This site has a good explanation for how to hang a bag PCT style. This may seem obvious but, once the bag is suspended with this method, how do you get it down?

Short description of the PCT method

  1. Throw rope over limb.
  2. Using a carabiner, clip one end to the bag.
  3. Pull the bag up.
  4. Tie a stick in the line with a clove hitch, and the bag will only lower to that point.
  • I've never seen anyone hang a bag using that style on the PCT. Traditionally, PCT hikers use the counterbalance method: princeton.edu/~oa/training/bearbag.shtml
    – gbronner
    Apr 13, 2016 at 20:35
  • On the East Coast, some bears are savvy enough to climb even the thinnest of trees, and retrieve your food bag by using their weight on your suspended line. This happened to me twice on the Appalachian Trail. This is especially true in national parks with designated campsites that attract fully domesticated bears. When bears learn that delicious goodies are suspended between trees, many of them will adapt to get those bags. An alternative that has worked well for me is to use a dry bag for food, and if I am near enough to a water source, tie the dry bag to a tree near the waterline, and weigh Apr 15, 2016 at 14:38
  • The method described is commonly called the PCT method, regardless. Apr 15, 2016 at 19:21

1 Answer 1


It seems like you simply need to reverse the procedure you give. Since you initially had to pull the rope up far enough to tie the stick in to it, you can still pull it back up to the same point in order to untie the stick. Then let the bag lower down again, stick free.

Here is my hastily doodled interpretation of the process. The stick is represented by the red mark in each drawing. There is at each step, more rope than is required. At step 4, the cueball figure reaches up to tie the stick into the rope, but still leaves an ample amount of rope hanging at his feet. In step five he lowers the bag to this stick, then in step 6 he secures the loose rope around the tree trunk.

enter image description here

To lower the bag, reverse the steps. Take the loose rope off the trunk, raise the bag until you can again reach the stick. Remove stick, lower bag, undo everything, make breakfast, resume hike.

  • 3
    And the retrieval is always a good way to have some cheap fun at the expenses of the shortest person in the group. Apr 5, 2016 at 14:32
  • I guess I'm missing something. Anything out of a bears reach would be out of my reach, so how do I pull it back up? Apr 5, 2016 at 14:35
  • 2
    @RussellSteen I guess the whole thing is based on the idea that a bear can't grip and hold a strand of rope and therefore cannot pull the rope back down to remove the stick or pull the bag over the limb. Apr 5, 2016 at 15:18
  • 2
    @RussellSteen Yep, what Benedikt said. Only comment I'd make about the sketch is that the stick should jam against the carabiner at the bag, not the limb. (See step 5 in the graphic from the article Russell linked.) Otherwise the bag will not be high enough.
    – requiem
    Apr 5, 2016 at 15:50
  • 2
    Also you might want to not tie the loose end to anything, the animal has a bit of WTF reaction to the rope loose with no tension, and usually let it be. Someone that doesnt know the system and is used to the normal rope tied to the trunk has pretty much the same reaction when you send them to get the bag. PS: this system works only on high branches, if the branch is barely high enough to be acceptable the bag will end always too low and the higher the branch the more difficult throwing the rope is Apr 5, 2016 at 16:07

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