Ursacks versus Bear Canisters - ClubTread Community

User Tag List

 13Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
Summit Master
 
zeljkok's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Anywhere but social media
Posts: 4,853
Default Ursacks versus Bear Canisters

In effort to backpack more to some Rockies remote areas without established campgrounds I am investing towards lighter gear. (Nemo Hornet 1P tent I got last year could easily be best gear purchase I ever did -- just backpacked to Grand Canyon 3 nights with 35L pack). One of concerns is bear proof storage. Currently I have inexpensive classic bear container I got at Calgary Atmosphere (Full Product Specs)
Name:  Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 11.37.59 AM.png
Views: 1376
Size:  219.8 KB

I actually like it -- it helps my food being more organized, it is safe, I don't have to hang it -- just hide behind some rocks, no odor (to best of my senses), etc. In short -- does the job. But one major downside is weight. It is heavy and bulky. I can't stick this into my 35L pack; and (even empty) adds considerable weight which my back protests to.

Yesterday at REI I saw this (Full Product Specs):
Name:  Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 11.38.37 AM.png
Views: 1329
Size:  81.4 KB

It is light, capacity is sufficient for my needs, there is double liner inside + some sort of zip lock on top (in addition to draw string). But I have problems justifying the purchase; it is not cheap (130 US!) + I already have something that works.

I am looking for some general discussion on this topic. How is your experience? Are these ursacks really bear-proof as they claim to be? Do you absolutely have to hang them, or can you just stash rocks on top? Even if bear can't get to food, are they puncture safe? Would you recommend ursack over classic bear canister? Etc.
zeljkok is online now  
Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 04:43 PM
Off the Beaten Path
 
kellymcdonald78's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Interest: Hiking, Backpacking, Skiing, Space History
Posts: 723
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
In effort to backpack more to some Rockies remote areas without established campgrounds I am investing towards lighter gear. (Nemo Hornet 1P tent I got last year could easily be best gear purchase I ever did -- just backpacked to Grand Canyon 3 nights with 35L pack). One of concerns is bear proof storage. Currently I have inexpensive classic bear container I got at Calgary Atmosphere (Full Product Specs)
Attachment 245306

I actually like it -- it helps my food being more organized, it is safe, I don't have to hang it -- just hide behind some rocks, no odor (to best of my senses), etc. In short -- does the job. But one major downside is weight. It is heavy and bulky. I can't stick this into my 35L pack; and (even empty) adds considerable weight which my back protests to.

Yesterday at REI I saw this (Full Product Specs):
Attachment 245314

It is light, capacity is sufficient for my needs, there is double liner inside + some sort of zip lock on top (in addition to draw string). But I have problems justifying the purchase; it is not cheap (130 US!) + I already have something that works.

I am looking for some general discussion on this topic. How is your experience? Are these ursacks really bear-proof as they claim to be? Do you absolutely have to hang them, or can you just stash rocks on top? Even if bear can't get to food, are they puncture safe? Would you recommend ursack over classic bear canister? Etc.
We bought the Ursack for our Tetons hike in 2016 and were really happy with it. We now use it pretty much exclusively whenever we're camping at a places without bear lockers. The weight advantage over a canister is substantial, and you can collapse it as you use up your food. The only concern is that some parks in the US do not yet recognize the Ursack as a suitable replacement for a canister.


The bag itself just ties up, and we typically use it with one of the scent proof bags that they sell along side the bag (which seal ziplock style). We've never hung it, but will tie it to a tree (in the Teton's we were specifically prohibited from hanging it on trees). The sack is made from a Kevlar like fabric and is extremely tear and puncture resistant, however a bear could easily crush the contents. This isn't a big deal with dehydrated meals, but it could be depending on what you pack. They do sell an aluminum insert to protect against this, but it adds weight and you lose the compressibility advantage.


I've only used a bear canister once, and would take an Ursack any day
martin, alpalmer, zeljkok and 1 others like this.
kellymcdonald78 is offline  
post #3 of (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 05:42 PM
High on the Mountain Top
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Fraser Valley
Interest: Photography, Nature Observation, Health & Fitness, Nutrition, Shinrin-yoku
Posts: 1,667
Default

I've had an older model Ursack for about 7 years. One main advantage about the bag, as already mentioned by Kelly Mcdonald, is that the volume diminishes as food is eaten so it becomes more compact. In alpine areas that lack trees, it's easier to jam it into a rocky crevice or wedge it between boulders. I don't have a problem hiding the bag on the ground if no other possibilities exists but in order for a bear not to find it you have to be hygienic and make sure your hands are clean if you handle food. In areas with small trees, I can anchor it without worrying about the bag being carried off. If there are cliffs, I can easily dangle it over one. The main disadvantages are that it gets wet when it rains and the food content gets crushed if a bear chomps on the bag. The Ursack bear bag can also be pierced by rodents with sharp teeth.
I always line the inside with an odor-proof bag like Opsak but I wish the ziploc wasn't so flimsy. They need to take lessons from Glad; their sandwich bags has a more tighter seal.
Here is something interesting to read: https://www.ursack.com/updates/
alpalmer and zeljkok like this.
solo75 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #4 of (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 09:13 PM
High on the Mountain Top
 
dougz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Mackenzie, BC, Canada.
Interest: hiking, skiing, camping, SAR, Canadian Rangers (army reserve)
Posts: 1,515
Default

From what I've read, and ask them and they'll deny it, is long distance through hikers just use Opsaks (odour-proof 'ziploc' bags), and they take them into the tent with them..

https://andrewskurka.com/2011/food-p...-bear-country/

They only use Ursacks or Bear Vault where it is mandated by the Parks Service.

I use Opsacks, but honestly can't say whether I'd take them into the tent, I've never been in barren, treeless camp.
alpalmer likes this.

Who needs a signature? Mine is always: Last edited by dougz; Today at 03:27 PM
dougz is offline  
post #5 of (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 01:40 AM
Headed for the Mountains
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Calgary
Posts: 144
Default

Quote:
But one major downside is weight. It is heavy and bulky.
Add the aluminum insert and we talk about a weight difference of a pound. Really such a big deal? I also start to like canisters because I never pack food as dense as in a canister – who knows, in the end it safes me space – it helps with organizing the pack, 3-4 things and that's it and all the food packages are secure and don't move. When the food disappears I put the cooking utensils inside, the garbage has a good place etc.
Kokanee75 is offline  
post #6 of (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 02:07 AM Thread Starter
Summit Master
 
zeljkok's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Anywhere but social media
Posts: 4,853
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kokanee75 View Post
Add the aluminum insert and we talk about a weight difference of a pound. Really such a big deal? I also start to like canisters because I never pack food as dense as in a canister – who knows, in the end it safes me space – it helps with organizing the pack, 3-4 things and that's it and all the food packages are secure and don't move. When the food disappears I put the cooking utensils inside, the garbage has a good place etc.

That is exactly my dilemma! I expected more people to be pro-ursacks, but canister just worked so well last year on Devon trip; as I kept taking food out, I kept putting some other staff in! Also I like to take at least some non-dried food (bagels, string of cheese, wrap or two, etc); container just keeps it so nice and tidy.

My main issue is that I can't stick container in 35L pack & I have to take my 65L. So like everything else there are pros and cons. Main question remains: pay 130 US (=160 CAD) + liner, while I already have something that works and it cost me only 50 CAD.

More opinions please
alpalmer likes this.
zeljkok is online now  
post #7 of (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 03:08 AM
Headed for the Mountains
 
SarcasticMarmot's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Edmonton, AB
Posts: 112
Default

I have been using an Ursack in the Rockies for 3 years now and I love it. I am very confident it is puncture proof from a bear but I do use the Opsack (the odor proof ziploc that pairs with it) as well to eliminate odors. I find I get an average of 10 trips out of an opsack before it rips or needs replacing.

I am usually hiking with a 50L bag and find that canisters super awkward. Now I will only use them if a US national park explicitly tells me I cannot use the Ursack. Even then, I did argue with the rangers at Tombstone that it was allowed under their written rules...

I like it because I don't need to find a hang for it and can just tie it to a tree or large rock. If there are no rocks big enough then I will bury it in pile or rocks. Works well and I have yet to have a bear come poking around at it even though I know they have come through camp on at least 1 occasion.

I wouldn't bother with the Aluminum insert, most backpacking food is relatively crushproof anyway.

Only downsides is that it can get kinda soaked if it rains or snows heavily, but it does dry out quickly. Also, it is useless as a seat when eating

I bought mine at MEC and I believe it was a fair bit less than $130 US.

Edit: Yup they are alot cheaper.

10 L is $99 and 15L is $115
https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5020-5...-Resistant-Bag

I have the 10L and find it good for 2 people for up to 3 days. Might look at getting another or getting the 15L myself (don't think they sold that one when I bought mine.)
kellymcdonald78 likes this.

Not the fastest, but I get to where I am going and enjoy it.

Last edited by SarcasticMarmot; 01-10-2018 at 03:10 AM.
SarcasticMarmot is offline  
post #8 of (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 09:56 AM
Off the Beaten Path
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Calgary
Posts: 503
Default

We have an ursack for the same reason you mentioned - the bear canister doesn't fit in our backpack. A bear has never tried to get into it, but a weasel tried one morning. We caught him in the act shortly after he started, but his tiny sharp teeth had been able to chew partway into the fabric. It is noted on the manufacturer's website that the sharp teeth of rodents can chew through the fabric and it is recommended that you use an odor-proof bag to store your food in it. We did that, but clearly that was ineffective. Other options include "rat sacks" - basically chain-mail for an ursack. Then nothing can get into your food, but it's pretty heavy.

It's also worth mentioning that we find the bag pretty tiny, although we are cramming food for two people into it.
mclay1234 is offline  
post #9 of (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
Summit Master
 
zeljkok's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Anywhere but social media
Posts: 4,853
Default

yes; at REI display it was also mentioned that punctures were possible. Whole thing is actually not just about bears, but about keeping food safe from all kinds of creatures that can get to it when you keep food outside.

Re rats, interesting thing: I was camping @ Hermit Creek near Colorado River in Grand Canyon last month. I get in, already dark & see metal beam supported by two poles with some ropes hanging from the top. WTF? You got bears in GC?? (Mind conditioned from Rockies hiking). So I start setting up tent then with food bag (just regular bag) lying on the rock outside. Soon I see fast movement, something tiny running around. Mice! Freaking mice. That's what this pole is for! So I hang it & it was ok; If I just left it in the backpack overnight as I probably would have, chances are I'd be hungry tomorrow.
zeljkok is online now  
post #10 of (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 02:42 PM
Hittin' the Trails
 
Snowshoe_run_crew's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Vancouver
Interest: Moving in the moutains
Posts: 13
Default

I like my bear canister because my main concern isn't bears (though they are a concern). Like other posters, I am concerned about mice and other rodent friends. If the sac could help me with rodents I would love to have it for fast and light missions. Does anyone have any tricks to keep the mice at bay? (I see on their webpage they have some information but none of it sounds totally confident).

So far, other than the bulk issue, I've been happy with how the canister has performed. About 3 or 4 years ago we were camped out on a canoe trip we woke up to the sound of a bear batting around our canister (dog stayed asleep, bless him.. he isn't a guard dog). From the sound of it, the bear tried for about 30min, got bored and continued to the beach. They seemed happy to forage, mill around and overturn rocks. The next morning the canister had some slight marks on the lid but was in otherwise perfect condition. We didn't get the bear near the tent (as far as we know) as we keep a clean camp and had our cooking/ food area in a different clearing (we were the only people camping in the area and on the Sunshine Coast from what I've heard, you can pretty much expect lots of black bears in most places you might end up with a canoe).

Last edited by Snowshoe_run_crew; 01-10-2018 at 02:55 PM.
Snowshoe_run_crew is offline  
post #11 of (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 03:29 PM
Off the Beaten Path
 
kellymcdonald78's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Interest: Hiking, Backpacking, Skiing, Space History
Posts: 723
Default

You do need to ensure that the bag is tied correctly, otherwise you can leave a small hole in the top that a small rodent could get through (not an issue if it's tied properly). Overall, I've never had any issues with rodents and the Ursack, but I do use it with the scent proof bags to avoid tempting fate with attractants
kellymcdonald78 is offline  
post #12 of (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 10:30 PM
Hittin' the Trails
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Port Coquitlam
Interest: kayaking,hiking,scrambling,snowboarding,canyoneering-and the normal stuff.
Posts: 15
Default

A side note that may be relevant long term... Washington parks (Olympics and North Cascades) specify that they require "hard sided bear proof containers" in quite a few areas. Which you can typically rent at the ranger stations if they are open when you come through, but to me that rules out the soft sacks, however bear proof they may be. Also, I imagine it would be easy enough to rig some sort of means of attaching the round plastic container to the pack externally, a bit of light webbing and possibly sewing ,maybe fixed in place from slippage by duct tape ...
alpalmer likes this.
Toaster is offline  
post #13 of (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 12:28 AM
High on the Mountain Top
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,083
Default

This picture doesn't add much to the Ursack vs bear canister debate, but it's a cool visual on what a plastic food pail looks like after a summer in Grizzly country. They are tenacious buggers when it comes to food. Taken in the upper Alexandra River area.

Last edited by lobo; 07-10-2018 at 06:19 PM.
lobo is offline  
post #14 of (permalink) Old 01-12-2018, 06:59 PM
Scaling New Heights
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 52
Default

Sorry if my question is dumb: Are these sacks or containers also necessary (or do you use them) when there are food hangig cables or lockers?
kossi is offline  
post #15 of (permalink) Old 01-12-2018, 07:44 PM
High on the Mountain Top
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Fraser Valley
Interest: Photography, Nature Observation, Health & Fitness, Nutrition, Shinrin-yoku
Posts: 1,667
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by kossi View Post
Sorry if my question is dumb: Are these sacks or containers also necessary (or do you use them) when there are food hangig cables or lockers?
That's a good question. I still use my Ursack inside the bear cache however I've backpacked in places where there aren't any so it's good to have. Most parks have bear cache at campsites but if you backpack in areas without any, it's good to have either a container or bag.
solo75 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome
 

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.1