May 8, 2017 at 9:45 pm #3466974
I’m moving to California and will be within a reasonable distance from Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia. So, I need a bear canister and would like to buy one.
I’ve read Skurka’s Bear canister shopping guide. Purchase or rent?
I’m considering a small canister since I’ll mostly do mini-adventures. The two I’m looking at are:
Just looking for thoughts on this from anyone who knows more than I. Thanks!May 8, 2017 at 10:08 pm #3466981Adam WhiteBPL Member
@awhite4777Locale: On the switchbacks
Just a note–the total weight of the Lighter1 (per their website) is 1 lb 5 oz + 6 oz for the mandatory lid, or 27 oz.
The Bareboxer 101 that I own weighs 26.43 oz on my scale.
I’ve never used the Lighter1. If the Lighter1 were lighter than the Bareboxer, I’d consider it, but I’m turned off by what I view as deceptive marketing.
Edit to add: I am completely happy with the Bareboxer. At least, as happy as I can be for a thing that adds no enjoyment to my life. It works, it’s been reliable, and it’s small. I keep a paperclip attached to a small piece of spectra cord that is glued to the lid, so that I never need to hunt for an opener. That’s included in the 26.43 oz above–it might be 26.3 without it.May 8, 2017 at 10:21 pm #3466989
This is like asking what pack to buy :-)
My first canister was a Garcia because at the time it was the only one available. It is big and heavy.
Now I have a BV450 and a BV500 for longer trips. They are easy for me to open, and I like being able to see what is inside. The cost was fairly reasonable. They work good enough that I don’t pay attention to alternatives.May 8, 2017 at 10:23 pm #3466992Cameron MBPL Member
@cameronm-aka-backstrokeLocale: Los Angeles
Richard, I have both the Wild Ideas Scout and Expedition models because they are the lightest for their respective capacities. As I live in California and frequently visit bear-impacted areas, I consider them well worth the cost. They probably do well when put into the UL cost-to-weight matrix. Hiking equipment and shop tools are two areas where long-term investments do pay off.
BTW, although Skurka has accomplished many things and is generous with his advice, I often question his subjective judgements and recommendations. For someone who has made a career out of backpacking to not pony up an extra $155 for a carbon fiber canister and instead carry an extra 8 ounces of plastic while trotting the globe seems…questionable.May 8, 2017 at 10:41 pm #3467004Bob ShuffBPL Member
I got the BV450 because REI sells it and I could use my coupon and rebate. I thought about the Lighter1 Lil’ Sami, and I like the shape. but a few things cautioned me. I was convinced the pan would be little used and hard to clean. It was harder for me to open, but most importantly I didn’t think it was worth the extra $.
The bearicade is a lot more, but I think justifiable if you use it a lot. My logic breaks down, and I’m a sucker for high tech, but I don’t get to those areas as much as I’d like. I use my Ursack whenever it’s allowed, but it’s not allowed in some of the places you mention. Maybe it will be someday.May 8, 2017 at 10:59 pm #3467010Art …BPL Member
thumbs up for the Wild Ideas Scout if you can afford it. the smallest standard size they make I think. it weighs 1.75 lb with a volume of around 500ci I think. yes I own one and like it a lot but it does cost $ .
it is considerably larger than the 2 mentioned by Richard (which I think are so small as to be very limiting). the Scout is still small, but can hold from 4-7 days of food depending on how you pack and what you bring.
If a Bearikade is too pricey a brand I’d recommend a BV.May 8, 2017 at 11:42 pm #3467016
BTW, although Skurka has accomplished many things and is generous with his advice, I often question his subjective judgements and recommendations. For someone who has made a career out of backpacking to not pony up an extra $155 for a carbon fiber canister and instead carry an extra 8 ounces of plastic while trotting the globe seems…questionable.
Hmm… your statement led me to read the link Richard posted. Somehow I must have read a different article than you. His advice sounds excellent to me…
If your budget is large, if your pack weight is important to you, and/or if you will be using your canister extensively, go with a carbon fiber canister from Wild Ideas. The weight-savings will become worth the significant upfront cost.
If your budget is limited, if your pack weight is not as important, and/or if you will only use your canister occasionally, the Bear Vaults offer the best value — good volume-per-weight at a reasonable cost.
Personally, I go on enough trips in the High Sierra to justify owning a canister. While I would have liked the Wild Ideas Weekender, the additional $155 over the Bear Vault BV500 was simply too high of a premium for a half-pound weight savings.May 9, 2017 at 12:44 am #3467020Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
The only bear canisters I’ve seen for rent are the larger ones. I recommend getting a smaller bear canister so you aren’t lugging around a big one for weekend trips.May 9, 2017 at 12:57 am #3467022Mike In SocalBPL Member
Advance welcome to California, Richard. Take into consideration if you will be needing a bear canister for solo trips only or if you will be with someone else. For 2-3 people a BV450 or a BV450 plus an Ursack (where allowed) works for short trips.
As a side note, I looked at the Lighter1 online and realized that the container would be left uncovered (and your food unprotected) if you were using the lid to cook.May 9, 2017 at 3:11 pm #3467113Ben H.BPL Member
@bzhayesLocale: No. Alabama
I narrowed my choice down to the same 2 (Bearboxer and Lighter1) and ended up getting the Lighter1. I think they both are great for weekend trips. I’ll note mine ended up weighing 28.2 ounces, so it is a little bit heavier than the bareboxer and about 10% bigger. I tend to believe people spend too much time talking about weight to volume ratio. What is important is weight to accomplish the trip you want to accomplish. Those two cans are lighter and a ton cheaper than wild ideas for a weekend trip. The smaller volume also helps me not to bring too much food…. that is even more weight saved.
This thread has a ton of discussion (and a pretty hefty amount of chaff):
My take-away from the two is Lighter1 and bear boxer are pretty comparable. The reason to get the little Sami in my mind are: 1) IF you buy into the dual use of using the lid for heating water (which I do) 2) you absolutely cannot get your stuff into a bear boxer. You get smidgen more room and a better form factor IMO (vertical walls and a wide opening) with the little Sami. 3)You put a high premium on being able to see your stuff in the can.May 9, 2017 at 5:47 pm #3467127
Thanks all. I appreciate being able to get your thoughts on Bear Canisters. I didn’t have a way to think about them (not like it’s difficult) and this gives me some approaches.
The Lighter1 looks like it’d be easier to hang, but I’m not sure that is a good idea. I just have this image of loosing my food because it got knocked around by a bear, so there’s this part of me that thinks I should really hang it. LOLMay 9, 2017 at 5:55 pm #3467129PedestrianBPL Member
Most places up around or above treeline there’s no place to hang anything. You just try and wedge the canister between some rocks away from your sleeping area. Bears have been known to roll canisters downhill against rocks.
More than even bears the canister is great protection from marmots, squirrels, mice and other critters.May 10, 2017 at 9:49 am #3467287Ben H.BPL Member
@bzhayesLocale: No. Alabama
I’m not sure if there is regulations, however my understanding is that hanging a bear canister is a bad idea. The reason hanging is not allowed around here is: 1) not enough good spots and 2) the bear cubs have figured out how to dive bomb a bear bag and bring it down. Bear canisters are not design to fall from a height onto rocks. (as a couple bears in Yosemite figured out and started rolling canisters off of cliffs!) Don’t hang bear canister… wedge ’em between rocks.May 10, 2017 at 10:21 am #3467296J RBPL Member
You definitely don’t want to hang a bear canister. The one way they can fail is a sharp impact, like a fall, and then it can crack open. That’s exactly what a sow in Yosemite near Snow Creek figured out and started rolling them off the cliff, as Ben said.
You also don’t want to hang a canister because even if it falls and does not break, whatever you used to hang it by is now something the bear can grab to drag the canister away. The whole point of a bear canister is that the bear can’t break into it and can’t carry it away, so when it finds one it becomes an exercise in frustration and energy loss. Since bears are smart, they figure out pretty quickly after encountering a couple of bear cans that they are just a big tease and they soon learn to ignore canisters altogether.
You just want to place it away from camp and away from any hillsides or water sources so a bear can’t roll it away too far or into a stream that will sweep it away. Loose between rocks or logs is good to keep it from rolling away too far, but don’t “wedge” it as Pedestrian said because you don’t want to let the bear get leverage on it.May 10, 2017 at 10:32 am #3467298matthew kModerator
I’ve got a BV500 and BareBoxer. I love carrying the latter which is big enough for 4 days food if you are detail oriented in your food choices and how you pack it. It fits really nicely in a small frameless pack
I will buy or rent a bearikade if I do another longer trip in the Sierra. I don’t see myself carrying the BV500 again and should probably sell it.May 10, 2017 at 12:10 pm #3467318PedestrianBPL Member
I should also note that I’ve never encountered bears where I normally hike in the Sierra once I’m past the close to the trail head “slummy” campsites. Bears frequent areas which have a lot of visitation and people are careless about food etc and leave it around or there are strong food (or much worse) odors. Once a few miles away from the trail head and 3000-4000 ft up, I rarely encounter bears. Plenty of marmots!
Also the only one time my pack was nibbled by a squirrel was in a campground in Yosemite when my pack was unattended for 5 whole minutes. Those campgrounds regularly have bears come looking for easy pickings with all the attendant commotion of people making noises to chase bears away.
BTW I always find rocks where I can lodge the canister so it doesn’t roll on its own; if a bear decides to pick up the canister and mess with it there’s little any one can do about it. I also sleep very soundly (almost always cowboy camp) so I wouldn’t know if a bear came by sniffing for food etc
I have no idea what the above comment about a bear “getting leverage” is all about so I’ll let it pass……May 10, 2017 at 5:50 pm #3467365jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
In my experience (100’s of nights) bears in California know that they can’t get into a bear canister and leave them alone. They move on looking for someone who’s made a mistake hanging their food or leaving it out, etc. I’ve never had a bear mess with my canister, and for sure there have been nights when bears were in the vicinity.
Richard, since you’re moving to California, I also highly recommend the Wild Ideas bearikades. If you are often out for six days or less, the Scout is wonderful. It weighs almost nothing and packs like a dream. Far, far better than the other canisters, IMO. The Weekender is sweet too. They never break, so pro-rate the cost and the damn things are practically free!May 10, 2017 at 6:33 pm #3467371
Okay, so no canister hanging … well, unless I can get footage of bear cubs dive bombing them! (I wouldn’t do that)May 10, 2017 at 8:30 pm #3467385Jon FongBPL Member
@jonfongLocale: FLAT CAT GEAR
While bear canisters are required, some of the major trails in Yosemite and Sequoia Kings Canyon have established bear boxes. There were some along Rae Lakes Loop and a couple of other trails. The boxes can get full on busy times and sometimes they aren’t were they are suppose to be.
I carry a bear canister because it gives you the freedom and options to go where you want.May 11, 2017 at 12:14 am #3467402Cameron MBPL Member
@cameronm-aka-backstrokeLocale: Los Angeles
@Nick: Really, you don’t think it is surprising that Skurka would not spend $155 to lose a half-pound of weight? This UL crowd including me obsesses about 20 gram distinctions. 8 ounces is a lot!May 11, 2017 at 12:19 pm #3467468
@nick: Really, you don’t think it is surprising that Skurka would not spend $155 to lose a half-pound of weight? This UL crowd including me obsesses about 20 gram distinctions. 8 ounces is a lot!
I don’t think Andrew obsesses about UL gear and the absolute minimum weight options. He did coin the term “stupid light.” When selecting gear we need to balance gear that is appropriate for the trip conditions, weight, durability, and cost. While many here have the disposable income to buy the lightest gear for a few nights out per year, there are others who prefer to spend less money on gear, and apply the balance on more days backpacking and transportation to get to more trailheads. $155 will buy over 50 gallons of gasoline for your car.
When I bought my current bear canisters price was not a concern for me, I could afford the carbon canisters, but the weight savings wasn’t worth the price differential, plus I can save the ounces somewhere else, especially by not taking a lot of the unnecessary gear a lot of people haul on trips. Additionally most of my trips don’t require a canister. It makes more sense to spend an $155 on a piece of gear I will use on the majority of my trips, such as a Cuben shelter. What if $155 was spent on a piece of exercise equipment to shed the extra 20 or more pounds most Americans are carrying around their waist? Losing 20 lbs of body weight is almost equivalent to carrying a 5lb FSO kit! Think about it… let’s say you do a one week trip with a base weight of 10 lbs, plus 15 lbs of food. Will you suffer with a base weight of 10lbs 8 ounces versus 10 lbs zero ounces? No. What if you reduced your hiking shoes weight by 8 ounces instead? That would make your trip much easier than a lighter bear canister.May 11, 2017 at 3:12 pm #3467492J RBPL Member
On the idea of a bear getting “leverage” on a bear canister…
From the Wild Ideas website: “Store away from tent, but do not attempt to secure in place (this will only give leverage to bears and other animals).” I’ve seen/read this other places as well. I believe this is more theory than empirical fact, but it makes sense to me.
Imagine you don’t have opposable thumbs but you do have a strong jaw and you want to open a jar. You could clamp your mouth around the lid, but you couldn’t twist or pry it off because you need to hold the jar itself at the same time. You could try to hold the jar down with your arm, but it is more likely to roll than to stay clamped in one spot. If you bolted the jar down then you would leverage and would have a better chance of getting the lid off. That’s the idea with not tightly “wedging” a bear canister in between rocks, it could give the bear something to pull on the lid against. But definitely a good idea to “corral” the bear can so it can’t be rolled away easily, such as in between some rocks or fallen trees or in a cluster of bushes.
In reality, my experiences have been similar to what others are describing — I’ve seen bears in the Sierra but my bear canister has never been so much as tipped over. In particular, the Sierra bears for the most part have learned that tackling a bear can is a waste of energy so they don’t even try any more. Which is the whole point. Any bear that hasn’t learned that lesson yet can have at mine all night if it wants, let it play slobber hockey until it gives up. But I don’t want that happening too close to my camp because a frustrated bear that thinks it has yummy snacks in its possession can be aggressive and unpredictable.
Even though I don’t use it very much, usually one big trip a year out West, it still made economic and weight-tradeoff sense for me to buy the Bearikade. It’s 10 oz lighter than a BV500, saves even more weight compared to a Garcia, and keeping that off my back is well worth it.
And while Bearikades are very expensive, they also have very high resale value, so owning one then selling it after a few good uses actually could be a very economical way to go.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.