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What's That Smell

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Our boys are making a list of no-smell items for a list they want to make available and keep current for other high adventure crews in our district. They have a good list of products we use regularly (e.g. soap, toothpaste, sunscreen, insect repellant, deodorant, etc). Items must be eco friendly, effective for the purpose designed and non-smellable.

 

Please post the items you've used. Please try to post the brand name and, if you can, where you bought it. I suspect such a list may help others searching for such items. If you have a recommendation for other items not listed please feel free to add them.

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From the title, I thought the conversation might be about a troop's lost and found bag after a week of summer camp. with 8 first year campers, we had a large bag, and it did smell. :laugh:

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BadWolf, when you say "no smell" I assume you are talking about items that cannot be smelled by a bear or other four-legged invader. A lot of items that are labeled "unscented" do have an aroma, and even items that may seem to us not to have an aroma can still be detected by an animal. So are you talking about items that have actually been tested with animals? (That would be an interesting lab to work in, if the test subjects are bears! I don't imagine that anyone actually does that kind of testing, but I could be wrong.)

Edited by NJCubScouter

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We once had a dad leave a bag of fish entrails from a November campout in the trailer, sealed up all winter.  Talk about a smell when the trailer was opened in April!  WHEW!  Lots of Lysol.

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Yes, I haven't been in bear county in a few years, so there may be some new odorless products I haven't seen. But some things just have a smell, so sometimes not attracting critters is more about using a strategy of what odors and when. For example, the clothes we wear during the day with mosquito repellent and other odors we keep in the bear bag at night. Same goes with clothing that has spilled food on them. Just about every attack of a scout at Philmont was a result of food, food wrappers, or food on clothing in the tent.

 

Bears in general don't like the smell of humans, so it's the other smells that overpower their repulsion of man.

 

Good question, I'll be interested in the other comments.

 

Barry

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BadWolf, when you say "no smell" I assume you are talking about items that cannot be smelled by a bear or other four-legged invader. A lot of items that are labeled "unscented" do have an aroma, and even items that may seem to us not to have an aroma can still be detected by an animal. So are you talking about items that have actually been tested with animals? (That would be an interesting lab to work in, if the test subjects are bears! I don't imagine that anyone actually does that kind of testing, but I could be wrong.)

 

Good question. There are a few categories to cover from the OP. Am looking for the Holy Grail products that might meet all of these. Looking for products that are:

  • Biodegradable (Breaks down easily in natural environment using LNT guidelines)
  • Eco-friendly (Think sun screen that won't kill coral reefs, soap that won't harm environment, etc.)
  • Non-scented (In that it won't attract animals, if tested to confirm all the better)
  • Effective (Must actually work for the purpose for which they are intended. No good if sunscreen does not work)

For Example: The old Tom's Toothpaste was nature-friendly but leaves you tasting like a thin mint to bears. Ideally we'd want to identify an product that cleans teeth and does not attract Smokey the Bear. A second example would be soap that is biodegradable but does not clean well. (Note: Do NOT want to get in to the sanitize versus clean debate again. ;) )

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Yes, I haven't been in bear county in a few years, so there may be some new odorless products I haven't seen. But some things just have a smell, so sometimes not attracting critters is more about using a strategy of what odors and when. For example, the clothes we wear during the day with mosquito repellent and other odors we keep in the bear bag at night. Same goes with clothing that has spilled food on them. Just about every attack of a scout at Philmont was a result of food, food wrappers, or food on clothing in the tent.

 

Bears in general don't like the smell of humans, so it's the other smells that overpower their repulsion of man.

 

Good question, I'll be interested in the other comments.

 

Barry

 

So this brings up an interesting point: How did you get the repellent smell of your skin to avoid being bear-bait at night?

 

This is where I think the non-scented soap topic might come up.

Edited by Bad Wolf

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When bowhunting deer in September, we use baking soda as a deodorant. It keeps the bacteria from growing that produce pit fragrance.  Don't use too much, though, or the coarse crystals will chafe.  Works well as toothpaste.

 

Of course pit fragrance might be a bear repellent... 

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So this brings up an interesting point: How did you get the repellent smell of your skin to avoid being bear-bait at night?

 

This is where I think the non-scented soap topic might come up.

The bears in my neck of the woods are pretty shy.

But I've never heard of them being attracted to deet or picarin.

Anybody actually heard of bears going after mosquito netting?

 

As far as deoderants go, IMHO ... don't. If you want to discourage a bear, smell like the last thing on earth she'd want to tangle with. The great thing about Underarmor, it really seems to absorb those nasty human organics so it's the perfect scent rag. I'd almost be temped to hang the day's shirt in the middle of camp.

 

I'm going to Dolly Sods next month, Lord willing. And the real challenge will be to pick-and-zip the blueberries, then scrub hands with freshwater before pulling out the bagging rope.

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So this brings up an interesting point: How did you get the repellent smell of your skin to avoid being bear-bait at night?

 

This is where I think the non-scented soap topic might come up.

We tried to not put repellent on the skin if possible, only our clothing. But if it were applied to skin, we generally only did that in the morning and it wore off by evening where the human smell was stronger. We generally were in our tents before dark in areas of heavy mosquitoes like the Boundary Waters before they became a problem. It was never a problem in mountains where bears might be a concern. 

 

Barry

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I'm going to Dolly Sods next month, Lord willing. And the real challenge will be to pick-and-zip the blueberries, then scrub hands with freshwater before pulling out the bagging rope.

Yes, same thing with cleaning fish, it takes a lot of scrubbing to get rid of that smell.

 

The blueberries were so thick in the Boundary Waters one year that we actually brought enough home to freeze and enjoy for a year. The Canadian ranger (Mounted Police?) told us that bear problems are rare when the blueberries are out because they fill their bellies with them. I don't know, we still played it safe.

 

Barry

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I'm going to Dolly Sods next month, Lord willing. And the real challenge will be to pick-and-zip the blueberries, then scrub hands with freshwater before pulling out the bagging rope.

 

We go there all the time climbing at Seneca. Never had a bear problem, but that was back in the 80s when bears were too busy doing other things; mostly chasing the frat boys out of the camp sites. ;)

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From my experience bear-hunting (Bow - High Level, Alberta), bears LIKE the most rotten smell you can make.  They'd walk right by a barrel of only slightly spoiled ham and beef to attack a horrible smelling beaver carcass hung on a tree.  Every time.

 

The guides would hang the beaver with a cable noose and slide it up the tree each time it was hit to determine the size of the bear.

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One has to be careful more with the area than the bears.  Areas of large human traffic will associate human scent as a draw.  Where there's humans, there's food.  Areas of minimal human traffic, human scent will deter the animals.  I have camped in bear country all my life and found that knowing the area and knowing the bears will dictate what one takes as scented or non-scented precautions.

 

I have not been all that concerned about what is not-scented, but I do use baking soda as @@JoeBob mentions.  I rely on other methods of repelling bears other than not attracting them to the site.

 

It might be wise this time of year to buy up your yearly supply of bear repellent from the local fireworks tent.  :)  

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