Outdoor Retailer: Baffling bears with the Bearier 700


The prototype Bearier 700 bear canister from Camp 4 Outdoors.

Bear canisters. They're increasingly required in Western parks, but can be heavy and awkward to pack. Backpackers often wonder, couldn't I make a lighter/easier/more packable version on my own?

While few go much farther than pondering those questions, designer engineer Zac Rubenson went and produced his own prototype canister. He had the modular Bearier 700 canister on display at Outdoor Retailer.

Rubenson said he tackled the issues common to other bear canisters to make one that's lighter weight at less than two pounds, easier to access, expandable, and easier to pack.

The Bearier 700 is two polycarbonate halves (production models will likely be a translucent color) that can be carried separately while hiking. Backpackers can split them up between hikers, or carry the  halves separately in or on their packs, for easier access and packing while hiking. A mesh cloth will keep food and smellables contained when the canister is apart.

You open the canister by pushing down on one metal tab, up on the other, and rotating the halves. I managed to do it on the second try.

If you need more than 700 cubic inches capacity, the Grub Hub expander will add another 300 cubic inches of space. Rubenson says his canister will have the widest opening for easy access.


Half of a Bearier 700 lashed to a pack for hiking.

The Bearier 700 isn't approved as a bear canister, yet. Rubenson's company, Camp 4 Outdoors, is currently seeking approval through the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. But, at less than 2 lbs, if the Bearier 700 passes the National Park Service's bear test, it could be a contender for the lightest canister, space-to-weight.

For comparison, a Garcia Backpacker's Cache weighs 2 pounds 9 ounces and offers 603 cubic inches. The Bearikade Weekender weighs 1 pound 15 ounces and offers 650 cubic inches.

Rubenson, along with J.J Ganjei and Max Vanderwyst at Camp 4 Outdoors, hope to have the Bearier 700 on the market by May 2011, pending bear canister approval.

  • Weight: less than 2 lbs
  • Capacity: 700 cubic inches; the Grub Hub adds another 300 cubic inches
  • Expect MSRP: $109.95; Grub Hub probably $60 additional; also will be available as a complete set

 

Zac Rubenson and J.J Ganjei (in costume) showed us the Bearier 700 at Outdoor Retailer:


The Grub Hub expander adds 300 cubic inches to the Bearier's 700 cubic inches.

www.camp4outdoors.com


Filed under: Gear News, Outdoor Retailer

Comments

Camp4Outdoors_Zac
0 reviewer rep
3 forum posts
January 22, 2011 at 1:14 a.m. (EST)

Hey guys and gals!

 

I'm Zac, the guy in the post (and video), and the designer of the Bearier. As Alicia mentioned in her blog post, we're still in our development phase but hope to have units available for sale sometime in May. We'll be selling directly to customers initially while we seek out retailers to carry the Bearier 700 and GrubHub (if you'd like to be a retailer, contact us).

 

Anyone looking for more information about the Bearier should check out:

http://www.camp4outdoors.com

 

When I started designing the Bearier, my primary goal was to address as many common bear-can complaints as possible. I'm striving to make the Bearier the best product possible, and I can't do that without input from the very people I'm designing this for - you! So watch the video in the blog post. If you have any questions, concerns, comments, or support I'd love to hear them.

 

Thanks, and come visit us at the OR show at booth 47, near the Gibbon Slackline booth (in the lobby).

 

-Zac

wildepirate
384 reviewer rep
6 forum posts
January 22, 2011 at 1:48 a.m. (EST)

I would just like to say, this looks like an exciting and amazing container! I have for the last few years, hated strapping a big bulky thing to the top of my pack with rope and will be picking one of these up asap! Please let me know when they are ready to ship.

 

-Brando

Redwood Guy
0 reviewer rep
5 forum posts
January 22, 2011 at 6:57 p.m. (EST)

I think it is great that the bear canister industry is potentially growing.

That said, lets be honest (at this point) about things:

(1) Until (IF) this gets approved by the SIBBG and the IGBC there is zero reason for this even being promised to be sold. Otherwise we just end up with another Ursack style product that can not even be used on major trails (JMT, PCT, Lost Coast, CDT, and the list goes on).

 

(2) I totally fail to see the "strapping a big bulky thing to the top of my pack" statement by wildepirate as a legit cause. I think trying to attach something shaped like this thing to the top/bottom of your pack could be fairly hard. In looking at the pictures I think this would probably the the hardest bear canister produced to attach (and keep secure) to a pack. There seems to be very little area to attach straps to it, with such aggressive curves. And sorry, but the argument of "put it in your pack" just does not apply across the board. We SUL folks who are using sub-2500 cu packs just do not have the space inside of a pack to put a bear canister.

 

(3) Zac in the video states "it's got the biggest opening on the market". That is exciting to here, but how about updating your website to provide some valid stats on this. I presume based on your statement it is larger in diameter than 9". Exactly how large is the diameter of the opening?

 

(4) The C4O website states this product is "lightest in it's class". Again, how about some valid technical details on your website. All is says is "under 2 pounds". Ok, great. So is the Bearikade Weekender MKII, but it would be nice to know how much under two pounds it is ;)

 

On a personal note: I think the idea of a cylindrical bear canister is a much better way to go. It provides better ability to lash it to your pack. If you can place it in your pack it provides a uniform shape which helps pack stability. And, they make nice chairs for sitting on when you need to stop :-D

Camp4Outdoors_Zac
0 reviewer rep
3 forum posts
January 23, 2011 at 12:38 a.m. (EST)

Hi RedwoodGuy,

 

Just wanted to address a few of your concerns as best I could...

 

1) The Bearier 700 was designed specifically to pass all testing standards set forth by the IGBC. The Bearier WILL be 100% approved before being released to market. We've been in contact with various park agencies to help ensure universal approval. The SIBBG has since been disbanded, and no longer exists as a certifying agency. Rumor (don't take my word for this) is that it had something to do with the Ursack lawsuit.

 

2) Each half of the Bearier has its own integrated straps, so you're able to strap each dome half to your pack individually. We did this because it allows more versatile packing solutions. Additionally, should you want to put it in your pack, each dome half has a large flat surface that can be placed against your back, eliminating the spine pain caused by the round surface of other units. The super-ultralight guys have actually been the people at the show most excited about our product so far.

 

3) We're still in pre-production, but our opening will be 8-9 inches. I now realize that claiming to have the largest opening on the market may be a partially inaccurate statement, and will adjust the webpage accordingly. For everyone's reference, the Bearikade claims to have a 9" opening (aside from the closure protrusions). Our opening is still larger than the Garcia Backpacker's Cache, the BearVault, and the BearKeg.

 

4) Our pre-production units have a volume of 700 cubic inches and weigh 1.75 lbs. This is thanks to our quasi-spherical shape, which minimizes our total surface area (and thus total material). For production, we plan on starting with our current wall thickness (1.75lbs) and adjusting our wall thickness as required to pass all certifications. We're doing this so we can offer the absolute lowest weight possible for our design. For reference, the Bearikade is 650 cubic inches and is advertised as 1.94 lbs. Also, please remember that our product is less than half the price of the Bearikade and offers a variety of unique features not found in any other canister on the market.

 

5) The #1 reason for the spherical shape is to reduce overall weight, which our market surveys have indicated is the biggest priority for most backpackers. The shape offers reduced material and inherent geometric strength under all kinds of impact forces. Our split-dome design gives it more packing options that any other canister on the market, and the majority of people visiting our booth at the OR show have indicated this versatility as their favorite aspect of the design.

 

While the Bearier can be used as a chair (it's designed to handle impact forces of 3000lbs), you're right that it isn't as comfortable as a convention cylindrical canister. Can't win em all ;)

 

Gary C.
12 reviewer rep
207 forum posts
January 23, 2011 at 1:49 a.m. (EST)

First I'll say that I applaud anyone for there attemps at creating a better and lighter bear can and your does seem to have potential.

Like Redwood I like being able to sit on my Bearvault but if the Bearier would save me a pound I could always carry my Crazycreek chair and break even on the wieght.

 I guess that leaves my main concern being where the two pieces join together. My first thought is that it seems to me the wire lock/release looks open enough for a bear to get either a tooth or a claw hold that would allow it to be pulled from the can. I don't know if that would allow a bear access but I can't help wondering if I could still access the inside either?

My other concern is whether or not the Bearier would flex without opening when a bear jumps from an elevated position like a tree stump or rock. I would have the same concern given the design of my Bearvault but it passed testing as I hope your design does also.

I guess that is really what it all boils down to, getting approval. If the Bearier can stand up to those highly educated bear can smart test bears I'd say you have a product I'd be interested in. I hope it all goes well for you and you get approval.

whomeworry
102 reviewer rep
2,285 forum posts
January 25, 2011 at 2:17 a.m. (EST)

I love the notion of a lighter bear canister but…

I consider my entire kit from a systems standpoint, with a bear canister being one element of this system.  My kit must accomplish many tasks, with minimal weight.  The currently marketed canisters while a little heavier than the Bearier 700, serve as bear deterrent, as well as a good camp stool or water bucket.  I do not see the Bearier 700  fulfilling these secondary functions nearly as well, due to its geometry.  Thus while ostensibly Bearier 700 is the lightest canister, incorporating it into my kit requires that I add other items to my kit in order to fulfill these secondary functions, certainly resulting in a heavier kit than if I use the canister alternatives currently on the market.

I also am not attracted to the lashing solution designed to attach the Bearier 700 to a pack, since placement on the back of a pack runs contrary to the wisdom of keeping weight close to the spine.  While you may be able to attach the hemispheres on top of one’s pack, or at the bottom, these are also less optimal solutions compared to canisters currently on the market.  I also wonder if the suggested lashing solution will fit under a rain fly used to cover my pack when hiking in the rain.  Lastly the lashing solution suggested for this product may be feasible for those sharing a canister, but for soloists or those on extended treks the notion of trying to lash two hemispheres to a single pack, or lashing the assembled canister, pose for a challenge I would rather not deal with.

Ed

jordanbeherndt
0 reviewer rep
1 forum posts
January 26, 2011 at 2:31 p.m. (EST)

I for one prefer to sit on natural chairs - like a log or rock.  If you are camping in the desert though and you don't want to sit on a cactus...I see the issue :)

Awesome, innovative product!  Best of luck to you on the approval process!

Camp4Outdoors_Zac
0 reviewer rep
3 forum posts
January 26, 2011 at 8:27 p.m. (EST)

@Gary: The gaps in our prototype units are very small, and the production units will feature an integrated guard that covers the open lock area. It's also specifically designed to resist the impact forces generated by a jumping bear, and the round shape makes it more difficult for a bear to land on it too. Either way, we're going to make sure it passes all testing certifications before releasing it.

@Ed: The Bearier still works pretty decently as a seat, though we'll concede it's not as comfortable as a cylinder. The Bearier's integrated straps will also be capable of doubling as a handle, allowing you to use either half as a water bucket on its own.

Each half of the Bearier has its own integrated straps, so you're able to strap each dome half to your pack individually. We did this because it allows more versatile packing solutions. Additionally, should you want to put it in your pack, the 10" flat opening of each dome can be placed flat against your back, eliminating the spine pain caused by the round surface of other units. If you'd like to attach the assembled Bearier to the outside of your pack, each half has external holes that allow you to attach cord for strapping or tree hanging. If you'd like to keep the Bearier assembled inside your pack, the locking mechanism contains external guards to prevent the lock springs from rubbing on the contents of your pack. All of these features exist on the GrubHub as well. Soloists and ultralighters were among the most excited groups at the OR show.

 

@Jordan: I feel the same way, and thanks for the support!

Callahan
245 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts
May 5, 2011 at 3:37 p.m. (EDT)

The locking system I am not convinced with. 

Why,

Well, when a bear has this on the ground and is wrestling with it in an attempt to get in at the food.  If the bear happens to to be pressing the container into the ground with his paws, happens to catch one of the release buttons while pulling then the direction of load on the opposite side of the container is an opposite direction and it may open.  I suggest the direction of action for the release buttons for separation of the two halves be changed to be the same and more unlikely that a bear will then open.

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