Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Bear Cannisters: How to carry them
Display Avatars Sort By:
Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: Bear Cannisters: How to carry them on 10/03/2007 11:03:33 MDT Print View

I prefer to carry my night clothing/tarp on the bottom of my pack, the bear canister goes in vertically (with food inside) and my foam pad folded vertically against my back, then stove/extra daytime clothing goes alongside the canister and sleeping bag on top. This way I can get to the food without having to fully unpack my pack. As the trip goes along I can put even more in the bear canister--stove/pot is first given its size and bulk.

I like carrying the canister upright as I can get into my food easily during the day. At night I make sure the food I'll use the next day is near the top.

Seth Anderson
(sand86) - F
marcy dam on 10/03/2007 13:46:07 MDT Print View

I don't have much to offer, but I have had a run in with the Marcy Dam bear on a trip a few years back. It managed to get down our bear bags suspended tied together up on the area cable. Have no idea how he got to it. He has quite a dumping ground where he likes to drag his stolen treasures.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: marcy dam on 10/03/2007 18:12:48 MDT Print View

I wonder how the Ursack(S29 with the aluminum insert) would fare against this wily critter? Anybody tried one?

Thomas Roberts
(tr) - F

Locale: Southern California
Bearikade on 10/04/2007 18:31:35 MDT Print View

The bomb! I bought mine in August used it in September, we had no bears at Big Pine Lakes Eastern Sierra in California. But sure do love the lightweight, total empty with cable attachment for lid 2.06 lbs. Much better than my old Garcia at 2lbs 11.6 ounces. Much easier to pack and also get to the stuff that is always at the bottom. Much care must be used, the Bearikade is like all lightweight backpacking gear "not bullet proof" care must be used. Unlike the Garcia, which is totally bullet proof. If lightweight is what you what, Berikade is the way to go.

Steven Nelson
(slnsf) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: marcy dam on 10/05/2007 00:13:16 MDT Print View

Tom K - soft-sided bags like the Ursack are illegal in the Adirondacks High Peaks (even with the metal liner) - you have to use a hard-sided canister.

I just rented a BearVault from a local EMS in Niskayuna, NY, and they said that over 15 BearVaults of all vintages are now reported as having been broken into in not just Marcy Dam, but also the Flowed Lands.

They had a BearVault Solo on their counter that had just been returned after being breached by a bear in the High Peaks - here's a picture:

Chomped BearVault Solo

They also noted that DEC had new lids and would happily rent me a canister using one if I could get to one of the outposts before my trip (unfortunately I'm starting from a location away from Adirondak Loj and Johns Brook, where they're most likely available).

I'm going to do a loop from Upper Works to Haystack and Marcy, then back down via Marcy Dam and Avalanche Pass this weekend through Monday, so I'll let you know how it goes.

- Steve

Edited by slnsf on 10/05/2007 00:16:20 MDT.

Bill B
(bill123) - MLife
Adirondacks & OP Sack on 10/05/2007 06:14:19 MDT Print View

I wonder how prevalent is the use of PO Sacks outside of the BPL community? Is there any information as to how many of the canisters that were broken into were used with OP Sacks? Would that have made the difference or are these bears used to going to a typical can hanging site and attacking cans regardless of smell.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Thanks and some info on 10/05/2007 10:00:57 MDT Print View

Thanks for the tips on canister carrying. Much appreciated.

>>they said that over 15 BearVaults of all vintages are now reported as having been broken into in not just Marcy Dam, but also the Flowed Lands

That's been my experience too. It is not one problem bear, it's multiple bears and a problem product.

>>I'm going to do a loop from Upper Works to Haystack and Marcy, then back down via Marcy Dam and Avalanche Pass this weekend through Monday, so I'll let you know how it goes.

I did a hike very similar to this not long ago. I hiked in from Upper Works and based camped at the Beaver Point leanto for a few days. I hiked from the leanto, up Colden, down Colden to Lake Arnold, and back around through Avalanche Pass. It was on of my favorite hikes so far and Avalanche Pass amazes me every time I'm there...what a place. Good luck with the food-stealing bears.

>>are these bears used to going to a typical can hanging site and attacking cans regardless of smell

I think they are, yes. The Marcy Dam Area, Lake Colden, and the Flowed Lands are high traffic areas with multiple campsites. Not all hikers are as careful or skilled as they should be when it comes to safely protecting their food, and the bears probably just capitalized on this and gradually learned that there was food to be had in these areas more often than not. Now the bears check there regularly and have worked out that canisters contain food.

I've never had a problem with the bears there though. The Bear Keg, while heavy, works. There's something to be said for that, eh? Doesn't matter how light your pack is if you have no food.

The squirrels are a different story though... Very aggressive. They come up to you while you're cooking and snatch whatever they can. They also scream at you. God forbid you leave GORP in the leanto while getting water from the lake. ;)

Just a quick aside: there are areas of the 'Dacks that get less traffic where these problems are not so prevelant. The High Peaks get all the press and all the rookie hikers from what I understand. I hear that other areas offer better solitude (and bear bagging might be permitted elsewhere too).

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: marcy dam on 10/05/2007 10:50:17 MDT Print View

Steve, that picture is truly worth many words.

My (feeble) recollection is that Sierra bears were defeating the first iteration of the Bearvaults by bouncing on them with their forepaws and popping the lids. This methodical chewing seems a whole different approach.

Here's hoping east and west coast bears don't have internet communication!

I've wondered since the BV's introduction whether the food's visibility is an attractant, but at this point it's unlikely that these particular bears would be put off by an opaque liner bag.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Not for nothing... on 10/05/2007 10:58:40 MDT Print View

...but the teeth marks around the lid are consistent with what I'd expect it looks like after a bear uses his incisor to twist the lid off. The canister isn't really mauled and battered is it? All the holes are incisor marks around the lid. That bear knew exactly what he was doing.

Edited by Ramapo on 10/05/2007 11:01:14 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: marcy dam on 10/05/2007 19:55:49 MDT Print View

Do you have any info regarding reason for Ursack prohibition
in the AHP? Is it just on general principles? Or has it been used and compromised? My question is academic in the sense that I am a West Coast animal, but I would be REAL interested in knowing how one of the Marcy bears fared with the Ursack for preemptive planning of some of my trips out here. If they trash it in AHP, it's just a matter of time....

[oops - sorry Tom; edited your message by accident instead of posting a reply; hope all is back as you wrote it!]

Edited by slnsf on 10/05/2007 21:04:53 MDT.

Steven Nelson
(slnsf) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
re: Ursacks/Adirondacks on 10/05/2007 21:07:13 MDT Print View

Tom -

I understand there have been some Ursacks breached in the Adirondacks in the past, and while I don't know if that's a factor in DEC's ruling on what constitutes an approved bear canister, their rules are that you must use hard canisters, not made of cloth or other such materials. This applies only to the Eastern High Peaks for now - so the Ursack is OK for other areas (though one of the incidents Ursack mentions on their site took place at Duck Hole, with an older model).

Rick -

You're correct about the older BearVaults; a bear (or bears) near Rae Lakes learned how to perform "CPR" on canisters and pop their lids off. BearVault has been good about responding to these challenges and replacing the lids or canisters for customers that need to go into these areas. They've already got test lids out in the Adirondacks and have promised a revised canister for the spring.

- Steve

Edited by slnsf on 10/05/2007 21:07:36 MDT.

Josh Leavitt
(Joshleavitt) - F

Locale: Ruta Locura
Bear Canisters on 10/05/2007 23:17:49 MDT Print View

My 3 cents, and I apologize, its off the origional subject.

Bag hanging doesn't work in areas where the bears are already habituated, you can hang an empty bag, and bears that have associated hanging bags with food will still go after them, and the sharp ones have figured out how to get them. The same applies to canisters and sacks in areas where bears associate them with food. set an empty canister out in an area with bears that associate them with food, and bears will attempt entry. Of course the point in using such methods and products is to prevent that initial human/food association.

We built a tent for YNP based on the same principal as our Palisade bag, specificaly for a bear that was targeting tents. A biologist set the tent up in the area that the tent targeting bear was hanging out, and before she could even get the cameras set up on the area, the "tent bear" showed up. This bears "reward association" was tents. The bear made a beeline to the tent, while the biologist cautiously exited the area. Several months later this bear has not been know to again target tents.

Bears with food association "issues" can be drawn into areas where there is human activity, regardless of food "availabilty". Once a bear gets a food reward, that bear will continue to assosciate items that are related to previous food rewards with the "potential" of additional food rewards. This association may be anchored in past rewards with packs, tents, a canister with a lid that was left off, campsites, etc. Of course anything that smells of food will also be an attractant, I would not put too much stock in odor "proof" sacks, the latest research suggests that a bears sense of smell may be as much as 50 times better than a trailing hound. So if there is a bear in the area that has a broad food association, ie. simple human presense, then they can smell you as much as a mile away, and may be drawn in.

Josh Leavitt

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
DUCT TAPE!!!!! on 10/06/2007 15:07:45 MDT Print View

To attatch my Garcia bear can to my pack I did the following:

1.Buy Gorilla brand duct tape.(very strong, very sticky)
2.Buy four 3/4" Plasric D-rings at REI, etc.

Tape the D-rings on each end of the bear can (around the barrel part, not flat ends) by tearing the duct tape the width of the D-rings & passing it thru them. (2 D-rings per end, about 6 ' apart).

Use TWO layers of duct tape through the D-rings.

Attatch bear can to your pack W/ 3/4" webbing & Fastex-type buckles.


Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: re: Ursacks/Adirondacks on 10/06/2007 19:21:16 MDT Print View

No problem with the edit. You left it as was. Wouldn't really have mattered anyway, as you were the primary intended reader. Point of clarification: when I originally suggested the Ursack as an alternative, I was focused on the weight aspect of canisters. I did not mean it to be taken as an area specific recommendation, especially as I am not familiar with the AHP area. I assumed that anyone preparing to take me up on it would be responsible for checking local regulations first, as they vary considerably from place to place. Guess I should have made that clear. Sorry. From your last post, it sounds as if at least a few bears in that area are on to the Ursack anyway, at which point it makes no sense to use one, regs or no regs. Thank much for your input.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Vaults and Robbers on 10/08/2007 01:26:25 MDT Print View

"It's regarded as common knowledge that, if you use a Bear Vault, there's a fifty-fifty chance you won't be eating breakfast."

Yikes! So the bears in the 'Dacks actually eat half the campers using the BV's too? Just kidding. I realize that you meant that there won't be any breakfast for you to eat.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Bear cans on 10/08/2007 09:15:01 MDT Print View

I strap one on each side of the bear :) A twelve year old (human) is handy too.

That aside, surgical tubing makes a good extrenal tie-down as is doesn't slip around on the can like nylon webbing does. With a group, you can usually balance enough gear to clear out enough room in one ummmmm victim's pack. I used an external frame pack for one short hike to the Olympic National Park beaches, where they are required--- and loaned out* at the ranger station in Port Angeles. It was easy to get my UL gear in the bag and strap the can on underneath.

*It was so weird to walk into the portable office the ranger uses at Port Angeles and see three different brands of bear cans stacked nearly to the ceiling. As it was, the raccoons were much more the problem than bears at the beach sites. They will walk right up to your camp site in broad daylight.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
How to carry on 10/08/2007 14:07:26 MDT Print View

When a cannister is required I place it horizontally in my pack. Sometimes, I place it in the bottom (Gregory Z Pack) or other times I place it at the very top, inside the pack.

As for cannisters, I prefer the Garcia because it is a bit smaller than the Bear Vault and fits in my pack better. The cannister used by the Forest Service in the Sierras always seems to be the Garcia. I know the Bear Vault is nice due to its see through material, however, I find it easier to open and use a Garcia. I also wonder if the bears vision has any effect on its choosing one over the other. If it could see food would it go to that cannister first?