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I just read this question about bears and tents and according to the answers, if you ever have to use a bear spray, you have to do so outside of your tent (quite reasonably).

I am wondering if camping with a tarp, especially with a open (as in suspended a-frame) configuration may be somewhat safer than using a tent in such a situation. In my mind, this would allow the bear to see you (and leaving accordingly, since in the majority of the cases that's what is going to happen - again, still according to the answers of the above questions).

And, in those rare case where the bear might want to predate you, you would have an easier life firing with the bear spray - or a gun, without the hassle to leaving the tent in panic first.

I'd like to travel in bear countries and I'd be interested to know if the above speculation might actually be right or not.

marked as duplicate by user2766, Phil, Wills, ShemSeger, WedaPashi May 23 '15 at 5:00

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  • 2
    Bears are not a big danger. You are many orders of magnitude more likely to get killed in a car accident on the way to your hike than to get killed by a bear. The danger of being attacked by a bear is so remote that it is not a valid reason to change anything about your hiking technique. If you're going to modify your hiking technique because of bears, it should be because of danger to the bears, not to you. When bears become habituated to humans or dependent on human food, usually the result is that the bear is killed. – Ben Crowell May 16 '15 at 21:01
  • What kind of bears are you talking about? Black bears? Grizzlies? Polar bears? Talking about bringing a gun is absurd unless you have polar bears in mind. Bear spray is not necessary if your area only has black bears. – Ben Crowell May 16 '15 at 21:04
  • I pointed to the original question, which was about black bears (sorry for not having been redundant). – Dakatine May 16 '15 at 22:38
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    Go with the tent. It protects against the real issues of mosquitos and inconvenient ground-crawling creatures as opposed to the imagined dangers of a bear while you're in your tent. – Olin Lathrop May 17 '15 at 12:17
  • I think this question is slightly different from the marked potential duplicate. The other question asks if a tent provides protection from a bear, while this question asks essentially if different styles of tents are better or worse at providing protection from a bear. Similar but different. – nhinkle May 20 '15 at 17:04

I see 0 benefit to a tarp over a tent with regards to travel in bear country.

this would allow the bear to see you (and leaving accordingly)

Bears are going to smell you and your camp long before they see you. If your tarp/tent setup is any good at all, it'll be covering you from most directions anyhow. I can't imagine an open tarp having any significant difference in terms of how long it takes for the bear to realize you're there.

And, in those rare case where the bear might want to predate you, you would have an easier life firing with the bear spray - or a gun, without the hassle to leaving the tent in panic first.

Bear spray can only be used outside the tent, but if you did decide to use a gun, the walls of a tent aren't going to do much to stop a bullet. Anyhow, the walls of a tarp are going to get in your way too.

The real issue here is that a tarp A-frame tent is vastly inferior to almost any kind of real tent. You're far more likely to get hypothermia from having inadequate shelter than you are to have a bear even come through your camp, let alone get into a situation where your choice of shelter affects the interaction with the bear.

  • 2
    The a-frame is a setup to be used when the weather isn't too intense. That means light rain and no wind. Most of the warmth is provided by the sleeping bag, the tent does play a role but much less significant than that. Also, silnylon will not stop a bullet but you would aim without seeing. – Dakatine May 16 '15 at 21:26
  • In the answers to the question I am referring to, it was pointed out that when the bear notices you (because you scream, for instance) it would leave. That is why I wondering if it could be useful to be seen. The bear smells you, and approaches. Then it sees you, and leave. No? – Dakatine May 16 '15 at 22:39
  • I can't imagine that having an open-sided shelter will make a significant difference in how quickly the bear notices you. And while you're right that tent fabric will make it harder to aim should you feel the need to use a gun, you can see shadows and shapes much better through the walls of a tent than you can through tarp material. I'd rather 20% visibility in 100% of directions than 0% visibility in 70% of directions. Besides, the sound of a gun going off is probably more than enough to scare most bears away, actually needing to hit it to kill is so far-fetched as to be ridiculous. – nhinkle May 16 '15 at 23:31
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    Bears are going to smell you and your camp long before they see you. If you look at a bear it has really large ears and nostrils and very small eyes. Bears have amazing smell and hearing but relatively poor eyesight – user2766 May 20 '15 at 8:40
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    @Liam I was under that impression too, but according to The American Bear Association black bears have eyesight which is at least as good as a human's. It just turns out that their hearing and sense of smell are way better than ours, but they don't have poor eyesight per se. Point still stands though. – nhinkle May 20 '15 at 17:02

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