Jan 20, 2008 at 6:17 pm #1226836
@cpholleyLocale: Minnesota Transplant
Eventually I'll have to get over the whole Bear Cannister thing, cuz I really need to see the Sierras at somepoint soon. But what do you pack? Which one? And how big is your pack? If you care to share pack size, make/model, capacity, that too would be great. I'm really thinking for a 4-7 day trip.
Thanks!Jan 20, 2008 at 6:46 pm #1416929
I've hiked in the Sierra twice. Both were fairly early season (late June of 2005 and early July 2006) and I traveled a bit on snow at the higher elevations. In 2005 I carried the big, clear Bear Vault inside of my ULA P1 pack. I didn't see any bears (but my friends did, see BPL print mag Issue 8, the article "Bear Encounters" and Rob Rathmann's story). I saw one ranger who didn't ask to see my canister. I know that Bear Vault changed their lid for 2006 but I think the cannisters stayed about the same dimensions.
In 2006, I used the Ursack hybrid which was conditionally approved at the time (but I don't believe it is at this time). I used it inside my Golite Breeze. This was much nicer (=lighter) but I don't think it's an option if it's not approved. It might do the job (I know there is some controversy about testing procedures, etc.) but I think you could still get ticketed by a ranger and I try to avoid that kind of stuff. Hope that helps,
AnitraJan 20, 2008 at 6:56 pm #1416930
Bear Vault 1/2 size. I use my Ursack in areas that have no limitations like Emmigrant, Desolation, Hoover. Yosemite and SEKI I use a cannister. I use a Granite Gear Vapor Trail as well as Gossamer Gear Mariposa. 3600 CI for the GG and for the Gossamer Gear I think it is around 4000 CI?
Just be creative and you can make it work. Cannisters suck but the end results are that bears do not eat your food and they stay alive.Jan 20, 2008 at 7:11 pm #1416932
@maynard76Locale: New England
Ive been wanting to do the JMT for a long time. Im in New England where I dont worry about bears at all, I usually just sleep with my food or hang it high enough so mice dont get at it. I WAS planning on using the ursack since I Hate the idea of carring a canister.
I understand it is only required in certain areas and some people get around the rules by hiking thru those sections and not stopping to camp. Is that feasible or am I just being a jerk if I try and do that?Jan 20, 2008 at 7:29 pm #1416933
Bob BankheadBPL Member
@wandering_bobLocale: Oregon, USA
Bearikade Expedition (the big one)
I've hiked in Yosemite NP in August of 3 different years. Each year, I've had rangers check both my permit and my bear can.
My pack is a 4200 cubic inch Mountainsmith Auspex. That big Bearikade stands vertically in the bottom of my pack.
Wandering BobJan 20, 2008 at 7:45 pm #1416939
Brian you will hike a good portion of the JMT that includes or should I say all of the JMT with Yosemite and SEKI being the parks you travel through. You can use the lockers that are assigned but they get pretty far and few between. If you are someone doing the PCT I think there are ways of getting around it. The JMT is obviously much shorter but the problem that you might encounter is a backcountry ranger inquiring about a cannister in your pack. You will have to produce it or get escorted out with a fine. Now don't be a tough guy, those rangers also carry handguns and they have switched to a more of a police role out there (kind of kidding but also serious). If you plan your re-supplies to Tuolumne, Reds Meadow, Lake Vermillion (is that right? I forget) and Muir Trail Camp you should be able to keep the food load to a reasonable amount. Keep in mind that some of the places that you are hiking through are notorious for bear-human problems. Just my 2 cents. Have fun on the hike.Jan 20, 2008 at 7:53 pm #1416942
I remember that Yogi had a section about bear cannisters in her PCT handbook and it appears that you could almost hike bear box to bear box but I vaguely remember there being a 50 mile section without a bear box. Doable but not likely for me to do.
I know some thru hikers figure that the 50 mile stretch was toward the end of their resupply period so they figured that it wouldn't be a big deal if a bear got their food but they would still steath camp and not cook in camp. I carried a bear cannister because I'd feel like a big jerk if they had to put down a bear because I didn't carry a cannister but I'd feel like an even bigger jeark because I have a degree in Recreation Management. I figure I should model the behavior I expect to see from other participants…right?
I would say please consider the bear if you are considering not carrying a cannister. Make sure the Bear Boxes are spaced in a way that you can get to them at night.
Oh yeah, PCT thru hikers are not exempt from carrying cannisters, it just so happens that a few think they can get a way with it since they are there in the early season and rangers aren't usually out and I've heard people say they camp high and the bears are still low, looking for food. I don't know how accurate that is.
Sorry so rambling,
AnitraJan 20, 2008 at 7:55 pm #1416943
@maynard76Locale: New England
Thanks, I figured I would have to go with a cannister, mostly because its the right thing to do for the bear population. I just wanted somone who knew the area to make it clear, as I have heard about PCT hikers going without one. I guess more frequent resupply stops is the answer if you want to keep the weight off.
oh, sorry for the small thread hijack, Im interested to see what people are using as well!Jan 20, 2008 at 8:18 pm #1416946
@kab21Locale: Pic: Gun Lake, BWCA
If you're going to be using it several times, the Bearikade is the way to go. But it's expensive (just over 200 I think). Otherwise the Bearvault is a good canister. Just a little heavier. Get some grippy tape to put on the lid to make easier to open. I saw alot of hikers struggle opening it. I'm sure that there is a place that you could find to rent a BearVault or maybe even a Bearikade if you look hard enough.
I took a 60L Mountainsmith Phantom (2003 model) when I hiked on the PCT last summer (only 2000 miles, I'm lazy). And if I went again I think I can get down to the ULA conduit. I've trimmed the gear list alot. Getting a canister in there will be tricky, but I think it's possible.
Don't camp near Thousand Island Lake. There were 2 bear encounters there last year on the samee night (same bear). Including one that got into an Ursack with the approved liner. I heard the story second hand, but it sounded like the opening at the top was open just enough that the bear could get his tongue in there and pull the food out.
Technically it might be possible to hike bearbox to bearbox, but then you're entire schedule is based inconveniently placed boxes (either shorter or longer days than you want). Also a couple of thru-hikers got checked for canisters and didn't have one. They got lucky and only had to turn in a receipt that they bought one to avoid the fine. But even if you're technically allowed to not use a canister if you go bear box to bear box, you're going to have a hard time explaining that to a ranger. They expect every backpacker to have one. Not worth the hassle IMO.
Oh and there really is a significant problem with bears in the Sierra's (mostly heavy use areas). These bears are very, very talented. I was told a story about a bear that would jump out of trees trying to break the branch that the bear bag (not allowed) was hanging from. And all night long, the campers just kept hearing this loud crash and thump (imagine a 250 lb bear falling 10 feet onto a branch and then onto the ground). They told a ranger about this strange noise and he said that Kamikaze must be back in the area.
The Sierra's are probably the most amazing place I've ever been. It's a great place to take a trip.Jan 20, 2008 at 9:18 pm #1416957
Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I have used the bearvault solo, a bearikade weekender, and a ursack. Typically them were using in a granite gear vapor trail (typically around 2700ci with the roll top cinched down). The bearikade was carried vertically in most packs. I can cram 8 days of food into it if I select food for low volume. IMore normal for me is 4 days of food plus run for all my cooking gear and other smelly items. ve never tired to really stuff the bearvault solo… it was used on a few three day trips where is was adaquate.Jan 21, 2008 at 7:37 am #1416985
@archer-1Locale: Northeastern U.S.
Not directly on point, but I've spent lots of time in Shenandoah NP, which is chock full of black bears (saw 3 on my last trip).
I've used the large Bear Vault for the last two years there. Never an issue. I like that it's clear – I can dig through it w/o dumping everything out.
I've used it in an Osprey Exposure 66 and a SMD Starlite. Unlike most, I like the canister upright vs. horizontal. Things don't seem to slide around when it's upright, and any movement within my pack bugs me.Jan 21, 2008 at 7:40 am #1416986
@mjklineLocale: Southern California
I believe that the bear regulations are oriented toward food storage while camping, not while hiking. There are bear boxes located in the backcountry of SEKI along the JMT for food storage while camping. These are all within pretty easy hiking distance of one another. North of SEKI, bear boxes are only located in developed areas (i.e. Reds Meadow, Devils Postpile, Tuolumne Meadows) and in Little Yosemite Valley. There are several maps and lists online that show the locations of these boxes. Some research into the facts would be a good idea before going into the Sierra. A good place to start is the SEKI Bear Management webpage found HERE and the SIBBG website at SIBBG . There are links to list of where bear box locations are. Here's a quick link to a list of bear box locations throughout the Sierra, BEAR BOX LOCATIONS.
There are areas along the JMT where bear canisters are not required for food storage, they are only recommended. There was an excellent map that was produced by the USFS last year (2007) showing all the regulated areas and bear box locations and trails in the Sierras. It was a great overview map in geneal of the Sierra. I was going to provide a link here, but the map has vanished. Here is a link to an article about the map, BEAR BOX MAP. Fortunately I downloaded the map so I do have a copy of it.
One last thing. The Bear Box location in SEKI are generally in heavily used areas that will be very crowded with people during the peak season. Unless you like camping in the backcountry with crowds, I wouldn't plan on using them. Using a bear canister provides a degree of freedom and safety (for both people and bears) while traveling in the Sierra. The main bear canisters available are 9" or less in diameter. Depending on the height of the bear cansiter and the size of your pack, you may be able to fit the cansiter in sideways in the bottom of your pack. If not, as long as your pack is greater than 9" in diameter, the cansiter will fit standing upright. In my Vapor Trail long, it's not quite big enough to fit the Bearvault BV400 sideways in the bottom, so I have to stand it upright.
Hope this helps.Jan 21, 2008 at 7:49 am #1416990
Managing your food while hiking is of concern too. Try to explain to a ranger that all of your food and pack was taken by a bear. You will get a fine. Sure, I do take out my first nights meal and luch to make more room. But I am also at risk. Bear boxes are good but hard to hike and use them.Jan 21, 2008 at 7:50 am #1416991
@brianleLocale: Pacific NW
I have a GG Mariposa Plus, and will attempt a PCT thru-hike this year (NOBO). To test out the bearcan situation, I did a trip last year where I strapped the bearcan on the top of my pack. It will fit inside, but for me at least, this took up way too much of the available volume.
I own two bearcans, an older model BearVault (BV200) and the traditional black Garcia. You can buy a canvas cover for the Garcia, and I made one for the BV200. In both cases I felt that I needed a cover that fit or strapped very tightly to the can as otherwise the smooth plastic bear can would inevitable slip out, likely at the worst possible moment, to be lost in a canyon or cracked open or both …
Strapping on top is kind of a PITA, because you have to take the can off and put it back on again in order to get access to the main body of your pack. Oh well! It works, and it's what I'll be doing.
I guess as a minor added bonus, no need for rangers to ask, they'll be able to see the sucker prominently displayed !Jan 21, 2008 at 8:50 am #1416995
I own both the solo bearvault and the larger 400. The new models are easier to open than the old version.
Mine have been tested with 10 black bears so far. I fill them with smelly goodies and leave them in my yard in late summer when the bears come to harvest our fruit trees.
The vaults are usually carried upright in a granite gear vapor trail.
I used the bearikade and ursacks before I bought the bear vaults and I prefer the Bear Vaults.Jan 21, 2008 at 10:55 am #1417008
.Jan 22, 2008 at 10:10 am #1417180
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I like the Garcia BearVault. It's got a grizzly-proof lid and I've taped 4 D rings to it with Gorilla duct tape so I can strap it more securely on my pack. I really dislike carying the beast but in the Sierras I have no choice. It means I must use my 7+ lb. Dana Designs Terraplane pack instead of my 3+ lb. REI UL60 pack. C'est la vie. (or as we Americans so charmingly put it "$#!t happens")
EricJan 22, 2008 at 4:29 pm #1417253
Ryley BreiddalBPL Member
@ryleybLocale: Pacific Northwest
I rented a Bearikade directly from Wild Ideas for my PCT thru hike this past summer. I put it upright in the bottom of my SMD Starlite pack and it did fine. It's light enough that I didn't really notice it (although the 9 days of food I crammed in it was certainly noticed :)Jan 22, 2008 at 4:54 pm #1417255
@vaporjourneyLocale: Greater Gila
Sorry for going slighly off topic with this. But, what exactly is the fine system for not having a canister in SEKI or Yosemite? Is it just a fine, or is it a fine in addition to being escorted out of the park? I'm sure that this varies according to the ranger and his/her mood, but I'd like to know if they really ever do force people to leave the trails because of the lack of a canister. I can understand the punishment, but would like to know if it's happens enough to be worried about.Jan 22, 2008 at 5:57 pm #1417265
Denis HazlewoodBPL Member
@redleaderLocale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
I've owned almost every brand and still have a Garcia and two Bearikades, one of their original size: 10" and a newer 8". The Bearicade is the only one I ever use. I can get 7 days food in the 10", with room to spare.
I don't ever carry one unless it's absolutely required. In almost 40 years of backpacking, from Sequoia NP to Mt. Shasta, I've only had bears in camp once. That was at the Lost Lakes, in the Mokelumne Wilderness in 1995. They were gone the last time I was there in 2004. When I do use the cannister I put it in the bottom cylinder of my LuxuryLite pack with my tent and pad. The Lost Coast is where I use it the most often.Jan 22, 2008 at 9:00 pm #1417290
@jwfclarkLocale: Southern California
You asked if the Rangers actually escort those without Bear canisters from the trail. On the JMT I have witnessed them not only issue two individuals "citations" for not having bear canisters but also escort them from the trail to the nearewst trail head. I understand the "citations" can be very expensive depending on what the judge determines.
For the bears, I recommend Bearikade containers over all the rest. Used properly, I understand they have never been opened by a bear.Jan 22, 2008 at 10:37 pm #1417295
Roleigh MartinBPL Member
@marti124Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
I remember reading a government web page that said the maximum fine was a 4 digit figure (either $3000 or $5000, can't remember which of the two figures it was), but I have only heard of a maximum applied fine of either $300 or $500 (can't remember which was the case).
I recommend the Bearikade (Weekender or Expedition). I was able to get 7 days food in the Weekender and 10 days food in the Expedition. (I own both versions.)
My feeling is that while hiking, you'll appreciate immensely the extra pound saved over all the other alternatives, plus you'll enjoy the much wider opening to stuff more food in with the Bearikade, plus you sleep comfortable at night, plus it is nice being able to make camp virtually anywhere (within permit rules and terrain constraints).
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