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ursack vs bear canister
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Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
ursack vs bear canister on 03/01/2012 15:05:24 MST Print View

There seems to be some confusion on how these two products are to be used.

With the ursack, you have to get up and defend your food.

With a bear canister you have time to take a photo, and then chase off the bear.

Hope that helps.

K C
(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
RE: Ursack vs. Can on 03/01/2012 15:31:19 MST Print View

Unless you use a counter balance or hang the Ursack.

Steve B
(geokite) - F

Locale: Southern California
ursack vs bear canister on 03/01/2012 21:57:31 MST Print View

Hanging the ursack in a traditional counter balance way isn't correct from my understanding. If obtained, away it goes with the bear. It is to be tied to a tree, and we humans can't climb as good as bears, so it will be tied down low (from the bear perspective).

Why chase the bears off? Let them learn there is no reward for messing with the (hard to get ahold of) canister. Ursack can be grabbed, gnawed on, pulled, etc. Much longer learning curve.

Steve

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: ursack vs bear canister on 03/01/2012 21:59:28 MST Print View

See. Confusion persists.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: ursack vs bear canister on 03/01/2012 22:07:22 MST Print View

"Why chase the bears off? Let them learn there is no reward for messing with the (hard to get ahold of) canister."

If you take Yosemite black bears as examples, they are pretty crafty. The experienced bears will walk up to a bear canister, sniff it, and walk by. Once in a while, they will paw it to see if it will accidentally dump its contents, but then they walk by. The inexperienced bears will spend a lot more time trying to figure it out. They can smell food, but they can't get to it. In some cases, they will try to chew on the canister. That really doesn't do you or the bear any good. So, sometimes it is best to give it a minute or two on it to discover that it is tough, and then chase it off. Besides, some bears are really persistent, and they will keep you awake half the night as they try different things. I've found the best method is to shout at them, run directly at them, bark like a wild dog, throw rocks, or all of these.

Yosemite black bears are more like oversized wild dogs. They could hurt you if you were stupid.

--B.G.--

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: ursack vs bear canister on 03/01/2012 22:36:46 MST Print View

I always considered the ursack something you hang. At least if they knock it down the fabric is a second defense. More of an extra insurance that the bears won't get fed.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: ursack vs bear canister on 03/01/2012 22:51:28 MST Print View

Justin, I don't think so.

If the bear knocks it down, then it can bite it and carry it off to work on in its leisure time.

If the thing is firmly tied to the base of a tree, it isn't going anywhere. However, what are you going to do if there are no trees?

Bear canisters are completely different since they are so large that the bear can't grab it or bite it very well, so they can't really carry it off. They don't depend on trees, even though black bears are not so common when you get above timberline.

--B.G.--

K C
(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
RE: Ursack vs bear canister on 03/01/2012 22:56:59 MST Print View

So here is my take. I have owned an Ursack, BV, Garcia. If the Ursack get’s legalized in CA I will use it every time, and I will hang it- every time. I have had many many bear encounters of blacks and browns.
1. It weighs much less than a can
2. I know how to counter balance or hang so a bear doesn’t get it, so why would I ever use a canister ever again in CA if it gets legalized. (perhaps why it’s not legal, conspiracy?)
3. I will never attach it at on the ground except above tree line.
4. There are only black bears in CA, they are not a threat, they are like big marmots.

On top of that, there is a section of the JMT where you don't need a bear can or Ursack at all. The rangers told me to counter balance as it was the prefered method.

Steve B
(geokite) - F

Locale: Southern California
If it is legalized .. on 03/02/2012 08:26:05 MST Print View

If it is legalized for use in the areas that require a bear can, it would only be legal to use correctly. So the counter balance method wouldn't be legal. The counter balance method isn't legal in these areas now, why would it be legal with an improperly used ursack?

Steve

Gregory Petliski
(gregpphoto) - F
re on 03/02/2012 09:31:40 MST Print View

"I know how to counter balance or hang so a bear doesn’t get it"

A bear could easily walk out on the limb to pull it up (Yellow Yellow, the notorious female in the Adirondacks, is small, under 150 lbs), or if the limb is too small to support its weight, they will often send their cubs out to get them. Or they could climb another tree and jump down onto the bag. Counterbalancing only works in areas where bears are not habituated to humans. The whole idea behind the canisters being required in certain places is that theyve had too many problems with hangs and counterbalances.

K C
(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
RE: on 03/02/2012 10:05:27 MST Print View

I guess this is a hypothetical discussion due to the current rules in different districts. If a Ranger told me not to hang a Ursack, I wouldn't, if they told me to hang it, I would, just like I did on a 20 mile portion of the JMT. I'm just stating how I would do it based on my experience- "if the Ursack was legal everywhere and you could hang it"

Edited by KalebC on 03/02/2012 10:07:16 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Correct use of Ursack on 03/02/2012 10:41:07 MST Print View

There is a VERY specific way to use an Ursack. (See their website.) They go into quite a bit of detail on how to tie the knot and how then to tie it correctly around a tree or log. It is not intended to be hung, maybe it would work, but if you are going to hang then why use an ursack? Learn to hang correctly and you won't have to worry about it.

hang

K C
(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
RE: on 03/02/2012 11:21:15 MST Print View

I am going to hang my ursack so the food doesn't get touched, and why would I bring it if I am going to hang it? Because I need it above tree line where there are no trees and I can anchor it to a rock.

Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
ursack vs bear canister on 03/02/2012 11:24:25 MST Print View

And so you see, even on bpl, half the people think the Ursack is to be hung, and a good proportion of the rest think it is bear proof.


Will never be approved, the learning curve is too steep.

K C
(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
RE on 03/02/2012 11:41:04 MST Print View

Cameron, are you telling me that I cannot hang it? Do you think that my methods don't work? I’m not telling anyone how to do anything; I am just providing insight on what I do. “Will never be approved”? It is approved in some areas, which areas are you speaking of that it will never get approved?

Edited by KalebC on 03/02/2012 11:46:51 MST.

Steve B
(geokite) - F

Locale: Southern California
Ursack vs. Bear Canister on 03/02/2012 12:22:35 MST Print View

No. If approved, you will not be "allowed" to hang it. It is not how it is used.

No. Your method doesn't work in habituated bear areas, that is why hanging isn't allowed and bear canisters are required.

Insert sarcastic comment here.

Steve

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: ursack vs bear canister on 03/02/2012 12:26:04 MST Print View

It may not stay approved in Yosemite as there are too many chances for user error. As is evidenced by this thread many people do not understand the issues surrounding bears in Yosemite.

Maybe if is approved again they will have the rangers explain the required proper use of the ursack in Yosemite prior to issuing the permit. They already give you the rules speech if you tell them you are new to backpacking there. It wouldn't take much to review the REQUIRED procedure for using a ursack in Yosemite.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Correct use of Ursack on 03/02/2012 12:32:02 MST Print View

"but if you are going to hang then why use an ursack?"
Because carrying the ursack is legally required in some places, unless you want to carry a canister. It's legally required so people who don't know what they are doing or those who makes mistakes wont feed the bears. Unfortunatley everyone gets grouped into the category.

Edited by justin_baker on 03/02/2012 12:35:13 MST.

Gregory Petliski
(gregpphoto) - F
re on 03/02/2012 13:05:32 MST Print View

It sounds like youre more concerned about a ranger finding you without your can than a bear finding you without your can. A fine may stink, but feeding a bear that may have to be put down one day because of your actions, is worse.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Alaska
Ursack vs canister on 03/02/2012 16:52:39 MST Print View

The fact is everyone lives in a different area with different needs as far as food storage is concerned. It all amounts to how a big a risk you want to take with your food and the risk of bear (or even critter) contact you expect.

For some trips, I like to go a week + without resupply if I can help it. In this scenario (camping above treeline, few resupplies), if anything happens to my food, I'm screwed. In these situations, I use a canister.

Rocky Mountain National Park requires a canister, so I carry one. In areas that don't, I can use other food storage methods.

I know it's heavy and bulky, and that some of you have "used your ursack without any trouble", but the park service doesn't cater to UL backpackers. It caters to the general population who frequent the park.

If anything, this thread shows that the ursack works sometimes, if you hang it. No wait, tie it to a tree or a rock. Or maybe submerge it under water. Or maybe sleep with it. Or...sigh.

Suck it up, pack the canister, and get out there and hike.

Edited by aaronufl on 03/02/2012 17:08:26 MST.