Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
The Ultimate Bear Canister Pack
Display Avatars Sort By:
Paul Johnson
(johncooper) - F

Locale: SoCal
The Ultimate Bear Canister Pack on 02/13/2012 01:21:44 MST Print View

I hate bear canisters, but for various reasons, I spend significant time in bear canister zones. I'm embarking on making a pack that works well with a bear canister (ie BV500 or Bearikade Weekender - 9" diameter 12" height).

My current thoughts are as follows:
o Goal of sub 16oz for pack. My kit is 8-12 lbs depending on fishing gear and tent/tarp. Expect ~22lb pack weight with full canister.
o Carry canister mid pack vertically. This leads to a taller, not so wide/deep pack. Providing for the canister horizontally makes for a wide/deep pack. (note vertical requires ~28" minimum pack perimeter versus 42" for horizontal.)
o Pack dimensions 12x6x36 (width x depth x height).
o Internal vertical pad pocket for 12" x 4" closed cell pad. Likely double thickness to protect spine from canister.
o External carbon fiber frame similar to ZPacks Exo. This provides some shoulder strap adjustment post construction.
o Removable frame poles ~24" ea for 48" tarp pole. Majority of time I don't carry trekking poles.
o Fabric: 3oz Cuben fiber hybrid with nylon laminate. Still debating versus Dyneema or Xpak. The Cuben hybrid seems rock solid, light and water proof.
o Roll top closure for water proof pack. Save weight on trash compactor bag.
o Minimal/custom packets to fit my needs. Water bottle on right hand. Fishing pole sleeve on left allowing rod to be folded in half with real on and line rigged to tip for quick fishing access. Mesh pocket on front 14" tall to carry extra bladder when needed.

What would your ultimate bear canister pack design include? What suggestions do you have based on my thoughts above?

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: The Ultimate Bear Canister Pack on 02/13/2012 06:21:13 MST Print View

Load bearing hipbelt?

Hobbes W
(Hobbesatronic) - F

Locale: SoCal
The Ultimate Bear Canister Pack on 02/13/2012 09:37:16 MST Print View

You might be overthinking the requirements - it's actually very straightforward. Since I'm in the same boat as you - I live in SoCal and hit the high Sierra primarily to fish - I've gone through the same design processes.

Over time, I've made a series of packs. Some are designed for bear cans if I'm going into/through a NP *and* I think I might run into a ranger (think: either hiking portions of the PCT or crossing nearby). Other packs have been constructed for non-can uses - either I'm purely XC in a NP, or I'm in a non-can required section of the nat'l forest.

OK, so here's the easy way of constructing either pack: simply roll your pad into a cylinder and place (stack) all your items inside. Most likely, you'll find the can determines the maximum circumference. (If your bag/quilt is setting the max, I would highly recommend making your own stuff sack so the bag ends up just under the can's diameter.) Once you have your kit assembled, simply measure the circumference & height and get cracking.

Now, here are a few secrets that I've discovered through trial & error:

* Make a simple stuff sack pack with a tie top, sans pockets, etc. I've come to realize they're a hassle to add, add -0- or little functional value, and can actually weaken the overall bag. Now, with the exception of my rod(s), everything I have simply goes inside. (If it rains, I have all my stuff inside in turkey bags anyway.)

* Even though traditional packing emphasizes putting food/can in the middle, it doesn't work without a rigid frame pack. That's because when you put the pack on, that can is sitting right there between your shoulder blades & middle back. That's right - you look & feel like a chicken with your wings splayed out.

The solution is to put the can either on the very bottom or the very top; of course, with food inside, it makes the weight balance unmanageable. So the trick is to *pack/handle your food as if you didn't have a can in the first place* and store it in the middle of the pack as you normally would. This in essence renders the can a 2lb deadweight (well, I put misc items inside to fill it up) that is there merely for legal purposes (I do use it at night since it's there), but it can also be turned to your advantage as part of the pack frame - here's how:

* Put the can on the very bottom - when you put your pack on, you'll find it's now way down in the small of your back. If you fit the pack properly, you might not even notice or feel anything down there.
* Measure your dimensions carefully - if your total circumference is just right, the can will fit very tight & snug. This adds a lot to rigidity; in fact, I barely need compression straps. (As an added benefit, it also IDs the exact location where you want to place the bottom edge of your hip belt.)
* Even though you measured/cut/sewed the pack as a cylinder, fold the pad and place it inside square against your back. This will create a triangle effect overall (ie the can resting against the pad), but it makes for a nice flat surface against your back.

If you want to add stays, etc, just include the add'l allowances in your final cut measurements. You mentioned cuben, but I'd practice first with a yard of cheap 1.9 from JoAnns. In fact, my bear can pack is made from 1.9 and only weighs between 7-8oz, whereas my non-can pack is made from 1.3 sil and weighs around 6oz.

My 3 night total packweight with can is 13lbs, dropping to 8.5 on the way out, whereas my 3 night pack sans can is 11, dropping to 6.5 on the way out. Yep, around 4.5lbs of food for approx 3.5 days, where I typically cover between 35-45 miles.

Edited by Hobbesatronic on 02/13/2012 10:00:41 MST.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: The Ultimate Bear Canister Pack on 02/13/2012 10:31:50 MST Print View


I often carry bear cannisters in the myog pack shown below. The largest cannister will fit either sideways or vertically. I've also carried a 5 gallon bucket with lid. The 5 gallon lid rides best if vertical. The pack shown can weight anywhere from 8-16 ounces depending on fabric and bells and whistles added.


Paul Johnson
(johncooper) - F

Locale: SoCal
The Ultimate Bear Canister Pack on 02/13/2012 11:39:30 MST Print View

Ken: Yes load bearing. I am trying to have moderate load transfer to the waist for pack weight over 15 lbs.

Hobbes: Good comments on canister location. I had tightening in my lower back carrying a canister in the bottom of my pack last year. Putting a single layer under the can resolves this for me. I have a 21.5" torso, so I don't have the chicken wing issue.

Daryl: I have read many of your threads. In fact the P400 frame and FSD T connectors were chosen based on a thread between Roger, Sam and yourself. Your design is a bit too aggressive for my first pack attempt, but I do want to keep the upper weight forward. I am considering load lifters that would bend the top of the frame forward, similar to your design without the front pack. I have also considered moving the spars to the side of the pack with the bottom further away from my back and the top much closer. The goal being to keep the upper portion of the pack closer to my center of gravity. Over the years I often hike with my thumbs under my shoulder straps to keep the pack closer to my upper back, but with the weight on my hips. This position is clearly not optimal, tightening my upper arm and neck muscles. I'm hoping to avoid this position by keeping the top of the pack in tight. Thoughts?

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: The Ultimate Bear Canister Pack on 02/14/2012 12:06:10 MST Print View



I don't really have anything new or beneficial to add that you haven't already addressed.

Best of luck on your project. Getting a pack to fit and feel right is a real challenge. The rewards are great, however.