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Ursack Update
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Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Ursack Update on 01/18/2010 23:05:31 MST Print View

I've been in western Alaska for a while and have not been keeping up on these posts, so excuse me if this is redundant. Following message from Ursack.

It appears that Ursack will be allowed almost everywhere in the Sierra this year except Yosemite National Park and three areas (Rae Lakes, Dusy Basin, Rock Creek) of SEKI. We calculate that Ursack may be used on more than 98% of the Pacific Crest Trail. SIBBG, the Sierra Agency Black Bear Group, no longer exists. There are no standardized bear canister tests--each Superintendent of Forest Service Manager makes the decision for his or her own area. While Ursack will likely submit the S29 AllWhite Hybrid for consideration by Yosemite and SEKI, there can be no assurance of approval given those parks lack of testing criteria and/or their historical antipathy toward Ursack.

Was the demise of SIBBG a result of the California Bankruptcy?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Ursack Update on 01/18/2010 23:12:26 MST Print View

What? No more lugging heavy BV's up Mt. Whitney trail? Woohoo!!

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Ursack Update on 01/18/2010 23:19:00 MST Print View

Hopefully we can find out soon. I was planning on carrying an Ursack anyway, but only because no bear canister is big enough to hold the amount of food I should be getting, so I'd be using both at some points.

Edited by leaftye on 01/18/2010 23:19:33 MST.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Ursack Update on 01/18/2010 23:19:22 MST Print View

"Was the demise of SIBBG a result of the California Bankruptcy?"

Eh? SIBBG was all or mostly Federal agencies. They weren't funded to establish a national standard but that's what people expected of them. They haven't tested a device for a few years.

Josh Leavitt
(Joshleavitt) - F

Locale: Ruta Locura
SIBBG on 01/19/2010 08:34:10 MST Print View

"Was the demise of SIBBG a result of the California Bankruptcy?"

No, SIBBG's disbanding can be directly attributed to the lawsuit filed by Tom Cohen of Ursack against them. He essentially made the claim that the "guide lines" set up by SIBBG for bear resistant container approval were "arbitrary and capricious" in the way they were applied. Not to mention the fact that SIBBG conducted business after their charter expired, and over stepped the bounds of that charter regularly.

The rumor is that there will be a means of national standardized testing for the approval of bear resistant containers. Might be better, might be worse, my guess is worse.

Until something like that occurrs though, new products will have no chance of being approved and accepted on a wide scale basis. This is bad for consumers, and for bears. Even with a national testing and approval process, nothing says that particular products wont be denied on a local level.

Lets hope Tom made some gains in his legal pursuits, I for one wish him the best.

Ed Engel
(Doorknob) - F

Locale: West of what you think is west
Ursack on 01/19/2010 11:56:50 MST Print View

This is interesting. Ursack is less than 8oz. and is 8" x 13". The BV 500 is 8.7" x 8.3" and 2lb 9oz. Love saving weight.

Ian White
(DeuceRegular) - F

Locale: Southern Jefferson
Re: Ursack on 01/19/2010 12:02:55 MST Print View

I really hope this turns out good for Ursack users. I got mine in a year that they were still approved for Yosemite. Since then I have seen many a ranger frown when I tell them I plan on using it regardless of their recommendations (Kings Canyon, NP).

I also use it as a bear canister backup. There is no way that anyone should ever have to bring two of those things.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Ursack on 01/19/2010 12:17:33 MST Print View

Does anyone know - first or second hand, of someone being fined for using a Ursack in a "canister only" area?

("I think I heard my buddies friend say he heard..." doesn't count.)

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Ursack on 01/19/2010 12:53:40 MST Print View

I have to wonder if I'd get fined for using a bear canister AND an Ursack. Both would probably be hung using the PCT method. I'd hope a ranger would have pity on me when he sees that I'm already using the bear canister to the max. Of course this would only be a concern for the first few days after a resupply.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Re: Ursack on 01/19/2010 12:57:51 MST Print View

the whole purpose of requiring bear cannisters is to have pity on the BEARS, not the backpackers.

Do the right thing.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Re: Re: Ursack on 01/19/2010 13:01:30 MST Print View

I'll do the right thing if you'll carry my second bear canister.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
ursacks work on 01/19/2010 14:00:20 MST Print View

the few "failures" have all been attributable to user error. if they are used correctly, they work as well as a canister.

but it is well over 8oz if the alluminum liner is used (and which is required in some areas for it to be an approved container).

Edited by cbert on 01/19/2010 14:06:30 MST.

Ian White
(DeuceRegular) - F

Locale: Southern Jefferson
Re: Re: Re: Ursack on 01/19/2010 14:26:59 MST Print View

I have only ever been asked by a Ranger about canisters at the time I get my permit. I tell them yes.

I know that I Ranger can ask to see your canister, but I don't believe they have a legal right to search your bag unless you authorize them. I have not noticed a line in the permit application stating that I must submit my bag for search upon the request of a Ranger.

However, I do bring one canister when required, and I just figure I would show them that and hopefully no further questions.

As for backcountry ethics: I believe that sometimes policies are made to blanket all backountry users. I have never had a bear take me food. I do some great PCT hangs. They are fun, look good, and bring me a great amount of satisfaction. I know that the purpose of canisters is to stop bears from equating people with food, and to make the bears "think" that people smell like food, but are not food. I feel that I can have a say as to my own methods in regards to this program of behavioral extinction. Maybe I am wrong.

Edited by DeuceRegular on 01/19/2010 14:27:29 MST.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
ursack update on 01/19/2010 14:32:31 MST Print View

Has anyone thought to have a titanium sheet made to replace the aluminum liner? This could provide equal, or greater, protection at a lighter weight, after all this is all about BPL.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Ursack on 01/19/2010 15:04:59 MST Print View

I definitely want to protect the bears, and not just "beat the system". And hike light. If I could do that with an Ursack I would. Sleeping high and tying off well is effective.

I was stopped and asked for my permit, but no questions were asked about a canister. I met a father/son team on the JMT carrying a Ursacks that they declared at the time of permitting, and were given the OK. I have heard of similar situations where the ranger was intent on the "spirit" not just the "letter" of the law.

I assume I'll be checked each time I'm out. I'm only a sample of one. So I ask to help determine my risk if I decide to go that route.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: ursacks work on 01/19/2010 15:11:54 MST Print View

> the few "failures" have all been attributable to user error

If there is significantly more user-error with an Ursack than with a bear can, that sounds like a problem.

I do not know how much user error there is, but for bear protection all that matters is results. In this case, if failures are occurring, "user error" is not a defense.

-- Bob

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: ursacks work on 01/19/2010 15:32:40 MST Print View

> know hikers who have been fined?

Met someone a year ago on the JMT that got finded. I am pretty sure he was nabbed in Yosemite.

> Ursack is only user failure?

I have talked with three people who have their ursack broken into. Two very well might have been user error. They didn't think there was a user error, but based on what they said (don't remember their words), I thought it sounded like they did some boneheaded things. The third person struck me as a careful soul who said all the right words about what he did. I assumed that was a real breech. I can't remember what version of the bag he was using. It was a couple of years ago, so not the current bag.


Jim Sweeney
(swimjay) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
canister failure on 01/19/2010 15:47:13 MST Print View

And of course there have been documented failures of canisters, in particular the Bear Vault, which had to go through two re-designs to thwart some particularly intelligent, or persistent, bears in, I think, the Rae Lakes area. Interestingly, their approval was never pulled, as far as I know, though someone may correct me here.

Josh Leavitt
(Joshleavitt) - F

Locale: Ruta Locura
Canister failures on 01/19/2010 17:18:49 MST Print View

A Ti replacement for the Ursack aluminum sleeve wont save any weight.

ALL canisters and bags can fail, some more than others, nothing is "bear proof", only bear resistant. The big difference is that "the system" is rigged in favor of hard sided canisters and their retailers/manufactures.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
@Thom--Al vs Ti liners on 01/19/2010 17:33:55 MST Print View

Thom, I think maybe titanium would be fairly equal to aluminum here, except more expensive. Titanium is twice as strong as aluminum, so you could use a thinner gauge to get the same strength. However, Ti is 60% heavier than Al. It seems like a rather expensive way to save 2.16 oz., but it could be done.

Josh, please correct me here if I'm missing something...

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 01/19/2010 17:38:57 MST.