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#91088 - 02/22/08 04:32 PM Bear Canisters
Infamous Offline

Registered: 02/12/08
Posts: 21
Loc: So Cal
Hello all,

I'm new here and making a return to backpacking after a 8 or so year absence. This is a great site with a lot of solid contributors. Like any newbie to a discussion board, I apologize if this has been discussed before, but I couldn't find the topic through searching.

I have a couple of short backpacking trips planned this spring to Yosemite and Sequoia, which now both require the use of bear canisters (I always used to do the conventional bagging with success). The Bear Vaults look good, but it sure seems like the bears would be more attracted to the food since they can see it inside. I know they can't get to it, but will they try harder when they see those goodies right in front of them, subsequently batting your canister who knows where? The Counter Assault and Garcia Machine models look good too, so I'm wondering if anyone can share any experiences or suggestions before I sink $70 into a plastic container!

Thanks for any help!
You can't fight in here, this is the War Room!

#91089 - 02/22/08 05:17 PM Re: Bear Canisters [Re: Infamous]
Trailrunner Offline

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
If it's dark when the bear pays you a visit, which is most likely, it won't matter if your canister is transparent or not. During the day your canister will probably be in a pack (I don't see many carried outside) won't matter if your canister is transparent or not. There is no rule against painting your Bear Vault although I would not recommend it. Or put all your food inside an opaque bag. Bears can smell food long before they see it anyway.

If weight is not your major concern and you're not counting ounces I would go with the Garcia. It seems to be the most bombproof. Bear Vaults are nice too, a little lighter, no tools required to open them, and the transparency is nice for humans to find things. The Bearikades are great but go for big $$$$.

You say your trips will be short so a Bare Boxer may work. Now fully approved, light, and only $40.00 plus shipping. But they are small.

You may find this discusion interesting.

Then again, Yosemite and Sequoia have excellent, inexpensive canister (Garcia) rental programs. If you still want to buy, REI sells canisters and their 20% off sale is coming up soon.

#91090 - 02/22/08 06:59 PM Re: Bear Canisters [Re: Infamous]
Weldman Offline

Registered: 11/21/05
Posts: 193
Loc: Sunnyvale, Ca

I have both a Garcia and a Bear Vault 350. Purchased both from a REI used gear sale. I bought the Garcia 5 yrs ago for 19.83 and the BV 350 for $13.?? a year ago

The BV's were the one's 2 yrs ago that had problem of Yogi and friends popping open the lids and had to have the lid modified. Garcia has not had any problems ( yet....Fingers crossed as I write this)

I use Reynolds oven bag liner in both cannister keeps food dry

just remember to put the can between something so they can't roll it or flip it.

I like to be able to switch depending on the trip.


#91091 - 02/22/08 09:02 PM Re: Bear Canisters [Re: Trailrunner]
Infamous Offline

Registered: 02/12/08
Posts: 21
Loc: So Cal
Thanks guys - I appreciate your responses. I hadn't considered the fact that, yes, of course, it would be dark if a bear were to visit, so the transparent thing isn't much of an issue. Maybe I'll go for the Garcia and then a BV350 so I can mix it up depending upon the trip.

I'd sure like to find some at those kinds of used gear prices!

Thanks again!
You can't fight in here, this is the War Room!

#91092 - 02/23/08 12:03 AM Re: Bear Canisters [Re: Infamous]
BrianLe Offline

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
I have both a garcia and an older model BV, mine is the BV200. Only in the Rae Lakes area is my bear can disallowed, and there are a lot of food locker (bear boxes) in that area. The newer model BV's are supposed to have fixed the issue where Rae Lakes area bears learned to pop the lids.

I like the BV a lot better than the Garcia. I agree that transparency shouldn't be an issue for bears; if they get close to your Garcia, they're likely to know there's food in there too, their noses are pretty darned good. Whether or not to use an odor proof liner is a separate debate, of course, but I'm not concerned about the transparency.

It is handy though --- even better is the wider opening, it's just much easier to pack and unpack the BV, and easier to maximize what you can get into it from the combination of those two things (transparency plus larger opening).

One drawback I've had with the BV is that any sort of dirt or grit that gets into the threads can make it hard --- sometimes almost seemingly impossible --- to open. I keep a short length of high friction cord (I use clothesline) with a little loop on one end --- wrap that around the lid to give a lot more twist-open power. The real solution is just trivial mainenance, i.e., infrequently clean the threads and put a light coat of vaseline or neosporine or something like that on them.

Offsetting the grit-in-threads issue is the fact that the contents always stay dry; the Garcia isn't water proof. That's no big deal either with experience --- just stand it upside down if rain is a possibility.

Bearikade owners all seem to love theirs, but it's significantly more expensive.


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