Bear Canisters

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    Ryan C
    BPL Member


    Locale: United States

    Upon planning a JMT hike this summer, my friend and I decided on using custom 11" tall Bearikades (Approx. 2lb 1oz). REI has the BearVault BV500 on sale for $60 but will be about 8oz heavier than the 11" Bearikade and has slightly less volume.

    If it were you, would you spend over $225 for a custom Bearikade or $60 for a BearVault?

    John S.
    BPL Member



    Ozzy McKinney


    Locale: PNW

    not that I would really have a choice, but $60. Over $150 difference is a chunk of change better spent on important things, like beer. If the extra 8oz ruins an awesome hike like the JMT, we should rethink our priorities!

    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Right there

    If you hike a lot in required canister territory, and plan to keep doing so, get the Bearikade. If you need something for this trip and maybe once in a while afterward, BearVault.

    Nathan Hays


    Locale: San Francisco

    It's not uncommon for someone to spend $160 to lighten their pack by 8 oz. At $27/yd, a 6×9 cuben tarp costs that in fabric alone, then you sew it.

    I've always rented Bearikades in Cedar Grove, $5/day iirc, but then they are 14".

    I once saw some young packers with smallish packs carrying a couple bearikades in their hands that they must've had to rent then and there because they didn't check the regs ahead of time.

    Phil Gross (erstwhile ranger of KCNP) tells of an ornery old timer presenting his pot-and-skillet-held-together-with-bolts bear cannister at the trail head. Rather upset at not being allowed to use it as such, he threw it against a tree at which point it disassembled. Broken kit, broken pride, hand carried bearikade.

    Andrew F


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    I ponied up the cash for a bearikade, but I use it many nights a year… They also offer rentals at a good price.

    Nathan Hays


    Locale: San Francisco

    When are you hitting which trailhead? My clan is heading SOB down Lyell on 6/28. I'll be soloing NOB late august.

    David K


    Locale: SW Oregon

    The bearikade is easier to fill, easier to open and close, slips into one's pack more smoothly and works as a seat.

    Thayne N
    BPL Member


    Locale: Four Corners

    I'm planning to do the JMT June/July and budget points me to the bearvault.

    Jeff M.
    BPL Member


    I went with the bearvault and I'm happy with it. Works well, its a nice seat, and very easy to open with the credit card/I.D. trick. I don't use a bear can enough to justify the extra $$$ for the bearikade. I'm also hoping the ursack gets approved eventually.

    Tom D.
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern California

    Im starting at the end of July, southbound with my 14 and 11 yr old sons. I'll be picking up the Bear Vault as I don't have that much money to spend.

    Jeff J


    Locale: Oregon

    I suspect you already know the answer to which canister. The question boils down to cost vs convenience of use (weight, size). If you'll use a canister enough that a half pound difference will over all make backpacking better AND you have the money to spend, get the better one. If it's just for this trip and maybe random other ones, plus the fact that you don't have to bother with figuring out the canister details on said random trips, get the cheaper one.

    I actually opted for a Garcia (I know; gasp!) simply because it was cheap and available. I've only used it on one trip though; so that's something: you might not get to those other trips as quickly as you think. Had I realized I'd only be on one lousy trip requiring a canister, I would've rented from the NPS.


    Katy Anderson


    The wilderness center will rent you a Garcia can. Weight is 2 pounds 12 ounces. Cost $5 for the whole trip.

    Erik Basil
    BPL Member


    Locale: Atzlan

    I can't justify the cost for the Bearikade, but I can tell you the BearVault 500 is easy to load, easy to slide into a pack with its rounded,no-snag corners, easy to sit on or use for a stove stand, and performs well when Yogi gives it a gnawing.

    Everything's relative, and compared to a Garcia, the BV500 is heaven.

    Mina Loomis
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Texas

    We just sprung for two–yes! two!–Bearikade Weekenders (good for about 6 days per person with careful food selection and packing). Why not Bear Vaults? (After all, I can get employee pricing on those from REI ProDeal.) Well, the 8-oz. weight saving is important to us as we get older, and they are much easier to for us to get into than the BV's. And if we ever change our minds they are easy to sell for a good price so the risk is actually pretty low.

    But mostly, symbolic of our commitment that we really will be soon taking ourselves on more amazing longer trips including more Sierras, plus Glacier, Yellowstone, North Cascades, and more!

    Ben F


    After seeing those photos of a Bearikade post-grizzly I'd go with a Bearvault. Yes, heavier, but cheaper, and actually approved for grizzly country.

    Edit–should have been more clear. I think the money spent on a Bearikade might make sense if they were grizzly approved, but since they're only useful in black bear country, I'm not sure I could justify it.

    Mary D
    BPL Member


    Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge

    After reading Greg Mihalik's posts about the Bearikade's spectacular failure of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee tests, I'm extremely sorry I bought one!

    I especially dislike Wild Ideas' telling me that even though the Bearikade isn't IGBC approved, the old Sierra Black Bear approval involved the "same tests." In view of what actually happened in testing, this is, IMHO, downright dishonest!

    If there's any possibility that you might visit areas requiring an IGBC-approved canister, such as the Tetons, do not buy a Bearikade! It does not have IGBC approval. Get one only if you're absolutely sure that you'll never backpack in grizzly bear country.

    Fortunately, my son has a large Bear Vault, so we can trade back and forth. I'm sure he'd rather have the Bearikade for trips to the Olympic Peninsula coast, where the canister only needs to protect from aggressive raccoons.

    Ken Helwig
    BPL Member


    Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA

    Folks….. Bearboxer common!

    Ryan C
    BPL Member


    Locale: United States

    The BearVault 500 wins and my base pack weight just jumped 8oz for saving $$$ lol.

    I saw the photos of the destroyed Bearikade and thought of how ticked off I'd be if that happened to me after spending the cash. Yellowstone and the Wind River Range are on my list of places to experience, better to go with the Griz approved model rather than worrying about it. I have used Garcia cans in Alaska and was not very fond of them due to the small opening.

    : We are SOBO from Happy Isles in Mid-August.

    steven franchuk


    "Folks….. Bearboxer common!"

    If you just look at weight the Bearboxer looks great. However if you compare the volume the Bearikade and Bearvault canister are better choices.

    The bearboxer Contender is about 1 oz lighter and 1" shorter than my Bearikade Scout. However the Bearboxer has only about half the valume of the Bearikade Scout (about 500cubic inches).

    In fact the Bearikade scout Has only slightly less volume than than the bearboxer Champ, weighs 1.2lbs less, and is a full 4inches shorter. In fact the Bearboxer champ specs are almost identical to the specs of the Backpakers Cache (same volume and only 1 oz lighter).

    If you want to minimize the space the canister takes in your pack, the weight, and maximize the food you can carry the the Bearikade and Bearvault canisters are the best choices

    Texas Chinooks


    Locale: DFW

    I've rented the bearikade a couple of times now and was considering buying. I'm not sure why it fails when the plastic Bear Vault did not. The bearikade did not seem to have any place for the bear to get a grip.

    James Marco
    BPL Member


    Locale: Finger Lakes

    Well, I believe it is the sharp corners on the Bearikade. This allows them to apply a lot of pressure. The edge actually overlaps and allows a bear some purchase with his oposing teeth. The rounded corners of a Bear Vault will discourage such attempts. The body is larger than the ends.

    ”V” (CzechClown)
    BPL Member


    I use the BV450 while thru-hiking the JMT.

    Phillip Asby
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Carolina

    I got a UDAP no fed bear canister which is similar to the Garcia – slighly smaller and consequently lighter – mostly because for as much as I use one it was for sale at STP with a 35% coupon and included the carrying sack.

    With them being on sale at REI it is hard to pass up the BV – but it really is a value equation regarding the $ and utility. I understand some will go to almost any length to shave weight – at least relatively insensitive to price per oz saved. I am not one of those people but admit I will spend in some areas and have. I think the relative comfort is solely weight with the bear canister. Whereas, say, a nice down bag is not only lighter, but compacts smaller, and is a good bit warmer than my similarly rated synthetic bag – and I place a fairly high utility on a good nights sleep. Perhaps unfairly the one dimensional nature of the canister makes it harder to justify the significant price difference given few other advantages aside from weight.

    Josh Brock


    Locale: Outside

    "Well, I believe it is the sharp corners on the Bearikade. This allows them to apply a lot of pressure. The edge actually overlaps and allows a bear some purchase with his oposing teeth. The rounded corners of a Bear Vault will discourage such attempts. The body is larger than the ends."

    I would love to see the study on bear cans from which you got this information.

    I went with the bearikade its lighter at a greater volume with the draw back being a higher price. Thats like most other gear a part of UL backpacking.

    About that picture with the grizzly, as some one pointed out to me that is the only case that I have seen a bearikade fail. and I have seen pictures of other ripped apart containers since. I think that a bear proof container is in-accurate. If a bear has the time and the will he will get into any container on the market. I think the idea behind the container is to be hard enough to get into to convince the bear there is easier food to be had.

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