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Bear Canisters

Bear canisters are required in some areas. Check with the National Park Service or U.S. Forest Service to see which model(s) of bear canisters are approved for use in the area you'll be visiting. Regulations vary and change.

Read "Hiking and Camping Safely in Bear Country" for more information on bear safety.

Top Picks

How we choose: The best bear canisters highlighted here were selected based on 34 reviews of 12 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a bear canister that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

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Top Bear Canister / Food Bag

Ursack Major

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

The "tied" and true, Bear discouragement, food containment system, the Ursack Spectra 29 AllWhite, may very well be your best available option for food containment, food protection, and food safety, as well as, ease of use, weight and volume consideration, while on the trail.

Reasons to Buy

  • Trail necessary weight, 242g
  • Strongly voluminous, 10.65L, with little mass
  • Compressible and malleable
  • Simple to use, easy to pack, no tools required
  • Cost, not too bad, $67.89
  • Functions well with LOKSAK's OPSak bag

Reasons to Avoid

  • Proprietary system… not all that bad, though.
  • For best results the Ursack must be combined with LOKSAK's OPSak bag
  • If you opt-out of LOKSAK OPSak bag you may very well attract vermin
  • If optional aluminum liner is not used, food stands the risk of being crushed
  • Sharp, lengthy, small-diameter teeth may find their way through the Spectra material
  • Bag is not IGBC certified, and not approved in certain wilderness areas

The "tied" and true, Bear discouragement, food containment system, the Ursack Spectra 29 AllWhite, may very well be your best available option for food containment, food protection, and food safety, as well as, ease of use, weight and volume consideration, while on the trail. Update May 13, 2014… April 11, 2014… The IGBC test of the S29 passed. April 18, 2014… “We are still awaiting the official certification letter and number from the IGBC, but can share some of the details. At IGBC insistence, we baited an Ursack S29 AllWhite, knotted it securely and placed it on the ground with no aluminum liner and not tied to a tree.

Read more: Ursack Major reviews (2)

BearVault BV500 Journey

user rating: 4 of 5 (4 reviews)

All bear canisters are heavy and bulky, but this one makes up for some that by being transparent, secure, versatile, and fairly priced. If you're in a place that requires a canister then this is an excellent choice.

Reasons to Buy

  • Transparent
  • Tough
  • Designed to be carried inside or outside pack
  • Secure
  • Doubles as a seat

Reasons to Avoid

  • Heavy
  • Bulky
  • Lid can be a challenge to open

I've had my Bearvault BV500 for many years now and have used it several times in the high Sierra of California. It's my guess that no one wants to carry a bear canister due to their bulkiness and weight, but the BV500 has some features that make is a good choice when you have no choice other than to carry a canister. Despite the years of use the device is still in excellent condition and works like new. It weighs 2 pounds 9 ounces. There is a smaller version for shorter trips that weighs 2 pounds 1 ounce.

Read more: BearVault BV500 Journey reviews (4)

Garcia Backpackers' Cache

user rating: 4 of 5 (7 reviews)

This moulded ABS plastic bear-proof container is perfect for preventing a confrontation between your food, yourself, and a curious bear. Great for use as an additional storage container, and tough enough to be used as a food cache Absolutely essential for all overnight trips in the back country where bears or large wild animals reside. Recommended by many Park Rangers - so don't leave home without it!!

Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent security from wild animals
  • Tough - bear resistant
  • Lots of space for food
  • Can be used as an extra seat at your campfire

Reasons to Avoid

  • Large size - need a smaller version for solo overnight trips
  • Takes up lots of space in your backpack
  • No means to attach to the outside of your pack

This is the **ONLY** canister that is allowed in the Adirondacks. If a ranger stops and wants to see your bear canister and you have the wrong type - expect to be sent back and get the right type. You've been warned. PRO's Two metal tabs that secure the lid are hard for bears/animals to turn - makes an effective seal  Large - one canister will hold food for one person for 3 days (3 meals per day) or two people on a weekend / single overnight stay.  Tough - bears can't get their teeth around this canister.

Read more: Garcia Backpackers' Cache reviews (7)

BearVault BV450 Jaunt

user rating: 4 of 5 (4 reviews)

Best bear canister solution available — at least of those that I know of. All bear canisters are a nuisance, but the BearVault design addresses the critical problems with the designs that require a coin to open. Large opening and transparent sides make it easy to load and retrieve the contents.

Reasons to Buy

  • Large lid
  • Tool-less opening (No coin required)
  • Transparent container
  • Two size options

Reasons to Avoid

  • Difficult to open when cold
  • Awkward to pack (but they all are)

We picked up two BV450 BearVaults three years ago and have used them several times on trips to the Wind River range in Wyoming. We use two instead of a single large one. This allows for redundancy in case of bear encounter, loss, or equipment failure. Two smaller containers are easier to pack and don't require as much digging to get to the desired contents. The BearVaults have large openings. This allows for food to be arranged and packed tightly. The transparent sides also help pack and find the contents.

Read more: BearVault BV450 Jaunt reviews (4)

Counter Assault Bear Keg

user rating: 4 of 5 (2 reviews)

This is a standard bear canister with recessed twist lock fasteners. The large size makes it suitable for long trips or groups.

Reasons to Buy

  • High capacity (716 cubic inches/11.7 liters)
  • Easy to open
  • Reflective stripe around middle of cannister

Reasons to Avoid

  • Heavy (58 ounces)
  • Difficult to fit in a pack

I purchased the Counter Assault Bear Keg two years ago for weekend backpacking trips in New York and New Jersey. Group size ranges from three people up to seven people. This product uses a standard design and works well. The recessed latches are easy to open with the appropriate tool; a knife blade, a coin or multitool. The reflective stripe around the middle of the canister is a nice feature and makes it easier to locate the canister after dark. This is one of the largest bear canisters available and also the heaviest.

Read more: Counter Assault Bear Keg reviews (2)

Wild Ideas Bearikade Expedition

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3 reviews)

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.

Reasons to Buy

  • 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)

Reasons to Avoid

  • 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. Background: 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.

Read more: Wild Ideas Bearikade Expedition reviews (3)

Wild Ideas Bearikade Weekender

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

The Bearikade line of bear canisters from Wild Ideas are by far the lightest weight for the volume you get. Bearikades are the only carbon fiber bear canisters approved for use where canisters are required. The Weekender can hold enough food for two people for 3+ days, or up to 7 days for solo use.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightest volume-to-weight ratio
  • And…strongest material strength-to-weight ratio
  • Approved for all areas that require bear canisters
  • Virtually indestructible
  • Strong resale market

Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive to purchase

This is a review of the Bearikade Weekender bear canister by Wild Ideas. The Bearikade, available in three standard sizes plus custom sizes, is the only product they make and/or sell. You can find them at I am not affiliated with Wild Ideas in any way. Bear canisters are required in many wilderness areas, so even though they are heavy they are a necessary evil in order to visit during at least some of the year at all or parts of places like Yosemite and much of the Sierra Nevada, Glacier, Grand Teton, RMNP, Olympic, Denali, and increasingly in the East like in the Adirondacks (there’s even a section of the Appalachian Trail here in Georgia where bear cans are seasonally required).

Read more: Wild Ideas Bearikade Weekender reviews (3)

Bare Boxer

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

The Bare Boxer Contender is a budget bear canister that is light and more importantly, approved by IGBC and SIBBG for use in both Grizzly and black bear country.

Reasons to Buy

  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Easy to open
  • Multiple uses

Reasons to Avoid

  • Small, only holds 3 days worth of food

Earlier this year, I decided to shop around for a bear canister to use on my weekend trips. I needed something that fit my budget as well something that is approved to be used in any National or State Forests. I had a few choices to select from, ranging from size, weight, and price. The choices I had were: BearVault 450 - Good size but too large for my needs but price was just right Bearikade Scout - Would be my #1 choice both in size and weight, but too pricey @ $195 Counter Assault Bear Keg - Slightly higher in price but too heavy and too big Garcia Bear Canister - The work horse of all canisters, heavy...and HEAVY! Bare Boxer Contender - Price is right, weight is right, size fits nicely in my pack.

Read more: Bare Boxer review (1)

Wild Ideas Bearikade Blazer

user rating: 4 of 5 (2 reviews)

Like all of Wild Ideas Bearikade canisters, the Blazer is a carbon-fiber tube with aluminum caps. With 750 cubic inches of space the Blazer is big enough for over a week solo or several days with the family or a small group. The large size presents some challenges for smaller packs. The seamless smooth surfaces should present a serious challenge for your average bear.

Reasons to Buy

  • Design maximizes usable space
  • Large opening
  • Air tight seal
  • Good volume-to-weight ratio
  • Nice size for sitting on
  • Easier than hanging a bag
  • Great place to put stickers

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pricey
  • Black tube heats in sun
  • Need coin or tool to open

More and more parts of the country are reporting issues with even properly hung bags being molested by not only bears, but rodents and other animals. With so many folks out on trail it seems the animals are getting plenty of chances to train their skills. Frau Stranger was on a solo Baxter retreat last year and despite using the provided bear line found her food bag chewed through in the morning. While we all worry about bears there are plenty of other animals getting smarter out there too. Given this trend I decided it was time to get used to using a canister and asked Santa to bring me a Wild Ideas Blazer last year.

Read more: Wild Ideas Bearikade Blazer reviews (2)

More Reviews of Bear Canisters

Trailspace reviewers have shared 34 reviews of 12 different bear canisters.

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Other Types of Bear Safety

Find more bear safety reviewed in these related categories:

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