Oct 1, 2007 at 11:37 am #1225282
I'm curious: do any of you have any tips or tricks for carrying/packing a bear canister? I have to carry one in the Adirondacks (I have the Bear Keg), but I'm yet to find a way to do so that doesn't mess up my packing system.
It's a tough bit of business. Basically, trying to incorporate a 3 lb. plastic barrel into an inflexible light-weight packing system is bound to be a pain in the neck, but I'd like to hear what you think.
DaveOct 1, 2007 at 11:45 am #1404182
I have a BearVault, and for me anyway, I like to just put it right-side up down into the pack on top of my loose quilt. It is obviously going to displace some gear if you're not used to carrying one. I carry all the food and cooking gear inside the vault and my tent and sleeping pad go on the outside of my pack, one on each side. Works for me.Oct 1, 2007 at 11:51 am #1404183
I've done that too. I've also tried lashing it onto the top and bottom of the bag. But I've had little luck with this. I'm not sure why though – seems like it should work.
You know, in the 'Dacks, the bears have learned to open the Bear Vault. Crazy, eh? They just unscrew it and eat everything. Smart animals, man.
DaveOct 1, 2007 at 11:53 am #1404184
I am unaware of any BearVault failures when they are "properly" used. They're awfully nice folks, too. The owners of BearVault, not the bears. ;-)Oct 1, 2007 at 12:05 pm #1404185
>> I am unaware of any BearVault failures when they are "properly" used.
You think the bears are getting in because people aren't screwing on the lid tightly?
The Rangers at the DEC Interior Outposts in the 'Dacks actually keep a stash of bear cannisters at their posts for people who forget theirs…or bring Bear Vaults. It's regarded as common knowledge that, if you use a Bear Vault, there's a fifty-fifty chance you won't be eating breakfast.
It might be a bunch of backcountry bull, but it makes you wonder. It's like the bears actually have culture and can pass on aquired knowledge. I can almost picture them holding classes and whatnot…
The Bear Keg has worked well for me, but I bought it before I saw the light. It's the heaviest bear cannister on the market. Grrrr.Oct 1, 2007 at 12:28 pm #1404188
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Do these BearVault failure anecdotes refer to the newer, orange-label BearVaults? As far as I know, this version has overcome the failure problems suffered by the earlier editions.
It would be good to know if there have been further problems.Oct 1, 2007 at 12:40 pm #1404189
Unfortunately, I don't know if the rumor spreaders are differntiating between new and old Bear Vaults. I'm headed up there this weeken though, so I can check.
DaveOct 1, 2007 at 1:18 pm #1404196
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
Thanks Dave, that would be great!Oct 1, 2007 at 1:43 pm #1404203
I use a ULA Catalyst which is cut wide enough at the top to lay the cannister in horizontally rather than vertically. To me, it was one of the better selling points of the pack, since it meant I didn't need to substantially change the way I pack. It keeps my gear balance even and prevents me from needing to attaching anything to the outside of my pack, which I absolutely loathe.Oct 1, 2007 at 4:34 pm #1404227
Dave and Rick,
I just checked the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group's list of approved canisters. I have always considered it the gold standard when evaluating canisters since they test canistrers against the world's most accomplished canister cracker, the infamous Yosemite Black Bear before releasing them into the field with conditional approval status for a year. Currently two BearVault canisters, BV350 and BV400 are approved. All other BearVault canisters are forbidden in those areas of the Sierra where canisters are required. This might be a good standard for you to use when deciding which canister to use, because if the Yosemite Black Bear can't crack a canister you can be pretty sure your breakfast will be there when you wake up in the morning. Another precaution might be to slap one of those "Contents insured by Smith and Wesson" bumper stickers on the side of your canister. They can read, you know….Oct 1, 2007 at 8:41 pm #1404258
Rick, looks like you're onto something:Oct 1, 2007 at 9:05 pm #1404262
Since 10 August a single bear in the Marcy Dam area has learned to open
BearVault BV350/3400 models. It does this by pushing in the bump with its
incisor tooth and unscrewing the lid. As of today, this bear is the only
bear in the US that has managed to open BV350/400s since their introduction
in June 2006. However it can open them at will and so BearVaults should not
be used in the Marcy Dam area until new lids are available.
In an effort to improve our product, test lids were sent to the rangers in
the High Peaks area to distribute to hikers who were heading to Marcy Dam.
The hope was by giving hikers and rangers test lids, we would increase the
chances of getting an interaction of the new lids with this very talented
bear. The problems is there were only 12 test lids available. The idea is a
hiker would use the test lid and then return it to the rangers along with
any information on interactions with bears at Marcy Dam.
If you are one of the hikers with these test lids,please contact us with
your experience at email@example.com Also, if you are done with the test
lid, please pass it on to another hiker who may be going to Marcy Dam (if
you know of anyone) or return the lid to the rangers with your input. Input
from this testing is crucial for the design of the lids for 2008.
The new lids will be backwards compatible with BV350/400 and will be
available for a free swapout next spring upon successful testing of these
lids with this bear.
Your help with this testing will ensure the new lids pass muster with the
Marcy Dam bear. So far we have had one report of the Marcy Dam bear
attacking the test lids and not getting in.
Thank you for your help.
Jamie and CindyOct 1, 2007 at 9:18 pm #1404263
There have been no problems with BearVault BV350/400s outside of one bear's area at Marcy Dam in the Adirondacks.
Since 10 August a single bear in the Marcy Dam area has learned to open BearVault BV350/3400 models. It does this by pushing in the bump with its incisor tooth and unscrewing the lid. As of today, this bear is the only bear in the US that has managed to open BV350/400s since their introduction in June 2006. However it can open them at will and so BearVaults should not be used in the Marcy Dam area until new lids are available.
In an effort to improve our product, test lids were sent to the rangers in the High Peaks area to distribute to hikers who were heading to Marcy Dam. The hope was by giving hikers and rangers test lids, we would increase the chances of getting an interaction of the new lids with this very talented bear. The problems is there were only 12 test lids available. The idea is a hiker would use the test lid and then return it to the rangers along with any information on interactions with bears at Marcy Dam.
If you are one of the hikers with these test lids,please contact us with your experience at firstname.lastname@example.org Also, if you are done with the test lid, please pass it on to another hiker who may be going to Marcy Dam (if you know of anyone) or return the lid to the rangers with your input. Input from this testing is crucial for the design of the lids for 2008.
The new lids will be backwards compatible with BV350/400 and will be available for a free swapout next spring upon successful testing of these lids with this bear.
Your help with this testing will ensure the new lids pass muster with the Marcy Dam bear. So far we have had one report of the Marcy Dam bear attacking the test lids and not getting in.
Thank you for your help.
Jamie and CindyOct 2, 2007 at 1:06 pm #1404333
Have you checked out the Bearikade "Weekender". It's made from carbon fiber with aluminum end caps, has a capacity of~650 c.i., and weighs 31 oz. according to the manufacturer. This makes it the lightest canister this side of the Ursack, which is also an option you might consider. The Weekender is very pricey to buy, but the company rents them for a very reasonable price($5/day for the 1st 3 days, and $2.50/day thereafter; shipping is $14 to theeast Coast zone). As far as I know, they have never been broken into by a bear. Their URL is bearikade.com. Good luck, whatever you choose. You're facing a very formidable critter.Oct 2, 2007 at 1:16 pm #1404334
Tom, thanks for the heads up on the Bearikade! That thing looks perfect. Except for that price tag anyway.
Just compare the specs of the weekender to the Bear Keg that I have:
Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.
Volume: 650 cubic inches
Dimensions: 9" diameter base by 10" length
Price: $225 (I wouldn't have money left for food)
Weight: 3 lbs. 10 oz.
Volume: 716 cubic inches
Dimensions: 9" diameter base by 14" length
Price: $79.99 (with free muscle spasms in your lumbar region for good measure)Oct 2, 2007 at 1:26 pm #1404336
You know, I don't want to start trouble, but I'm not sure I'm buying the story that there's only one bear that knows how to open the Bear Vault cannisters. My last trip to the 'Dacks I met two hikers from seperate groups who reported having had their Bear Vaults broken into. One had been camped illegally on the Northern side of Algonquin and the other had been staying at the Feldspar Leanto. Both break ins were reported as having happened on the same day. This casts the "one bear near Marcy Dam" story in a pretty dubious light.
I fully expect the Bear Vault people to defend their products and I do hope they get the problem with the Bear Vaults fixed. But I think the best thing to do is to avoid using Bear Vault products. Every time a bear has a successful encounter with a hiker's food stash, that bear's risk to hiker safety increases and so do the odds that the bear will need to be killed.
If you want to protect the bears, use cannisters that work. Even if they weigh over three pounds.Oct 2, 2007 at 4:33 pm #1404346
@wandering_bobLocale: Oregon, USA
To make an apples to apples comparison, you really should compare the Bear Keg with the Bearikade EXPEDITION model (they're the same size 9 x 14 and approximately equal volumes)
Bearikade Expedition MKII
The Bearikade Expedition is the choice for longer trips or larger groups. It can supply a group of 3 for 3 days. If used as a personal unit, it can supply you for up to 9 days.
• 2 pounds 5 ounces
• 9" diameter base by 14" length
• 900 cubic inch volume
• Bearikade Expedition $275.00
Regarding costs – as with any gear, ask yourself how many times you reasonably expect to use it. Once or twice? Rent it. More than that? Buying makes sense.
My Expedition fits vertically in my Mountainsmith Auspex and the rangers at Yosemite/Sequoia/Kings Canyon NPs are happy.
Bon chanceOct 2, 2007 at 5:37 pm #1404354
Bears are "smart". It is going to be hard to find a permanent solution to this problem because they are going to continue how to learn to open newer and newer models of kegs, etc. It's going to be extremely hard to develop something humans can use and carry, and yet something that is "bear proof". I hate to be a pessimist, but I really can't see it happening. They are going to learn just as fast as we do.Oct 3, 2007 at 9:31 am #1404405
That's a better comparison, Bob. And I use a bear cannister every month, so I should buy a lighter one when I can afford it. The Bearikade looks like the one to get.
And yeah, we should expect the bears to learn. But we still need to protect them from our outdoor enthusiasms.Oct 3, 2007 at 9:57 am #1404407
This probably won't help much, but I carry mine horizontally at the top of my McHale Popcan pack. The pack is desinged wider at the top specifically for this.
I have a Bearikade Weekender, and I can get up to 6 days worth of food in it. Also, the weight you quoted for the Weekender is a little off, the actual weight of my mine is 933 grams (2 lbs 0.91 oz).Oct 3, 2007 at 10:03 am #1404409
@ksawchukLocale: Northern California
I prefer to carry my night clothing/tarp on the bottom of my pack, the bear canister goes in vertically (with food inside) and my foam pad folded vertically against my back, then stove/extra daytime clothing goes alongside the canister and sleeping bag on top. This way I can get to the food without having to fully unpack my pack. As the trip goes along I can put even more in the bear canister–stove/pot is first given its size and bulk.
I like carrying the canister upright as I can get into my food easily during the day. At night I make sure the food I'll use the next day is near the top.Oct 3, 2007 at 12:46 pm #1404432
I don't have much to offer, but I have had a run in with the Marcy Dam bear on a trip a few years back. It managed to get down our bear bags suspended tied together up on the area cable. Have no idea how he got to it. He has quite a dumping ground where he likes to drag his stolen treasures.Oct 3, 2007 at 5:12 pm #1404471
I wonder how the Ursack(S29 with the aluminum insert) would fare against this wily critter? Anybody tried one?Oct 4, 2007 at 5:31 pm #1404574
@trLocale: Southern California
The bomb! I bought mine in August used it in September, we had no bears at Big Pine Lakes Eastern Sierra in California. But sure do love the lightweight, total empty with cable attachment for lid 2.06 lbs. Much better than my old Garcia at 2lbs 11.6 ounces. Much easier to pack and also get to the stuff that is always at the bottom. Much care must be used, the Bearikade is like all lightweight backpacking gear "not bullet proof" care must be used. Unlike the Garcia, which is totally bullet proof. If lightweight is what you what, Berikade is the way to go.Oct 4, 2007 at 11:13 pm #1404592
@slnsfLocale: Northern California
Tom K – soft-sided bags like the Ursack are illegal in the Adirondacks High Peaks (even with the metal liner) – you have to use a hard-sided canister.
I just rented a BearVault from a local EMS in Niskayuna, NY, and they said that over 15 BearVaults of all vintages are now reported as having been broken into in not just Marcy Dam, but also the Flowed Lands.
They had a BearVault Solo on their counter that had just been returned after being breached by a bear in the High Peaks – here's a picture:
They also noted that DEC had new lids and would happily rent me a canister using one if I could get to one of the outposts before my trip (unfortunately I'm starting from a location away from Adirondak Loj and Johns Brook, where they're most likely available).
I'm going to do a loop from Upper Works to Haystack and Marcy, then back down via Marcy Dam and Avalanche Pass this weekend through Monday, so I'll let you know how it goes.
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