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Ursack Approved!

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Ursack Approved!

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Wed May 03, 2006 8:52 am

Great news! The Ursack has been approved! Maybe we can now leave those annoying heavy bear cans behind. It is conditionally approved, so maybe if it is not sabotaged by false failure reports, experienced backpackers, lite-packers, mountaineers and climbers may be free of the awkward weight and tyranny of the bear can. On the Ursack site:

"The Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group (SIBBG) has conditionally approved the use of the Ursack Hybrid in the previously restricted areas of the National Parks and Forests in the Sierra: Yosemite, SEKI, Inyo, Devil's Postpile, Stanislaus."

See:
http://www.ursack.com
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Re: Ursack Approved!

Postby nazdarovye » Wed May 03, 2006 9:14 am

Note that the conditional approval is only with the new liner added into the Ursack, and with the instruction *not* to tie the Ursack to anything.
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Postby copeg » Wed May 03, 2006 9:46 am

Yeah, the addition of the metal liner almost (I stress almost) defeats the purpose of the Ursack design. It is very good to see it get conditional approval though, perhaps just a step on the road to full approval of the ursack without the liner...we'll just have to wait and see. I personally have gotten somewhat used to my heavy and bulky bear canister, and don't plan on forking over the money for the ursack just yet.
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Re: Ursack Approved!

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Wed May 03, 2006 10:03 am

nazdarovye wrote:Note that the conditional approval is only with the new liner added into the Ursack, and with the instruction *not* to tie the Ursack to anything.


Correct. I always counterbalance my Ursacks in any case: I never liked that "attach it to a tree" thing. I have been using Ursacks from the beginning, and never came even close to losing my food, and I have been everywhere, including hot-zones like Lyell Canyon. And even with the silly liner it will still be a 3+ pound saving.
Even though I may be able to go into the Sierra with my food in paper sacks and not lose my food, actually, I do advise beginner backpackers to use bear cans, and use them properly. Too many time I have met bear can users who lost their food anyway.
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Postby kennyhel77 » Sat May 06, 2006 2:00 pm

I have been using an Ursack now for 5 years and have yet to have one single problem. Left up to the hands of the user, the Ursack is a good reliable choice for food storage. I purchased the aluminum siding that slides into the Ursack so that I could use it in Yosemite, SEKI, and Inyo. At 20 oz. it sure beats Garcia and Bearvault.
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Re: Ursack Approved!

Postby markskor » Sat May 06, 2006 5:11 pm

Doyle wrote: " I always counterbalance my Ursacks in any case: I never liked that "attach it to a tree" thing."

Once again I am puzzled. According to a recent ranger I met in Yosemite, hanging food in the park is now totally illegal (well..in some parts of the north, maybe it is still ok.). He did not say hanging a ursack was ok...the emphasis was on the word hanging. - no if, ands, or buts.
Mind you, I still think that properly hung food is still a good alternative, but, how can you get away with hanging anything at all in the park? What am I missing?
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Postby wingding » Tue May 09, 2006 3:28 pm

I ordered the conditionaly approved Ursack. At 20 ounces it is 9 ounces less than my Bearikade Weekender.
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Re: Ursack Approved!

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Tue May 09, 2006 5:19 pm

markskor wrote: According to a recent ranger I met in Yosemite, hanging food in the park is now totally illegal .... Mind you, I still think that properly hung food is still a good alternative, but, how can you get away with hanging anything at all in the park? What am I missing?


Missing? Heck, when I do see a Ranger, it is a wonder I don't die of shock. Most places I go I never see them, ever. Last I saw of them was in Vogelsang, and he was a dayhike away, and he was more cop than Ranger with all the shootin' irons. There are few backcountry rangers, and the others only go a days march into the wilderness, if at all. Only the most popular and impacted areas get patrolled.
I have never heard that hanging is illegal, and in Yosemite, up to now, you had to have a dumb bearcan anyway, so hanging is moot. Yeah, I will hang with Ursacks (particularly in Wilderness areas). Hanging is an art. I could hang my food in plastic grocery bags and bears would not get it. There is a trick to it, a method. But in any case, they don't want you attaching the (new) Ursack to a tree as suggested by Ursack, so hanging the approved Ursack properly would be an additional safeguard. Hanging is a very good way to protect food, if done properly (and I have done it in major Bear areas like Lyell Canyon and Glen Aulin). If you do not like bears, take proper care of your food at all times, avoid high people impact areas, and don't have fires.
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Postby SSSdave » Fri Jun 09, 2006 7:09 pm

The bear cannister and Ursack issues are two related issues that I have been frustrated over. Excuse me if some of you have bothered to read some of my rants before elsewhere. The NPS and USNF policies don't seem realistic. Like some there have a second agenda. One being that they dislike the Ursack and wish it would go away. That probably is a result that they know the Garcia is bombproof whereas the bag gave them doubts from the beginning. The fact backpackers pleaded to be able to use the bags I think irritated them and made them learn to hate the bag and have to defend their positions on its use. Of course the few early minor failures just gave them more credibility for banning it. But the continued pleading seems to have made someones there pretty unpleasant. Probably due to pressure from management, they have been instructed to give it a limited chance.

I own two Garcias plus an Ursack. Would buy a couple more bags if they were legal. Why do I dislike the Garcia or like 3 pound cannisters? They are too bulky to fit more one in my pack. Fine for simple 1 to 4 day trips. However each one fits no more than 6 days of the kind of food I am used to bringing. That has made it impossible for me to reach then base camp at areas 3 days from the road that require 7 to 9 days total. A lot of SEKI areas I value highly and have been backpacking to for the last three decades.

The issue with food getting mashed up ought not be a reason for them to ban the Ursack though they seem to have clenched onto that issue immediately like it was something they could use to get it banned. We are the ones eating the mashed up food, not the rangers and certainly not the bears. (well they may have the mental picture as they are chomping on the bag haha) Thus if I want to gamble that if I hike in bear zones 20 times and once my food gets mashed up such that I have to re-ziplog it mid trip, biiiiiiiig deeeeal! Or eat powered pop tarts, biiiiiiiig deeeeal! Better that than carrying the extra 3 pounds 20 times up several thousand feet.

Now the don't tie the cord to a tree or rock due to potential "resource damage" is quite a tiny thread they are tying around their banning argument. Why don't I like the idea of letting my bag lay on the ground about camp like the Garcia? Because Yogi might carry it off. They say their test bears didn't carry bags off. Well I can believe that many bears probably won't. But some certainly will. Some are really really smart. I've found torn up stuff sacks far out in deep forests that didn't get there by chipmunks or Bambi. So yes there are probably a number of well frequented camping places along popular trails where resource damage would occur. Heck I've seen the Lower Vidette Meadow sow chomp through a 6 inch thick lodgepole pine tree branch in rather amazingly quick time. So yeah if one puts the cord around a small diameter tree or bushes the bag is going to get hijacked. But what about a much larger diameter tree. Like an 18 or 24 inch diameter jeffrey pine? Who in their most tiny mind thinks any bear is going to start trying to bite through that? (I've heard the phrase "the bear went lumbering down the trail" but I didn't consider that was literal.. :) ) What about boulders that are obviously too huge for the bear to consider digging up. Like two big ones leaning together that touch at one spot like many do where one can loop the cord around the contact point? Yeah go and ban tying the bags to small boulders and small diameter trees about well used camp areas. But why have such a stunted policy about all the many practical ways it could be done without issue?

Now some might argue, if people are camping in trail areas at or above timberline, there may only be small diameter whitebark pines or just rocks. Well that is true. Of course the only place one is going to see bears in those areas is along trails, obvious routes, and camping areas. Yeah bears like the forest below and only go alpine for backpackers food. The vast areas beyond those narrow corriders I've never seen a bear in three decades of heavy backpacking. Yeah a few might venture into those areas. They are curious animals and roam about. But hey, above timberline is the land of rocks and boulders. I doubt there are many places I'd camp near that I couldn't find a pile of boulders where I might find a spot that "resource damage" would not occur. And once one is just a half mile away from trails, who gives a rat's exaust pipe if a few boulders or trees gets resource damage when there are zillions and zillions out there that only some crazy photographer like me ever sees anyway? So this "resource damage" angle is likely just a way that they can continue to ban the bag only approach we prefer. Of course some bears will carry off the bags since they can and then they will ban it again because it isn't "slippery enough".

A policy that allows use of the bag only at areas say above 10,000 feet or whatever feet that are at least a half mile from trails would work fine. Likewise there are ways at any elevation where one could tie up the bag without resource damage. Even just allowing backpackers to do that at least a half mile from any trail would be preferable to the outright ban. So please, this is a request to those of you who make these decisions. Please consider the logic. Create a more reasonable use policy that doesn't force everyone to suffer from a simplistic one shoe fits all approach. ...David
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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Fri Jun 09, 2006 8:10 pm

Well I say RIGHT ON! The short sighted bear can rules punishes Mountaineers (peak baggers) who camp far above bear habitat and have a ton to carry to begin with, light packers and trail runners who are counting every ounce, and experienced backpackers who will never lose their food to bears. The only group it is good for is beginners, who all too often lose their food to bears despite the silly cans.
The fact is, there are few places in the Sierra where there are habituated bears, and I can count most of them on one hand. What they all have in common is that those locations are all highly impacted by humans (crossroad trails, certain places along the JMT/PCT, horsepacker High Camps, etc.). The vast majority of the Sierra is not so impacted and there are therefore no habituated bears in those areas as a rule, and they run at the sight of humans (as well they should: humans are not to be trusted). And some of the rules about requiring cans above 9600...far above bear habitat: Nonsensical. The only bears that go that high are near those high impact High Camps (Vogelsang for example), or bears changing habitat areas and they are not habituated.
And the NP never followed up the "failure reports" of Ursacks, and there were rumors that some of the people making those reports were related to certain bear can manufacturers. We will never know for sure.
And I agree it is none of the NP and FS bleeding business what condition our food is in after a bag crushing by a bear. And the contention that something could leak out of the bag enough to "reward the bear" is idiotic: only a moron would carry enough liquid into the Sierra to "reward the bear", and if they did I would hope they would penalize themselves with proper storage (I did see one group with a Box of Wine a day from the TH through a popular impacted area); and in any case, they would be a very rare exception among backcountry travelers. If they don't want anything to leak out of Ursacks, then make it a rule that no quantities of liquids allowed that could leak out after crushing. I could live with that.
And the contention that bear cans are bomb proof? Twice now I toted out the remains of crushed bear cans. Bear resistant, not bear proof.
And I agree that some parties are just looking for ways to ban the Ursack. Maybe this time the Ursack will stay approved. I hope so because I just ordered the approved version of the Ursack. Let us pray for sanity.
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SEKI rangers confused by Ursacks

Postby Moondust » Wed Jul 26, 2006 7:19 pm

Our party picked up a permit at Lodgepole last Friday. The ranger wrote several rules on the permit. One said "Ursack no longer approved". I, a proud owner of the Ursack TKO hybrid, did not see the permit until we were already camped the next day. Needless to say, I was somewhat upset. I wrote to Ursack as soon as I returned, and indeed, the ranger was mistaken. Tom from Ursack contacted one of the head SEKI people, who sent an email to the wilderness permit people asking them to clarify this point with the permit issuing staff.

So don't anyone panic if a ranger writes something like that on your permit. The Ursack Hybrid is still conditionally approved.
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Postby Buck Forester » Sat Jul 29, 2006 3:16 pm

Why do I get the feeling the rangers don't like the Ursack?
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