Bearikade Expedition MKII / Outsak UL / Bear Vault BV500
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Jan 30, 2012 at 1:36 pm #1284919
With the Outsak sale starting the day after tomorrow I was hoping to get some feedback from the community in regards to how best to solve the food storage dilemma…
Before I go any further I think I should begin with my needs and expectations for the coming months, which will hopefully allow you guys to help me narrow down my search. I will find myself with a lot of free time starting in mid-June and plan on getting as much time on the trails as possible through early October. While a lot of my travels are still in the planning stages I have set my sights on both the Lost Coast Trail and the Colorado Trail (thru-hike) for the summer of 2012.
For the Lost Coast Trail a bear canister is required, and judging by some of the photos I’ve seen of the trail, deservedly so. While I haven’t made up my mind when it comes to hiring a shuttle to take me back to my car or just hiking back, I assume I will be on the trail 3-5 days. Obviously, renting a bear canister is an option that keeps me both compliant and safe.
In researching the Colorado Trail it appears that many of those who have completed it decided to go without a bear canister (the Outsak being a popular alternative). After browsing through the archives it seems that the general consensus is that the chance of coming across a black bear is so remote that carrying a bear canister really isn’t worthwhile. That being said, marmots seem to be a constant annoyance so the Outsak seemed to be the food storage mechanism of choice.
So with these two trails in mind, I really only see three options:
Option 1: Rent a bear canister of the LCT; buy an Outsak for the CT
Option 2: Buy a Bearikade MK II for both the LCT & CT
Option 3: Buy a Bear Vault BV500 and save some cash
Obviously each option has its respective pros and cons (weight savings, cost savings), but at the moment I’m leaning towards the Bearikade. While a bear canister isn’t required everywhere I’m going this summer, I think that my proximity to the Sierras (I live north of LA) makes some sort of bear canister an eventual must-have for the gear closet. Then again when you compare the Bearikade Expedition MKII to the BV500 is the extra 200 cubic inches of capacity and four ounces (2 lbs 5 oz versus 2 lbs 9 oz) of weight-savings really worth an extra $200?
Any insight you guys might have would be greatly appreciated… just want to avoid buying the Outsak(s) on sale, only to throw it up on Gear Swap because I decide that a bear canister is a better all-around alternative.
Thanks!Jan 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm #1831772jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
I splurged last year on a Bearikade Scout and haven't looked back. Love it. It's small, portable, light, effective. I get five days worth of food in it without repackaging, assuming I carry my first night's dinner. Yes it's expensive but once bought you're done; the thing will last forever. And for the Colorado trail you'll have a fail-proof 4-5 day store of food if Bruin shows up after all.Jan 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm #1831777
Ahh, you are down to the old weight versus cost problem.
Personally, I have a hard time making those decisions without actually holding the various products. Sometimes there are hidden factors that you don't see from a web site. Maybe one canister is more convenient than the other. Yes, look at it from the long term view. What would be the best choice for upcoming years.
I own a BV500, plus two BV450s, plus an old Garcia, plus a Bear Boxer.
–B.G.–Jan 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm #1831779Bradley DanylukBPL Member
My solution to "bear canister not required – but still some chance of bear encounters, and a high probability of other critters" is the Ursack Minor.
I tree hang it, which decreases the probability of anything getting at it, especially bears, and its construction means that even if a tree-climbing pest reaches it, they will have a very hard time getting through it.Jan 30, 2012 at 2:08 pm #1831781
Jeff – I believe there is a word for you: Enabler :) In all seriousness though it's nice to hear that you didn't experience any buyer's remorse when it comes to the Bearikade.
Bob – I feel like I've read a few reviews for the Bear Vault where users described having difficulty gripping the lower portion of the canister in order to remove the lid. Have you ever experienced any slippage/issues with getting in and out of your Bear Vaults?
Thanks again for the prompt feedback!Jan 30, 2012 at 2:23 pm #1831788
If you go the Bearikade route like others have said you are done. If you buy an Outsak you may still buy a canister. The Expedition is
mammoth. I would look again at the Weekender unless you are going to out for 10 days+. I am looking forward to my Weekender that I'll get this summer. I have an Ursack as well. So me? I wold buy both.
Feel enabled?Jan 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm #1831795Todd LerMember
easy way to open bear vaultsJan 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm #1831803
"Bob – I feel like I've read a few reviews for the Bear Vault where users described having difficulty gripping the lower portion of the canister in order to remove the lid. Have you ever experienced any slippage/issues with getting in and out of your Bear Vaults?"
That is an excellent question. On one trip two years ago, I loaned my friend a BV450 to use. His mistake was to store a tiny bottle of olive oil in with the food. Due to altitude/air pressure on the bottle seal, the olive oil erupted inside the canister. So, imagine all of these plastic bags of food, and they are all just slightly slimy. Also, some of the olive oil started leaking out through the plastic lid joint. He discovered this in camp, and then put the lid back on. That's when the problem really began, because now he had a little olive oil on his hands. Without a lot of soap and water, that is hard to get off. His hands were just a little too slick to really grab the plastic canister. I tried, and I just made it worse. The lid was on to stay, and it took us 30 minutes to get the thing open. Now, that is not exactly the fault of the BV design, but if your opening techniques get compromised by olive oil, you may have a problem. With that in mind, I practiced opening it different ways until I found which one was best without the olive oil and with clean hands. If you got really concerned about this, apply some duct tape ridges to a few critical spots on the plastic to aid in gripping it for turning. That ought to help.
–B.G.–Jan 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm #1831805David LutzMember
@davidlutzLocale: Bay Area
I tried all the available bear canisters and I eventually settled on a Bare Boxer Contender for long weekends and a Bearikade Weekender for longer trips.
Thanks for the heads up on the Outsack sale, I would like to buy one.
How I justified the Bearikade:
Pretty sweet piece of hardware.
$200+ is really not that bad for a nice piece of gear that will last forever.
Easy resale if necessary.
Lighter!Jan 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm #1831822
I'd recommend getting a canister if you hike in any of the areas around the Sierras that require them. Now the trick is deciding which one. I own a BV500 and don't have problems opening/closing it. It can be a little bit of a pain pressing those tabs in when its cold, but I've never been unable to get to my food and I've never worried about it. If it were me, I'd pick up a Bearikade Weekender. It sounds like you'll get plenty of use out of it to justify the cost. That's what I plan on doing once the kids are a bit older and I can get out more.Jan 30, 2012 at 2:56 pm #1831827
Jeff – It appears that you are in good company. Enabler Jeff, I would like you to meet enabler Ken. Enabler Ken, this is enabler Jeff…
Ken – I think I might just have to go down this route (bear canister & Outsak/Ursack). This of course comes with additional cost, but at 1/10 price of a Bearikade and 1/3 price of a Bear Vault it seems like a reasonable combination that provides more flexibility in terms of what goes in the pack.
Todd – Thank you for making me feel old! It was not so long ago that I was the young kid teaching the "old-timers" how to , but it looks like I'm firmly on the other side of the equation… Thanks for the link though, definitely answers my question (might not carry a library card, but you won't find me without my AMEX).Jan 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm #1831838
David – +1 on the "sweet piece of hardwear" and "easy resale"
Jeffrey – Did you watch the link that Todd posted? While each additional post seems to be pushing me in my original direction (the Bearikade), the YouTube link above demonstrates a pretty nifty way of getting in and out of your Bear Vault.
In case you missed it…Jan 30, 2012 at 3:13 pm #1831844
Bob – I couldn't help but laugh picturing you and your friend, hungry, covered in olive oil, trying to open a Bear Vault. Surely it was one of those "it wasn't so funny at the time" moments, but with each trip a new lesson learned.
… I think I'll leave the olive oil at home this summer.
Thanks for sharing!Jan 30, 2012 at 3:24 pm #1831853
"… I think I'll leave the olive oil at home this summer."
No, no. You must have a little olive oil for your Italian cooking.
The secret is in thinking accurately about how to bottle an ounce of olive oil so that it will not leak. If you have a 2-ounce size bottle with one ounce of olive oil inside it, then you have the rest of it as air space. Assuming that you pack that at sea level, then what is going to happen when you take it up to 10,000 feet? There is less pressure outside, so the contents of the bottle will be trying to leak out.
The first suggestion is to fill the 2-ounce bottle completely full so that there is no air space inside it. Once that is sealed, put it inside its own ziploc bag and seal that. At least if it is going to leak, the bag ought to contain it. Finally, you might orient the bag inside the canister someplace so that if the canister is overturned and bounced around, still the olive oil won't leak around.
For a short trip, I want to carry only a tiny bit of olive oil, so I have the little sealed single-use plastic pouches of it. They will expand or contract depending on the air pressure, and I have never had one leak.
They say that we all learn by our mistakes. My friend learned a lot on that trip with the olive oil.
–B.G.–Jan 30, 2012 at 3:25 pm #1831854
My wife and I have had a pair of Garcia cans for probably 15 years. I far prefer hiking with the bear can over hanging food or worrying if a bear will mess with it. Plus the bear can makes a comfortable seat. Living in California you will most likely take many trips in the "Canister Required" areas of the Sierra.
I would love to have a Bearikade Expedition- but can't personally justify the cost.
I can get enough food in the Garcia for 8 days' solo hike (7 lunches, 7 breakfasts, 6 dinners). That's with lots of single-serve packaging. If you have high density bulk foods (or eat less) I imagine maybe a couple more days' capacity. Because of the greater volume and larger opening I estimate one or two more in the BV500. Call it 10 days' food.
So if about 10 days is the longest you would ever go between resupplys in bear can areas, and if money is tight, I say get the BV500 for $70 (700 cubic inches, 41 ounces). By comparison, the Bearikade Expedition will cost you $310 including shipping and CA tax, weigh 37 ounces, and offer 900 cubic inches. In fact you could get both the BV 450 (440 cubic inches, 33 ounces) and BV500 for $120 with free shipping from Amazon. That way you save weight over the Bearikade Expedition on short trips, but still have good capacity for long trips.Jan 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm #1831884
Bob – I think it's safe to say that your cullinary pursuits are probably a bit more ambitious than mine, but I guess I will need to rethink the olive oil for my trip. Before I start the CT I'm going to go on a guided fly fishing trip with my dad and my older brother for his 30th birthday. So in the event my fly fishing skills improve enough to warrant a spot on the daisy chain for the rod and reel, I might need the olive oil for some lake trout.
Jim – So if Jeff and Ken are the "enablers" around here, you sir are the voice of reason. You make an awfully compelling argument for the Bear Vault(s), but I'm curious, you said "I would love a Bearikade Expedition, but can't justify the cost"… Do you want one because you feel like the design/materials are superior to the alternatives or is it strictly a "more volume, less weight" scenario?Jan 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm #1831900
I really like the idea of a canister/ursak-outsak combo. Also, did I mention I have an outsak ul and love it? ;) It's real nice when I want to protect food from critters but don't need/want to bring the canister.Jan 30, 2012 at 4:38 pm #1831904
More volume. Family trips need more volume. Plus bear cans prevent high bulk foods like chips, crackers, etc. if you're at the capacity limit.
Our kids will be 11 & 9 this summer and we plan on a weeklong Sierra trip. Out with the Garcia cans and in with two BV 500 and one BV 450.Jan 30, 2012 at 4:57 pm #1831916
Thanks to your collective insight and advice I think I'm going to have to go with Option #4: Bearikade Expedition AND an Outsak UL. At the end of the day this will guarantee that I have an answer for black bear country while at the same time giving me an alternative for hiking around SoCal.
While the Expedition might be larger than I need for my aforementioned trips, it will definitely come in handy when I’m hiking with friends… Now I just need to get those taxes done so that I can pull the trigger!Jan 30, 2012 at 5:01 pm #1831920
I don' like the see through aspect of the Bear Vaults. Get some sun on it and everything inside gets hot and sweaty. Like a greenhouse.Jan 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm #1831957AnonymousGuest
Enabler Jeff here wanting to talk you down! The Expedition is friggin huge. If you want to pair a canister with an outsak (perhaps reasonable if you know what you're doing) then maybe you want a smaller, not larger canister. The mid-size Bearikade will last you for six to seven days, satisfy any ranger and more importantly protect bears from your food–and I mean that last bit emphatically. Of course if you're planning on carrying all of your friends' food, have at the Expedition. This may get old fast.Jan 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm #1831999Jan 30, 2012 at 8:37 pm #1832035
"I don't like the see through aspect of the Bear Vaults. Get some sun on it and everything inside gets hot and sweaty. Like a greenhouse."
A little off topice, but I'm wondering…has anyone ever tried taping some type of reflective material to the inside of the can to keep prying eyes and the heat out of the can? Think it would work well?Jan 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm #1832049
Talking with BV owners they like the clear canister. It lets them find food items more easily.Jan 30, 2012 at 9:03 pm #1832052
Good thing for choices then.
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