Feb 6, 2011 at 9:59 am #1268764
I really really like the Bear Vault Solo and it's the lightest I can find. I've heard conflicting reports about Yellow-Yellow, a bear, in the Eastern Adirondacks that can get through this container and people are told not to use it. How set is this? Some have told me that it's ok to use. I know the odds are in my favor, but I also understand that losing my food is a trip ender. But so is getting struck by lightning is a trip ender as well.
Thoughts?Feb 6, 2011 at 10:46 am #1693215
The Garcia bear canister, is the required canister to use in the EASTERN High Peaks region of the Daks. The Bear vault in not approved for the very reason you stated below, yes, yellow,yellow, the bear, could open the bear vault canisters.
They rent the canisters at all the Loj, (lodges or major entry points)Feb 6, 2011 at 11:02 am #1693219
If you read the NY DEC regulations, no specific brands are approved — the regulations state:
6 NYCRR Paragraph 190.13(b)(2) defines a bear-resistant canister as "a commercially made container constructed of solid, non-pliable material manufactured for the specific purpose of resisting entry by bears."
I believe the ADK rents only Garcia canisters, but no specific brand is approved or required.
If you search the Adirondack forums, you'll find plenty of discussion on which canisters work best. And yes, Yellow-Yellow can open Bear Vaults…Feb 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm #1693252
That seems to be the general idea. Canisters are required but there is no formal regulation against Bear Vaults. What is the next lightest canister? Bear Vault 2.1 lbs. The next one was the Garcia at 2.12.
Anything closer to 2lbs?Feb 6, 2011 at 12:38 pm #1693257
How about a Bareboxer if you can get away with the smaller volume.Feb 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm #1693321
Well……I was just there this past September and the regulations that we found, stated that you needed a Garcia bear canister for certain areas of the eastern high peaks, Marcy Dam, Avalanche lake, and lake Colden to name a few, that I can remember? The Bear Vault was not to be used in these areas, so if your going to be camped in these area's then you might need to use a Garcia canister. Maybe they've since changed this regulation, where you no longer have to use a Garcia canister, anywhere?Feb 6, 2011 at 7:39 pm #1693399
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Yellow-Yellow mated with Mellow-Yellow and moved to Walla-Walla.
We might all move our trekking to areas less populated by both people and bears, and both would have more fun.Feb 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm #1693420
I witnessed a very large bear, the largest I've ever seen, grab a Bear Vault in his mouth and run off with it. He gripped it by the lid, with his bottom teeth under the edge of the lid. This could not have been Yellow Yellow either, as she is supposed to be small and brown while this bear was huge and black. Perhaps he was a friend of hers.Feb 7, 2011 at 4:54 am #1693484
I sent an e-mail to the NY DEC asking about "approved" bear canisters in the eastern high peaks region — there is nothing on their website that mentions specific brands. I will post the reply when I recieve it.
I'm planning an NPT through-hike –bear canisters not required, but I'd still like an answer…Feb 7, 2011 at 5:41 am #1693490
I have heard that there are no specifically approved canisters but they recommend Garcia type canisters. Hard time enforcing the canister rule already and don't want to add on to it with regulations concerning brands. Or something like that.Feb 7, 2011 at 5:49 am #1693492
The use of a Garcia is "Highly Recommended". There is no regulation or law requiring the use of any one manufacturor's item.
Again, the Eastern High Peaks Area is the only known bear that can regularly open a Bear Vault.
From Bear Vault's web site:
In 2007 one or more bears at Marcy Dam in the Adirondacks learned how to open BearVault models. The bear(s) opened the lids by pressing in the snap on the lid with its canine tooth, unscrewing the lid past the housing lock and then opening the unit. There were no problems with BearVaults outside of this area.
In response to this a new lid was developed for 2008 which had two snaps on the lid which both required being pressed in sequentially- this is the model BV450/500. Testing was conducted during June and July 2008 at Marcy Dam and Lake Colden. We now have the test results. Surprisingly, the bear(s) pressed in the first snap with its incisor, rotated the lid and then pressed in the 2nd snap with its incisor and opened the lid.
The DEC believes that this behavior is unique to this bear(s) as they have not had any incidents of this type of failure of BV350 and higher models outside of this area. They also are doubtful that this behavior will migrate to other bears and BearVault has seen no evidence of this happening. There have also been no problems whatsoever with BV350 and higher models anywhere else in North America.
Accordingly, BearVault recommends against using BearVault canisters in the Lake Colden/Marcy Dam corridor and the Johns Brook valley as these are within the bears' territory. You can freely use BearVaults elsewhere.
The double catch lid did not work because of the same technique needed to open it. A screw hot melted, or drilled & tapped into the lid and body works to prevent the twisting/rotation of the lid.
I go up there between 1 and 3 times per year and have been for the past 20+ years. We went from no canisters and LOTS of bears, to sloppy campers with canisters, to (mostly) good campers with good habits. A lot of the "rookies" don't know what to do, even if they have a canister. Fortunatly, the bear population is MUCH reduced these days…because of the canister rule. Some of the trails are scrubbed in. That is, along clifs, in heavily forested areas, over and around large boulders. Be prepared to meet wild life on the trails, they use them too.
1) Do not spill foods, flavoured drinks near designated camps.
2) Do not leave foods in your pack or in camp with you.
3) Do not store containers within 100' of camp.
4) Do not store containers near a cliff, water supply, or on a hill. Choose a flat or dished in area.
5) Paint the lid bright BLUE. It shows up the best. In fall, dropping leaves can cover the canister, MARK it's location in your mind.Feb 7, 2011 at 7:35 am #1693514
I've used the BearVault in the Dacks for years. Apparently there is only one bear (Marcy Dam Bear?) that can open them. In one evening I witnessed a bear roam around looking for food, chew on cookware, pull down a pretty solid looking bear bag (PCT method – it was an impressive display of acrobatics) but completely ignore my BearVault. It didn't even touch it – literally walked right passed it as if it wasn't there. You can't really go wrong with Garcia though…Feb 7, 2011 at 7:47 am #1693519
I think or now recall that the wording they used was, they do not recommend the use of the Bear Vaults, in the area of Marcy Dam. We probably took this to mean that you could not use them at all, rather than be optional, or your choice.
Its my understanding that some National Parks do not allow Bear vaults, Grand Tetons for one. But, I was only told this from a person who frequents the park, and not from the park itself.Feb 7, 2011 at 7:58 am #1693527
No, you were probably correct. Several of the signs in the "private" areas of the access areas say something of that sort. They say DO NOT USE THEM, generally.
For anyone here, that know what they are doing, typically use common sense and modify the Bear Vault. Or, go with something else. Again, the DEC will have a hard time justifying outlawing a particular manufacturor's type based on one bear.Feb 7, 2011 at 8:01 am #1693529
Link to NY DEC Bear faq with map of the Eastern High Peaks Region where canisters are required:
Soft bear containers (ursack) don't satisfy the regs.
I wouldn't try to use a Bear Vault in the Adirondacks. There's always the possibility that yellow-yellow will teach her cubs to open them.
Apparently, the bear canister rule has reduced problematic human-bear interactions from 400/year to 75-100/year.Feb 8, 2011 at 9:40 am #1694039
Below is the reply I receieved from the NY DEC to my question "Are only specific brands of bear resistant canisters approved for use in the high-peaks region, or are any commercially available hard-sides containers acceptable?":
Any commercially available hard-sides containers are acceptable.
NYSDEC Region 5
Pretty confirms what has been said here…Feb 8, 2011 at 10:00 am #1694044
This is the same response I received as well. The ADK High Peaks Forum basically all said the same thing as well; though most added that is was hard enough enforcing the Bear Canister Rule already and would be even more difficult if they added further restrictions on the brands and such.
It's just HIGHLY recommended that you don't use Bear Vaults. Maybe many years after Yellow-Yellow and her ilk are gone then Bear Vaults would be a good choice.
PS—N0! I am not wishing or counting the days of some bear's life!
PSS— Unless of course it got hold of my flask! Then it's time throw-down!Feb 8, 2011 at 10:06 am #1694048
It would be nice if they made that statement a little bit more clear and to the point on the NYSDEC website! It's definitely there if you take the time to read everything, but almost in fine print.Feb 8, 2011 at 10:41 am #1694061
They would rather have the Bear Vault not used, knowing the DEC. They are really unintillegent when it comes to animals, sometimes. That's OK. But, one bear???
Of the whole population in the North American Continent??? (The desire was stated by a ranger in the High Peaks Area.) A rather severe over reaction, IMHO.
They are typically slow to respond to some things, like DDT, but fast to respond to others. Lots more I have heard of. Suffice it to say, in hard economic times, they CLOSE campsites. ????? 'Nuff said.Aug 13, 2014 at 12:56 pm #2127338
@khafnerLocale: upstate NY
While I agree that we must keep our food away from the animals, the garcia bear vault is not the solution. I have witnessed squirrels and chipmunks chew their way thru them in under an hour in the adirondacks. Once they get in they are not bear proof ( if the little critters leave anything for them). The metal carbon fiber cans are a much safer bet. While I have had many smaller animals try to get into an ursack none have succeeded. They want us to believe that this or that is bear proof there is no such thing. They are bear resistant. If they had enough time most all of them would probable fail. It was fun watching the little ones get into the vault. We woke up to them going at it. They are extremely efficient.Aug 13, 2014 at 1:09 pm #2127343
Saying, "Garcia Bear Vault" is like saying, "Ford Toyota".
Garcia makes the Backpacker's Cache, which is an opaque black canister.
BearVault makes the BV450 and BV500 which are mostly transparent blue-ish containers which a screw-top lid.
Can you clarify which one failed on you?Aug 13, 2014 at 2:21 pm #2127368
In the heavily used areas of the ADK's, these rules make sense because they LIMIT the number of nights you can spend. St. Regis, High Peaks are way over populated as are the state campgrounds. The rest of the ADK's is pretty much untouched. I did the Northville/Placid trail this year and met 8 other hikers in 14 days. Usually in groups of two or three. I did the Cold River section with my daughter and met 9 people including two groups of four. I carry a dry bag for a food bag, usually. The only problem I had was at Raquette Falls when a deer mouse ate some stuff I left out for supper while I made a trip to the outhouse. There are many bear in the ADK's, but few are familiar enough with people or people food to bother you.Aug 14, 2014 at 8:27 pm #2127738
I heard that Yellow-Yellow was dead. Her offspring learned Mom's tricks, though. I had multiple run-ins with her at Avalanche Pass and Kagel leantoos. She was a bear to revere. Garcia is the only way to go, in my opinion.Aug 15, 2014 at 4:14 am #2127770
@scubahhhLocale: White Mountains, mostly.
Funny how things change…
When I was a kid ('60s and '70s) in the White Mountains (NH) there were a lot of bears around. We kept our food in the tent and hung our dirty socks and underwear outside to keep them away.
Guess that doesn't work anymore, eh?Aug 15, 2014 at 7:09 am #2127795
@lori999Locale: Central Valley
Yellow Yellow is deceased but she taught her cubs how to bite off the tabs of the Bear Vault lid.
In Kings Canyon, some years at Roads End the rangers will tell you to put the Bear Vault (if that's what you have) in the lockers in Paradise Valley (Rae Lakes loop) because there is a bear about that can flip it on its side, do CPR, and pop the lid right off. This is handy to know for those cold mornings when the lid is too hard for you – just call the bear to help you.
In the midwest grizzlies have torn apart Bearikades (pictures exist). The carbon fiber is less durable than the heavy plastic of the Garcia. However, here in California the Bearikade is now my primary can.
Ursacks get shredded in Yosemite – I highly doubt that any fabric sack of any make would survive there, ever, and while I would gleefully eat my words if proved wrong – when a bear cannot be shifted off the sack for anything and keeps you up all night working the knots so tight you need bolt cutters to get them off the tree, you stick with the can.
You use what works where you go – follow the regulations in place. In areas where the grizzlies are an issue, I note that poles and cables are still in use.
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