Jul 13, 2008 at 8:27 am #1230143
Anyone have experience packing a bear canister in a ULA Conduit or Circuit?
I am prepping for a 6 day, five night trip in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Although I don't usually carry a bear canister (almost always hang using PCT method), I am considering using one this time. My only concern is space and cost (I have looked at Bear Vault and Bearikade Canisters–YIKE$$$).
If anyone has any experience, advice, or suggestions (on which type of canister to buy, or which type of pack works best for carrying a bear canister) I would love to hear them. I would prefer to stay with the Conduit if at all possible, but I am open to other pack suggestions (I also have access to a friend's ULA Circuit pack). I can cut my food to approximately 1lb. per day and rely on fish to supplement my diet (if needed), but this is definitely not ideal :-)
I look forward to hearing some QUALITY feedback.Jul 13, 2008 at 1:02 pm #1442752
I'm curious about the results, as I have the same concerns. If there are problems with a canister fitting and you still have to use one instead of a bag, I hear Bearikade will make slightly shorter canisters on request. Bareboxer is another small canister that will probably fit in anything.Jul 13, 2008 at 1:16 pm #1442755
According to Brian, most any canister will fit vertically in the Circuit. I don't think one will fit in a Conduit at all.Jul 13, 2008 at 1:23 pm #1442756
Yes, I have been on the ULA site and seen the specs of each pack. There is information regarding the Catalyst and the Circuit, but there is no information on the site regarding the Conduit and bear canisters. My question is really about the remaining space after the canister has been placed in the pack (which would obviously also depend on the type of canister used as well). Would the space left be enough to support/allow for a 5 night six day trip (in anyone else's experience)?
Thanks for the feedback so far!Jul 13, 2008 at 1:43 pm #1442757
I would also be interested in hearing from someone who has used a canister in combination with a Six Moon Designs Starlite (which canister and how it worked with the pack).Jul 13, 2008 at 3:39 pm #1442764
The ULA circuit shouldn't have any trouble. People doing the PCT have had no trouble using a bear can in their trip through the southern Sierra. This would be your safe bet.
As a Conduit owner, I think it would be hard to fit everything in. If I put my 10 year old Garcia can in, it takes up ~2/3 to 3/4 of the interior height (not including the extension collar) and leaves only a small bit of room along side of it for some clothes or small items. Depending on your pad and what other clothing that you can use to pad it, the can looks like it will push out into the center of your back so I'm not sure how comfortable that will be. I don't have a BV can to try but it may bulge slightly less. You could attach a can on the top of the pack, but that would be pretty top heavy. But at least everything would fit in your pack. I think you can carry a can inside a Conduit providing that your gear size is pretty ultralight (<9 lbs) providing you can deal with a bit of a bulge in the center of the pack against your back. I've only used a ursack with the alum liner in my Conduit which unfortunately is no longer allowed so my comments are based on playing around with a garcia can in my house.
If you don't normally use a bear can and don't see using one after this trip, just pay the $5 rental fee that some of the NF and NPS backcountry offices charge for a can. Unfortunately, they usually only rent the heavier Garcia can. But thats better then buying something you'll never use. Not every place rents them, but you could make a detour to a place that does. Just call around.Jul 13, 2008 at 4:42 pm #1442772
That is exactly what I have been looking for! Thanks for the advice/information.
So, just to be clear, you think that I would have sufficient room for my other items (base weight of approx. 10-11 lbs.) when the bear canister is in the ULA Circuit pack (and not the Conduit)? My trip is a 5 night, 6 day trip.Jul 13, 2008 at 4:46 pm #1442773
@oiboyroiLocale: South West US
I just bought the conduit and plan on using it on the JMT this summer. Both the BV 450 and 500 will fit vertically and the smaller one will even fit horizontally. I would recommend the smaller one if you can manage to fit six days worth of food into it. The larger one will work but you would need to use the extension collar to fit the rest of your gear. Speaking of gear it should be in light/ultralight shape.
As for the starlight, it's a big pack. I had one a while back and it'll fit the larger BV500 horizontally with out much trouble.Jul 14, 2008 at 4:17 pm #1442915
Yes, I think that borrowing the ULA Circuit will work just fine since it is bigger and designed for a bear can. This is the safe choice if you can't try a bear can at home. Having talked to Brian last year, he doesn't normally recommend the Conduit with a bear can and steers people towards a Circuit or Catalyst(which I also own and but it's just too big for your stated pack weight).
Now the small BV350 can would fit fine in a conduit with no issues (as the guy stated above), but I can't see getting 5-6 days of food into one unless you don't mind loosing weight and bonking each day. People without prior practice and proper repacking of their food can't seem to manage 5-6days in the larger cans let alone a small one. But it doesn't seem like you will be able to practice first. Make sure you eliminate all bulky packaging from your food and get any air out of any ziplocks with repackaged food. Expect to spend some time loading your can a few times to find a better fit. It helps if you can layer your food by each day so you don't have to repackage the can each night out though there is more room each day.Jul 14, 2008 at 6:41 pm #1442935
@rp3957Locale: The Sierras
I have a SMD Starlight pack and the Bearikade Expedition, and it works really well. I put it in the vertical position. I still have plenty of room for everything else. I use a z-rest cut to 2/3 lentgh for padding and pack frame support, and I don't feel the can pressing into my back at all. The Bearikades are larger than the Garcias, but not by much.Jul 14, 2008 at 6:43 pm #1442937
@rp3957Locale: The Sierras
I have the Bearikade Weekender, not the expedition size.Jul 14, 2008 at 9:24 pm #1442959
@oiboyroiLocale: South West US
Sometimes pictures are more helpful.
Pic of the Conduit with a 3/4 length Ridgerest, Arc Alpinist and a Bearvault 450 Solo
Another of the same but with better perspective on how much space is left over.
Sean, check out Andrew Skura's website to get an idea of what I pack. What I take isn't exactly the same but it's pretty close. No losing unreasonable amounts of weight or bonking and I can fit 10 days worth of food into the larger Bearvault (albeit at a sqeeze) and still have a little food left over after the trip.Jul 15, 2008 at 2:04 am #1442973
I just picked up a Bearikade weekender and it will fit in my Conduit both vertically and horizontally in the collar(snugly). I tested 4 different cans at REI and the only other one that would fit horizontally was the BV450. As others have said vertically takes up a decent portion of the pack.Jul 15, 2008 at 6:07 am #1442982
Thanks to everyone for all the helpful information.Jul 15, 2008 at 8:04 am #1443002
I just completed a 5 day trip into the Evolution basin several weeks ago. (Most PCT'ers were carrying Catalyst by the way)
I carried a Circuit with a Wild Ideas Weekend Canister. I rented the carbon fiber bear canister for $29 with shipping to me, and had to pay $8 to get it back. It is significantly lighter than the smaller Bear Vault and holds about a third more volume. I think I calculated a ratio of almost twice the volume per ounce!
Never having carried a canister before, I had to experiment with position in the Circuit. Come to find out on day 3, if you place the Wild Ideas canister in LAST and on it's side….it fits perfectly (like it was made for it). The only slight issue is a higher center of gravity since your food tends to weigh quite a bit. But the comfort and ability to compact the load was by far the best with this pack and canister.Jul 15, 2008 at 11:41 am #1443037
Thank you for the information.
I think I am going to end up going with the Circuit on this trip–at this point, it seems like the least complicated option.
I was looking at renting a Bearikade (for the reasons you mentioned). Will the Weekender fit in the lower portion of the Circuit horizontally? I was playing around with weight distribution in the Circuit the other day and I had my "simulated" canister set on top of my quilt in the bottom of the pack. This distribution felt the best to me.Jul 15, 2008 at 12:28 pm #1443044
The weekender will not fit into the Circuit horizontally in the lower portion of the pack. As you know, the pack narrows from the top down, and the weekender is a custom fit as it sits at the top.
You can position it vertically, but I could not get anywhere near as comfortable as when I placed it at the top. The need to place clothing/bag in between your back and the canister localized too much stuff and did not efficiently distribute the load.Jul 20, 2008 at 7:04 pm #1443707
@coldworlderLocale: Green Mountains
Does anyone know of a bear bag that will meet the parks requirements? Those canisters look heavvvyJul 20, 2008 at 7:52 pm #1443711
@mikeclellandLocale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
There is a kevalr bag called an URSAC. I don't know the park regs.
(or URSACK?)Jul 20, 2008 at 8:11 pm #1443715
The Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group sets the rules for the National Parks and National Forests in the Sierra. They don't currently allow the Ursack http://www.sierrawildbear.gov/Jul 20, 2008 at 8:16 pm #1443716
I just bought a Starlight but haven't used it on a trip yet. I talked to SMD a couple times to be sure it would hold my Garcia bear can crosswise.
With a Thermarest LE and the two aluminum frame stays in place the Garcia can barely fits in crosswise. I imagine with a thinner pad and/or without the stays it would fit easier.
It seems to work much better vertically. It allows easier access to stuff on each side, doesn't jam in so hard, and allows you to open the lid without removing the can from the pack.
Unfortunately it looks like there's no way I can fit a week worth of food at 3,000 calories per day into the Garcia. I may rent a Bearikade Expedition for my John Muir Trail hike next month.
JimJul 20, 2008 at 8:25 pm #1443717
Does Ansel Adams wilderness have special bear canister regulations? I think you can still opt to hang there.
If weight is the ultimate factor, I would skip the kevlar bag. If you are in a location where trees are available for hanging, I suspect that proper use of hanging is just as if not more effective than a kevlar bag. The need to use odor proof bags and tie the Kevlar bag to a tree adds extra steps that negate the convienience of using a non-hung device.
I also find it interesting that places like Glacier park where grizzlies are found still just have folks hang food bags.
Bottom line, if I am going into an area where many people have traveled and the potential for conditioned black bears exists, I would opt for the convienience of a canister. Same goes for areas above tree line. Otherwise, I have never had an issue with hanging my food.Jul 21, 2008 at 10:19 am #1443767
Bear canisters are required in the Ansel Adams Wilderness in the Middle Fork San Joaquin drainage (roughly west of the Mammoth Crest, south of the Yosemite border, east of the Ritter-Banner/Minarets range, and north of Fish Valley).
A complete map of canister required areas is at:Jul 28, 2008 at 6:06 pm #1444916
@coldworlderLocale: Green Mountains
Since we are all weight weenies, which is the absolute lighest?Jul 28, 2008 at 11:18 pm #1444952
@umnakLocale: Southeast Alaska
I highly recommend the use of Ursacks regardless of the regs in certain parts of the Sierras. We've used them here in Southeast Alaska for over 11 years, including on Admiralty Island which has the greatest concentration of Brown Bears in Alaska, if not the world. They are light. @ 9 oz. and when combined with a OP Sack are bombproof. Ursack has issued the following statement regarding its product being banned.
"Ursack has reluctantly, but resolutely, filed suit against the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group (SIBBG) asking the court to reverse what we believe is SIBBG's arbitrary and capricious decision to withdraw approval of the Ursack S29 Hybrid. We are joined in this suit by some representative backpackers including: a former Tuolomne Meadows ranger, a college chemistry professor, and the holder of the record for the fastest self-contained female solo of the John Muir Trail. There is no way to predict, at this point, when or how the case will be resolved, but it is at least possible that Ursacks will once again be allowed in the restricted areas of the Sierra this summer.
The lawsuit does not seek money. Instead, it asks that Ursack be evaluated objectively, and that backpackers' needs be factored into any decision that prohibits the use of Ursack or any other product. SIBBG's decision to ban Ursack was based on the allegation of 6 failures. There is no such thing as a bear "proof" container. All canisters have failed at one time or another. SIBBG refuses to produce evidence of these alleged Ursack failures, but we know from SIBBG's written description that in two cases bears got no food, and in two cases the problem was user error–the Ursacks were not torn and could be effectively used again today. Because we don't have the evidence, we don't know what happened in the other two incidents."
Note the four Ursacks behind the woman standing in this photograph taken in June on Chichagof Island — another Island known for its bears.
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