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post #1 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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Default Bear canisters

What are people's thoughts on these?

I was thinking about getting one for camping above the tree line, storing the more odourous, crushable and messy foods like jerky, tortillas, and peanut butter in one place, and for camping in areas where there are issues with smaller critters eating through bags.

They are heavy, but the above conveniences might make them worth it.

How far do you have to keep it from your camp? Do odours permeate through the lid?
What is the best brand, do you think?

If this is merely bear-resistant, what's the point?

http://www.mec.ca/product/5017-444/b...10+50130+50483

Would one of these be better?

http://www.mec.ca/product/5020-583/u...=0&h=10&q=Bear

Thanks!

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post #2 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 11:19 AM
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Just a quick answer: I have the smaller version of that one. Love it and it served me well. Eventually switched to the bear-bag to save weight/space and have also had good experiences with that.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 11:55 AM
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I use the Ursack. It comes with a OPSak to seal in food smells, which might mean that you'd never have to find out if the sack is actually effective.

To really make a recommendation though, I'd have to toss it to a grizzly and let him give me his assessment.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 12:20 PM
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you might want to consider where else you could be hiking in the future before buying. Some of our U.S. Parks only allow certain types of bear containers, unfortunately in some cases the "sacks" don't qualify, regardless of how well they work. I have one of the Garcia - Backpacker cache cans and it is durable and works well. Had it now for probably 20 years and still going strong. It holds about 6-7 days of food if you plan really well, but usually 5-6 is a better estimate. It's heavy.

The most expensive can is the Bearicade, made out of carbon fiber, I think. They have an expedition model that appears to be a large enough size to handle group quantities. Very high price though but good reputation from what I have read and a tad lighter.

If I was staying out of the parks or going somewhere that didn't require "hard" cans, I would go with the sack.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 01:18 PM Thread Starter
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Most of the hikes I have planned have lockers, but a few are in the alpine and/or have problems with rodents.

I'm not sure about the sacks.. What keeps them from being grabbed for further inspection like any backpack?
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 01:27 PM
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you point out one of the big differences. The cans have the advantage that the bears and rodents cannot get their jaws on it for biting or chewing. They may bat the can around for awhile but from what I read, they give up after awhile. With the cans it is recommended to wedge it in some rocks or place it in an area that won't permit the thing to be rolled off into the bush. With the sacks, if they are laying on the ground, they will likely get chewed on.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 01:34 PM
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The canisters can be swatted for further inspection and they can roll down hills if an animal gives it a whack. When I use a canister, I will usually put a heavy rock (or a bunch of rocks) on top.

When I use the sack, I generally hang it from a tree or a boulder. In fact, it's easier to anchor the sack because of the rope. The easiest way to anchor the canister is to put it in a drysack.

If I felt that there was a strong chance that medium to large animals would be messing with my cache, I'd probably bring the canister. Practically speaking, if you use Opsaks and place your cache well I think that will be an uncommon problem.


There are pros and cons to each. At the end of the day, the canister is 1.16 kg and can carry 11.5 liters (as long as your stuff can fit precisely into a cylinder.) The bag is 210 grams and can carry 10.6 liters and it's flexible so it's easier to use the full volume. If you bring the sack and carry 950 grams of extra Peanut Butter to make up the difference that is 5500 calories which is enough to extend your trip for an entire two or three days.

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post #8 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
quote:If you bring the sack and carry 950 grams of extra Peanut Butter
But if there's no boulder or tree to hang the bag, it gets left on the ground and I'll be licking the peanutbutter off the inside of the bag if it gets chewed, stepped on..

The weight is the only con I can see with the canister, and it's a big one, admittedly.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 03:07 PM
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sometimes a counterbalance can work depending on where you are, if no trees. I have also tied a rope onto my food bag and pitched it off of a nearby cliff so that it was at least in a place of better odds and one that is less travels. Like others said you have to weigh the risks about where you are going.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 04:40 PM
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We have both the small size Bear Vault and the Garcia. I believe the Bear Vault is only labelled as bear resistant because some smart bears in very heavily trafficked places in the US have learned to open that particular kind. From what I know there are no reported instances of bears in BC or Washington figuring out how to open them.

We got ours primarily for travel above treeline, but we have also used them on the Olympic coast where they are required. We've also chosen to bring one on trips where we know that the campsites have very few hanging opportunities - it just saves time not having to worry about it.

Of course they do have their disadvantages - they are heavy and bulky and it takes some practice to figure out the best way to load them into your pack so that the weight is distributed properly. As well, it takes some practice to figure out the best food to bring to load them and the best way to pack them. I like the Bear Vault better for this because it is see through and the sides are straight so it's easier to figure out what's in there and to load it. The slanted sides of the Garcia make packing it more challenging.

As far as what to bring, I find that everything gets squished and squeezed trying to cram it all in there. I'm not a very efficient packer and tend to have a hearty appetite and crave more interesting food when backpacking so I do find it a challenge to get food for two people for one night into the small Bear Vault. You might be better at this than me though!
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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Hanging a bear bag off a cliff is a good idea, as long as the drop off isn't too far down in the very unlikely event that the line snaps for whatever reason..

I'm having a hard time visualising how big the canister is.. I'll have to check them out next time I'm in Vancouver.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 04:57 PM
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I know this isn't a bear canister, but it's pretty cool to see what a griz can do to a plastic container with food in it.
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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Yikes!
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 04-28-2014, 11:30 PM
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I like my Ursack. Though I sort of think the more important component is the Opsak(s) (available separately). No matter what container my food is in, I'd prefer if it wasn't being messed with.
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 04-29-2014, 12:05 AM
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Out of curiosity, has anyone ever heard of an Ursack getting squished or dragged away in the wild? The controlled tests in the zoo are great for testing the mechanics of the bag but give limited insight into wild animal behaviour.

Here is a picture of a typical set up I use in the alpine when there aren't many big rocks around. In this case, I also put it in a drysack.


To be honest, this configuration isn't much better than leaving it on the ground but I figured it might help to keep a few insects/mice off it and it would be obvious if a marmot or larger animal had tried to get to it. There were no issues.


My verdict: Until I hear of anyone having an issue with the Ursack or I experience an issue myself, it will be my method of choice.
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