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Ursack closer to being allowed in Yosemite?
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Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Seam Grip??? on 02/28/2012 07:32:36 MST Print View

Improves tear resistance along the seam. Upgrade. I have to do mine too.

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Re: Ursack on 02/28/2012 07:40:29 MST Print View

Well, they detail the known cases of failure:

Even when the S29 AllWhite has been used without the aluminum liner (which is how most campers prefer it), the number of bears that have gotten food rewards in the last three years is miniscule. In 2011 a bear tore a seam at 1000 Island Lake. There was one instance of seam failure in Colorado and another at South Lake Tahoe. In 2010, there was a seam torn by a bear in the Desolation Wilderness, and a minor tear at Mammoth. In 2009, a bear tore a seam at Lake Ediza in Inyo and another bear ripped into an Ursack at Kearsarge Lake. In short, other than the seam failures, even unlined Ursacks have performed well over the last three years. As you know, no bear canisters are perfect. All have failed on occasion.

And then they go on to say that even that small amount can be reduced using a new method

The seam issue has now been resolved. This fall, while testing the S29 AllWhite Hybrid at the Grizzly Discovery Center in West Yellowstone (where the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee tests bear canisters), we discovered that coating the seams with SeamGrip was highly effective. A very large grizzly worked on Ursack for 2 hours without success, which contrasted with an earlier test of a bag with an uncoated seam. As a result, since October, all new Ursacks come with SeamGrip.

Doesn't seem like a huge issue to me, unless there are tons of cases not listed here.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Ursack on 02/28/2012 07:56:33 MST Print View

"Has it really been that mis-handled, though? When you look in detail, there are a pretty incredible number of reports of the Ursack being breached. I own one, but would never tie it at ground-level like they recommend, or bring it into regions that require canisters. At the very least your food is pulverized and inedible after an attack, which ends your trip. At worst it developed a hole (heard a few reports of this) under attack and the bear squeezed and ate out of the hole."

All Ursack has ever asked for is to establish a clear set of standards so they know what the requirements for approval are. The mishandling refers to this lack of clear objective standards of approval.

The aluminum liner prevents crushing of any contents if used. Although the last I checked crushed dehydrated food does not make it inedible and does not end your trip.

Edited by randalmartin on 02/28/2012 07:58:41 MST.

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
OK Dumb Question now on 02/28/2012 08:13:01 MST Print View

Ok, what is everyone doing to "store" their Ursack when out overnight? In the Winds, I had to hang it from boulders or rock walls. While in areas with trees, I have tried to hang it in trees. Assuming that there are no canister laws in the area, if I am always going to hang it, what is the benefit of using the 8oz Ursack vs a 2oz food bag. I can see that a benefit could be small critter control such as marmots during day trips where I would leave the food back at camp. The Ursack is also not waterproof, where certain food bags are.

On my last trip I said the heck with it and just tied it off to the base of a tree. Is this a common tactic? I have heard tying it off at the base of a tree is better than trying it off a few feet above the ground so the bear cannot use his weight to try to tear into it.


Chris C
(cvcass) - MLife

Locale: State of Jefferson
Tie it to a tree on 02/28/2012 08:38:11 MST Print View

I always just tied it off to a tree, I'm pretty sure you are not supposed to hang it traditionally because that adds risk of injury to the bears.

this is from ursack's website

I will add the "above treeline" image is ridiculous, a bear would simply pick up the small log and walk off with it and your food.

Edited by cvcass on 02/28/2012 08:41:24 MST.

Art Tyszka
(arttyszka) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Ursack with Opsak on 02/28/2012 09:25:34 MST Print View

I'm a big believer in using the OP bags along with the Ursack. Granted, I don't hike in grizzly habitat, but there are a lot of black bears, skunks and raccoons here in MN and I've never had any of the above find my food when in an Opsak inside my Ursack - that's a lot of sacks . . .

I know many will be critical of this, but when hiking with my German Shepherd, I don't have enough room in the Ursack for his food and just leave it on the ground, away from the tent, in a large Opsak, nothing has ever nibbled at the bag and I've stayed in plenty of established sites. I think the Opsak does exactly what they claim, very few animals are visual, most all rely on smell and if they never smell it . . .

I love the convenience of just tying the Ursack to a nearby tree.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Ursack with Opsak on 02/28/2012 10:02:00 MST Print View

+1 on Opsak inside the Ursack. That should be standard practice and is how Ursack recommends using their product.

Ben the reason the Ursack is better than a 2oz bag is the the Kevlar in the Ursack prevents small critters from accessing the contents. Above treeline your unlikely to find bears. Above treeline is mostly Marmot/Pika territory where the great risk is chewing through your 2oz bag which would take no time.

You don't need to hang the Ursack, simply tie to a tree trunk off the ground. If I was above treeline and doing a day hike with a return to camp and had little to no options for securing the Ursack I would probably just bring the Ursack with me during the hike. But honestly, that is such a rare scenario for most, camp above treeline with a day hike returning to above treeline camp.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Ursack closer to being allowed in Yosemite? on 02/28/2012 11:06:26 MST Print View

My dog has his own Ursack for when we're out longer than a week (up to a week, his food fits in my Ursack or canister at night). The dog food is also inside smaller OP sacks at all times when in his pack. If I can smell my dog's kibble through a freezer bag, certainly a bear can and that means my dog's pack would also smell of dog food without the OP sack protection. I've always used an OP sack in addition to the freezer bags holding his individual servings. At least the dog can't detect the smell through the OP sack!

I strongly suspect that a bear would go to unprotected dog food before going to people food, simply because the dog food odor is stronger!

I wouldn't hold my breath about the Ursack's being approved by the IGBC any time soon. The Ursack website admits that the IGBC currently is not testing "fabric" bags.

Re the Wind Rivers question: They require either hanging or an IGBC approved bear canister. Please note that the Bearikade is not IGBC approved. Per Wild Ideas, that's because they never bothered to submit it for approval--they claim the now-defunct Sierra Bear Group used the same tests. In other words, whether I use my Ursack or my Bearikade Weekender, I'm illegal in the Winds (I can't hang food because I can't throw due to shoulder issues). I figure if I'm going to be illegal, I will be illegal with the lighter option!

Here's the Food Storage Order for the Bridger-Teton NF (also effective in Shoshone NF):
Those familiar with Sierra bears will be ROTFL at the hanging method suggested!

Edited by hikinggranny on 02/28/2012 15:42:44 MST.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
use a rock sack on 02/28/2012 19:30:37 MST Print View

"I'm illegal in the Winds (I can't hang food because I can't throw due to shoulder issue"

Mary D, I had a ripped rotator cuff on my last big trip, and I used a rock sack, that's a tiny stuff sack you attach to the bear bag hanging line, you whirl it around a few times then let it fly, it works. z packs was selling those, not sure if he still does, easy to make too, any nylon, it's just a 2x3" stuff sack basically.

I had no problem getting it over high up branches, took a few attempts, but I never had to use any extension at all on my shoulder, which was a good thing, since I didn't have any.

The idea is simple, you spin the bag with rock in with a few feet of cord, then once it reaches the right angle/speed, you let it fly, sort of like a sling shot in some ways, it really works. Still in my opinion the greatest backpacking innovation I've ever seen.

Ursack needs to fix their website, it's too hard to find all the knot diagrams, they have them scattered around, and users of the bags not knowing how to do the knots was I believe one of the issues, that is, you can miss-tie the knots, but you cannot really mis screw on a bearvault lid.

To me this is pretty valid, ursack needs to improve and simplify their website and bag documentation for knot tying, I have the green one, and it doesn't show how to do the figure 8 knot you use to attach it. I have no idea why they still have not rectified such a trivial thing to fix, one more knot diagram, and all knot instructions on one page always accessible from one click on their main menu, not cut in half as it is now, where you have to know the other one is there to find it. I should have emailed them about that issue, it's kind of hard to take them seriously about usability when they can't fix that simple thing on their website and bag.

I also hope they get approved, but I don't think it will happen as long as they depend on such a non robust knotting system that can fail if users dont' do it right. I guess the white bag makes t easier now from what I read, less stiff so it's easier to close, but that's the third try now, easy to see why parks who don't want problems chose not to allow it. At least easy for me to see. And they actually admit that without seam grip the bear could get into the bag, so you really can't consider skepticism about this product as unwarranted. How do you test for user ability to tie a knot? And to always tie it right and tight enough? And to have applied the now included seam grip? Compared to all cannisters, which work and are sealed as soon as you close them, I have no trouble seeing why they aren't allowed. Too bad you can't get a license that proves you know how to use it, since it appears that when used correctly it's quite effective. ie, ranger stops you, sees ursack, asks for your permit/license showing proficiency, then says, ok, thanks have a nice trip.

Edited by hhope on 02/28/2012 19:51:31 MST.

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Re: +1 on 02/28/2012 20:28:14 MST Print View

Jason noted: "I hate the bulkyness of bear cans and that would remain with the liner."

The liner is just a sheet of aluminum and I guess it could be flattened and maybe placed against the back pad of your pack, or wrapped around some other round object like your sleeping bag or pad while hiking; re-rolled (if flattened) and placed back in the sack in camp for safe storage. Anyway it is not fixed in the sack and thus there should be all sorts of potential packing alternatives that would make the ursack much more easily pack-able than a rigid canister.

Anybody want to guess what a similar sized sheet of titanium or maybe carbon would weigh? / Cost?

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Re: use a rock sack on 02/28/2012 20:29:07 MST Print View

Tried the rock sack; the motion still jerks my shoulder joints which causes a lot of pain. Mostly arthritis in my case. I can extend just fine; it's anything that causes a sudden jerk or pull, even a mild one, that kills me. It's a little better than throwing, but not much. I never was any good at either throwing or roping; couldn't hit the side of a barn when inside it!

I wouldn't want to use an Ursack where there are acclimated bears who are trained that anything in a bag is a pinata. They're going to keep after a bag until they get in. Most places outside national parks, though, bears are shy of people (they are hunted, after all) and the Ursack works just fine. No need to hang (just tie to tree) and keeps out other varmints (mice, marmots, camp robbers, crows). If I'm where there are acclimated bears, I use my Bearikade Weekender (also illegal in the Wind Rivers because it hasn't been submitted for IGBC testing).

Both my Ursacks have tags inside which clearly show how to tie the Figure 8 knot. It's not that hard to tie; I learned when I was 9 years old!

I still remember the time (many years ago) that I was out with a group. We spotted a bear just past the trailhead and another one a couple miles before we hit the campsite. The trip leader insisted it was the same bear (although he never saw the first one) and that it was following us. He insisted we immediately hang our food. So all 8 of us handed over our food bags, and a couple of stout fellows tied them to a rope, got it over a branch and started hauling. Halfway up, the rope broke and the bags came down. It's just lucky the fellows dodged really fast and weren't hurt! After that, most of us abstracted our own food bags and did our own thing. Of course no bears ever showed up!

Edited by hikinggranny on 02/28/2012 20:33:32 MST.

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F

Locale: SoCAL
Ursack closer to being allowed in Yosemite? on 02/28/2012 20:44:18 MST Print View

The problem Ursack had in the Yosemite was people are told to leave it on the ground rather then tying it to a tree trunk where the bear has a more awkward pearch to get to it. The rangers once even told me to not even tie it to a log on the ground. Whats with that since the bear can just walk off with it. And the fact that users treat it like a hardsided bear can and let a bear work on it for hours. For me, it is a barrier (far better then hanging that I've seen bears get too easily even when properly done) that delays the bears for quite awhile until you can chase it off.
The alumunium liner helped in that regards but I still wouldn't want to leave a bear alone all night like someone people have.

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Re: Ursack closer to being allowed in Yosemite? on 02/28/2012 20:48:30 MST Print View

I think the problem with putting the bear in an awkward perch is they might injure themselves.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Ursack closer to being allowed in Yosemite? on 02/28/2012 20:52:20 MST Print View

"I think the problem with putting the bear in an awkward perch is they might injure themselves."

And sue the Park Service? LOL

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Re: Re: Re: Ursack closer to being allowed in Yosemite? on 02/28/2012 20:56:19 MST Print View

It is America, after all!

No but seriously, I do seem to remember reading something on ursack's site about potential bear injury!

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Ursack closer to being allowed in Yosemite? on 02/28/2012 21:27:42 MST Print View

My understanding is that the aluminum liner is mostly to protect the contents of the bag, rather than as a preventative measure. Even if a persistent bear doesn't get inside, it can still crush food (probably not such a big deal with most backpacking foods) and pop ziploc storage bags (maybe a bigger problem if measured food gets mixed up).

Not to say that that is any different than a bear swatting but somehow not getting into a hanging food bag.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Insert is not easy to install on 02/28/2012 21:53:00 MST Print View

I only had to use the insert in my older Ursack a few times, not easy to install or remove as it wants to uncoil. If I remember correctly too, the authorities did not want any resource damage, so you had to just leave it laying on the ground. My thoughts too about the liner and some canisters, is it gives you time to scare off the bear. I have never had any issues with bears, either when my dog was alive or since he passed away.

I did not know the Bearicade wasn't approved for the Winds, I used mine a few years ago there, luckily then that I was not stopped.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Re: +1 on 02/29/2012 18:28:47 MST Print View

"I guess it could be flattened and maybe placed against the back pad of your pack, or wrapped around some other round object like your sleeping bag or pad while hiking; re-rolled (if flattened) and placed back in the sack in camp for safe storage. Anyway it is not fixed in the sack and thus there should be all sorts of potential packing alternatives that would make the ursack much more easily pack-able than a rigid canister."

Not really, that piece of aluminum is stiff and pretty big. Best packed in the sack.

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: Ursack closer to being allowed in Yosemite? on 03/01/2012 00:02:40 MST Print View

If this happens, I would buy one the day I find out about it.
They stand to make a TON of money if this goes through, and I have a feeling, the other companies stand to lose a lot of business. I hope they are developing there own bag systems in the event this does go through.

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F

Locale: SoCAL
Re: Ursack closer to being allowed in Yosemite? on 03/01/2012 09:58:40 MST Print View

I doubt the other bearcan companies are shaking in fear. Yosemite and Ursack have had an on and off relationship over the yeras. They allow it in for awhile, then ban it and then allow it in for awhile, repeating as necessary. The only reason that I still own a Garcia Can that I bought in the late 90's rather then a newer BearVault or a Bearikade is because I know I'll be able to use my Ursack again evenutally so its a waste of money to buy a better hardsided can then the hated Garcia. I'd only rush out an buy a Ursack if you are planning a long trip after Ursack is allowed in. For a 2-3 day trip once a year, its probably not worth it over renting the heavier cans.