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Ultra lighters bear canisters?

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Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby Mradford » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:25 am

So I'm not a(n) ULer by any means, but have seen a lot of them on the trail and can't help but wonder, are they using bear canisters?? I swear their packs are too small and so light that there is no way they use them!

Any thoughts??



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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby rgliebe » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:10 am

Yes, almost every hiker I have seen on the PCT in Yosemite in recent years meets my definition of ultra light, which is 30 lbs or less. They all have full size bear canisters like I do, as required by the park and an increasing number of national forests. They have to be able to cover at least 15 trail miles a day to make it from Sonora Pass to Tuolumne Meadows or Tuolumne Meadows to Mammoth Lakes before their food runs out. What they are missing is a tent, more than one change of clothing, and any luxuries like extra water, full first aid kit, etc. The main reason most hikers have made this choice is because it is much easier to hike with less weight on a hard trail like the PCT, and the recently added requirement of no food hanging in Yosemite makes it hard to carry more than a few days worth of food, since it all has to fit in the canister with anything else you have that bears might like.

The main reason I don't do ultra light is for personal comfort and safety. I like to be prepared for any disaster or major problem that might arise, and I have seen it all happen over the years. I have been snowed on in Yosemite during every summer and fall month at least once (with only one out of eight snow storms in the weather forecast when I started my trip). I would never make it through a serious storm without getting very sick from freezing wind, cold, and exposure if I did not have an excellent tent with a synthetic bag to stay dry and warm in miserable subfreezing conditions, especially when at or above tree level. (My allergy to down prevents me from using those bags.) I have even been through rain/hail storms that lasted for days in "safe" months like August, where I needed the extra food I was carrying to be able to finish the trip. When I can no longer carry a 70 lb pack, I will end my backpacking career.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby rlown » Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:37 am

rgliebe wrote:When I can no longer carry a 70 lb pack, I will end my backpacking career.


As we've no clue how old you are, I'd say the 70lb packing stops at around 48ish and then logic kicks in. I'm almost 51, and I find a 40ishlb pack very pleasant. Lately when my pack is over 50lbs, the hips start hurting and uphill stretches get slow, at least for me.

I'd love to see stats on the UL hikers who get caught w/o a can in Yose. I'd bet there is a population that stealth it through that area without a can.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby maverick » Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:20 am

Rgliebe wrote:
When I can no longer carry a 70 lb pack, I will end my backpacking career.


Welcome to HST!
70 lbs. for how many days? Safety/comfort are important considerations and some
people forgo this to go much lighter. Knowing your own tolerance levels, being
experienced/knowledgeable, and knowing the limits of your body, and gear, will
allow one to cut weight intelligently.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby mediauras » Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:49 am

Yes, most UL'ers are carrying canisters in those packs. Although, yes, some in the quest for going as light as possible, aren't. As the second poster said, the weight savings are coming from elsewhere. UL'ers are carrying a shelter, but its a tarp or hybrid tarptent instead of a double wall tent. Their sleeping system may involve a lightweight quilt, a torso pad, and require one to sleep in their clothes for extra insulation. One of the goals with UL is to get mulitple uses out of a single item, so less can be carried. The other nice argument UL makes is only carry what you need. So don't carry a full tube of sunscreen, only what you need for your few day-outing (if that's the case) in a vial. Same with bug repellants, toothpaste etc. TAking steps like that really makes a difference.

I would argue to rgliege though that to meet all your critieria and be safe and secure, you could carry a pack half the weight. And that could be done without going full-UL. Gear is getting so light these days.Going UL doesn't mean you're being unsafe.
Last edited by mediauras on Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:22 pm

Many ultra-lighters are using Ursacks when they can, and many times when they technically can't. Bear can rules (or more correctly the absence of approval for the perfectly safe Ursack) has scared off a lot of the hardcore ultra-lighters who are down to about 10 pound loads and can't run with the bulky cans banging on their backs. My own load, which is good for all conditions, spring-summer-fall, is down to about 35 pounds. I head out for a trip tomorrow in the SEKI in an area where cans are not required, so I will use my Ursack (and beat off the Marmots) instead of the Bearricade can, and weigh in under 35 pounds.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby jessegooddog » Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:05 pm

Checking REI's website for a smaller canister, I was disappointed to find one only 2/3 the size, and nearly the same price as my big bulky one. One person, one night - I really need very little as the first day's food need not go into the canister.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby mediauras » Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:36 pm

Bearikade has a nice small one, but at a price.

http://www.wild-ideas.net/the-scout/

I concur with others, it would be nice if Ursack were approved for use in the sierras.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby paul » Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:12 pm

I travel fairly light, with a pack that many seem to think is pretty small, and I do carry a canister - even my big one, a Bearikade expedition. But the rest of my gear is very compact. I regularly get asked about having a canister - most folks assume I can't have one in there.

But yes, there are some folks who skirt the rules. I have never been asked by a ranger to actually show my canister - they have always taken my word for it. So I think it would be fairly easy to get away with if you are willing to pick your campsites very carefully.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby jessegooddog » Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:24 pm

$195 for the small bearikade....crazy for a plastic cylinder!! Guess I will stick with the big bulky thing.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby Talimon » Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:45 pm

The last few times I have met PCT'rs, they have all been without a canister. One guy told me it was pretty much an accepted weight saving tactic, and a risk most are willing to take. I am obviously resentful, but the truth is that I think the canister rule is meant as a fool-proof policy, and that smart backpackers who know counterbalance skills and pick their campsites wisely can safely get by without one. Consider the fact that in yellowstone, grizzly country, cannisters arent required.

I have never been asked by a ranger on the trail to show my canister (although I have been asked to show a permit a couple times).
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby Scouter9 » Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:26 am

I'm only an "aspiring ultralighter", having used their insights and ideas to pare a lot of weight out of my kit. Carrying 30-40lb puts me out of the true UL league, but it's sure better than what I used to do.

One of the boat anchors I can't do without is the BearVault. Although it's the lightest bear canister I can afford, it adds about 2lb to the food weight. However, since mine has been gnawed, batted and moved about by Yogi Bear, I reckon the weight is well worth it. Having lost food to Yogi and Boo Boo at Donahue Pass, I understand the alternative...
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