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 Bear Canister Reccomendation/Advice 
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 Bear Canister Reccomendation/Advice
I thought there was a thread on this but a search turned up empty so I'll just start a new one. I'm going on a backpacking trip this weekend where bear canisters are required. Rather than rent one for 20 bucks it seems worthwhile to buy one for 70 or so since ill use it a few times a year. So, any reccomendations? I don't carry much food on weekend trips (usually just peanut butter cups, chocolate bars, cashews and jerky) so it doesn't have to be huge as I won't be on any week long trips anytime soon. Some of them just seem like oversized Nalgene bottles so would the three wide mouth nalgene bottles I have work for a night or two or do I need a locking lid? What if any are your experiences with these things? Thanks for any help with this decision.


Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:54 am
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It depends on where you go actually. Well, to the extent that if you're going to the Adirondacks, there is one major brand (BearVault) that is no longer allowed after bears figured out how to open it.

We've used the Garcia in Yosemite and Tetons and they were fine. We recently invested in a (large) one for our trip to CA and for use in NH - just easier than hanging - and went with the large BearVault. Pros are that it's clear, so you can see what you're digging through, the opening a the top is wider than the Garcia, and it has straight sides rather than tapered so maybe there isn't as much lost space in your pack (??). Both were strong enough to use as seats, but the BearVault was much more comfortable.

The BV500 that we got is HUGE. It fit enough food for two of us for 5 days. So I would not recommend that particular model. The BV450 is smaller than the Garcia volume-wise, but also a lot lighter.

I don't have experience with the bags that hang that are supposedly bear proof, but signs were plastered in visitor centers in Sequoia that prohibited people from using them in the back country as they didn't work as well as bear canisters.

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Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:26 pm
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KellyK wrote:
The BV500 that we got is HUGE. It fit enough food for two of us for 5 days. So I would not recommend that particular model. The BV450 is smaller than the Garcia volume-wise, but also a lot lighter.


I would like to qualify that with I wouldn't recommend it unless you're looking to do a super long hike. It was perfect for our needs. And I'm not regretting buying it. Good because even if we go on a shorter trip, it'll be easy to stash our pot/utensils/cleaning rag/etc. in it without worry.

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Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:28 pm
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Ok - jeez Kelly - one more thing. RE: just using Nalgenes. If you're going to a place where they're required, I would STRONGLY urge you to use a locking container. It's possible that they could grip and twist the Nalgenes (if they can do it with the BearVault which also locks, no reason they couldn't with a Nalgene). PLUS, there's the added long term risk of them associating Nalgenes with food. Which would be a bummer because water-filled Nalgenes are the one consumable or consumable-related item that as of yet doesn't have to go in a bear canister/box...

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Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:33 pm
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I've used the Garcia Kelly mentioned (we rented - it was $2.50/day where we were). Next time I need one, I'm buying (and probably a smaller one if it's just for me). The Garcia was huge, but necessary for our needs (3 days/2 nights for 2 people - we had 4 Mountain House meals in the thing which as you know take up a stupid amount of room...). Not the lightest thing ever, but not horrible. And still OK in the ADKs unlike the BV.

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Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:54 pm
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Thanks for those suggestions. I am going to the Daks and will be a few times a year for a while I'm guessing so one that works there is a must. Don't want to but might have to rent this time if I can't get one of these by Friday.

Good R&D by the way on a bear canister bears can open! Maybe one that works like a childproof pill bottle would work better. Even humans have trouble getting into them.


Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:23 pm
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Granite Guy wrote:
Good R&D by the way on a bear canister bears can open! Maybe one that works like a childproof pill bottle would work better. Even humans have trouble getting into them.


Don't knock the developers until you try it honestly. Pete and I had a tough time getting into ours even knowing and understanding fully well how it was supposed to operate. The Garcia you need a second tool to open (be it a coin or for us - the tip of our "wilderness trowel") but the BearVault is possible to open with just two hands.....or apparently paws.

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Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:27 pm
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I don't know how challenging this would be for a bear or how acceptable it would be for places with cannister type requirements, but we tried something this past Sat. night. I had a narrow heavy (as in thick, not weight) plastic food container, one of those things super organized people buy to keep cereal and pasta in so their cabinets look nice. It has a twist and turn lock to open it (NOT like a screw open Nalgene bottle top). We were just going overnight, one of those nice canisters you've all mentioned is just overkill for us, don't need that much space and it would take up too much space. It accomodated some wraps, energy bars, snack bags of cereal and nuts and fit right into my pack. worked well for us, but then, it was just overnight. Easier than hanging a bag and our food was there the next day. Just an idea that worked out for us, may not be good where you're going. BTW, are there smaller versions of these canisters?


Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:52 pm
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Beckie and Prema wrote:
I don't know how challenging this would be for a bear or how acceptable it would be for places with cannister type requirements, but we tried something this past Sat. night. I had a narrow heavy (as in thick, not weight) plastic food container, one of those things super organized people buy to keep cereal and pasta in so their cabinets look nice. It has a twist and turn lock to open it (NOT like a screw open Nalgene bottle top). We were just going overnight, one of those nice canisters you've all mentioned is just overkill for us, don't need that much space and it would take up too much space. It accomodated some wraps, energy bars, snack bags of cereal and nuts and fit right into my pack. worked well for us, but then, it was just overnight. Easier than hanging a bag and our food was there the next day. Just an idea that worked out for us, may not be good where you're going. BTW, are there smaller versions of these canisters?


If you both stand on it and it doesn't crack/break it might pass the test, but a 300 - 500 lb bear stomping or chewing on a tupperware container might possibly do some damage. Don't know how odor proof it is either because I don't have one but that's the things I'd worry about with it.


Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:53 pm
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I went with the UDAP since its smaller and will work with the clever bear at Marcy Dam. No Bear Vaults for me I guess although I like the see through thing it had going for it. The Garcia had to be stored upside down in case it rained and was a bit bigger. I got one at a website for 41 bucks with a carrying case with some discount they had going, which was like halfprice. Now hopeully its in stock and here by Friday or Ill be stuck renting anyways.


Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:37 pm
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Thank you GG and Kelly! I checked out the UDAP after reading your post and am seriously considering it! I am so sick of messing around with bags, trying to find good trees far enough apart from each other in the Whites. My mother had even told me years back I was wasting my time, bears are smart and will beat you every time :lol: ! My misgiving about a canister was that it was too big and bulky for our purposes. So unless I can find something even smaller I think we will get this. GG, please post and let us know how you made out with the UDAP; I'm sure there are others who would benefit from this info! Thanks :)!


Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:57 pm
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KellyK wrote:
It depends on where you go actually. Well, to the extent that if you're going to the Adirondacks, there is one major brand (BearVault) that is no longer allowed after bears figured out how to open it.


Is this ban still in effect after said bear's killing last year? Not to be curt or anything, I apologize if you didn't know and I mourn the loss. I hope her cubs have learned enough to be f***ing up camper's s**t for years to come.
http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2012/ ... tuary.html


Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:16 am
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I remember hearing about the bear's passing. But I wouldn't underestimate her ability to teach her young. I haven't been to the ADKs, so I'm not fully up to date on their regulations. Just assuming that once Pandora's box (or bear canister, as it were) has been opened, it likely won't get shut again...

And Beckie/Prema - Yeah, we wanted to get one for the Whites too. Just less to worry about. Plus, you get a free chair out of it ;) Obviously precaution should be taken to not leave it near a river/lake/cliff/hill. If found, the bear could toss it around a little and it would be not so great to lose all your food. We typically found a downed tree that we could jimmy it under. Not that it would stop the bear necessary from grabbing at it, but gave us a peace of mind.

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Thu Aug 15, 2013 6:09 am
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I've been backpacking the National Parks for ten years and always hung my food without any problems. Most of the parks ( with the exception of Yosemite) had hanging posts in the campsites. Jasper National park in Canada had an awesome system with cables and buckets to hang food. The few times I camped in the White Mountains a long rope and high branch would keep my food safe. My brother had a bear bounce his canister over a ledge in Yosemite. Luckily, he was able to retrieve it. I guess it's all in what you feel comfortable with, and what the regulations are. :wink:


Thu Aug 15, 2013 7:27 am
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The problem here in the NE is that most people don't understand how to hang a bear bag properly. There are many reports each year of people in the Pemi (and elsewhere I'm sure) getting their food stolen by bears because they hung it incorrectly. If you've ever seen how some people "hang" their food (if they even bother hanging it) you know what I mean...

The PCT method would seem to the best/simplest to implement. I've only had to hang a couple of times, as there are boxes at most of the places I've stayed before (NE and out West), but it has worked well and seems the most bear-proof.

Those lines/posts out west and elsewhere are nice, but only effective if they are really high (i.e. the bag hangs 10'+ off the ground) and, again, if used correctly. Of course, out West, the critters tend to be really obnoxious too...they can climb rope :roll:

Sooner or later canisters will be required in NH I suspect... Shame because it shouldn't be necessary, but they are much more "idiot-proof" if you will. No offense meant to anyone reading this.

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Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:23 am
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