"What offsets the size of my meals, are the two cups per day (obviously half that on the first and last days) of dog food. Now I am considering freeze dried kibble if I get her used to it before hand, so that will save on weight, but not much on bulk I'm afraid. Based on that, what do you guys think about the Bear Boxer vs the BV450?"
I agree with Bob G -- 100 cubic inches per day is a good starting point for estimating space needed for your own food. Some need more space -- I found where Andrew Skurka says he needs about 140 cubic inches per day. Some need less space -- I have seen posts on BPL claiming they need as low as 70 cubic inches per day. Furthermore, everyone agrees that there is some seasonal variation. Obviously YMMV -- let testing at home and/or trail experience determine your own actual requirements. 2 cups/day of dog food is about 29 additional cubic inches.
The following comments all assume 100 cubic inches per day for your human food. Adjust them as appropriate for your own value once you know it better. Assuming 100 cubic inches per day, the estimated requirement for your specified trip length (3 nights) is 390 cubic inches (plus room for all other smellables).
Here they all are, from lightest to heaviest:
- Bare Boxer Contender (275 cubic inches, 26 ounces, 7.4" diameter, $67 w/shipping) -- lightest, smallest, less expensive, room enough for you (if you try hard), but not room enough for the dog food also. Given your conditions, this one sounds like a non-starter.
- Bearikade Scout (500 cubic inches, 28 ounces, 9" diameter, $219) -- lightest one that meets your stated requirements, more space than required, more expensive than BV450
- Bearikade Weekender (650 cubic inches, 31 ounces, 9" diameter, $249) -- still lighter than the BV450, room for 6-7 nights (you) or 5 nights (you + dog), 2.5" longer than Scout, but not a lot more expensive than the Scout. This is the only one of these that would hold enough for you, one other person, and your dog on a 3 night trip.
- BV450 (440 cubic inches, 33 ounces, 8.7" diameter, $67) -- heavier, big enough, least expensive one that meets your stated requirements. (FWIW: may not be acceptable in the Adirondacks, at least in the Marcy Dam area (Yellow-Yellow cubs), but acceptable elsewhere.)
There is no "right" one. You must make a choice:
- Scout -- the lightest one that meets your needs
- Weekender -- the next lightest, roomy enough to allow for one other person (3 nights) or else a longer trip, about the same diameter as the BV450 (which matters in pack size)
- BV450 -- the heaviest, and the least expensive
For the Contender to work, your own food would have to be only about 60 cubic inches per day (more is OK if you can compress the dog food) -- probably not realistic, but check it out. If you can make that work it would be the lightest solution. One other thought is that the Contender would work for you as is for 2 nights (i.e. 3 days). If that covers most of your trips you might get the Contender for them and keep what you have for longer trips.
Note: the Bearikades are not approved by the IGBC, and one allegedly failed in IGBC testing (see photo there). Last I knew, Wild Ideas had no plans to modify their Bearikades and re-test. I called the Tetons a few years ago and was told Bearikade was OK, but I think that was before the test failure, so I do not know what the current state is. This does not matter if you do not go to grizzly country -- Sierras are fine -- but check first if you care about anywhere that requires IGBC approval (e.g.Tetons / Yellowstone / etc).
Note: there was one bear in the Marcy Dam area of the Adirondacks (Yellow-Yellow) who figured out how to open Bear Vaults. She has since been killed by a hunter. There are conflicting stories as to whether she has passed that skill on to her cubs. There have also been some cases of a Sierra bear breaking into a Bear Vault. The point is that Bear Vaults generally work fine, but are not impregnable if some local bear has figured them out. Bears are very clever creatures.