Backpack for BearVault 200 - JMT
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Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Backpack for BearVault 200 - JMT on 12/23/2013 11:53:00 MST Print View

I'm doing the John Muir Trail this coming summer, and have started to think more about how my BearVault 200 will fit into my GG Gorilla...not looking good.

I've gotten fairly lightweight on most items (cuben tarp, Neoair xlite pad, quilt, Sawyer Mini filter, Caldera Cone, etc.), but that canister takes up way too much space and only fits vertically. I'd rather not buy a new canister, and hope to get ~7 days of food into my BearVault 200.

- What backpack do people suggest for that ~100 miles from Muir Trail Ranch to Whitney? I hope to be doing ~15 mi/day by that point, so I need 7 days of food.
- Has anyone had good success with the Gorilla pack in that situation, and what strategy did you use to make it work (e.g., tie canister to top)?
- Correct me if I'm wrong, but I assume that I will pretty much need a canister for the whole trip, even though there are some small section that don't require a canister.
- Any other general suggestions you could share?

Thanks,
Tom

Charles G.
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
Ursack on 12/23/2013 12:37:52 MST Print View

For the first few days out of MTR, no bear can is required although hanging (or an Ursack) is.. What I have done is to add an Ursack to my MTR resupply package and to put the overflow there. The Ursack only weighs about 8 oz and takes up little space when empty. I used a BV 450 on the trail last year and was able to get 7 days of (compressed) food in that and carried the other 3 days food in the Ursack. I use a Kalais pack which is about the same size as the Gorilla. There was room for a partially filled Ursack on top of the pack. Hanging the overflow is another possibility although I would rather take the 8 oz Ursack and spare myself the PITA of hanging food. There is a map of where canisters are required on the Interagency Bear site but IIRC, you can go about as far as Woods Creek Crossing before you need a canister. And, there is (or was) a bear locker at the south end of the suspension bridge there and another at the Rae Lakes.

Edit: the map is at sierrawild.gov. It is a PDF file and is a download. They say it was last updated in 2009 but I checked and learned that it I was still the same through 2013.

Edited by Rincon on 12/23/2013 13:09:33 MST.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
jmt on 12/23/2013 13:54:01 MST Print View

If you check the forest service website, you will find things you might not expect:

Such as in the Inyo National Forest:

"In all wilderness areas shown, food must be stored in bear resistant containers, or counter balanced at least 15' above the ground, and 10' from tree trunk."

wilderness


So no, a bear cannister is not required everywhere.
However, the only acceptable alternative in some areas is counterbalanced 15' above ground.
Which is hard to do without trees, and hard to do with trees, unless you have two foodbags that weigh close to the same.

That is why most just get a larger bear can, or rent a bearikade.

Its simpler, and less confusing, no worries about where to camp, etc either.
If you are SURE of the acceptable alternative approved by the forest service in each area, there is no problem. Most dont really want to research all of it and keep track. Just because theres no bear can required, doesnt mean there are no other food storage requirements everywhere.

However, all a ranger ever asks is "Do you have a bear can". They never ask to show that all your stuff is in it.

Most plan on 100 in3 per day of food (about 1.75" in bearcan), so 7 days = 700 in3.
The fewest Ive really heard of is someone saying they got theirs to 85in3 per day (about 1.4" in bearcan), which would be 595 in3.

Edit.- BV200 is 685? so would probably work.

Edited by livingontheroad on 12/23/2013 20:33:49 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: jmt on 12/23/2013 16:11:03 MST Print View

"So no, a bear cannister is not required everywhere."

M B, the original poster was asking about the John Muir Trail. The map above only shows the wilderness areas outside of the national parks to the east.

--B.G.--

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
regs on 12/23/2013 16:31:53 MST Print View

You can look at the regs for Sequoia and Kings canyon as well, it states:

The Three Food Storage Options:

Portable animal-resistant food storage containers

Food Storage Boxes

In areas where food storage containers are not required you may use a food storage box if available.

Counter-balance Method
Counter-balance method: Many people think they can protect their food by hanging it this way. However, because bears are so adaptable, they have figured ways to obtain counter-balanced food. This method generally does not work in these parks. Only use this option if the others are not available.


Same thing. They expect you to protect food somehow, even in non-bear can required areas. And the only thing they say is OK, is counter-balance method. Not PCT or any other.

One question would be if a non-approved container like the Ursack is considered a animal-resistand container in their eyes. My guess is maybe, depending on the Ranger.

Most people think they want the counterbalance method, because it is such a pain that people will just carry a bear can instead.

Edited by livingontheroad on 12/23/2013 16:37:03 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: jmt on 12/23/2013 16:32:58 MST Print View

"M B, the original poster was asking about the John Muir Trail. The map above only shows the wilderness areas outside of the national parks to the east. "



Edit: I didn't realize that JM Wilderness is split across two National Forests. So, Bob is correct, and the map doesn't cover the JMT.

Edited by greg23 on 12/23/2013 16:53:50 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: regs on 12/23/2013 16:39:07 MST Print View

"One question would be if a non-approved container like the Ursack is considered a animal-resistand container in their eyes. My guess is maybe, depending on the Ranger."

A couple of years ago the answer was "Yes, Ursack is OK".

Be aware that "Orders" are issued every year, and until April rolls around you won't know for sure what the regulations will be.

If you go this route I'd be sure to take documentation and phone numbers.

Edited by greg23 on 12/23/2013 16:41:31 MST.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
can on 12/23/2013 16:45:05 MST Print View

I would say if you go thru the trouble to haul an ursack and a bear can, why not just take a larger bear can? The ursack is about what 8oz? Might as well get a BV500 and make life simple IF you can fit it in the pack.


Unless you already have both, then it might make sense.

Another interesting thing to think about, is while you do read about some people getting and using custom bearikades from Wild Ideas, ONLY the weekender and Expedition are actually approved.

Edited by livingontheroad on 12/23/2013 17:03:46 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: jmt on 12/23/2013 16:56:38 MST Print View

"I'm pretty sure the JMT goes through the John Muir Wilderness, shown on the map, and south and east of that point is SEKI."

I disagree. The JMT goes through both the parks and the wilderness. South and west of that point is SEKI, not south and east.

It doesn't do much good to have your anti-bear plans good for parts of the trail and not other parts of the trail.

--B.G.--

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
John Muir on 12/23/2013 17:09:25 MST Print View

Half of the John Muir Wilderness is in the Inyo National Forest, and is subject to Inyos requirements. But it really doesnt matter, its virtually the same everywhere.

You are still required to properly store food, even in non-bearcan required areas.
The simplicity of the big bear can, is it meets everyones requirements everwhere.

jm

Edited by livingontheroad on 12/23/2013 17:16:50 MST.

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Backpack for BearVault 200 - JMT on 12/23/2013 17:23:31 MST Print View

I'm not sure about the BearVault 200, but I used a BearVault500. I carried 9 days of food from Whitney Portal to VVR, but I think I ate it in 7 days. Anyways, I carried it in a ULA Catalyst. It fit horizontally on the top. I could cram it horizontally on the bottom too and while it carried better that way, it was a pain to dig it out at breaks.

The BV500 was barely large enough. I had to stash food at bear boxes my first two nights (Bullfrog pond and Rae Lakes, I think). I hear the bear boxes are longer around, but I'm not sure about that. I was there is 2007 so a lot may have changed.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Backpack for BearVault 200 - JMT on 12/23/2013 17:27:34 MST Print View

MB,
As I just learned from Bob (indirectly) -

Inyo National Forest is east of the [what?] divide. The Muir Trail, on the west side of the divide goes through Sierra National Forest.

For food storage all they say is -

"BACKCOUNTRY AND WILDERNESS USERS
Backcountry and wilderness users are required to store food or refuse in a manner designed to keep bears from gaining access to it. Visitors are encouraged to use bear-resistant food canisters to safeguard food. If a bear canister is not available, the counter-balance method of storing food is also an acceptable method."

Very similar to Inyo. But if you want to be sure, you have to find the Order.

Edited by greg23 on 12/23/2013 17:35:17 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Backpack for BearVault 200 - JMT on 12/23/2013 17:31:40 MST Print View

"I had to stash food at bear boxes my first two nights (Bullfrog pond and Rae Lakes, I think). I hear the bear boxes are longer around, but I'm not sure about that. I was there is 2007 so a lot may have changed."

If you are camping in the Rae Lakes area are you are required by SEKI to have a canister. (For the JMT, everywhere between Forester Pass and Pinchot Pass)

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Backpack for BearVault 200 - JMT on 12/23/2013 17:32:53 MST Print View

"Inyo National Forest is east of the continental divide."

This is completely false.

--B.G.--

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: Backpack for BearVault 200 - JMT on 12/23/2013 17:37:29 MST Print View

Yea, I was thinking Pacific Crest, but that's not right either.

What is that demark?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Backpack for BearVault 200 - JMT on 12/23/2013 17:44:31 MST Print View

The Pacific Crest is fairly accurate. The Pacific Crest Trail is pretty close to the actual mountain crest along the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges. The John Muir Trail follows the PCT for a good chunk of that, although it is not exactly the same in several places, and the JMT has one end in Yosemite Valley, which the PCT does not.

I have to believe that a BearVault 200 is a pretty old model, maybe ten years old. Model 300 is the oldest one that I have run into, except for the old Garcias, of course.

--B.G.--

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
summary on 12/23/2013 17:46:44 MST Print View

The answer is still(as I understand it) :

1. Approved bear cannister in bear can areas or Food storage box

2. Possibly un-approved bear cannister or Ursack in non-bear can areas, depending on interpretation of managing agency, and you need to confirm with all in question

3. Counter balance is required in basically ALL non non-bear can areas if dont have an approved (or unnaproved) bear can, (which requires being below treeline obviously), and is undesireable


No where is sleeping with an extra couple days food permitted, or hanging by any other method than counterbalance. (which is basically the way Ive always understood it)

Edited by livingontheroad on 12/23/2013 17:49:11 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Original Question on 12/23/2013 17:46:59 MST Print View

To get back to Tom's question about packs...

Tom are you happy with your Gorilla for other trips or do you want to replace it? That might affect how much you spend and which packs you choose. Here are some ideas.

-Exped Lighting 45 or 60 liter pack. Great pack, could handle a bear canister well. Main issue is its got a tall frame stay (24 inches). Might not be a bit deal on the JMT but I'm not sure this would replace your Gorilla for weekend trips back east, just kinda big. On the plus side its a cheaper pack so you might just buy one and keep your Gorilla.

-HMG Packs should work. A Porter 3400 could definitely carry a bear canister and I'm pretty sure the 2400 could work as well. These packs are more expensive but similar in weight to the Gorilla. They also compress down to a smaller size very nicely. I could see replacing your Gorilla with a Porter for both this trip and future east coast trips.

-Zimmerbuilt Pack. Chris is great to work with. He's made a number of 2 pound packs with U shaped frames that can carry a bear canister.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Backpack for BearVault 200 - JMT on 12/23/2013 19:07:29 MST Print View

NM

Edited by idester on 12/23/2013 19:12:33 MST.

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
Bigger pack on 12/23/2013 19:32:58 MST Print View

If you like the Gorilla, keep it. At 45 liter and 28 ounces, it's a great match for your current gear.

However for a JMT hike with a large bear can and a full week of food you will need a larger and heavier pack. I have been using either an REI Flash 60 or an older Granite Gear Ozone for many years of backpacking in the Sierra. They both are 60 liters and weigh about 3 pounds. There are several other options in the same range. These will carry the weight and the volume comfortably.

I pack the sleeping gear and clothes in a garbage bag at the bottom of the pack, the bear can vertically on top of that with tent body on tent fly tucked in to fill the space on each side of the can, and rain gear, first and aid and misc on top. That way your heavy bear can is centered on your back, what needs to be accessed quickly can be, and the bear can isn't to hard to get into at lunch breaks.

Have fun on the JMT. Great trail, you'll love it!

PS. I think the Bearvault 200 is the same size as the current Bearvault 500.