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#127227 - 01/24/10 01:57 AM Bear Proof Canisters
Colindo Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/15/09
Posts: 10
Loc: United States
I've noticed the popularity of making these canisters required in many of the national parks. I believe they are of some importance and if they are required then they should be used. My question is...What is a good canister that is somewhat light and compact. I was looking around at them today and they all seemed to be ridiculously heavy and big. I would really hate to have to rebuy gear in order to fit this thing in my pack.

Im doing the JMT this july and will have to come up with something for that trek. Any recommendations on alternatives? Or at least the best of the bear canisters?

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#127234 - 01/24/10 08:10 AM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: Colindo]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
The "best" by popular acclaim is the Bearikade at close to $300. A somewhat heavier (38 oz) but certainly adequate canister is the Bear Vault 500 at about $70. I used the Bear Vault on my southbound JMT through-hike and it served me quite well even with 10 days of highly compressed food leaving Muir Trail Ranch.

The "big" part of bear cans is pretty much inescapable unless you plan on resupply every few days. The JMT between Whitney Portal and MTR is not designed for easy resupply.

You may want to check on the legality of an Ursack for this coming summer. I have heard rumors of it now being approved. Used in combination with the bear lockers provided at a lot of the popular campsites, you may be able to skip the bear can.
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#127238 - 01/24/10 11:59 AM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: Colindo]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
You need to look at the websites for each jurisdiction as there is now no more SIBBG blanket recommendation. I heard that in Inyo NF they are accepting canisters and Ursack but the website language strongly favors bear canisters. You will probably never see Yosemite accept anything but the cans, the bears are more persistent there - we had to drive bears away at least twice a night every night we spent close to the JMT. The only way of avoiding that is to camp far enough off the beaten path. We had Bear Vaults and Bearikades.

You can rent the Bearikade, but for a long trip (if I had no further use for it) I'd probably buy it and then sell it used - since I have never seen one for sale used, there's probably a pretty good market for it.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#127239 - 01/24/10 12:23 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: Pika]
Zalman Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Olympic Peninsula, Washington,...
Originally Posted By Pika
The "best" by popular acclaim is the Bearikade at close to $300. A somewhat heavier (38 oz) but certainly adequate canister is the Bear Vault 500 at about $70.


Both of these companies also make smaller models (the Bearikade Scout and BearVault 450) which are slightly lighter and less expensive.
_________________________
It's easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain.
-- Larry Darrell

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#127250 - 01/24/10 02:17 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: lori]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Lori, when was your trip that you had to scare off the bears? Last July, while I was finishing up my breakfast at the bper cg at TM, someone was holloring at a bear. It was still dark so I just kept an eye out but never saw anything. I haven't seen a bear for quite a while now bping. The only bear I have seen for a bit now was a bear in the afternoon at the Mary Lakes area by Mammoth at the start of a trip three years ago. I hit Yosemite in early Oct. out of TM and have never seen a bear or scat, even a couple years ago in June at Rancheria Falls area.

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#127264 - 01/24/10 06:12 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: hikerduane]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
We were hiking from TM to Reds Meadow the first week of August 09 (when that freak snowstorm hit). In TM, we were in the backpacker campground - a ranger with a dish was tracking a problem bear, followed by a ranger with a paintball gun - we heard them shooting at the bear most of the day. The deer don't even flinch as they graze along the river when they're firing the gun....

In Lyell the following night, a bear woke us up by knocking over a pot walking through camp and we had to yell and wave - he was licking one of the Bear Vaults.

The following night we went off the JMT about a mile to Laura Lake and had no bears. We hid the canisters in foliage under rocks. There were folks across the lake who said they had bear issues, but they had the bearproof panniers and didn't seem to be hiding them.

The night after we were in the Shadow Creek drainage on a bench above the trail. We had a bear come through camp three times - drove him off each time. We buried the canisters in granite flakes (about 10 lbs per flake) and heard him moving the rocks each time.

Last May there was a bear in the grassy area before Wapama Falls just wandering around, grazing and rooting around in the grass, but we didn't see or hear any at Rancheria - rangers insist there are active bears in that area and I believe them, but some ignoramus hung a sack of stuff very badly and it wasn't touched.

Other than that, I've seen no bears - went out toward Dinkey Lakes two or three times, out north of Courtright, in and around Yosemite and out to Ostrander Lake (saw a TON of scat on the trail tho), up to Alta Peak and back - heck, on the Alta Peak hike, one guy went back with someone who had altitude sickness symptoms and saw THREE bears on the trail, and I saw none!

Two years ago I stayed at Alta Meadow solo - was sound asleep until I heard something ripping apart a log - had to be a bear. But it didn't touch the bear canister.

So, yeah, they are out there and very active, just not always where you are. TM campgrounds appear to be the place to go, if you want pictures of bears with radio collars...
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#127265 - 01/24/10 06:16 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: Zalman]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I have a BearVault solo, which works, but I hate the lids. On a cold (low 30F) morning, trying to get it off is a total PITA. The first lid I had got to the point that it spun off without catching, which is NOT good, but to the company's credit they sent me a free updated replacement. Now I get to deal with two tabs.

The Bearikade I rented was absolutely wonderful. Used the back of a knife blade to unlatch and the lid just lifted off... if only they weren't so expensive I'd have a Weekender.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#127266 - 01/24/10 06:57 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: lori]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I got the Weekender for Christmas a year ago.:) When I was still using my Garcia Machine, I stuck it in some rocks one night, had a little bit of green dribble on it the next morning, deer kept circling my camp the previous afternoon. I have more issues with deer than anything else. You can't scare deer very much.

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#127279 - 01/24/10 11:09 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: Colindo]
Paul Offline
member

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 778
Loc: California
I have 2 bearikades and an older Bear vault. The Bearikades are great - significantly lighter than anything else, and they have an excellent track record. The bear vaults are heavier, and the lids can be difficult to turn. I have strong hands (carpentry will do that to ya) and though I can grip the lid just fine and turn it, I often have trouble holding the canister, since it takes two hands on the lid and I have only my legs - generally encased in slippery nylon or polyester - or my feet (awkward as hell) to hold the canister. No such issues with the Bearikade, and no redesigned lid every year or so due to bears getting the hang of it, as has happened with the Bear Vault. I would highly recommend the Bearikade - costs more but worth every dime.

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#127286 - 01/25/10 03:37 AM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: Paul]
Colindo Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/15/09
Posts: 10
Loc: United States
Im having a really hard time imagining spending more money on my food storage than my tent.

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#127295 - 01/25/10 10:18 AM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: Colindo]
sarbar Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
Nothing is bear proof, just resistant. Canisters work the best of course, due to their not giving rewards.

But...if hiking in an area with no grizzlies and no habiuated black bears (ones who have learned to be aggressive in stealing food) Ursack bags shine. Outside of California in the Sierras, there is often no official rules in parks or forests on what is and isn't allowed. Most park websites DO have rules posted under the hiking and backpacking section. NF's though tend to often have no rules.
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Freezer Bag Cooking, Trail Cooking, Recipes, Gear and Beyond:
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#127304 - 01/25/10 12:33 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: Colindo]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Then don't. You can get a small but approved by every Sierra jurisdiction I've seen Bare Boxer for forty bucks. You can rent the Bearikade for a week for about the same cost. Sequoia-Kings Canyon rent the Bearikades for 5/6 per night then 2 for each additional night thereafter (they have the weekender and expedition for rent). Yosemite rents the Garcia canisters for even cheaper. Hang your food everywhere else....

Those of us who go all the time into the Sierras have a different economical situation. We buy because four years of rentals when you go out every month makes less sense.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#127328 - 01/25/10 04:55 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: Colindo]
sarbar Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
As Lori points out, if you hike enough in certain areas it pays back quickly.

For example I backpack on the Olympic Coast in the ONP quite often. Out there canisters are required due to raccoons. For me every time I go it was a $3 "donation" to rent a Garcia canister that was too big. So we bought a Bear Vault Solo that is perfect for overnighters to 2 nighters. It is paid for many times over.

Same with the 2 Ursacks I have - At less than $50 each they were paid off years ago.

One thing that canisters and Ursacks offer is ease of use - which is priceless when tired at night. No thinking. You go stash it and go to bed.

Hanging food in a tree is about as much fun for me as getting my teeth cleaned. Seriously! So every time when I am done in 30 seconds with my food I think how my time is worth something, even in the wilderness. wink
_________________________
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www.trailcooking.com

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#127359 - 01/25/10 09:31 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: Colindo]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Like was mentioned earlier, buy it, sell it when done with your trip if renting is a waste. The Bearicade is a rare animal to find used. Should have a good chance to sell it later.

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#128183 - 02/05/10 04:52 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: hikerduane]
Jeff Offline
member

Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 41
Loc: Nevada
I own a couple of Bearikade Expeditions and a Weekender. My wife and
I packed 12 days of food in 2 of the Expeditions. The Weekender is for
shorter trips. I will never wear them out and I hope to get another 25 or
more years worth of trips out of them. I can't say my tents or pack will
last that long.

I bear bagged and hung packs most of the 1990's and I would have one
or more nights on each trip where bears would keep me awake trying to
get me bags out of the tree. I also found it a pain trying to find suitable
trees when in the higher elevation areas. I now use the bear cans and
put ear plugs in and enjoy a nice sleep. I still run into other hikers who
had the unpleasant experience of trying to defend their food.

I justify my paying for my backpacking gear by the savings of camping out
verses paying for hotel rooms while on vacation.
_________________________
Jeff MyBackpackTrips

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#128719 - 02/12/10 04:55 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: Jeff]
barking spider Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/12/10
Posts: 6
Loc: Springfield, IL
We felt like it was too heavy and that it was more thn we wanted to spend, but ended up getting one last year with our REI rebate.

We got the Bear Vault 500. It works great for 1-2 people. We carried seven days worth of food for two in last fall. We make all of our own food for the trail so it may be the determining the amount of supplies you can carry in it.

Even though it is supposed to be tough enough to prevent most bears from getting in to it, I still tied it up and hoisted it up into a tree 50 yards or so from camp. Never had a bear try to get it. They do work well for containing food odors. When I take the lid off I can smell my jerky, but I can't smell a thing with the lid on. I realize a bear has a better sense of smell, and may still smell the food, but at least it seems to reduce that possibility to some degree.

It also makes my wife feel a bit more secure, because she has a phobia about bears. Not bad enough not to backpack, but enough to get a food vault.

The bear vault also makes a great stool with the lid screwed down tight. So if you carry a chair of some sort you can eliminate that.

We too invest in quality camping gear versus paying for one time use hotel stays. Waking up to the sounds of nature is way better than the vacuum of the cleaning lady down the hall.

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#128723 - 02/12/10 05:42 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: barking spider]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
You're lucky you didn't camp where the bears are very canny and determined. You're not supposed to tie a rope to a canister. It gives the bears something to hold onto and the bears in Yosemite especially will jump out off trees and grab the bag/canister, breaking the rope and probably the branch. That's defeating the whole purpose of the canister. If you're going to hang a bag is lighter to carry! Hanging is for bags, putting the canister on the ground with nothing tied to it and the lid fastened properly is the right way to use a canister.

It is NOT odor proof - that's not the point of them either. It's also not ant proof, they will crawl in between the threads of the lid. Nor is it waterproof. I put mine in the hollow where a tree has fallen so the bear can't do more than roll it around, or in a crevasse under a rock, as far from inclines or water as I can get it - and at least 20-50 feet from camp. Sometimes I put a rock or pine cone or pot on it so I know if it's been touched.

Sorry to sound all lecture-y and scolding, but improperly stored food will in some areas not just get your food lost to bears, it will potentially contribute to the death of a bear and a big fine for you - national parks will ticket you if a bear gets your food. Please use food storage containers in the manner intended. It saves bears. I applaud your efforts to do what you thought was necessary - that's more than the careless people who don't even think about it do, the ones who made bear canisters necessary in the first place by letting bears steal their food and get used to easy calories.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#128727 - 02/12/10 07:13 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: lori]
barking spider Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/12/10
Posts: 6
Loc: Springfield, IL
Didn't realize you're not supposed to hang canisters. Just seemed to be an added protection. No offense taken.

I read others comments about locations they hid there canisters and those made sense.

Will change how we use it in the future.

Thanks

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#128730 - 02/12/10 08:23 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: barking spider]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Yes, a lot of people seem to think it will help to hang them. But they were really designed as an alternative to hanging. I don't know where you were hiking, it's probably not a real issue in a lot of areas - it struck me after I posted that most people who get the bear canister are doing so because of some regulation but that isn't necessarily true of you. Some do get them because they are that concerned. It probably would have been more of an issue in an area where bear canisters are actually required, as those are generally areas where hanging is no longer effective.

I also run into a lot of folks who are afraid of black bears - even the habituated ones who are no longer afraid of people will run away if you yell and wave and carry on at them. It's not unheard of for them to be aggressive, but more rare than for brown bears. Maybe that's not really reassuring for your wife, it didn't reassure some of the folks in my hiking group either frown but in most areas it's not really going to be a problem. They just like your food as much as you do.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#128741 - 02/13/10 01:44 AM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: lori]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I had a lady Ranger at Purple Lake in the John Muir Wilderness ask me why I had not hung or tied up my Ursack TKO when they were stil approved. I told her that you could no longer tie it to a tree as it had the potential to damage resources and it wasn't designed to be hung in a tree. She asked for my name and email addy. Never heard anything from her. She had a small crew with her and they were rearranging fire pits to the three rock design, a smaller size.

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#128754 - 02/13/10 10:36 AM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: hikerduane]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
A lot of confusion... maybe they should print the instructions on the Ursack and the canisters. That way the user will know how to use, and the onlooker can be easily shown why you're not hanging the Ursack.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#128763 - 02/13/10 11:58 AM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: lori]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I had the original TKO and bought the aluminum insert upgrade. Since the Ursacks are not approved (may change) if I feel a need to protect my food in an area where canisters are not required, I'll bring just the bag which weights 5 oz. and tie it to a tree, as I am camping with little use anyway. I see more damage on the hike in by porcupines than campers.

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#128769 - 02/13/10 12:07 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: lori]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Another reason to not hang a bear can is that about the one way a bear can get into a bear canister is if it drops from a sufficient height to crack the plastic.

In terms of odor, to reduce odds of a bear visit, a person can use an odor proof aloksak inside the can. I think most don't; I tend to use one with an Ursack but not an actual bear canister.

The amount of scent that escapes from a can --- and whether or not ants can crawl into it --- depends on the type/brand. The threaded screw-on cap of a Bearvault model isn't going to allow ants to crawl in. It's certainly not odor proof, but I would guess that it's more so than the older black plastic Garcia type.


Edited by BrianLe (02/13/10 12:07 PM)
_________________________
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#128791 - 02/13/10 10:18 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: BrianLe]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By BrianLe


The amount of scent that escapes from a can --- and whether or not ants can crawl into it --- depends on the type/brand. The threaded screw-on cap of a Bearvault model isn't going to allow ants to crawl in. It's certainly not odor proof, but I would guess that it's more so than the older black plastic Garcia type.


Someone needs to tell the ants that, before more of them die when the sun hits my canister... little teeny tiny ones. I carelessly threw an empty ziploc in rather than zipping it into the trash bag so they must have been after particles of potatoes. I found a dead carpenter ant in the bottom when I got home once but I'll allow for it possibly hitching a ride on something I was putting away...

_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#130075 - 03/04/10 03:07 PM Re: Bear Proof Canisters [Re: Colindo]
skunkcreationz Offline
newbie

Registered: 10/21/09
Posts: 12
Loc: Florida
I don't know if you would be interested, but my company is currently developing an anti-odor food bag that will block almost all smells. I've tested it on raccoons, bears, and mountain lions. Within the last week, my preliminary bear testing showed good results, and is now ready for further testing. The bears were unable to locate the food hidden within the bag.
Currently, I'm searching for people who would like to test these bags out, and provide critical feedback. They can be used inconjunction with your bear canisters, or by themselves. Let me know if you are interested? I can arrange for free samples in exchange for helping me out.

You can email me at skunkworx@ymail.com

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