Garcia Bear container Vs Bearvault Vs Ursack Now since the all pass requirements whats the deal on 2 of the three?

2:26 p.m. on May 8, 2015 (EDT)
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Not sure this is the right place for this. If not mods please move to appropriate section...Now I understand all three bear resistant containers have pass the evaluations on their product..But I am hearing and have seen posted that the Garcia Bear container is perferred..I have seen pictures of all three and I am just wrapping my had around why the other 2 ( Bearvault and Ursack) are not allowed..What am I missing? I thought alot of you have experiance with some of the said items and thought education on the topic I need..I'll be using a Garcia on a trip next year because Bear canisters are required where I am going and I can rent one rather than buy...

8:51 p.m. on May 8, 2015 (EDT)
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First question is where are you going? In many areas all 3, plus one you did not mention (most expensive, but far preferred because of weight and real-life bear resistance, the BearIKade) are allowed.

The main thing against the Ursack is that in some areas bears can and do get into the Ursacks, or if not actually getting into them, batter the Ursack around enough that the contents get pretty well mixed (so you really wouldn't want to eat them, with some liquids dribbling out enough so the bears get a taste of what's in there. I have kept up on Ursack's claims to having solved the problems, with the later incidents of bears finding ways to get into them, followed by another improvement, followed by another incident, as well as their re-submitting for testing, etc etc. In some cases, they have made statements about unfair tests and biased testers.  Here is a comment from Ursack's website about an experience the writer had in Yosemite. The writer and his friends found they couldn't fit everything in their canisters, so the friends did a "stuff sack" bear bag, while the writer tied his Ursack to a tree. Middle of the night, they realized bears were making an attack on the food (I bolded the canister and Ursack comments):

The bear canisters were untouched. 
The stuff sack was devoured right in the tree leaving garbage 20 feet in the air.
The URSACK was wrapped around a twig with approximately 12 teeth marks about a 1/3 of the size of a pencil. Absolutely no damage to any of the contents

No damage to the contents??? I prefer to go with products that are known to work in the areas I go to.

There are 2 areas where bears have learned how to get into certain models of the BearVault, one in California, the other in New England. The newest models of the BearVault have not had any reported break-ins. I have 3 versions of BearVault (different sizes, plus the last one we got has the double "latch", the smallest, Solo 929 grams $70).

Garcia is the oldest of the manufacturers and has a very good record. I have one of the originals. There is a recall out on the oldest versions (which I have) due to the resin used for manufacture degrading with long-term sun exposure. In the Boy Scout Troop I was SM of, one of the Scouts dropped one (expedition size) on concrete, which cracked it. Garcia replaced it for free. Biggest complaint about Garcias is that the opening is pretty small diameter ($75, about 1kg).

The BearIKade is by far the most preferred for heavy users because the opening is by a long shot the widest of the containers on the market; the lightest by far of the containers on the market for its size (3 standard sizes plus a wide range of custom sizes); the carbon fiber structure for the body is well-proven for durability, as well as other desirable features. The price (GULP!) is rather high for all sizes, from $255 for the Scout (small 836 grams) up to $349 for the Expedition (largest standard, 1031 grams). You can rent them from the company (Wild Ideas).


Keep in mind that if you are going to many areas, you can still bear-bag (far lighter weight, infinitely cheaper) or in a lot of areas,  there are metal bear boxes at designated campsites well back into the wilderness.

10:00 p.m. on May 8, 2015 (EDT)
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The Garcia is the heaviest per unit volume and has a relatively narrow opening and can be hard to see the contents down inside and pull things out. But it's cheap and reliable.

The BV has a wider opening and a clear body, making it easier to both see and retrieve items. I was only aware of one place where a bear (named Yellow Yellow) had learned to get into the BV, that is the Adirondacks, and while that bear has been put down supposedly she taught the trick to her cubs. Even so the canister is still allowed in that area. Some people find the BV hard to open, there is a trick you can use with a credit card or knife blade, nothing like having a little kid show you how to do it: https://youtu.be/QyEbLfL_lSU.

The Bearikade is the lightest and by far the most expensive. Personally I don't think it makes sense for a smaller model to save a few ounces, but for a longer thru-hike the larger Bearikades hold more than any of the others so can be truly lighter compared to the need to carry two cans of other models. You can rent Bearikades directly from Wild Ideas.

For small needs like solo weekends there also is the Bare Boxer, looks kind of like a mini Garcia, light and very packable.

I don't think Ursacks offer protection from bears -- some bears can't get in, some can, but all can completely crush your food and coat it in bear slobber.

1:15 p.m. on May 9, 2015 (EDT)
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I have a Bearvault BV450 solo. I've been using it for four years in Western NC in heavily bear populated areas and in Yosemite. Until this weekend, I never had a bear come after it. At 3AM on Saturday night, a bear snooped through my husband's empty pack and then went after the canister. It knocked it off of the high perch it was on and rolled it around, but wasn't able to access it, so it left. 

I already was impressed with its weight and look, compared to the others I had seen. Now that I know first hand that it is bear - proof, I like it even more! 

5:33 p.m. on May 9, 2015 (EDT)
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JRinGeorgia said:

I was only aware of one place where a bear (named Yellow Yellow) had learned to get into the BV, that is the Adirondacks, and while that bear has been put down supposedly she taught the trick to her cubs.

 

There were a number of bears in the Rae Lakes area of Kings Canyon NP that were getting into earlier models of the BearVault, both the original "thin lid" and the improved "thick lid, single click" version. This during the same year that the Aidirondak bear incidents were happening. This is why Bear Vault went to the "double click" top, which seems to have stopped the break-ins. The current version has kept the "test  bears" from getting in at the Sacramento zoo, many of which are the notorious Yosemite bears who seem quite clever at getting into all sorts of containers and automobiles and passing the information down to their cubs. Yosemite was the original location of the so-called "kamikaze cubs" (climb a tree and jump down on counterhung bear bags) and "mugger bears" (hide in the bushes along side the trails in Little Yosemite Valley, then step out in front of hikers and stand on their hind legs, scaring them into dropping their packs and running off - a friend and climbing partner and his then-fiance ran into one, but waved their arms and yelled at the bear, who then dropped back on all fours and went back into the bushes to await the next hikers - and now, I am not making that up, since Val took a photo of the bear)

10:28 a.m. on May 10, 2015 (EDT)
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I've used the Berikade Expedition since it first came out.  With skill and cunning and a bit of deprivation wife and I have packed 9 days in it. It serves several other functions (bathing water, camp stool, etc).

Often a Sierra bear will simply not even visit a camp where one is obviously displayed.   For those areas where bears are not so accustomed, it is best to follow over night location instructions.  Mine has some prominent 'autographs' of a few curious visitors.

It is now just a routine part of every overnight excursion -- the spare room used for stuffing clothing.  Other critters are discouraged - even the habituated desert fox of south-eastern California.

Before you commit to any, make sure it will fit in a back pack.

2:17 p.m. on May 10, 2015 (EDT)
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speacock said:

I've used the Berikade Expedition since it first came out.  With skill and cunning and a bit of deprivation wife and I have packed 9 days in it. It serves several other functions (bathing water, camp stool, etc).

Often a Sierra bear will simply not even visit a camp where one is obviously displayed.   For those areas where bears are not so accustomed, it is best to follow over night location instructions.  Mine has some prominent 'autographs' of a few curious visitors.

It is now just a routine part of every overnight excursion -- the spare room used for stuffing clothing.  Other critters are discouraged - even the habituated desert fox of south-eastern California.

Before you commit to any, make sure it will fit in a back pack.

 We use Bearvaults, but for the same reason.  No looking for trees, no worrying about putting something in it and hanging...and then needed it five minutes later.  We use them everywhere.

Then again, we generally avoid high use areas in the Sierra.  We've seen three bears in the last ten years in the back country, and they all ran away when they saw us....not exactly Little Yosemite Valley.

6:43 p.m. on May 10, 2015 (EDT)
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I use a Bear Vault. I live an hour from Yellowstone on the Beartooth Front. I have never had any trouble with bears we have grizz and black bears. People complain about the bear Vault being hard to open but I just bring a library card and it does the trick (see five year old opening a Bear Vault on Utube.) The best part of the Bear Vault is that you can see what you are after inside the can. Hope this helps. g

9:40 a.m. on May 11, 2015 (EDT)
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Thanks for the info. I have never used one in 55 years of backpacking.

11:50 p.m. on May 11, 2015 (EDT)
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They are required now in many National Parks, including Yosemite and SEKI.

6:31 p.m. on May 12, 2015 (EDT)
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Bill covered it well.  Garcia is reliable, but heavier and has a smaller opening.  Bearvault has had its iterations, but the one-notch lids are still allowed in SEKI.

I have a Garcia, Bearvault 450, and Bearikade.  Guess which one I usually take.  Once I got the Bearikade, there was no looking back.  

This summer I will be taking a scout troop on the Rae Lakes Loop in SEKI, so my Garcia and BV will be loaned to scouts.

Now I always bring a canister, even in areas where they are not required.  It simplifies things.  I don't have to worry about hanging my food, and they make a handy stool.

2:39 p.m. on May 16, 2015 (EDT)
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Bill great question..I and 3 others will be In the Eastern District of the Adirondacks hiking into the Western District..The Eastern district has a regulation from the NYDEC bear canisters only. Besides other rules like no fires and camping only below 4000 ft in designated marked campsites..The Western District is less strict..I just met with 2 of the people Iam hiking with and they have hiked some trails in the Western District..After Speakcock posted of your pack could take a Bear canister.I knew both my packs did.But didn't know exactly which ones..I had to look it up on the website..The pack Iam using for this trip will take the BV 500 or BV 450..So i am limited on options..What are the limitations and the problems I suppose Lambertinia commented?

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