weighs 7.8 ounces
  • 24 inches in circumference, 14 inches tall and holds about 650 cubic inches
  • Not gusseted—it’s a flat bag
  • A very rough rule of thumb is that if packed efficiently, Ursack can hold about five days worth of food for one person


  • Machine or Hand Wash
  • Unscented detergent
  • Air dry


  • $68.88
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty


  • Easy to use, and the instructions are inside the bag on a tag.
  • Simple fill an odor proof bag, and put that bag into the Ursack.
  • Then, cross the cords and loop them through the other side of the bag.
  • To tie off the bag, tie an overhand knot, but instead of going around once, loop it a second time. Not tying TWO overhand knots, just one with an extra go around.

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Free Bear Bell Alternative

Keep the conversation going!

Alert wildlife around you that you are present with your own voice.

There’s actually no evidence that bear bells deter bears.

The faint tinkling sound the bells make are in direct competition with the sound of a rushing stream or the wind going through the trees.

The human voice covers more melodic range, decibel range (from 30 db whispering, 60 talking, 120 yelling), and has varied rhythmic patterns.

Bear attacks are extremely rare. Most wilderness attacks happened with there was only one to two persons in the vicinity, and no attacks have ever been recorded against groups of six or more. And a group of six or more can enjoy a pretty lively conversation.

Trail Wisdom

“Most animals show themselves sparingly. The grizzly bear is six to eight hundred pounds of smugness. It has no need to hide. If it were a person, it would laugh loudly in quiet restaurants, boastfully wear the wrong clothes for special occasions, and probably play hockey.”

― Craig Childs