User Review: Wild Ideas Bearikade Expedition MKII
Source: borrowed it
This is a review of the Bearikade Expedition MKII model by Wild Ideas. As bear cans go (especially for one of this capacity) it's lightweight. As a result it is the canister of choice for long-distance through-hikers on trails like the PCT and JMT. I borrowed one and used it for a 30-day John Muir Trail through-hike in 2012.
- Lightweight for its size
- Large capacity
- Top fully opens with nearly unrestricted access
- Approved for use in all Sierra Nevada parks (at least as of 2012)
- Requires "opener" (large coin or similar)
- Latches can be difficult to turn
- Extremely expensive compared to other bear canisters
This is a review of the Bearikade Expedition MKII by Wild Ideas. As bear cans go (especially for one of this capacity) it's lightweight. As a result it is the canister of choice for long-distance through-hikers on trails like the PCT and JMT. I borrowed one and used it for a 30-day John Muir Trail through-hike in 2012.
In many parts of the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere bear cans are required for food storage while in the backcountry. This is to not only protect hikers' food supplies, but to protect the bears themselves. Bears are easily habituated, and if they learn they can obtain food from humans, they become aggressive — and as a result may be killed by governmental authorities.
In my opinion canisters are a good idea in general, regardless of the regulations (or lack thereof), as they protect not only against bears, but any other critters which may enjoy our food. The extra weight and bulk is worth the peace of mind of knowing my food is safe.
Due to its light weight and large capacity, the Bearikade is a popular choice. They come in several models of increasing capacity (Scout, Weekender, and Expedition). This review is of the Expedition model, with a rated capacity (per the Wild Ideas website) of 900 cubic inches. Due to its efficient use of space (no tapered neck or other restricted spaces) it measures just 9" by 14.5". The rated weight is "just over 36 ounces". I weighed the one I used at 34.5 ounces.
Per the Wild Ideas website, "The patented Bearikade canisters principally consist of 6061 T-6 aluminum hatch, locking collar, and end fittings securely bonded to a proprietary composite carbon-fiber cylinder with high strength epoxy".
The locking latches require the use of a large coin (e.g. a US Quarter) or similar to close (and open) the can. The can feels solid and well constructed. One issue I did encounter, however, is that the locking mechanisms can be very difficult to open or close. It seems under some conditions they bind, and a coin doesn't provide enough leverage to easily turn it. At one time when my hands were cold and wet from the rain, I seriously wasn't sure I could open the canister to get my dinner (though I did ultimately open it).
It should also be noted that because the openers require a coin or similar, this means having to keep track of same while in the backcountry. This can be inconvenient at times, and one may be well advised to carry a spare.
Since the carbon fiber sides of the Bearikade are black, the canister could be easily mis-placed, especially if a bear were to play with it and roll it away during the night. For this reason it's a good idea to apply some sort of reflective stickers at various points on the sides and ends. This would be especially helpful if one were to chase off a bear and need to find the canister at night.
Regarding capacity: Wild Ideas rates this canister as holding food for one person for 12 days (or 3 people for 3 days). I hiked solo and the most I got in it at any point was a 10-day supply (including toiletries and cookware / cozy). I packed pretty carefully, though not with the ultimate of compactness. I felt quite hungry, felt a lack of energy, and lost significant weight on this trip. YMMV ...
The Bearikade Expedition is in a class by itself for its capacity and weight-to-volume ratio. As a result it seems to be the canister of choice for long distance through hikers. This comes at a price though - the Expedition MKII model sells for $299 plus shipping, and is only available through Wild Ideas (no discounted retailers).
Rentals are available as well (also directly through Wild Ideas), and may be a better option for those who don't need a canister of this capacity on a regular basis. I was fortunate to be able to borrow one for my trip. I hope to purchase one of the smaller models for my shorter trips.
The images below show the canister in use on the trail.