MARK SIREK Administrator Posts: 296

Last summer, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy recommended the increased use of bear-resistant canisters along the length of the A.T., as it seems that explaining to bears why taking your food is uncool doesn't really do the trick. Do you already travel with a food safe(r) item? If not, are you considering it this coming season? Share all your tips and experiences here!


  • MHerb
    MHerb Member Posts: 13

    I have yet to travel with a bear-proof canister, but I have been looking into them in the past years. My excuse for not purchasing one already is the added weight and bulk... which I know is an unacceptable excuse and I should do better.

    If the camp location does not have bearproof food storage bins, I will hang the food in a tree at least 200 feet away from both my tent and the cooking area. I have also buried food in the snow in winter months, which helps keep it away from small critters.

    When I was 13 years old I was on a multiday canoe trip with my family in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada on the Churchill River. After several days on the water and camping along the banks of the river, we thought we had our food management pretty dialed... up until 'Bagel' the Bear came along. We had been hanging all of the food in a makeshift bear-hang with the available trees at each camp location. However, at this location, we failed to place it high enough and Bagel the Bear capitalized. Bagel had gotten into our 'bread box' while we were out for a short morning hike, eating most of the loaves of bread and some of the bagels. Only some of the bagels, as Bagel had taken bites out of the Multigrain bagels and spat them out, leaving teeth marks in the uneaten, blan-tasting bagels. Bagel was partial to the tasty Herb and Cheese bagels, which I had explicitly requested for the trip... I undoubtedly was unimpressed.

    MARK SIREK Administrator Posts: 296

    @MHerb We did a little investigating and found out Bagel runs a successful all-bran english muffin bakery in Fargo, North Dakota. He says, "Hi." - Mark

  • bugglife
    bugglife Member Posts: 98

    I have experience with a few different types of canisters, including the BearVault and the Bearikade, both pictured above. The BV is less than 1/3 of the price of the BK, and absolutely gets the job done, so if that's what you're looking for, I think it's a great option. Here are a few differences between the two.

    * The BV requires a tool to open the three screws that hold it closed. You could use a quarter, many people use washers. I have a small screwdriver that works perfectly. I prefer this closing mechanism over the thumb notch you have to press on the BV, especially in cold weather when my fingers are tender and the plastic is less pliable. On the other hand, if you lose your opening tool for the BK on the trail, you might find yourself in a tough spot.

    * The BV also has a sharp plastic edge on the inside that can sometimes be uncomfortable to deal with while digging food out of your canister. Again, pronounced when cold.

    * The BV is clear, which can assist in finding items.

    * I slightly prefer the BK dimensions. It's a little bit shorter and fatter than a BV.

    * Both come in a few different sizes, but here are the specs for the two pictured above

    BK weekender - 650 cubic inches, 31oz, $360

    BV500 - 700 cubic inches, 41 oz, $93

    In general, your volume / weight ratio is going to improve the larger you go with any container.

  • bugglife
    bugglife Member Posts: 98

    Another option in places without bears, but with ravens, ringtails, and other rodents is an Outsak. It's a bit hard to make out, but one is pictured above on the left - held off the ground overnight with a trekking pole tripod. There are other similar options by other companies which I have not tried. The black one above & below is a size small, which I have used for 1 person for up to 5 days without issue. The yellow one (below) is a medium, which I have used for 2 people for up to 5 days with a little creative packing. One big difference between a rodent bag and the bear canisters is that most people I know remove the food from the bag in order to pack it in their backpack for hiking. The S is easy to pack, but I have found the size M to be a little awkward to carry inside due its wider / longer footprint even while rolled, so I always strap it to the outside.

    Once final bonus use for mesh sacks like this? You can use them to store / hold / cool beverages in if you have a cool body of water close to camp.

    Looking forward to hearing methods and pro tips that other people have found effective.

  • BebeBeth
    BebeBeth Member Posts: 1

    There's a branch of the bakery in Minot, ND. Just sayin' .................

  • KayakerBee
    KayakerBee Member Posts: 2

    Hey y’all! First, I’m not a backpacker I’m a sea kayaker. But so much of what ultra light hikers do works great for kayak expeditions. While we may not have the same weight concerns - although kayaks DO have weight limits - the ultra light gear reduces bulk so packing the ‘yak isn’t such a jigsaw puzzle.

    To the point of this discussion: bear canisters just don’t work for kayaks. The only way to carry them is to strap them to the back deck which, even empty, creates balance problems and catches wind like crazy.

    I’m in the final prep phase of my solo kayak circumnavigation of Lake Superior this summer and am curious about experiences anyone might have had around the lake shore with black bears. Food storage has been my challenge. Ursak Almighty and SmellyProof bags are part of my kit, but since I’ll be carrying around 3 - 4 weeks of food the thought of bear hangs makes me cringe. Plus, finding suitable trees may be tough. Am I crazy to leave food in “smell proof” bags that are inside dyneema dry bags in the closed hatches over night? A portable electric fence seems like over doing it but they are pretty compact for the size needed to protect my 18’ kayak.

    Any thoughts?



  • Greeneradventures

    All fascinating stuff. I don't live in grizzly territory but have never done a bear hang in my life and I've camped out for literally thousands of nights. When we do northern canoe expeditions more often then not bear hangs aren't an option because there are no trees! And if you are in a situation where you are travelling for up to 50 days without an option of a resupply, your food becomes even more important.

    Prevention is the best. Cook 100m away from where your gonna sleep. Clean your fish at lunch time, miles away from where you sleep. Leave your food out of your tent etc. But if it came down to it, loosing your food wouldn't be an option.