using an ursack

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SSSdave
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Re: using an ursack

Post by SSSdave » Wed Aug 28, 2019 10:48 pm

Glad to read there are still numbers of Ursack fans on this board. On the 9-day trip I just returned from today, I had both a Garcia and an Ursack. At one point the Ursack haters issued a decree that one could not tie an Ursack to any trees lest they be damaged. As noted above, valid in a small number of popular locations like Little Yosemite Valley but nonsense in vast areas of wilderness.

Their obvious motivation was that would strongly discourage use since unlike a canister, an Ursack could easily be dragged away and never found. By tying to a tree up a few feet in height a key advantage is it can make it very difficult for a bear to apply leverage to versus if just laying down on the ground. Another favorite way I tie off an Ursack, especially above timberline is in talus boulders. One will find many virtually unmovable boulders that make point surface contacts with each other where one can tie off and often can select a situation that makes it difficult for a bear to have any leverage if most of the bag is down between the rocks.

In any case, as I noted above, the best way to not have night time bear troubles is NOT camping right next to trails or use trails around popular lakes. I realize that is a horribly scary notion to many with trailitis and likeitis.

Link shows how to tie the knot that is fast and easy.

https://www.ursack.com/how-to-use/

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Re: using an ursack

Post by jmherrell » Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:05 pm

I've been using Ursacks in the southern Sierra for 18 years and only had one bear encounter. I woke up to some scratching noises, got up and threw some rocks, the bear ran off and did not return. There were no marks or damaged food. I largely go cross country or off the main trails so don't see many bears.

More recently I've been attaching bear bells to my Ursacks (the only thing I think they might be useful for). I've never had a bear ring the bell so I don't know how well they work.
Jim

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Re: using an ursack

Post by yosehiker » Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:33 pm

I'm not a fan of the ursack. Even moreso after this thread and the experience of snowfire. It seems the ursack only works if you:
1) Don't encounter a bear
2) Have to chase away the bear if it tries to go after the ursack
Sure, maybe the bear won't actually get your food, but it if becomes applesauce it's a pyrrhic victory at best. I want to be able to actually eat my food, I want to get a good night's sleep and not worry about where I want to camp if it happens to be in a higher use area. I remember the days before bear canisters and those occasional sleepless nights. It often wrecked me the next day. I don't want to do that again, particularly as I'm older now and shocker, I want to be able to eat the food that I carried.

I've always wondered what the motivation is for these supposed 'haters'. (plus I don't like calling them that, whomever them is. I guess that is the point, it's a nebulous faceless 'other' that makes it an easy foil.) The incentive for proponents is obvious, less weight and bulk than a canister. But those against it's not clear. If they don't think an ursack is as effective as a bear canister, well that's their motivation. But these supposed 'haters' are accused of unsubstantiated claims of falsifying evidence among others, so it's more than that. But why would that be? If, hypothetically, an ursack was as effective as a bear canister, what would their reason be against it? You would think they would be all over the ursack, as it would be easier to convince people to have proper food storage. Why spend time and energy to make supposed false evidence or make it harder for people carry an ursack. It would be an uphill battle and just make their life more difficult, but for what end? I can’t come up with anything reasonable.

Anyhow, I think the Ursack was a good idea to try but just doesn’t work with Sierra bears.

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Re: using an ursack

Post by SSSdave » Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:34 pm

The reason bear container policy makers disliked the Ursack was it was not as idiot proof with all users primarily because of the need to tie a proper knot. The original Ursack had a smaller diameter cord to tie a knot for than the one I pictured above and the the method to do so was more involved. Even before they had reasonable evidence backcountry users would have problems with the bag, the policy makers condemned it and went out of their way to block its approval because they expected a level of improper use greater than the more foolproof Garcia. But even the Garcia won't protect food from bears if a person has not locked the lid that requires rotating the concentric lock slots. That is not obvious visually but rather requires poking the bump on the lid to see if it is so. As someone that tested and wrote testing and assembly procedures for electronic hardware products for decades, I am very aware of how careless and incompetent many humans can be with all but the simplest tasks.

If the Ursack was approved, because it was much lighter and less bulky than a canister, one could be certain minus accredited training for use, some users would buy them instead and then not use them properly. So policy makers had valid reasons to block use. The size of the Garcia, that was the only canister at the time, is only able to squeeze in 6 or 7 days of reasonable food in unless one packs in all boring condensable food. And that made the ability to reach more remote areas of the range and stay there a few days impossible. No one was going to fit 2 of those canisters in their packs for a 9 or 10 day trip. Well we all saw a few that tied the second can atop their backpacks haha. Bet that was the last time they ever did so. And thru hikers had different issues that resulted in the parks setting up all those metal bear boxes at various popular trails and destinations. Of course that became such a can of worms too that many have since been removed or been left unusable for years.

In this era it would be easy to design an Ursack-like bearproof bag without an internal frame weighing less than one pound with an effective closing mechanism using hi tech materials but to do so would require a change in mindset of those making approvals. Any container is never full proof if say some drunk by a campfire goes to sleep leaving the container open. The general policy could be improved by not allowing such bag like containers within say 200 yards of any trail plus lists of popular lakes and popular zones. And that alone would eliminate 95% of those visitors that have trailitis and lakeitis forcing them to continue to use canisters. In such remote areas policy should allow tie off to locations on larger trees above chest height or onto boulders and not require tree branch counterbalancing. Much more of course, as my point herein is we can move ahead for the general good beyond 3 decade old issues.

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Re: using an ursack

Post by rlown » Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:38 pm

shouldn't this be in the outdoor gear topics area?

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Captain Slappy
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Re: using an ursack

Post by Captain Slappy » Sat Aug 31, 2019 9:13 am

I'd love to try a Ursack because of the obvious weight and space savings, but it strikes me as similar to taking advantage of herd inoculation without being inoculated. The reason human-bear interactions have gotten so much better in the Sierra in the last few decades is because of very thoughtful and deliberate policy implemented and enforced by the powers that be, which has included encouraging or requiring bear cans. Just speculation, but I suspect one reason why the small number of people using Ursacks have been successful is because so many other people have been using bear cans. It would be like walking around without being vaccinated against polio. You'd most likely avoid polio because the other 99% of the population is vaccinated and doing their part.

But don't get me wrong, I'd love to stop carrying a bear can.
Last edited by Captain Slappy on Sat Aug 31, 2019 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: using an ursack

Post by Snowtrout » Sat Aug 31, 2019 9:53 am

I have 2 BV’s and a Ursack. Deciding on which to use comes down to 1) area, 2) length of trip & 3) food being brought. Area: if I’m hiking an area that mandates a hard canister=BV’s only. Length: 2 day light trip wilderness area=ursack. Multi day trip in wilderness area not mandating hard canister=BV & Ursack. Food: if I have crackers or some other food that can be easily damaged=BV. Vacuum packed hard meals=either BV or Ursack.

Many people have both a hard canister and a Ursack and probably choose which to take using similar criteria I wrote above. Both have their positive and negatives. Ultimately it is up to the person to choose which best meets their needs for their situation and area. Responsibility for their choice of food protection and correct use of, rest with that person to.

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Re: using an ursack

Post by michaelzim » Sun Sep 13, 2020 4:19 pm

@Wandering Daisy Going back to 2019 here re your Tue. Aug 27, 2019 comment...Would appreciate some clarification on this below as I have been mining your posts as to how you get such low pack weights which I would like to emulate more closely. You seem to eat similar foods to me and we have close to the same "foodstuffs per day" weights (mine = 1 pound per day = 10 pounds for my average 10 day trips). Whittling away at food gets me little reduction so it's the gear I am targeting.
As for weight comparison, my Bearikade Weekender weighs an ounce short of 2 pounds. The Urasck with OP sack weighs 8.8 oz. My bear can and all food for 11 days on my last trip weighed 14 pounds, starting pack weight 33 pounds. In the big picture, the extra 1.4 pounds was fairly insignificant, and could be made up simply be carrying half a liter less water (took my Sawyer mini to use on the trail, seldom carried water).
The key sentence here is: "In the big picture, the extra 1.4 pounds was fairly insignificant..."

If the Bearikade is nearly 2 pounds, the Ursack 8.8 oz.. and food is 14 pounds - what is that 1.4 pounds referring to ?

Thanks much ~ Michaelzim

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Re: using an ursack

Post by michaelzim » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:58 am

@Wandering Daisy - Ummmmmmmm, "got it". It dawned on me that the "extra 1.4 pounds" you were referring to was the difference between the Ursack and the Weekender! Duh, I should have seen that and of course it now makes sense.
So no need for a response here. Sorry to be dim about it. *(Posting here in case anyone else had the same "wondering" I did).

Best ~ Michaelzim

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