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New Bear Vault Lids
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Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
New Bear Vault Lids on 07/24/2008 07:35:28 MDT Print View

I'm curious as to how everyone is doing with these. I have one and, so far, all is well. But I just saw this photo:


It's from an Adirondacks message board and it looks like the problem bear in the Marcy Dam area can open a Bear Vault with the new lid. This particular bear is, I believe, the one that motivated the new lids. It opens the lids by using its cuspids to press the bumps on the lid and spin it off.

This is the first I've read of problems with the new lids, but I thought I'd check and see if anyone else is experiencing the same.

Personally, I can't help but think that, if more people could be relied upon to do a proper bear hang, nobody would need to worry about this stuff.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: New Bear Vault Lids on 07/24/2008 08:09:23 MDT Print View

Well maybe if there was PROPER trees around one could do a proper hang. Kind of hard when there are no trees.

As for the bears - no container is bear proof - it is bear resistant. There will always be a bear that is smarter than the average bear.....

Out here the bear would have been relocated 3 times, then dealt with. Hence removing it from the ability to wreck and teach the other bears. (Which mommma bears do!)

Christopher Holden
(back2basics) - F - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
. on 07/24/2008 08:45:44 MDT Print View


Edited by back2basics on 07/24/2008 08:47:31 MDT.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Re: New Bear Vault Lids on 07/24/2008 09:54:09 MDT Print View

Right. I had the 'Dacks in mind when I posted that. There are plenty of proper trees around in the High Peaks Region. The DEC used to have specific stations to do bear hangs in the 'Dacks too. These were pretty easy to find and use.

In any case, yes, you need a tree to hang a bag from. Obviously.

As usual, it's a pleasure to communicate with you Sarah.

Back to my original question: does anyone have any experience with the new Bear Vault lids?

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
New Bear Vault Lids on 07/24/2008 10:43:36 MDT Print View

It may have been that the bear just lucked out on that particular Bear Vault; his/her teeth seemed to be spaced just right so the tooth marks seem to fall just on both pressure points. Perhaps the manufacturer will want to move the pressure points further apart.

I have one of the new Bear Vaults. All I can say is that I haven't had a bear get into it yet. But then, I have an older Bear Vault as well and that has never been opened by a bear either. Actually, I have never, to my knowledge, had a bear try to open my BV's so am not really entitled to an opinion on their bear-proof-ness.

There is a family of bears in the Rae Lakes area in the Sierra that has the reputation of being able to open just about anything including bank vaults. I'll be passing through there in a few weeks and will let you know how the BV-500 fares.

Edited by Rincon on 07/24/2008 10:48:27 MDT.

Joel Ramey
(taildragger) - F

Locale: Arkansas River
BV500 on 07/24/2008 10:49:28 MDT Print View

I've never had a bear come near any of my bear cans, but then again I still camp when using a can. I think that stealthing is the biggest factor here, if you cook in your camp you're asking for problems.

Also, how does one properly hang when tree limbs don't stick out more than 3' from the tree?

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Re: New Bear Vault Lids on 07/24/2008 11:24:42 MDT Print View

Hi Charles. You Said:

>>It may have been that the bear just lucked out on that particular Bear Vault; his/her teeth seemed to be spaced just right so the tooth marks seem to fall just on both pressure points.

It’s easy to see how you came to this conclusion looking at the photo, but I don’t think that’s the case. This bear and his thieving tactics are much discussed among Adirondack hikers and on ADK boards. As I understand it, the bear is opening one lock (i.e. pressure point) at a time. With the old BV models, it would hold the bear can down and put its lower cuspid on the pressure point and bite down with the top cuspid until the pressure point was sprung open. I believe its top cuspid is what makes those scrape marks on the top of the lid. It looks to me like the bear is just using the same tactic, opening the locks one at a time. If it was a matter of its jaws fitting the locks perfectly, I don’t think we’d see the same scrape marks on the top of the lid like we did when there was just one bump.

Joel, there isn’t much in the way of stealth camping happening at the Marcy Dam area, but I’d bet there’s plenty of cooking going on in camp sites. The area has several lean-tos and tent sites and is heavily used. It’s also close to a Ranger Station and the road, so it attracts its fair share of new/inexperienced hikers who don’t seem to know the best practices when it comes to cooking and bears.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bear mess with my can either. I’m always a bit paranoid though, as I’d hate to have a trip ruined by a bear after taking time off of work and making the drive from NYC. I need to stay at the Marcy Dam area on an upcoming trip (it’s close to some peaks that I want to bag), so I’ll keep you posted on how I fair with my Bear Vault.

Joel Ramey
(taildragger) - F

Locale: Arkansas River
Dam Marcy Bear on 07/24/2008 12:46:22 MDT Print View

I bet the bear can makers would love to get their hands on her. Talk about a way to test a product! Just kidding, but I had heard about this bear when I lived in NY (She's the one who ruined the PCT hanging method right?). It might be time to relocate her.

Edited by taildragger on 07/24/2008 12:46:54 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Why do methods fail? on 07/24/2008 18:15:40 MDT Print View

You want a real discussion on why methods fail?

Simply put it is often human failure. We don't quite get a lid on right. The early versions of the BV had issues with the lid not clicking on right - but and a big but - it was something that if the human had checked they most likely would have noticed it wasn't on quite right. The lid being just a bit off (lop sided) allows purchase for the bears mouth.

Also, canisters should not be left where bears can have a heyday. A tree hollow for example would allow a bear to work on a canister without it rolling away.

As I said earlier - the mama bears teach their young, who teach their young. The real issue is that the bears got habiuated decades ago due to sloppy humans. Of course the bears will come back where the pickings are easy. All they have to do is woof and people leave them treats.

It is not uncommon to see lazy, filthy camps with food and cooking gear all over.

There is NO bear proof way besides hiking where there are no bears! You just have to do your best - keep a clean camp, don't camp in over abused sites and make your food/garbage as hard to get as you can.

Hanging your food is NOT better than canisters. For the most part hanging is a skill rarely that you see masters in. No, what you get are sloppy hangs, too low, too close to the tree.

Those bad hangs just reinforce the bad message that humans mean food.

I would be interested to see just how FEW canisters have "failed" versus hanging food. All in told I can only think of a hand full of canisters failing - and in every case it was due to a lid not being put on right!

Mike Klinefelter
(mjkline) - F

Locale: Southern California
Bearvault failures on 07/24/2008 18:48:56 MDT Print View

Well maybe for your experience "All in told I can only think of a hand full of canisters failing - and in every case it was due to a lid not being put on right!", however, Bearvault has experienced numerous failures of their past products where the lids were put on correctly. That is why Bearvault is now producing the BV500 and not the BV100, they are continually having to change their design because of the failures of products that were used properly and in every case, at least one bear has "learned" how to get into a Bearvault that had the lid put on correctly. For example, a bear in the Rae Lakes area of the Sierra Nevada Mtns figured out that by sitting his 400 lbs on the BV300 (and previous models) and low and behold, the correctly closed lid would just pop right off. Hence the new canister and lid design starting with the BV400. Here's a quote from the BV website:

"Currently hikers to the Rae Lakes drainage basin Rae Lakes drainage basin in Kings Canyon National Park cannot use the following BearVault bear canister models: BV110B, BV200, BV250 or BV300. There were 8 break-ins during the summer of 2005 and until more experience is gathered this summer, the use of the above models is not allowed in this area. There are currently no restrictions on the use of these model BearVaults elsewhere in SIBBG controlled areas- they can be used throughout the Sierras and all other locations."

Although it's not fully acknowledged there, there is other info available on the internet regarding these breakins and I think that the redesign and complete retooling for manufacturing is BV's acknowledgement of the failure of their products. In heavily used problem areas it's only a matter of time before bears figure out the BearVault system. Here's the latest from BV on the current situation in the Dacks:

"In response to this a new lid was developed for 2008 which had two snaps on the lid which both required being pressed in sequentially- this is the model BV450/500. Testing was conducted during June and July 2008 at Marcy Dam and Lake Colden. We now have the test results. Surprisingly, the bear(s) pressed in the first snap with its incisor, rotated the lid and then pressed in the 2nd snap with its incisor and opened the lid."

Doesn't sound like operator error to me. If one bear can figure it out, eventually others will too, especially in areas where there are bears already habituated to human food and are willing to try anything. This is why even a "proper" hang in certain areas does not work. For example, Bears in Yosemite have been seen using the kamakazee technique for obtaining food from a "proper" hang that is the correct height and distance away from the tree. In this technique, the bear climbs to a point on the tree above the hang branch and then dives off into the hang branch below, usually effectively breaking the branch and sending the "proper" hang to the ground where he/she and the fellow gang of bears make short work of it.

so in summary, no matter what you do with your food, if you're in an area that bears don't frequent, it probably won't matter, you won't have a problem (with bears anyway) if you leave a bag out on the ground. However, if you're in a place like the Dacks, or parts of Yosemite, or Rae Lakes, you may lose your food even in a correctly closed BV. I would like to say that I have never heard of a successful breakin by a bear to a Bearikade or or Garcia canister. If anyone has any knowledge of this, let me know.

Edited by mjkline on 07/24/2008 18:54:05 MDT.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Re: New Bear Vault Lids on 07/24/2008 20:03:05 MDT Print View

Hi Mike,

I guess I should have checked the Bear Vault site first. I hadn't seen their update before I posted here.

Too bad that the new lid design didn't work. I'll probably still hold on to mine anyway. I've already paid for it after all, and it is a good combination of light weight and cheap.

When I head to the Marcy Dam area, I'll have to stop by the ranger station and borrow a Garcia can though.

Thanks for posting the info from the Bear Vault site. And the stuff about bears that learned to get to bags that were hung "properly".

Sometimes they make hiking difficult, but I admire the resourcefulness of bears. ;)

Randy G
(rando3369) - MLife

Locale: Western NY
Bear Vault Canister in the Adirondacks on 03/18/2009 19:14:41 MDT Print View


Did you get a chance to try your Bearvault or the Garcia near Marcy Dam last fall? I am planning a trip there this spring and just picked up two BV500's for our group. I can't find any definitive answer on if they are still allowed in the High Peaks region or not. They were on sale and the price was definitely right versus some of the alternatives, but if they don't work or we can't use them then it wasn't a good buy at any price.

I would hate to show up the morning of the trip and be told by a ranger that we can't use them.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Bear Vault Canister in the Adirondacks on 03/18/2009 19:46:29 MDT Print View

Randy, use of the Bear Vault is no longer permitted in the High Peaks region of the ADKs. They don't work and aren't safe in that area.

Use the Garcia cans. If you won't use them often enough to warrant buying them, you can rent them cheap from The Mountaineer in Keen Valley.

Randy G
(rando3369) - MLife

Locale: Western NY
Re: Bear Vault Canister in the Adirondacks on 03/18/2009 19:53:27 MDT Print View

Bummer. Thanks for the tip on the Garcia's.

I guess the BV500's will probably be going up for sale...

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: "New Bear Vault Lids" on 03/18/2009 20:04:29 MDT Print View

There is a bear in my area that has gotten pretty proficient with a Slim Jim......but I still park in my carport.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
New Bear Vault Lids on 03/18/2009 20:11:33 MDT Print View

I have had every single one of Bear Vaults cans. I have two 500s right now along with a couple useless (to me) 300 or 400s. I really got tired of being told my bear can was not allowed after I drove 4 hours to pick up my permit. At least I got a couple replaced over the years at the ranger station. (Of course the dang thing was at the bottom of my pack and filled with my bag, not my food…)

Supposedly we can’t hang here (CA, Sierra, and I am very good at hanging with the sliding stop method) because some momma bear taught her cubs to Kamikaze drop on the hang spot from above. And I have done trips in the Rae Lakes area. I never saw a bear period. In fact I have NEVER seen a bear on the trail until last year when I saw two in one day. I have seen many in camp grounds and parking lots. I have seen tons of sign, including steaming piles of droppings. Like the old Who song, I have seen some “deep brown hair, but there ain’t no bear in there”.

I put my bear can in the open and put my cup on it to wake me if a bear comes in. I want to see one go for it. (Dave always takes it back and hides it if we are sharing. He does not like tempting fate. I live for it my wife says…) I have yet to see any take the bait.

I use the Bearikade Scout or Weekender now.

Mike Klinefelter
(mjkline) - F

Locale: Southern California
Bear Vault Canister in the Adirondacks on 03/18/2009 20:37:43 MDT Print View

Looks like Bearvault has posted an update on their website regarding the use of their canisters in the Dacks. Here's what they had to say:

"Accordingly, BearVault recommends against using BearVault canisters in the Lake Colden/Marcy Dam corridor and the Johns Brook valley as these are within the bears' territory. You can freely use BearVaults elsewhere. If this area is your main area of backpacking recreation, return your BearVault to the place you purchased it and use another product. If this area is an occasional location for your backpacking recreation and you wish to continue using your BearVault outside this area, then make arrangements to use an alternative product when you are in this area."

You can read the full story here:

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Bear Vault Canister in the Adirondacks on 03/18/2009 21:42:34 MDT Print View

Sweet. I can return my Bear Vault. I've been using it as a night stand.