Bear Canister capacity

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fishmonger
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Re: Bear Canister capacity

Post by fishmonger » Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:14 pm

I actually repack virtually all my food into zip locks of that helps to condense the load. I dehydrate most of my own meals, the rest is energy bars, tortillas, bread, nuts, powders like gatorade, sausage etc, mostly really dense food. Still, there always remains a lot of air in the can and even if you can pack it really nicely, the day you start getting into it, it will not fit any longer unless you spill half of it on the ground and spend an hour putting the puzzle back together. And at night, even after eating some, you need to squeeze in those other items that have a smell. I don't want to spend Now, if you really eat just out of zip locks and chew on nuts and dried fruit all day, yeah, it'll all work out, but I don't. I have air in the can, even on day one. Most of the time I actually only have 4-5 days of food in there and fill the rest with cooking gear and other stuff I have on top of the pack. Even when full, I have a lot of air in there.

I am sure those 10+ day trips exist, but I haven't come up with anything quite like it. In fact, I don't even look for those routes. I think this goes back to the logic of "the more you pack, the slower you get, the more meals you need to eat and then you need to pack even more" - there's always a happy medium.

I started hiking long distance trails and in the Sierra my first trip was the JMT. Since then, my whole view of routes has always revolved around that balance of pack weight, possible distance with some reserve built into each segment, and 8 to 10 days seems to be the maximum I ever tried. The Sierra region between Yosemite and Whitney, unless you adding a bunch of peak bagging and zero mile days between resupplies, works for my 10 day max range. Maybe one of these days I see a route that's just amazing and takes 14 days. Maybe I'll slap an Ursack or whatever it's called these days on top for the early days. We hiked these mountains long before bear canisters were invented and it worked. Never lost any food, but it was a hassle to find proper trees. Today, it actually is still legal to hang food in parts of Kings Canyon NP, or at least the last time I checked it was legal north of Pinchot, I think.
Wandering Daisy wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:51 am
Bearikade Weekender has 650 cu in. A bear can basically full of GORP, is not my idea of a backpacking diet! But whatever works, if that is your style. I think that post was trying to point out that you COULD get that much in a bear can, not that it is a diet choice for every trip. It also points out that bear can capacity is better utilized if you re-pack all food in zip locks, loosely. If you cram the food full in the bag, it becomes rigid and does not pack as well.

There are other "bear can" strategies; such as planning the first few nights at locations that have bear boxes, or the first few nights at locations where a supplemental Ursack is legal. Another well known tactic, used by PCT hikers, is to utilize "hiker boxes" and left over food in bear boxes, or even ask for food from JMT hikers, who always carry too much! Perfecting the "sad adorable puppy" look helps in this endeavor. And remember, your first day's food does not have to fit in the can, as long as you consume it all before nightfall. The last day's food does not contain dinner; I usually eliminate trail food the last day and simply do a good breakfast.

I have done 14-day trips before (longest actually was 18 days) where intermediate resupply was awkward or impossible. Frankly, those first few days are downright painful. At some point, however, the extra weight simply slows you down too much, but I would not go as far as to say you never need to do a 14-day trip in the Sierra without resupplying along the way. If thru-hiking a 14-day ration will slow you too much; if stopping to fish or climb or day-hike along the way, then a 14-day trip is quite reasonable.








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Re: Bear Canister capacity

Post by fishmonger » Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:19 pm

bobby49 wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 2:25 pm
So, here he was with plenty of food, but with no way to cook it.
hmm, I suppose the Jetboil manual doesn't mention that old fashioned wood fire as a backup strategy, plus the built-in stove igniters aren't any good to start a real fire :)

All my food actually can be consumed without cooking. Not tasty, but all has been cooked and the nutritional value is the same, cold or hot.

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Re: Bear Canister capacity

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:41 pm

When I have to pack the bear can solid, I keep everything I use the first two days layered on top. How true; an intricately packed bear can is rarely possible to repack until a day or two food is consumed. And yes, I sometimes "cheat" -hang non-food items, such as sunscreen and "no reward" stuff (such as coffee and spices) until it fits in the can. Fishing trips are different; shorter daily mileage to leave time to fish so I often need more than 10 days to hit all the lakes.

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Re: Bear Canister capacity

Post by paul » Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:36 pm

I'm not sure if I could get 16 days in my Expedition without serious menu alterations, but I do see the appeal of a 16-day trip without resupply, simply for the sake of being out that long, not seeing a road for that long. So while it's possible to go anywhere in the SIerra without ever needing to go that long without resupply, other motivations may lead to wanting to do it.

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Re: Bear Canister capacity

Post by paul » Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:42 pm

And separately, on the subject of what size to get, I would say Weekender, since I think that's the most versatile size - long enough for what most folks want to do, but not too big for shorter trips. My feeling is that since I can fit all my gear in my pack with the can, then shorter trips it is no issue to carry it volume-wise, and the weight difference between scout and Weekender is not worth much. I do have both Weekender and Expedition since at one point I needed two cans for long trips with my son. On shorter trips I just put my cooking gear into the can right from the start.
It seems to me that when I cook less, as I have done on some trips, my food is more compact. So for myself, If I were trying to maximize days in my can, I'd lean that way.

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Re: Bear Canister capacity

Post by bobby49 » Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:28 pm

fishmonger wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:19 pm
bobby49 wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 2:25 pm
So, here he was with plenty of food, but with no way to cook it.
hmm, I suppose the Jetboil manual doesn't mention that old fashioned wood fire as a backup strategy,
The guy was from Europe, so he was not real sure about the rules and regulations in our national parks.

On the other hand, it makes a case to me to carry a good percentage of my food that can be eaten cold.

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Re: Bear Canister capacity

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:12 pm

A hot meal at the end of the day is a real treat for me, and I like to cook. And I really need a hot breakfast. No hot coffee??!! :crybaby: Not for me! There are many times hot soup saved the day for me when I was near hypothermia.

I disagree that cooked meals take more space in the can. Freeze dry meals ARE bulky, (including cooked meals dehydrated at home), but normal dry food is not. Adding water and cooking increases the volume so the dry food takes less space than cooked equivalent. If you choose granular food (like steel cut oats or couscous), or flat (such as angel air spaghetti). Unless you go all GORP type stuff, all no-cook food is actually bulkier. A lot of trail food, such as trail bars, sausage, cheese, crackers, are more bulky and rigid than the equivalent calories obtained from a cooked (non-fd) meal.

What you do save is some fuel weight and bulk and you can take a smaller solo cup/pot. I take a medium butane can for 7 days and a large one for 10-12 days. And if not cooking, obviously you save some cooking time.

I have before, and would again, do total no-cook for a 2-3 day trip, where I could also build a fire, if needed (and for my one cup of coffee).

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Re: Bear Canister capacity

Post by AlmostThere » Tue Jan 22, 2019 7:34 am

bobby49 wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 2:25 pm

I was doing the North Lake to South Lake loop, and as I was heading southbound over Muir Pass, there was one fellow sitting there looking sad. I paused briefly to drink a slug of Gatorade and then I asked him how it was going. He said that he had left Onion Valley with a full bear canister of food, and he had a butane stove with one 8-oz butane canister. He was headed for MTR, so he should have been in good shape. Unfortunately, something happened to the butane, and apparently it all leaked out overnight. So, here he was with plenty of food, but with no way to cook it. Then he asked me if I had any food to spare that did not require cooking. He needed just enough to get to MTR, which might mean one more night out. I opened up my bear canister and dug out about 24 ounces worth of sports bars and let him pick which ones he liked. So, he took them all. That was OK by me. It lightened up my pack. I was already making quick progress on my route, so I did not need any extra days worth of food.

However, kids, you can't count on finding a food handout when you might need it.
He did too have a way to cook it. Put the water in the bag and put it out in the open sun on the granite. It takes a while, and the food is not as warm, but it works. Especially if you bothered to repackage in a clear ziploc. Or just put cold water in a few hours before dinner....

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Re: Bear Canister capacity

Post by bobby49 » Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:23 pm

However, there is a big difference between rehydrating food and cooking food.

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Re: Bear Canister capacity

Post by AlmostThere » Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:32 pm

There is, but I can count on one hand the times I've run into someone actually cooking in the backcountry. Now THAT is the bulky waste of weight, hauling around ingredients, pots, pans and utensils... People usually call boiling and rehydrating "cooking" but you're right, it's not.

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