|Dimensions||16 x 19.5 in / 40 x 50 cm||16 x 23 in / 40 x 58 cm|
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Gear barrel, barrel pack, canoe barrel * NOT A BEAR-PROOF…
Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $50 CAD
Gear barrel, barrel pack, canoe barrel
* NOT A BEAR-PROOF BARREL *
This is a 64L food-grade (HDPE) "total-opening" cylindrical plastic drum with screw-on gasketted lid. Manufactured by CURTEC, and originally used for transporting pharmaceuticals. When they are retired, EUREKA! takes these barrels, cleans them, and gives them a second life as a canoeist's gear barrel.
- Buoyant (it floats!)
- Contains food odours
- Cylindrical (not tapered)
- Full-width mouth
- Screw-on lid
- Large volume
- NOT bear-proof
- Harness sold separately
- Very heavy
The size and weight of gear barrels make them less than ideal for long-distance backpacking on dry land. But being waterproof gives them a distinct advantage on water, ie. when canoeing/portaging. Many brands sell a harness that is compatible with these barrels, and makes them more comfortable to carry on your back (sold separately).
Ease of Use (10/10):
On the topic of "ease of use", the following features stand out to me compared to barrels from other manufacturers:
The screw-top lid means there's no metal strap that can get lost or damaged (or opened by crafty raccoons), and I find it's much faster and easier to spin the top and engage the threads than it is to fiddle with the metal belt-clamps of other brands of barrels.
The full-width mouth and straight (not tapered) sides mean that larger items can be added or removed from the barrel more easily, and you can get your whole upper body in there when you need to dig for that elusive spork that dropped down to the bottom of the barrel.
I already mentioned the "ease of use" features that set it apart from its competition. But as a barrel, it also has some distinct advantages over other types of packs. It's waterproof like a SealLine pack, but rigid and strong so you're not likely to accidentally pierce it with a tent pole or a stick or a knife. It's easy to hoist into a tree if you're using it as food storage.
Construction & Durability (10/10):
Gear barrels typically start their life as commercial shipping containers for foods or pharmaceuticals, so they're all manufactured to an industrial standard. They are durable and strong, and they can take just about any abuse you can throw at them... but don't let that lull you into a false sense of security regarding bears—these are not bear-proof containers, and should still be hung in a tree where they are safe from those hungry, rage-filled, 8-10 foot tall, furry, walking can-openers.
I have used mine for one season so far, and I thoroughly appreciate everything about it. I have used it in summer/fall, canoeing in the Canadian Shield (mostly Algonquin Park). I expect I will see many years of dutiful service from this barrel. I don't think it will disappoint.