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Bear Food Storage Containers

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Offline Jalco

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Bear Food Storage Containers
« on: June 06, 2018, 10:32:44 PM »
I know this is an unpleasant subject w/ many on the forum, but, bear with me (yes, pun intended :icon_lol:), I have a reason for broaching it.

My eldest son and his wife are back from his last posting (Army) in Europe and are now at his new two-year assignment in Billings, Montana.  Needless to say, my hiking/backpacking options have suddenly expanded and I am beginning to plan new adventures.  They are equally as excited being that their hiking/backpacking options were rather limited where they were stationed previously.

So, for those of you with some experience in the matter, I need advice on containers.  Hard-sided vs. Ursack?  Pros. Cons.  Any guidance would be appreciated.

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2018, 10:36:09 PM »
Richard,
I probably didn't post this in the correct spot.  Feel free to move it wherever you think its more appropriate.

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Online House Made of Dawn

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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2018, 11:46:48 PM »
A lot depends upon where you're planning on using them. Legalities come into play. Currently, Big Bend (foolishly IMHO) does not accept Ursacks as an approved bear-proof container, though many other federal units happily do.

I own three bear canisters (BearVaults) and two Ursacks of various sizes. Ursacks are way, way, way lighter and much more packable. They can be compressed as you use up their contents. Bear canisters are non-compressible and heavy. On the other hand, bear canisters are impervious to all animals, while Ursacks can be breeched by rodents and other small mammals.

I've used my various containers for carry and for cache - always dependent upon specific conditions and requirements. Where are you thinking of using yours?

p.s. - this thread might belong in the backpacking equipment section.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline presidio

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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2018, 12:26:47 AM »
Legalities come into play. Currently, Big Bend (foolishly IMHO) does not accept Ursacks as an approved bear-proof container, though many other federal units happily do.

So, the place that has no (or even if almost no) bear scavenging, has the least logical and inflexible requirements for something they cannot demonstrate even is necessary.

Glacier NP requires an IGBC container. The Ursack (at least some models, anyway) is IGBC approved. Therefore, an Ursack can be used in Glacier, a place that has GRIZZLIES !!!

So, the handful of black bears cruising Big Bend must be tough hombres if the NPS disallows use of Ursacks that defeat grizzlies.

Ya think?

No, it's just another example of idiotic rule-making and an administrative penchant to over-regulate everything.

What are the odds the regulators at Big Bend never, ever have used a bear-proof container and therefore don't have any direct experience with the issue?
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Offline Jalco

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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2018, 07:17:07 AM »
Glacier/Waterton is one of the areas I'm considering.  Beartooth mountains is another.  Both require some type of "bear proofing".

House, do you have the Ursack Allmitey?  Larger (thus heavier, I know) than the other sizes, but also touted as "rodent resistant" and somewhat waterproof. 

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Online House Made of Dawn

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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2018, 09:03:20 AM »
Glacier/Waterton is one of the areas I'm considering.  Beartooth mountains is another.  Both require some type of "bear proofing".

House, do you have the Ursack Allmitey?  Larger (thus heavier, I know) than the other sizes, but also touted as "rodent resistant" and somewhat waterproof.

Yeah, you'll definitely need and want a bear-resistant container in those areas. I have an Ursack Major and an Ursack Minor. I think the Allmitey was introduced a few years after I bought mine. 

I used my Ursack Major during my first hike across Big Bend a couple years ago.  It weighs about 7.8 ounces, but you can shave a few ounces off of that if you remove the heavy cinch-rope that's also intended to serve as a hanger for tree branches. No need for a hanger in Big Bend, though in the areas you're looking at, you'll probably want to hang your bag. One accessory I definitely recommend is the BaseCamp Odor-Barrier Bag (available on Amazon) as a food bag liner. They come in various sizes, weigh almost nothing, and are almost totally odor-proof. I find that using one of these for storage of my food, toiletries, and other "smellies", eliminates odors and takes care of any rodent problems. Lately, I've been leaving my Ursacks at home and just using the odor-barrier bag inside a regular stuffsack.  I also use my food bag as a pillow, which further deters rodents, or at least helps me notice if something is trying to nibble at it.

If I were you, Jalco, I'd skip the Allmitey, which is more expensive and significantly heavier, and just go with an Ursack Major and an odor-barrier bag as a liner. Pay attention to the Ursack's rope: proper knotwork is the key to making the Ursack bear-proof.  The sack comes with a little instruction sheet that will help. In general, I find the Ursacks to be much preferable to the BearVaults, simply because they're so much lighter and flexible. Even a small BearVault is a significant burden in a pack. These days, I only use my BearVaults for pre-positioned caches servicing really long hikes. For that, they are wonderful. The Ursack Major and the larger BearVault are both rated at 650 cubic inches. True to specs, I find that either one can hold about 10 parsimonious person-days of food and sundries, with extremely careful packing.

« Last Edit: June 07, 2018, 09:08:38 AM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2018, 09:20:39 AM »
House,
Thanks for your insights.  The Major, coupled with the odor barrier, sounds like the way to go. 

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2018, 09:51:43 AM »
Just to emphasis the point, if you want to leave your food out in the desert for some days waiting for you, the bear vault is the way to go.  I may have even used 5 gallon buckets in SOME places, and they worked fine for the desert.  Bags are great for weight savings, but the two things you give up with them is the ability to see inside them when rooting around for that toob of delicious Gatorade powder.  And secondly, ain't nothing getting in your Bear Vault.

If hiking with some one, you can have one person carry the main container, and the other carry the lid.  Container is #2, same as a quart of water.  Lid is 9 ounces.  Not an even split, but you can at least spread the weight around.

I have a bear vault, and two Outsacks for rodent control.   I can see in the future buying an Ursack too.  It's just money.......
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Online House Made of Dawn

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  • Golden Eagle
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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2018, 09:58:38 AM »
Bags are great for weight savings, but the two things you give up with them is the ability to see inside them when rooting around for that toob of delicious Gatorade powder.  And secondly, ain't nothing getting in your Bear Vault.

Yep. The Ursack is even more opaque than a stuffsack. It can be a drag fishing around for things inside it.  Another good reason to use one of the BaseCamp odor-barrier bags as a liner inside an Ursack, is that the odor-barrier bags are translucent.  With a little care, you can extract it from the Ursack and hold it up to the light and have a much better chance of finding something quickly. Not nearly as easy as searching inside a BearVault, but better than nothing.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Online House Made of Dawn

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  • Golden Eagle
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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2018, 10:00:44 AM »
Elhombre, I'm curious....how much food were you guys able to cram into your BearVault?  Any tricks work well?
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Keepa

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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2018, 10:51:28 AM »
I have an Ursack Major (S29.3) with the aluminum liner. It is a good bag, much lighter than a plastic or metal container. I used it on my OML hike in November, 2106. That was the first time using it. I did not use the aluminum liner, which prevents the bag from being crushed.

The bag is 7.6 ounces and the aluminum is 10.8 ounces. The lightest hard case vault is around 32 ounces. You don't have to use the liner, but even with it it is one pound less than a hard case vault.

Where you are legally required to use a bear proof container you must, of course, comply. The Ursack is accepted in most places.

However, and at the risk of stirring controversy or debate, I have changed my mind about using bear-proof containers where I am not legally required to do so. Instead, I practice safe food handling, which means using an odor proof bag such as an OpSack, not allowing odoriferous (yes, that's a real word!) items to come in contact with any other gear, never ever eating where I camp, and eating dinner down wind from my campsite.

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Online House Made of Dawn

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  • Golden Eagle
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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2018, 11:29:34 AM »

Where you are legally required to use a bear proof container you must, of course, comply. The Ursack is accepted in most places.

However, and at the risk of stirring controversy or debate, I have changed my mind about using bear-proof containers where I am not legally required to do so. Instead, I practice safe food handling, which means using an odor proof bag such as an OpSack, not allowing odoriferous (yes, that's a real word!) items to come in contact with any other gear, never ever eating where I camp, and eating dinner down wind from my campsite.

+1 on that.   I'm not always as careful as I probably should be about eating somewhere other than my camp, but I definitely practice all the rest. And every smelly thing, including my trash bags, go into one or more odor-barrier bags.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Keepa

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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2018, 11:35:56 AM »
And every smelly thing, including my trash bags, go into one or more odor-barrier bags.

It is surprising how many things are smelly  :icon_smile:

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Online House Made of Dawn

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  • Golden Eagle
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  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2018, 11:45:47 AM »
And every smelly thing, including my trash bags, go into one or more odor-barrier bags.

It is surprising how many things are smelly  :icon_smile:

Haha!  It's a shame they don't make one big enough for me to fit inside. 

Being a big fan of bean-based trailfood, I once had a long conversation with the venerable Buck Tilton about flatulence and camp management. What, I asked, was the point of not cooking in or beside my tent if I was then simply going to crawl into it and fart all night?  Wouldn't the farts be at least as bear-atttractive as cooking odors? Stop eating beans, he said.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Keepa

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Re: Bear Food Storage Containers
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2018, 01:04:45 PM »
I am not giving up beans!

 


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