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Ursack failure reported

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Ursack failure reported

Postby copeg » Thu Aug 31, 2006 12:37 pm

Apparently a report of a failure of a newer, conditionally approved bear protective ursack with liner has surfaced.

Discussion with photo at backpackinglight

From the makers of ursack.com:
August 18, 2006
It pains me to have to write this, because we thought we had come up with a nearly perfect bear proof product. Although the Ursack Hybrid has done extremely well, we have learned from an incident in Yosemite that the bottom of the bag may be vulnerable. We think it may be because the Vectran fabric has fewer filaments per inch than the Spectra we previously used (and is not currently available because of military demand). Coincidentally, the new Ursacks now shipping are made with a beefier Vectran that was not available before. We hope that solves the problem. Unfortunately, there is no really scientific way to test it. The Vectran we have been using was successfully tested by us at the zoo and by the SEKI rangers in the wild. Only real world camper experience tells the tale. Regardless, we stand 100% behind our warranty.

We are always searching for ways to make Ursack better, and are working on new ideas now to address the possible vulnerability of the Vectran bag. Until we get to the end of this summer season, there is no accurate way to determine if this vulnerability is a serious problem or not. Lots of our previous customers have bought the aluminum liner to add to their Spectra bags, and there have been no reports of any problems with that version of the hybrid.

What is really critical is the willingness of the Sierra rangers (and SIBBG in particular) to keep working with us. We all know that no bear canister is perfect. Just this week, I got an email from a park service employee in Tuolomne Meadows who reported the failure of a well known hard sided canister (NOT a Bear Vault) being used by a back country wilderness crew. I won't give the brand name because I don't have first hand knowledge, and would ask that all of you use the same restraint in reporting failures of any product. If SIBBG revokes the use of any product without the possibility of approving improved versions, it is the kiss of death because the Sierra is such a huge part of the market. We want to be sure that any decisions are made on verifiable facts, not rumors.

I welcome your input on ways to improve Ursack. You can email me directly at info@ursack.com.


posted by Tom at 4:09 PM



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Postby The Other Tom » Thu Aug 31, 2006 5:19 pm

I purchased an Ursack and used it on my recent trip from Tuolumne to Thousand Island lake. I guess we were lucky in that we didn't enounter any bears. We were careful to close it correctly and we used the waterproof bag as well. In my opinion, the Al liner can be improved. It's only a sheet of Al and the edges/corners tend to fray the sack. This also allows the sack to get out of round , which would make it easier for the bear to get a claw in the top. I had heard the report from the ranger at Devil's postpile and considered putting a thin rock in the top of the bag to deter bears, in case the bear got a claw in the top. The Al liner needs to be a true cylinder shaped liner, probably with a top and bottom. That way, even if the bear did tear a hole in the sack, the top and bottom (and sides) would be protected. Just my two cents worth.
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Postby hikerduane » Thu Aug 31, 2006 6:41 pm

I have the green, original TKO and this winter bought the insert after CAbackpacker mentioned it here. Sounds like it is waiting to be tested in real life conditions. It is tough to cinch all the way closed so on my trip a month ago I put the cord ends into the small hole to keep the small critters out. No trouble, maybe no mice were around either. The thing had 7 days of food in it, with my 8th day of food outside so it was loaded to the max and was pretty tough to pull all the way closed and the cordlock doesn't hold very good so you have to be careful tying the knot behind it to be sure it is as snug as you can get it. The ranger at Purple Lake (if you haven't seen some of my other posts) thought it should be hung and I said no. They don't like the Ursacks so I will be surprised if the newer Ursacks make it thru the bping season if there are any more compromises. If the old ones like mine can stay conditionally approved, us that have them will be having a hard time training the authority figure in the backcountry when we meet up with them if they don't even know how an Ursack should be used. ???

I had some thoughts about the shape of the aluminum insert. I notice also some loss of fabric color (wear?) on the ends of my bag and have had some thoughts about how strong the seams are since you can't sew them to be real smooth so a claw can't get a toe hold so to speak. I thought the shape of the insert should be just a little conical at least on the end where it is tied so you could cinch up the bag all the way with no room even for a mouse which can get into a hole I have heard down to a 1/4". Maybe we need a extra flap on the inside like some stuff sacks, designed so it will close/cover the hole even with a less than full bag and stay in place or be flexible enough to move with a claw but go back into place when the offending digit is removed. :)
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Postby AldeFarte » Thu Aug 31, 2006 11:06 pm

Well, here's my 2 cents. I live and deal with bears yearly. If they piss me off too much, I kill them and eat them. Or ,if they are stupidly in "my" space , the same rule applies. The only thing that I have found to be 100 percent effective on keeping bears away was when I strung 120 volts of bare wire around my apples. [Above the cat, but nose level with ursus] No troubles since then. Kind of a bummer ,'cause I am low on meat. Now here's the deal. I think those cans are nice to sit on, but I ain't packing one. I have no experiance with the ursack. Maybe an inventor, ,or the ursack people can come up with a solar powered [capacitor boosted ]ursack type device that will shock the hell out of mr. bear. I am not talking about a horse fence type shock that makes mr. bear laugh. I am talking about a kick in the ass shock that is not lethal ,but definately a deterant. With todays modern materials ,this is not only quite possible, but no doubt would be lighter and more effective than anything on the market now. No offence intended to "bearlovers" ,because I have found a way to keep mr. bear out of the freezer. [Mostly] jls :o
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Postby hikerduane » Fri Sep 01, 2006 5:59 am

I was trying to feed my neighbors horses the other day after they had put up a electric fence the week before. I had to stretch to get my offering to where the horses would get it. One of their dogs ventured into the area messing around and when he exited he touched the "wire" and let out a yelp and took off for the house.:) He doesn't go there anymore.
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Postby copeg » Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:16 am

Not to divert the post too much, but since aldefart and hikerduane brought it up:

the electric bear fence - even has a video of the system at work. Not too lightweight though, and not approved.
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Postby TehipiteTom » Fri Sep 01, 2006 12:37 pm

This is disheartening...mainly because the NPS will almost certainly (and short-sightedly) rescind approval.

I say this is short-sighted because keeping food from bears is at least as much about overall compliance as about the effectiveness of the individual device. 99% effectiveness and 90% compliance is better than 100% effectiveness and 70% compliance. I think it's pretty safe to say that the heavier the device required, the lower the compliance. Lightweight food storage (and at 2 1/2 lbs. +, the Garcia can is not lightweight) is essential to the overall goal of keeping backpacker food from bears.
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Postby hikerduane » Mon Sep 04, 2006 2:54 am

Another failure at the same time. Over on TheLightweightBackpacker, another bper in a group had two Ursacks worked over by a bear. Not good folks. Sounds like the bottom is the weak point. They didn't mention if this other report involved the newer material. I have the older TKO so I am wondering still if it will hold up. The bear ignored the Garcia Machine canisters.
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