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Ultra lighters bear canisters?

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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby JWreno » Wed Jul 23, 2014 8:42 pm

We own 3 Bearikade Expeditions and a Weekender. We each carry the Expeditions when doing the JMT. This summer will be our 3rd. The last two times my pack was about 38 pounds when the canister was filled with 12 days of food for the Horseshoe Meadows to MTR leg. We share a TarpTent Squall 2 and eat dried food, nuts, bars and other ready to eat. We save weight by not carrying stove, fuel, pot, etc. We do take a change of clothes. I see a lot of Catalyst packs which handle the bear cans just fine. While 38 pounds isn't ultra light for 12 days of food, it is a pretty practical weight. After a week the weight gets down to about 30 or lower.

The Bearikades are expensive but are a good investment that can last decades of backpacking.



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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby richlong8 » Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:55 am

Shhsgirl wrote:Two years ago I did the first section of Roper's Sierra High Route, starting at Copper Creek. I carried a Bearikade, and saw a number of UL'ers whiz by. Talked to a few of them, and not one was carrying a canister, or even an Ursak. They all had OP bags, and slept with their food. I felt pretty skunked, lugging along my canister. This year, at age 63 and a spinal fusion later, I am doing the second section, from Snow Tongue to Italy Pass or so, and am carrying an Ursak All-White, probably with the aluminum liner. But I'm not sleeping with my food (I don't like it THAT much!).

Congratulations for getting back out there after a spinal fusion. I too had the "pleasure" of a spinal fusion last November. I still have issues with pain, but I recently got back from a 4 day backpack from Road's End to Lake Reflection, which has been my toughest test so far, and things went well. I have been carrying a Bearikade Scout on my 4 backpacks in 2014. (I carried the Weekender up Copper Creek a couple of years ago). I can stuff, if I pack carefully, 6-7 days food in the Scout can. I hate carrying the extra weight of the can,( 1 pound, 12 ounces) but I am not sure how much weight an ursack with a liner would actually save me compared to a Scout. The benefit of not having to expend any effort to secure food against bears, marmots, and rodents appeals to me as well. I am not sure what I will do when I attempt another longer trip, over 6-7 days, probably 2015. I have a feeling that I will just use the Scout, eat a lot O:) and take my chances the first couple of days until everything fits in the can, rather than carry a bigger can or an additional Ursack. I just try and save weight in other ways, rather than ditch the can. My total weight for my 4 day trip was 24 pounds total, including water and camera, and I will probably shave 1-2 pounds off in the next year. I am not sure how I feel about others not carrying anything at all, while I try and obey the rules. Sometimes I wonder. It is their business, I guess. I did not like it when PCT travelers were supposed to get preference for the use of bear lockers. However, I would not want a ranger or enforcement type of person demanding that I empty my pack and look for a Bear canister, used toilet paper, or whatever. There are already so many regulations compared to what it used to be 40 years ago when I began hiking in the High Sierras. I go up there to get out of the city, and to enjoy a little freedom.(illusion?)
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby hjldennis » Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:31 pm

With two little children, comfort is a priority, and whenever we see a light packer, we can only envy. As more things get moved to the kids packs, and goal over comfort, one day we will have light packs. In the meanwhile the hunt for lighter gear continues, including a bearikade, but that's probably because I am a gear junky. Because at this point a few ounces do not justify the cost, but it is surely a well made piece of carbon fiber and aluminum.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby JWreno » Thu Sep 25, 2014 10:08 am

The usable volume of the Expedition would be very useful for family trips. You may be able to get by with only one container for the whole group for modest length trips.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby EpicSteve » Tue Nov 11, 2014 3:29 am

I own the original model (heavy!) Garcia canister that serves only as a loaner to my friends now. I bought it clear back when it was the only one on the market. I have two different models of Ursack (and one aluminum liner that fits either one), a Bear Vault Solo (BV-250) and a Bearikade Expedition. Having accumulated so many options over the years gives me the luxury of flexibility, but if I had to keep only one, it’d be the Bearikade.

My choice of which one to bring is dictated by a number of factors, including areas that don’t allow Ursacks, duration of hike, time of year, above or below tree line, etc. In areas where a canister is required I carry the BV Solo for 2 – 3 day trips. For anything longer I carry the Bearikade Expedition. It actually weighs only 3.4 ounces more than the BV-250, but holds WAY more food. I can fit 9 – 11 days worth of food in it, depending on how much food I've decided to bring. I generally carry about 1.25 lbs of high calorie food per day.

The Ursacks are so light and low volume. It’s a shame that ignorant and/or lazy people ended up getting them banned in places like Yosemite because they couldn't bother to learn how to tie a figure eight knot properly!

The Bear Vault is a nice size and shape, but the lid is a pain in the butt to get open. Especially when the plastic is cold and stiff (and so are my hands). The Bearikade is easy to open and close, amazingly light for its size and tall enough to serve as a decent camp chair. But it leaves little room for anything else in my pack! Thank goodness for that floating top on my pack, so I can still fit the rest of my stuff. (No, I’m not an ultralighter, though I've pared down considerably over the years.)

I’m sure many people have gotten away with hanging their food using the counterbalance method over the years, but that doesn't mean it’s a good technique. Chances are, they just got lucky and no bear was close enough to have an encounter anyway, or the bears that were nearby were still sufficiently afraid of humans.

I worked in Yosemite Valley for nearly 15 years. I had friends who knew the NPS “Bear Techs” pretty well. The counterbalance method is only a delay tactic, hopefully allowing you enough time to get out of your sleeping bag and go scare the bear(s) away, if indeed that’s even possible once the bears are fixated on getting your food. By that time, they may well consider it to be THEIR food. Given enough time, black bears can nearly always figure out a way to get your food down and they've used some remarkably elaborate and clever ways to do it.

People on HST forums are generally pretty knowledgeable and conscientious hikers. But I wish the people who ignore canister requirements and use the counterbalance method to save weight would realize that the reason the canister requirement exists isn't to protect us hikers from the inconvenience of losing our food. They exist to protect the bears from us.

It breaks my heart every time I read about another bear being euthanized. We should probably trust the people who make their living by constantly studying bears and follow their rules. I applaud Mradford for starting this thread, which shows an obvious desire to follow those rules while incurring the minimum possible weight penalty.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby rlown » Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:50 pm

Dinkeys 2013. Why it was hanging near my tent area I don't know.

Dinkey Lks 2013 034.JPG


I have a video as well of the set-up, but I'm not sharing that. No bears were injured in the taking of this picture. :)

I love my bearikade.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby markskor » Tue Nov 11, 2014 3:10 pm

Back story of this particular food-hang picture taken while at an Ol' Fart meeting at Dinkey -
Not really needed but somebody wanted to know specifics about the "PCT Hang."
Thus mostly a useful demonstration.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby Cross Country » Tue Nov 11, 2014 5:21 pm

I agree with Taliman. My last 4 trips were when canisters were required and of course we had one. Before that I backpacked more the 480 days and never once did a bear get my food. I didn't sleep with my food either. Bears frighten me. I was VERY careful about how I counter ballanced my food.
Oh well, rules should be followed when ever feisable.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby rlown » Tue Nov 11, 2014 6:50 pm

Talimon wrote: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).



I have. Glen Aulin. At the stone staircase down. The ranger tapped on the pack rather than making me stop and take the pack off. It was a Garcia at the time. I'd bust them all for not carrying a can.

Ranger had a nice radio and a 357..

Use the can.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby gary c. » Wed Nov 12, 2014 1:21 am

I've been checked twice. The first time was at Flower Lake in Onion Valley. The second time was coming down from Washburn Lake by a ranger just like Russ described, carried a radio and a gun. He just tapped our packs also. He also told us that if we hadn't had our cans two things would have happened. He told us that he would have ticketed us and taken our permit and sent us out of the wilderness. He said that he would use his radio to have someone waiting at the trailhead to ensure that we did in fact exit as instructed.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:03 am

I've been checked many times, in Yosemite and further south, around Kearsarge. Usually they are able to see or feel the can through the pack so don't make you take it all apart.

They do want to see the permit tho.

I was once checked twice at Hetch Hetchy along the busy part of the trail. That seems to be where the young, cute rangers are so I didn't mind. :D
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby oldranger » Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:58 am

With my mostly off trail and usually pre or post peak season I have encountered but a two ranger/wilderness guards since 1990, Both in Yosemite, both in mid to late September. Neither checked though it should be pretty obvious that I had a canister by the shape of the top of my pack.

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