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  1. #1
    92.8% complete Berserker's Avatar
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    Default Why not just go ahead and use a bear canister?

    Ok, Iím just gonna go ahead and come out and say that I love my bear canister. My history with food storage is documented on many threads here, so Iím not gonna rehash the whole thing. In a nutshell, for years I was a staunch proponent of hanging (PCT method), then I switched to sleeping with it in my tent if storage (box, cables, etc.) wasnít provided near where I was camping, and then I started casually using a bear canister after I bought one for my 2013 JMT thru.

    All this bear talk recently on WB apparently got into my head and got me ďbearanoidĒ even though I know logically that the chances of even seeing a bear are pretty low (Iíve seen maybe a dozen in 13+ years of hiking). So anyway, I have a Wild Ideas canister I purchased back in 2012 for the aforementioned JMT thru, and I have used it off and on for several of my AT excursions since then. This past week I finished up the 90 miles I had left in PA, and just went ahead and carried it the whole time for the heck of it. Part of the reason I decided to carry it was that I was messing around with my newish pack (Zpacks Arc Haul purchased last year) before the trip, and found out that it fits horizontally on top inside the pack, which is awesome.

    So whatís my point here? Well, itís just to say that the canister gets poo pooed by almost everyone primarily due to the added weight, and I think folks need to consider what this piece of equipment does. It serves 2 main purposes. First off, itís about as idiot proof and simple a food storage method as you can get thatís portable, thus providing a lot of peace of mind (and I would argue is likely a safer option for the noobs and lazy hikers). For the non-bearanoid experienced folks this may not be a good selling point.

    The other main purpose is that itís a dang good chair. So for me, I removed my normal food storage bag and cord at about 4 oz. Then I added in the Bearikade Weekender at 2 lbs 1 oz. So thatís a net weight addition of 1 lb 13 oz. Now if I were to get a decent chair setup Iím probably looking in the at least 1 lb range. So I figure Iím basically carrying an extra 13 oz over the food bag and a chair.

    I already lost the gram weenies who cringed at the idea of carrying a chair, but anyone who stuck around can maybe see the logic here. Carrying a bear can isnít a huge weight gain (consider it your ďluxury itemĒ), itís a great food storage option and it makes a nice chair.

    So perhaps I havenít sold anyone on it. Bear can users, what do you think? How about the bear can opponents, gram weenies or whoever else doesnít like them, what do you think? Letís discuss.
    JMT - 2013

  2. #2

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    I recently bought an Ursack Almighty (13 OZ), to save the considerable (and sometimes futile) effort of hanging in western forests and sub-alpine areas. It's no chair, but I never carry one, and use a hammock anyway. There is, sadly, no perfect answer to food storage where bears and other potential camp raiders abound. I'll report on the Ursack after enough usage to know something.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  3. #3
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    Besides the weight, the bulk of the canister is a big problem. Now you need a pack big enough to carry it and that adds weight too. It takes up the same amount of space whether your carrying 2 days of food or 5 days - if you can fit 5 days of food in it. Then if the canister isn't full, the contents shift around and the weight isn't well distributed. If someday a bear eats all my food, maybe I'll change my mind, but until that happens...
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  4. #4

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    I'm a section hiker. I leave the bear canister (BV500) home when I can't finagle it into my ULA Ohm. It's my preference to carry the canister but I can't always get it to work with the Ohm. I'm not doing long distances, and the weight doesn't bother me. As Slo-go'en noted, it is the bulk.

  5. #5
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    I own a BV500 and it is truly a Cadillac class piece of gear.However,I am carrying an Ursack Major with the aluminum liner which makes it much more bear resistant and when my sit pad is placed on top of it the liner inside the Ursack will hold up my 148 lb body weight.

    However,I still hang my cook kit and first aid/hygiene items pct style in an odor barrier bag as some of my hangs are less than optimal.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Besides the weight, the bulk of the canister is a big problem. Now you need a pack big enough to carry it and that adds weight too. It takes up the same amount of space whether your carrying 2 days of food or 5 days - if you can fit 5 days of food in it. Then if the canister isn't full, the contents shift around and the weight isn't well distributed. If someday a bear eats all my food, maybe I'll change my mind, but until that happens...
    Berserker---You bring up some good points but leave out two major flaws of the bear canister---It's just not added weight but as Slo-go'en says BULK!!. Bulk/weight is the first drawback.

    The second is the amount of food you can carry. I routinely carry between 18 to 24 days worth of food and laugh at the idea of stuffing 50 lbs of the stuff in about 4 separate bearvaults. What's your solution??

  7. #7

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    As someone who hikes regularly in the Sierra Nevada for 25+ years where bear cans are needed in larger areas then anywhere else:. I hate the things and only use them when required. I've never lost my food to a bear even in Yosemite prior to bear cans being needed. The biggest thing is to lessen your chances of even encountering a bear by choosing your campsite wisely and being smart about minimizing food odors. The weight is essentially carrying a useless brick that is also bulky requiring me to bring a heavier pack to carry it than I'd otherwise would. And that weight isn't insignificant. As someone who often goes straight from a deskjob at sea level to the high mountains, I do notice a decrease in my daily mileage when I carry one. For a 2-3 day trip on a tight schedule, that limits where I can go. I don't get enough vacation time to be able to take my time. As others noted, the size and weight don't change even if carrying it just overnight. As a chair it sucks as there is no back support which I want after having to carry that extra weight, so I'm using a log, tree, or large rock to lean my pack against as a back rest while sitting on the ground, even when I have the can. To me, it provides no benefits except to avoid a citation. That said, I'll readily admit it has helped with the Backcountry bear problems caused by past behaviors of the uninformed or just don't care hikers. Downside is I seldom see bears when hiking when I use to see at least one a day so I have few photos of them in recent years.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Besides the weight, the bulk of the canister is a big problem. . . It takes up the same amount of space whether your carrying 2 days of food or 5 days - if you can fit 5 days of food in it. Then if the canister isn't full, the contents shift around and the weight isn't well distributed. . .
    These arguments are common on these bear canister threads. I'd like to argue against the central premise here.

    If you are carrying less food than fills the canister, put other gear in there. Then, the net loss of space is exceedingly small and the shifting food is no longer an issue.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  9. #9

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    Most people wont want to admit to it but I will, Its heavy and if not required I'm not gunna carry it.
    Disclaimer, I have only hiked in black bear country.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    These arguments are common on these bear canister threads. I'd like to argue against the central premise here.
    If you are carrying less food than fills the canister, put other gear in there. Then, the net loss of space is exceedingly small and the shifting food is no longer an issue.
    What other gear are you going to put in there? Clothes? That might not be a good idea.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  11. #11
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    I started carrying a BV500 last year (after several initial years of PCT hanging and then several years of using my food as a pillow) and so far Iím a fan. Itís stupidly easy to use, takes almost all the planning and human error out of food storage, and is more convenient than previous storage techniques. It packs well with my setup and I have found the ďbulkĒ arguments rather unfounded in my case. As far as the agument that itís too heavy, my pack with canister is still about 10lbs lighter than my pack was nine years ago, so it certainly doesnít feel too heavy to me.

    Of course as they say HYOH, YMMV, HMHDI, etc.
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  12. #12
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    Make all the excuses you like

    It boils down to not wanting to be inconvenienced by carrying an extra 2 to 2.5 lb.

    I would not shed one tear if canisters were required everywhere.

    First it would reduce the number of people out there in the woods. Which would be a good thing.

    Second it's the best thing for the Bears.

    It's really not that big of a deal
    If your pack is too heavy it's not because of the bear canister
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Make all the excuses you like

    It boils down to not wanting to be inconvenienced by carrying an extra 2 to 2.5 lb.

    I would not shed one tear if canisters were required everywhere.

    First it would reduce the number of people out there in the woods. Which would be a good thing.

    Second it's the best thing for the Bears.

    It's really not that big of a deal
    If your pack is too heavy it's not because of the bear canister
    Would it reduce the number of people, or increase the number of fines/ tickets?

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    Last edited by Gambit McCrae; 06-13-2018 at 15:51.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    What other gear are you going to put in there? Clothes? That might not be a good idea.
    You mean to tell me you can pack a pack and you can't figure out how or what items could also be packed in a bear canister other than food? Why would it be a bad idea to pack cloths, or anything else in your bear canister for that matter? We pack stuff next to each other in our backpacks all the time, why shouldn't we do the same in a bear canister?
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  15. #15
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    i'll just continue to sleep with my food

  16. #16
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    I would not shed one tear if canisters were required everywhere.


    it will come to that eventually......

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    i'll just continue to sleep with my food
    Just take it out on a proper date first.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  18. #18
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    Why would it be a bad idea to pack cloths




    probably the scent of food on clothes.......

  19. #19
    MuddyWaters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    it will come to that eventually......
    I agree completely.
    Which is why they should just go ahead and do it.
    There's no denying it's the best thing for the Wildlife.

    Only reason not to.... Is not to inconvenience voters
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  20. #20
    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    i'll just continue to sleep with my food
    I hope that's not your attitude EVERYWHERE...
    Specifically the area that comes to mind is Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You're required to camp at designated camp sites where you're required to hang your food on the bear cables provided at each campsite.
    Every year, campsites get closed for relatively long periods of time because someone didn't want to take the time to hang their food (if EVERYONE did, then bears would never get access to human food and become a nusance).

    While there's always the HYOH disclaimer, everyone also needs to realize that different places carry different requirements. I think the bulk of the AT allows sleeping with your food, but GSMNP and other locations along the trail DO NOT.
    And even then, you have to pay attention to the exact regulations in effect in an area you plan to camp. Even areas that require bear canisters, they vary in exactly what they require. Some effectively say "any commercially available bear canister", while others limit canisters to a set list specific model numbers.


    As to the OP's comments, I must agree that while camping on the JMT, the Bearikade was a great way to deal with food storage. Not only was it easy to use and kept the bears away, it also kept critters out. But if I'm camping someplace like GSMNP, where food storage is effectively provided (i.e. bear cables), a stuff sack to hang food is a lot lighter and keeps the food from the bears just as well.
    Last edited by HooKooDooKu; 06-13-2018 at 16:17.

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