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New Bear Canister Design
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Tom Casperite
(tcasperite) - F
New Bear Canister Design on 01/21/2012 18:07:30 MST Print View


Are you frustrated with the current bear canisters on the market? We are...

Its about time someone made a high quality bear canister that was lightweight, easy to use, and didn't cost an arm and a leg. We aim to change that... and YOU can help! We are currently in the design process and need enthusiastic backpackers like you to give us your opinion. We plan to share our design sketches often and consider as much feedback as you are willing to provide.

Click the link below and give us feedback. Hurry because this post will be deleted soon. (We can't share all of our ideas with everyone just yet...)

Remember, this is a process and we will have much more to share in the future based on your responses.

Thank you for your kind support.


Thomas Casperite
Vulpes LLC

a b
Would be nice but... on 01/21/2012 18:16:02 MST Print View

It is not whether there is room for improvement or a better design.. there is.
The question is; How are you or your company going to get your design approved by the relevant authorities for places that require bear resistant canisters?
With the demise of the SBBIG (Sierra Black Bear Inter Agency group) that set standards for bear cans, the rules are left up to the individual ranger districts.
Basically Yosemite and Seki are what we are talking about here.
In a perfect world everyone would carry a bear canister in bear country.
In the real world few do so outside required areas because of cost, weight and bulk.
The Ursack still shows promise but is not approved in the main areas of concern.
From the Ranger's point of view the current canisters are adequate and have a proven track record.
There is no incentive for them to want to approve a new and un-tested design.
Not trying to throw a wet blanket because I would personally love to see a significant advancement in the design and ease of carry of current bear resistant canisters.
I have a Garcia Machine Base camp model that weighs 5 lbs from way back when they first introduced them. I also have a Bear Vault 500 at just over 3 lbs.
(The Bearikade is even lighter than these)
Both canisters are heavy and bulky but extremely effective.
The Garcia has a 100% success rate.
I know there was talk of a new design a year ago, something like an expandable ball.
Never heard anything further.
To be succesful any new design would have to be lighter than anything on the market or less than 2 lbs.
The new canister would have to have the same or greater volume than the current canisters.
The new canister would have to cost less.
Now a Bear Vault 500 is made of polycarbonate, weighs over 3 lbs and costs about 70 bucks.
The Bearikade is spun aluminum and carbon fiber, weighs under 3lbs and costs over 200 bucks.
Solve that problem, and get the rangers in Yosemite and Sequoia & Kings Canyon to approve, and you will succeed.
Good Luck with this.
P.S. Your link just brings up the main survey webpage. Can't find your specific survey.

Edited by Ice-axe on 01/21/2012 18:49:39 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: New Bear Canister Design on 01/21/2012 18:28:48 MST Print View

" "

"Vulpes LLC"

That is a food company in Chicago. ( ? )

You had a bear canister survey last April, and now you are back with another one.


David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Would be nice but... on 01/21/2012 18:38:43 MST Print View

Matthew: Those are insightful (if discouraging) thoughts.

We've used canisters in Denali (where they're required) and on our own trips when in grizzly-infested areas like the Kenai Wildlife Refuge Wilderness Canoe Trails. We also do the triangle thing (eat, sleep and store food hundreds of feet apart) or better yet, cook and move on to a separate camp.

I suppose Denali isn't much of a market for private canisters since they loan them for free (which is a great idea if they want people to use particular models). From their website:

The following brands of BRFCs are approved for use on backcountry trips in Denali:

•Backpacker's Cache by Garcia Machine (this is the brand issued to permitted backpackers free of charge by the Backcountry Information Center)
•Bear Keg by Counter Assault
•Contender 101 & 102 by The Bare Boxer
•BearVault models BV250 Solo, BV300, BV 350 Solo, BV 400, BV450 Solo and BV500

To view photos of these containers and additional product information, click here.

The following brands of BRFCs are NOT PERMITTED for backcountry use in Denali:

•BearVault models BV100B, BV110B and BV200
•Ursack or ANY OTHER Kevlar, fabric or fabric-aluminum hybrid bear-resistant bag

Denali, IMO, takes reducing bear-human-food interactions more seriously than Yosemite does and is FAR more successful. I certainly loss less sleep in Denali than LYV. They've got a lot of mid-sized brown bears. Our brown bears are twice the size (by mass) but gravitate towards the salmon rivers (which Denali doesn't have). With the weight and jaw-size differential between a blackie and a big brown bear, "bear-proof" is not a single, well-defined criteria.

a b
Bear "Resistant" on 01/21/2012 18:57:42 MST Print View

Yep, bear cans are only resistant and not bear "proof".
There was a black bear that could even open the first generation of Bear Vault.
Not by unspinning the lid.. by jumping on the canister until the polycarbonate deformed enough to make the lid pop off!
Still, the bear resistant canisters are better than the old days when my uncle and i had to get up 5 times a night and scare the man habituated bears away before they figured out which tree our bear hang was tied off to.
My uncle Wayne had a neat trick in those days.
He would find a set of three trees.
The bear hang rope would be suspended by two trees with the third "dummy" tree located in the center closest to the hanging food bag.
The bears would always climb the tree nearest the bag first.
They begin by swatting each branch methodically.
After a half hour or so they would descend and try a different tree.
That is why my uncle always called it a "delaying" tactic.
Gave us 1/2 hour to rest after the first sound of claws on bark before having to get up and scare the bear away.
Bear canisters have changed things for the better for us and the bears.
Nowadays the bears wander through camp not even giving the canister a second glance.
EDIT: Holy Sheep Shank! That photo below!
Okay, so the bears I have met mostly wander through my camp never giving the canister a second glance. ;)

Edited by Ice-axe on 01/21/2012 19:25:08 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Bear "Resistant" on 01/21/2012 19:10:43 MST Print View

In the past you could have canisters tested at the IGBC. You pay the costs. As noted below, things are changing...

"At its January 19-20, 2011 meeting, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee decided to revise its bear-resistant container testing program. The protocol providing information and guidance related to this important program is being updated and will be available at this website in the near future.

"For information regarding product testing during this time, please contact:
Patti Sowka, Living With Wildlife Foundation (, (406) 544-5307 or"

There are reasons why one might not want to do this....

Bear Damage
Browns inflict more damage than blacks. If your market is in black bear country, then it's probably better to not alarm your customer base.

Edited by greg23 on 01/21/2012 19:14:36 MST.

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Would be nice but... on 01/21/2012 19:21:41 MST Print View

> To be succesful any new design would have to be lighter than anything on the market or less than 2 lbs.
> The new canister would have to have the same or greater volume than the current canisters.
> The new canister would have to cost less.

No, not quite. It just has to be better in two of those, not all three.

The catch is that it has to be enough better in the two than it's worse in the one.

So if it's lighter and has greater volume than the current canisters but costs more, then if the price difference isn't egregious, it could be successful. The Bearikade is evidence of this; it's certainly not less expensive than its competitors, but it's lighter for the same packable volume, so people like it, if they can afford it.

a b
Bear canisters on 01/21/2012 19:33:19 MST Print View

Rakesh, I see the truth of what you are saying.
I would definitely pay more to upgrade my bear canister if it was significantly lighter or more packable.
As it is, my Bear vault 500 just barely squeezes into my MLD Exodus vertically and just fits into my Golite Pinnacle horizontally (if you put the lid end in first).
I have always dreamed of a more ergonomically shaped canister. Something like a kidney shape or a flattened oval. Just an easier shape to fit inside the pack.
Clearly it would have to be strong. I know the reason they are round cylinders is the inherent strength of a circle under load allows them to use less material than would be the case for any other shape.
Cylinder has the greatest volume, with the most strength, for the least material.

Edited by Ice-axe on 01/21/2012 19:39:26 MST.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Bear canisters on 01/21/2012 20:05:25 MST Print View

Alas, bear canisters have to be shaped so the bear's jaws can't get a grip on them rather than to be egonomically acceptable to us as hikers.

I've found that my Bearikade Expedition model fits fine vertically in my SMD Traveler and my sleeping pad in the exterior pad pockets shields it from reshaping my spine.

Nothing made by man is indestructable. I've heard rumours of a secret Ursine laboratory that is developing a small tactical nuke that Yogi and BooBoo can use to gain access to any bear canister. Personally, I think C4 would have been cheaper and safer to use, but just try buying the ingredients for C4 these days.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Bear "Resistant" on 01/21/2012 20:12:20 MST Print View

Holy cow!!! A griz did this to a Bearikade???

I'm sticking with the PCT method.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Bear "Resistant" on 01/21/2012 20:27:07 MST Print View

Doesn't anybody hang their bear canisters? I would rather not have a bear take it's claws to something I reluctantly paid 90 bucks for.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Bear "Resistant" on 01/21/2012 20:34:06 MST Print View

No on hanging the canister. It could crack open on impact like a pinata if it took a good fall. I toss mine in an area where it can't roll too far.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
New Bear Canister Design on 01/21/2012 21:29:06 MST Print View

First, I don't think we should confuse what we really need with what some bureaucrat requires. Some must comply with certain area rules to hike there. In that case, you must select a canister from their list, and use it, period. Ship the thing where you must have it, and ship it back out ASAP.

Some others, like moi, avoid those certain areas like the plaque. Those areas are over-used, worn out, and unattractive to someone who hikes in wilderness areas. Unless you are thru-hiking and there is no way other than to pass through them, IMO you are nuts to go there. It is no one's fault, they simply get too much traffic due to their reputations and government and other publicity.

OK, if you are thru-hiking a major trail, you often have no choice. That is why I have made it a lifetime project to locate a different route for one of the major trails in one of the most scenic and backpacker friendly States. The recent demise of the CDTA, and the Forest Service's unadmitted but persistent policy of abandoning high country trails further underscores the need for this.

For actual, functional bear protection, not related to moronic agency regulation, I have a couple suggestions:

First, the last issue of the BPL print magazine had an article about small-battery powered, electrified containers. After seeing one of the readily available little Tasers purchased by a lady friend, I was impressed. Pretty daunting. A sack or container that emits that kind of message when nudged by a bear ought to be pretty effective for practical (as distinguished from 'regulatory compliant') purposes.

Second, some of the odor proof bags, like OpSacs, have been shown to really work, so long as you are careful to not place odors on the outside of them by packing up food with traces of food on your hands. Easily replacable and more securely sealable liners made out of this material for the electric sacks would greatly diminish the likelihood of molestation by bears and others.

A light weight product with the above features is something I would definitely buy for a reasonable price (not the $300 or so mentioned in the BPL article), and for protection against wildlife, not from other humans with fancy outfits.

Will still hang bearbags for added protection, and to avoid other clever varmints. Bears have been known to make off with those 'regulatory compliant' canisters. If we really help them to avoid us, we can co-exist with them much better. That's my desire, because I really like them.

Edited by scfhome on 01/21/2012 21:31:19 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Bear "Resistant" on 01/21/2012 21:30:10 MST Print View

It's not a good idea to hang a bear canister. If you do, you will have some sort of bag or cord around it. Once the bear gets it down from the tree branch, the bag or cord would give it a spot to bite and carry it off. If there is no bag or cord, then it can't get its claws into it, because the outside is intentionally pretty smooth and slick.

Some types, like in the photo, require the user to tighten it, and if it isn't tight enough, the bear can get its claws or teeth in it.

I generally set my bear canister right in between some rocks so that it can't roll or be pushed away. I set my noisemakers on top of it, or from there to my shelter.


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Bear "Resistant" on 01/22/2012 18:39:57 MST Print View

Good point Ken. Maybe if you wrapped some cord all around it, it wouldn't wiggle it's way out.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
EGBOK on 01/23/2012 09:07:01 MST Print View

Hey, if the canister is lighter than what's available, easy to fill/unpack, durable and doesn't cost what a Bearikade does, AMEN I say. It is what it is, and I need the darn things.

Having eliminated my Garcia for the BearVault, with joy, I appreciate that design greatly. Our BV 500 was tossed and gnawed about like a circus ball this last summer, but all we had to do was rinse it off and get back to business. Now, give me the same canister size and strength at 8 ounces lighter and it would be awesome!

In the meantime, I view the BV500 as the king and benchmark. Simple to use, lighter than the alternatives we can afford and functional.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: EGBOK on 01/23/2012 10:50:24 MST Print View

"I view the BV500 as the king and benchmark."

In my bear canister fleet, I have one BV500, two BV450, one Garcia, and one Bear Boxer. Don't ask.


USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
BV king? on 01/23/2012 11:18:42 MST Print View

Erik, did BV finally get it right then? How many lid revisions? :) Three or four?


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: New Bear Canister Design on 08/18/2012 22:33:56 MDT Print View

And then there was silence...

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: New Bear Canister Design on 08/18/2012 22:48:08 MDT Print View

I want an electric one, as in electric fence. Let 'em get that big wet nose on the can: ZZZZZZZAP! It could have an alarm too, maybe strobe lights.

I still don't understand why a chemical repellent hasn't been developed. It seems like it would have so many applications. There must be something that tastes bad to a bear.

John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
electric one on 04/01/2013 14:22:14 MDT Print View

You know a company manufactured and sold an electro/fido-shock bag briefly a few years ago and finally went away, as I understand, when the agency refused to even test them.

Edited by johnk on 10/26/2013 08:51:54 MDT.

Nelson Sherry

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
Re: Re: Re: New Bear Canister Design on 04/01/2013 23:42:42 MDT Print View

"I still don't understand why a chemical repellent hasn't been developed. It seems like it would have so many applications. There must be something that tastes bad to a bear."

I worked for a professional hunting guide once that over his many years of killing moose on the Alaskan Peninsula regularly peed and spread pepper around carcasses to keep bears away while they made multiple trips to pack out meat, hide and rack. Apparently it worked pretty darn well and reliably, and this was in serious bear country.

So, just pee on your bear canister, pepper it a bit, and sleep in peace. ;)

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: New Bear Canister Design on 10/24/2013 21:09:12 MDT Print View

This discussion has been quiet. Any updates Tom?