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Packing a Bear Canister
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Paul Veenema
(PaulVeenema) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Packing a Bear Canister on 05/07/2007 18:39:16 MDT Print View

I plan to hike and fish the JMT this August. I understand that you have to use a bear canister. I want to go as light as possible and am considering replacing my external frame backpack with a lightweight internal frame pack but have not found one suitable for use with a Bearvault bear canister yet. Would appreciate any suggestions.

David Stenberg
(dstenberg1) - F

Locale: South
Re: Packing a Bear Canister on 05/07/2007 19:34:51 MDT Print View

Many packs will fit the bear vault.
I know that Six Moon Designs Starlite, ULA Catalyst, and Granite Gear Nimbus Latitude all work with this bear canister fitting sideways in the pack. I am pretty sure the Oprey Aether 60 and the Golite Quest and the other Granite Gear packs would work as well. These are not the lightest packs. If you want to go the lightest then check out the Gossamer Gear G4/G5/ Mariposa packs. I have the Mariposa Plus and a bear canister rides very nicely strapped on top.

Edited by dstenberg1 on 05/07/2007 19:36:10 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Packing a Bear Canister on 05/07/2007 19:50:17 MDT Print View

Correct me if I am wrong, but if you are on a thru hike, you don't need a cannister? There are many bear lockers along the way. All of the PCT folks, ahem......use them. Just food for thought, so to speak. But the poster above this post is correct, there are many packs that will accept a cannister. I have a Granite Gear Vapor Trail and have the Bear Vault 1/2 size cannister that fits nicely in it. I would take advantage of all of the places that are available to re-supply to keep the weight down.

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Packing a Bear Canister on 05/07/2007 20:13:38 MDT Print View

If you're going to use bear lockers in the Sierra, do your homework - they aren't available in many places I've been in the backcountry, but I've never done the JMT so you may find established campgrounds with them along your route.

I've had the best luck keeping the bear canister high in/on my pack; the stumpy li'l BearVault 250 fits vertically inside most extension collars of most packs, so that it'll fit inside packs with curved stays like the Osprey Atmos series. Otherwise, you can strap it across the top of many ultralight packs, like the Gossamer Gear Mariposa.

I've found the most challenging part of using bear canisters not the weight (although that sucks!), but where to place it at a campsite so a curious bear won't bat it around and lose it somewhere!

Maybe we should carry one of those round ice cream makers from REI and have the bears do all the work rolling it around... ;-)


Locale: South West US
Re: Packing a Bear Canister on 05/08/2007 01:26:16 MDT Print View


I pack the bear can (either a BV250 or a BV 300) vertically just above my sleeping bag pushed to one side. Next to it goes my extra clothing stuff sack to keep it from shifting around. Everything else goes on top. My pack is a Granite Gear Vapor Trail and I have also used this with a Golite Jam.

I e-mailed Andrew Skurka a while back to ask how he packed his bear can and he said that he packed similarly although his was centered with gear placed on both sides.

This technique has worked really well for me. It’s really easy to access the bear can without having to remove it or much else from your pack.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Re: Packing a Bear Canister on 05/08/2007 16:18:32 MDT Print View

Better double check on the need for thru-hikers to use an approved food container while hiking. I think that every backpacker needs one in Yosemite and other spots.

Aaron Wallace
(basilbop) - F
Re: Packing a Bear Canister on 05/08/2007 17:05:29 MDT Print View

Bear canisters are required in the following areas in the Sierra:

This map also indicates where food lockers are installed.
For the JMT, the longest stretch where a canister is required and there are no lockers is between Tuolumne Meadows and Agnew Meadow, roughly 24 miles.

Note that there is no food storage policy exception for thru-hikers. Also note that in the Sierra wilderness areas (including almost the entire JMT), proper and effective food hanging is required everywhere that canisters or lockers are not used--no sleeping with food, stuffing it in cracks, etc.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Packing a Bear Canister on 05/08/2007 17:22:43 MDT Print View

Same as above, I have a GG Vapor Trail. First goes in my sleeping bag, next my Bear Vault (the larger one). It fits fine vertically- I center it, stuffing a jacket on one side, clothes on the other. There's plenty of room for everything else on top of it- the Vapor Trail's extension collar is quite large.

Paula Harbison
(Sylphyn) - F
S29 Ursack tentative approval for 2007?? on 05/09/2007 21:37:18 MDT Print View

A couple of friends and I are hiking the JMT this September. I have the Garcia canister and the little sack it goes in, which fits perfectly strapped to the bottom of my external frame pack. Due to back issues, can't tolerate internal frame. Unfortunately, it ain't light! Just read where the Spectra 29 Ursack might have been tentatively approved for the JMT area? If so, it'd shave a couple of pounds. Anyone heard anything about this?
(trots away to snip a few straps and pockets off that
&#!@*! external frame pack...)

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
S29 Ursack approval on 05/09/2007 21:47:23 MDT Print View

here's the facts---

It's a good thing Ursack is now making them again.

Edited by kdesign on 05/09/2007 21:51:32 MDT.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: S29 Ursack approval on 05/09/2007 22:56:39 MDT Print View

The SIBBG site does not list the Ursack S29 with aluminum liner as approved. I can't imagine that Ursack is lying to us. I tried to email the sierra wild bear site to ask them but it bounced twice.

The problem with using bear boxes is that your camping options are limited--often to lower elevation, heavily used, and unattractive sites. This may be heresy but give yourself the option to camp at timberline wherever you want and carry the canister.

Janet Brewster
(jgranite25) - F

Locale: Lake Tahoe
bear canister on JMT on 05/10/2007 12:13:50 MDT Print View

I did the JMT a few years ago and used the Garcia can. I've yet to see any other bear canister approved by the Forest Service/Park Service. I saw very few bear lockers along the JMT, but I did research ahead of time where they were. I tended to camp at higher elevations that were less populated, and the lockers are generally around very populated areas such as Rae Lakes. Because I camped higher, hanging my food wasn't often an option. There's always the Ray Jardine way of cooking dinner and then hiking more miles before camping, so the bears can't smell your food. The ursack might be a good option in this case. I preferred just having the can so I could sleep at night and not worry about losing my food. The only time a bear came into my camp was in Yosemite, at the base of Donohue Pass.

I use GG's Nimbus Ozone, and the can fits inside the pack on the very bottom (I prefer to not have a lot of things on the outside of my pack). I'm able to stuff clothes around it, so there isn't any wasted space, and it has worked fine.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: bear canister on JMT on 05/10/2007 19:28:19 MDT Print View

I have a question about the JMT and canisters.

I am wondering if you think that if a person is thru-hiking the JMT, but following all the rules as a day-hiker in required bear canister areas would be required to need a bear canister?

I have contacted YNP by email and asked about doing a day-hike/ run from Reds Meadow to Yosemite without a canister and got back a yes reply, as long as I don't put my pack down and wonder off.

I have done the Rea Lake Loop in a day-hike and was asked by rangers about my canister. When I told them I was day hiking, they just gave me a puzzled luck and let me go.

So if I can get away with this in 90% of the bear canister required areas while day-hiking, then why shouldn't I be able to do the Thru-hike without one while compiling to the same characteristics of passing through the trail?

I am worried about this when I do go the JMT this year, due to the fact that my pack will be so small that it will not even fit a BV-350 in it and it will be obvious that I do not have one with only an 1800 ci pack on.

I have asked this question before and just got replies back saying take one. But if sorry that's kind of out of the question, then what I guess I'm really looking for is some insight on the whole passing through as a day-hiker thing.
I guess I could try getting one of the Spectra Ursacks, but don't want to unless I "have" to.

Edited by awsorensen on 05/10/2007 19:29:20 MDT.

Aaron Wallace
(basilbop) - F
Re: bear canister on JMT on 05/11/2007 10:52:18 MDT Print View

You don't need a canister for a day-hike, even in a canister-required area, since you're assumed to be awake and aware and Sierra bears rarely confront people. You need to store your food in a canister or bear box if you decide to sleep in a canister-required area (

If you're capable of doing long days, you can hike the JMT without a canister: you have to be able to make it from Tuolumne to Agnew Meadows (~24 miles) in a day, or use the alternate Parker/Koip/Gem Pass route and spend a night at Alger Lakes. Everywhere else along the JMT, you can either use hanging legally or there are bear lockers available in the canister-required areas. The map above indicated both the canister-required areas and the locations of backcountry bear boxes.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
S29 Ursack approval and SIBBG on 05/11/2007 11:03:45 MDT Print View

Yep, SIBBG is not answering their emails---mine are going through. I don't feel like making a LD call---perhaps those most interested should consider it. I concur w/ Monsieur Sawchuk that Ursack is NOT giving false info ( not intentionally)---they have always been at the forefront of integrity over the years when it came to informing it's customer base about whether or not the Ursack met regulatory standards and approval.

I concur w/ Aaron Wallace that there is more than one way to skin a cat, Aaron S. (so many Aarons and Kevins on this site), and his is one good idea if you don't want to go Pirate >:-)> or carry the %#**!!! canister.

Incidentally, I just fired off an email to Tom Cohen of Ursack to help clear up the Conditional Approval matter.

Edited by kdesign on 05/11/2007 11:16:01 MDT.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Ursack update on 05/11/2007 13:58:06 MDT Print View

I just received an email from Tom Cohen (Ursack) that he had contactied SIBBG for them to update the Approval List on SIBBG website to reflect the fact that the S29 Ursack w/ alum. liner is conditionally approved for this year.

So good news for those of us in Sequoia/Kings Cyn./Yosemiteland. who want to carry an appreciably lighter (and effective) legal alternative to a bear canister.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: Packing a Bear Canister on 05/14/2007 11:13:56 MDT Print View

Just a question those of you who have used the Ursacks. I own one of the original sprectra 29s without the aluminum liner. Has anyone tried to use aluminum sheathing or some other lighter weight liner in place of the aircraft aluminum sheath that Ursack sells to skate by the ranger's inspection of your sack. I have used my unlined ursack for years without any bear getting into it (and because of other packers' foolishness I have had several bears attack my bag with no bear gaining access to it). I think that using an odor proof liner and practicing good food/odor policing methods makes more sense than most ranger policies, but the regs are the regs.
If I have to I will order the "official" liner but I really don't see the need.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Ursack shenanigins on 05/14/2007 11:46:16 MDT Print View

Only the "official" liner I believe is provisionally approved (you can email Ursack about this). If a ranger goes so far as to visually inspect it, they just might give it a squeeze too. So, if one is sufficiently paranoid, it may not be a good idea to sneak in an ultra thin gauge substitute.

I agree with your view about using Ursacks w/ odorproof liners correctly---I've never lost nada in the worst of bear country. I hate the liner, as it interferes with the flexibility of the Ursack for packing purposes, but it's a lot better than having to go to a weightier bear canister IMHO.

I have been known to carry the liner (outside the pack, rolled up and strapped) seperate from the bag for a better carry.

Edited by kdesign on 05/14/2007 11:51:50 MDT.

Linsey Budden

Locale: pugetropolis
ursack shenanigins on 05/14/2007 12:25:17 MDT Print View

The Ursack liner sounds like a great windscreen.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: ursack shenanigins on 05/14/2007 18:18:26 MDT Print View

The ursack liner would make a good windscreen if you did not have to put it back inside the sack each night, it takes quite a bit of time to put the liner inside the sack.