Bearvault BV500 Review
Oct 7, 2022 at 1:09 pm #3761409Daniel HuBPL Member
Companion forum thread to: Bearvault BV500 Review
The Bearvault BV500 Journey (41 oz, 700 cubic inches, $88) is an IGBC-certified and SIBBG-approved bear canister. This review focuses on its usability and quality.Oct 7, 2022 at 3:24 pm #3761431Eric KammererBPL Member
Why are bear canisters universally cylindrical?
In cross-section, a cylinder is a circle. Any other shape would provide corners that offered greater purchase to bear teeth while decreasing the strength.
I don’t bother with the credit card, any object that provides additional leverage will press in those tabs — a tent stake, small rock, etc.Oct 7, 2022 at 4:21 pm #3761436Black MagicBPL Member
Who keeps their credit cards handy while backpacking?
Got one of these in your FAK?Oct 7, 2022 at 6:07 pm #3761441jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
It’s 2 1/2 pounds, without stakes, bag and lines. It’s 12 pounds when you add food.Oct 7, 2022 at 11:52 pm #3761459Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Who keeps their credit cards handy while backpacking?
EVERONE in Europe.
All you need for a long multi-day walk there is a day pack, a towel, a jacket, a liner (hut rules …) AND a credit card for the Refuges and Hotels. It’s a different world.
CheersOct 8, 2022 at 5:00 am #3761465RobBPL Member
I hike in the Eastern part of the country and would really like to see a bear can designed strictly for black bear. Seems it could be a little smaller and lighter due to the size difference between them and grizzly.Oct 8, 2022 at 8:45 am #3761467dirtbagBPL Member
I usually carry my drivers license, insurance card and 1 credit card.. along with some cash..Oct 8, 2022 at 8:59 am #3761468jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
I usually carry my drivers license, insurance card and 1 credit card.. along with some cash..
From tomorrow’s NYTimes: bear arrested at local fast food restaurant trying to use hiker’s credit card to pay for an order. “gosh, we get lots of hikers in here that look and smell worse than that bear. We only became suspicious because the signature on the reciept didn’t match the one on the card.”Oct 8, 2022 at 9:14 am #3761471Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
Back to the original topic, we’ve used a BV500 for the past ten years. It works. We like the fact that it’s transparent, so we don’t have empty the whole damn can to find something. The only caveat I would offer is that it is critical to place the can on a tilt during a rainstorm. Otherwise, water will seal around the lid, and cooling-fed contraction will suck water into the can.
Its not something Bearvault will tell you unless you ask…Oct 8, 2022 at 9:33 am #3761472Todd TBPL Member
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
BV500…it is critical to place the can on a tilt during a rainstorm. Otherwise, water will seal around the lid, and cooling-fed contraction will suck water into the can.
First time I’ve ever heard that. Good to know!Oct 8, 2022 at 4:32 pm #3761501JasonBPL Member
Are these still not approved for some areas in the eastern US? I remember reading that somewhere during my bear canister research for the TRT a few years ago, it drove me toward going with the Garcia can instead.Oct 9, 2022 at 5:13 am #3761513karl hafnerBPL Member
@khafnerLocale: upstate NY
Woke up one morning in the adirondacks and heard this weird scraping noise. A squirrel was going at our UDAP bear can and actually got into it. They chew threw at the top edge where it is rounded. While they may be bear proof the smaller kritters can easily get into them. I want to avoid plastic for that reason. It took the squirrel about 45 minutes to be successful.Oct 9, 2022 at 4:21 pm #3761542David NeumannBPL Member
@idahomtmanLocale: Southern Oregon Coast
As a guide, I use the provided BV500 and Garcia’s. I prefer the BV500 for the reasons stated above; clear and easy to load. I own both a BV450, BV500, a Bear Boxer 101, an Ursack, and a Bearikade Weekender. The BearVaults and Bearikade are the easiest to load. I have often gotten much more than seven days of food in both. And don’t forget that you need room for any items with odor that can attract a bear like toothpaste and the like. I have gotten seven days of food into the BV450. It depends what you pack and how you pack it. Just putting in commercially prepared meals is not efficient.
I developed a bit of a callus on my finger this season from opening the BearVault’s on cold mornings (often opening as many as 15 canisters). Using a credit card works, but may reduce the life expectancy of the canister. Ours get lots of use and I have seen cracked BV500’s as well as lids that simply unscrew past the nibs with no effort. They need to be cleaned, particularly the threads on both parts. The BearVault’s do leak in the rain. I like the fact they can be used to sit on provided they are securely closed.
I prefer the Garcia and Bearikade closures. They are easy to use especially when it’s cold. A coin works quite well with either. I would never buy a Garcia because of the weight. The BV500 is a much better option unless you use your canister a great deal. When allowed, I prefer the Ursack with or without the liner or the Bearikade to save weight.Oct 10, 2022 at 12:23 pm #3761589Bill WBPL Member
Had a real experience with a BV500 and a bear. While doing an off-trail hike in Sequoia, we had a bear try to get in a BV500. It worked–there were teeth and claw marks all over the lid and sides, but the canister was still intact and unopened. Yep, it’s heavy and it takes up a lot of room (and that’s a pain), but if you’re required to use one or if there’s a big risk of losing your food, at least you know it’ll work. I’ve used Ursacks on some trips, but they’re not waterproof and it’s always fun trying to secure them to something when you’re above treeline. I never feel my food is quite as secure, but sometimes the weight and volume savings is worth taking the extra risk for. I use the card technique, but not with a credit card–there seems to be an endless supply of non-important plastic cards to draw from. I just taped a hotel rewards card to the top of my BV and carry and extra in my pack just in case. BV500 is a good product.Nov 20, 2022 at 6:58 am #3765693Patrick ABPL Member
Noticed you have the materials for the Bear Keg and the Bearikade Blazer mixed up. The Blazer is carbon and aluminum and the Bear Keg is ABS.
Great review! I use the BV500 and the BV450 but thinking the BV475 might be the best option for one person on a week long trip. Would like to see an article that compares how food fits in all BV size options for trips from 2-7 day maybe? I know food is subjective with caloric density and all but maybe that could also factor into the article? Thanks for the great review!Nov 20, 2022 at 10:20 am #3765715YoPrawnSpectator
Isn’t it a bit too early to be reviewing the BV500? Shouldn’t we wait to see how this new product plays out in the real-world? This trend to be the first to review a product is getting out of hand, folks!
/sNov 21, 2022 at 4:07 am #3765750Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
<p>I hike in the Eastern part of the country and would really like to see a bear can designed strictly for black bear. Seems it could be a little smaller and lighter due to the size difference between them and grizzly.</p><p> </p><p>The Bearikade is designed for Black Bears. It has Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group (now defunct) approval but not Interagency Grizzley Bear Committee approval. SIBBG tested vs. Black Bears and IGBC tests with Grizzley Bears. There are rumors that Bearikades were tested by IGBC and failed, but the official story at least is that Bearikade has never applied for IGBC approval. </p>Nov 21, 2022 at 7:46 am #3765754
“Isn’t it a bit too early to be reviewing the BV500? Shouldn’t we wait to see how this new product plays out in the real-world? This trend to be the first to review a product is getting out of hand, folks!”
yeah, I like the “unboxing” videos. The point is to get an initial “high” opening your product but who cares about actually using it. : )Nov 21, 2022 at 7:49 am #3765755
“There are rumors that Bearikades were tested by IGBC and failed, but the official story at least is that Bearikade has never applied for IGBC approval.”
maybe you test it, and if it passes, then you apply.
like a political or bureaucratic statement – evading actually answering the question.
this is my day for nothing useful to say : )Nov 21, 2022 at 8:19 am #3765757
Nice review. Very complete. Nice pictures.
I notice that the actual product is heavier than spec’d, and that over time, the same model gets a little heavier. I have noticed the same pattern with other manufacturers like thermarest. Sort of annoying. But if over time they redesign the product to be stronger then that’s okay. They ought to talk about what they’ve changed though.
I have an old BV500 but my new pack is too small so I got a BV450. I was a little annoyed that it didn’t save much weight because new models are heavier, but I understand that they now make them a little stronger because there were some problems with the lighter weight versions.
One day I really stuffed the bearvault. At the top was something hard with an edge. When i screwed on the lid the ribs caught on the hard object and it wouldn’t unscrew. I finally got it open though by positioning it better. Better not to put anything with hard edge on top.
I only use bearvault when required by regulation. In Olympic National Park.Nov 21, 2022 at 9:01 am #3765760
@Jason – years ago there was a famous female bear (nicknamed yellow-yellow for her two yellow ear tags) in the eastern high peaks area of the Adirondacks who figured out how to push the Bearvault tabs in with her teeth and unscrew the lid. They never changed the regulations to officially ban the Bearvaults, but there were many signs at trail heads recommending the Garcia canisters instead. Yellow-Yellow was taken by a hunter several years ago, but there have been rumors that she taught the trick to some of her off-spring – not sure if that is really true. I have used both a Garcia and a custom size Bearikade in the eastern high peaks with no issues – only one minor claw scratch on the Garcia.
Off the Bearvault topic, but outside of the eastern high peaks area of the ADKs I use an Ursack with an odor proof bag when solo and I have never had a bear even investigate it as far as I know. There was an article on BPL years ago where they used a trained police dog, and the dog managed to find food hidden in school lockers inside odor proof bags and the conclusion was the bags didn’t work very well. I have always doubted the conclusions of this study because dogs are very tuned into the scent of people and I think they would have been able to tell which lockers the people had opened and closed when they were hiding the food. I think the bags work pretty good – well enough that I think there is likely stronger food odors on me, my clothing, etc. than on the Ursack. However, I would not use an Ursack in an area where there are lots of habituated bears.Nov 21, 2022 at 10:31 am #3765776
I was in Trinity Alps last spring.
Someone had an Ursack that a bear ripped open and ate the contents.Nov 21, 2022 at 10:46 am #3765777ArthurBPL Member
David, I wish I could find that video again of the odor proof bags in the high school lockers. But, as I remember, the bags were brand new and the placement of food in the bags were done by a team of veterinarians who are well versed in sterile technique to be sure no human or food smells were transferred to the outside of the bags. Of course, there could be human scent on the bags from shipping and handling at the factory. They claimed that this variable would be negated by the extensive human scents in a high school locker world, which, BTW, I remember to be very true! Having helped train cadaver dogs, I know that they can know a scent is different than the environment at 1ppm and can identify dead human tissue at 3ppm. So, it makes me think a bear could detect the smell of food that we transfer to the outside of those bags by just packing, unpacking, and repacking those bags during a trip. All conjecture, but personally, I have little confidence in those bags.Nov 21, 2022 at 10:48 am #3765778
@Jerry – Yup, I don’t doubt it. Certainly if a bear is interested in an Ursack at a minimum the food inside is going to be crushed. Even canisters are not immune to a determined bear that wants to work on it for awhile. Nothing is perfect. I use hangs when I hike with my brother, Ursack when solo, and when required a canister.Nov 21, 2022 at 11:11 am #3765779
@Arthur – Here is a link to the study: https://backpackinglight.com/odor_proof_bags_study/
And I agree they were very careful about handling the bags to make sure that no odors were on the outside of the bags and randomizing the lockers and eliminating other potential clues. But someone still had to walk to the locker and place the bag in the locker – I believe that the dogs would have been able to detect this. I could be wrong in any case. And I absolutely believe that in handling the bags we contaminate them – but in eating I get food on my hands, it likely gets transferred to my clothes, pack, etc. I normally hike with my lunch in a ziploc bag in the stretch pocket on my pack – ziplocs are really not odor proof – I can smell food inside a ziploc. So I think the odor proof bags are far from perfect – but I do think they help and that my clothing and pack are also both likely contaminated with perhaps stronger food smells that the outside of the odor proof bag/ursack.
I really put this in the – every bit helps category. If you tried to use an odor proof bag with an ursack in an area where bears visit nightly looking for hiker food you will likely lose your food (or at least have your ursack severely chewed and food mushed. A bear canister is called for in this kind of area.
As I said above – I use all 3 methods of food storage based on where I am, and I do try to minimize food odors when I can. Various anecdotal stories about failed canisters or shredded ursacks won’t change that. I think the main thing helping to protect food in the back country is a fair bit of luck – a bear didn’t walk by it. I have seen some absolutely atrocious bear hangs survive unscathed …
Sorry I took this thread off track from the Bearvault review – should have limited my response to Jason strictly on his question about where there had been a concerns with the Bearvault product.
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