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Topic: Bear Canister Advice, Newbie needs some tips< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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Nurseleti Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 12:27 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi everyone! The SO and I are going to start backpacking this year...it's our first time and we're close to Rocky Mountain National Park, so that's where we'll be doing most of our trekking. We are definitely going to buy a bear canister (or two?) vs renting. All of our trips will be 3 days/2 nights, with the possibility of longer trips in a year or so.

Our options right now are:
Buy one big BearVault
Buy two Bear Vault Solos and we each carry our own
Buy two bear boxer contenders (which is where I'm leaning, but I'm wondering if the contender will be big enough for 3 days of food, smellables and liquor?)

(not spending money on the bearikades. Getting all of the other gear we needed was already a lot of $$).

I know the norm is to have one person carry a larger bear canister when it's two people. The only reason I'm not convinced on that route is because it would have to be my husband carrying it (he has the bigger pack) and he's already going to be carrying some DSLR setup.

So I'm kind of just asking for opinions from people who actually have experience with this. Would getting two small canisters instead of one large one just be stupid?

Any suggestions would be amazing  :)
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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 6:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Getting two isn't stupid of it works for the two of you. It will be heavier.

Remember that your first day/night's food doesn't need to go into the canister, you will eat it before you need to set the canister out the first night. So for a 3-day you only need to fit 2 days' worth of food and smellables inside.


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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 8:03 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Also, remember that while one person has to carry the bigger canister, all of the food doesn't have to be in it until you are ready to walk away from it.  If you drop your packs for anything, make sure the smellables are packed away properly.  Recently, 3 of us were out for 3 nights, and we each carried our own food during the day, but stored it all in one canister at night.  Makes that load more evenly distributed. You could carry all of your food in a stuff sack, and just drop it into the canister at night.

So, the cheapest route is to buy one BV 500 for now, and split up the load however you like. It is only 8 ounces heavier than the Solo version, and much lighter than 2 Solos. 


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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 8:28 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Here in Montana I don't know anyone that uses a bear canister. We're in the heart of grizzly country.

We hang our food and keep a clean camp... that's the way it's done and it works.

Bear Canisters are totally unnecessary except perhaps above treeline where there no possibility of hanging food. But that's also not typically bear country until August when the grizzlies are moth hunting. Even then it's generally possible to find a tree.


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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 8:42 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I never had or heard of bear problems in 16 years of backpacking Colorado, but somebody at RMNP (prolly a CA transplant) decided it needed to be an issue. I just checked the website and canisters are required in RMNP May - October. So sad. Just another on the long list of reasons to avoid RMNP.

So get whatever - they all suck to carry (I have a BV450 for where they are required in CA).
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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 8:43 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There in Montana you probably have not had bears spoiled by idjits who like to feed em cause the cubs are cute or did not practice basic bear bagging....or leave food and garbage out when they leave the area

Most parts of the Adirondacks recommend you use one, the Eastern High Peaks you are required as the bears have pretty much learned that humans are kind of stupid.

That being said, I don't do the High Peaks and I have never had an issue w/bear bagging for 20+ years.....but chipmunks on the other hand.

But I think Ol-Zeke hit it spot on.


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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 9:04 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thank you! Do you think we could get two days worth of food for two people into one new bear vault solo?
I'm probably going to buy two of them in case we take longer trips in the future (take advantage of REI's 20% coupons members are getting next week), but it would be great if we could just take one smaller one on short treks. Is it possible to fit enough food for two people for two days in the 450?

Unfortunately we DO have to have a bear canister at RMNP...and we'll be moving to California at the end of the year and will probably do Yellowstone next year, where it is also required.

I wish I could get away with just hanging!
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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 9:58 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You left out an option - rent two Bearikades by mail from Wild Ideas.

Altho, grizzlies have been known to destroy them.

You could also rent other canisters - if the park requires them, odds are pretty good you can rent them. Over here you can rent Garcia canisters in Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and in Sequoia-Kings, the Bearikades are also available. And, the local sporting good stores also rent them to people.

In your situation I would rent Bearikades as they are the lightest for the volume, and if you like them, they'll apply the rental charge to your purchase - which is a big investment considering, but for someone who intends to hike in California *a lot* it's a good one.

The Bare Boxer Contender is indeed good for three days - remember the first day you don't have to put the food you're eating *that day* into the can, just the trash. But you have to carefully package everything, and take only foods that survive smashing and mashing. Tortillas instead of loaf bread, couscous instead of fettucine noodles, etc.


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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 11:58 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Given the extreme requirement cooking equipment has to go in the cansister, somehting I'd never seen before that Rocky regulation (it's nowehere in a California requirement), I'd say bigger is going to be much more prudent. Sounds like with the designated campsites they;'ve got issues like GSMNP with aggressive bears focusing on the "usual suspect" locations the park has set up with it's restricting camping to fixed locations.
http://www.nps.gov/romo/parknews/pr_bear_canisters.htm

Showing up at the first night's stay and discovering everything that must go in the can won't fit leads to trouble...

"Food Storage

Black bears will eat almost anything. Most conflicts between bears and people are linked to careless handling of food or garbage. Once a bear has found food which is easily accessible, it will overcome its wariness of people and visit the site often. If you are on the trail, keep food with you at all times and do not leave your pack unattended. At backcountry campsites, all food, cooking equipment, garbage, and scented or odorous items must be stored in a carry-in/carry-out bear-resistant food storage canister (required May - Oct for all backcountry sites below treeline). In campgrounds, these items as well as water containers and pet food must be stored in a closed vehicle or campground-provided food storage locker. Storage in tents, pop-up campers, sleeping bags or under tarps is prohibited. If left unattended, these items are subject to confiscation by park rangers. The only exceptions to these rules occur during food transport, preparation, eating, and cleanup"

http://home.nps.gov/romo/naturescience/black_bears.htm
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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 12:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Bear Canisters are NOT required in Yellowstone............just Grand Teton
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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 12:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wow...I had no idea cooking equipment had to be in the canisters too.

Looks like we'll both be carrying bearvault 450s...
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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 12:24 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well, that's so extreme you might want to give them a call and ask whether that's enforced.

And does a kettle you only boil water in count as "cooking equipment"? I could see spoons and a hot cocoa cup, less so a boiling water pot where I pour the water into a food bag or Mountainhouse pouch, but I guess the bowls the prepared food goes in.... but still. I've piled my pots on top of my upended food canister in the Sierra for years and years without them ever even been toppled off. (my thought being the clatter would be a nice alarm were a bear to mess with my canister).

Might be an incentive to only do boiling water "cooking"....
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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 12:41 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll be calling them today, because it does seem extreme. And pointless...as long as you keep a clean camp and a good kitchen area, I don't see why the cooking stuff would need to be in a canister. It's not like they can eat them...
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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 12:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Nurseleti @ May 09 2013, 9:23 am)
QUOTE
Looks like we'll both be carrying bearvault 450s...

I would advise you to take all of your stuff that must be in the canister, including 2 days of food, and try to fit it all in while in the store.  This is one reason why i would advise you to buy just 1 BV500, so that you have room for all of the other stuff.  Cheaper than 2 Solos, lighter than 2, and holds more than 2.  

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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 1:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Ok...ill probably just go to rei today and buy one 500...I can always return it if I need to. I'd rather try to fit everything in at home.

Thanks for all of your help!
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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 2:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ol-zeke @ May 09 2013, 12:54 pm)
QUOTE
holds more than 2.

??

The solo holds 440 cu (so 880 cu for 2) while the big one holds 700 cu.


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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 3:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Alright, I called the rangers at RMNP and was told that they do enforce the cooking-in-canister thing, but that if I use a pot just to boil water it would be ok leaving it out.
I have no idea how the rangers would know which pot I used for food and which I used for water, but at least we can bring our little kettle without worrying about stuffing it in a can.
I'm going to take ol-zeke's advice and go to REI today with both of our cooksets and just "borrow" some of their foodstuffs and see which canister option fits all of our stuff better.

I guess that completely eliminates the Bear Boxer, which is a shame because they looked like they would have been perfect.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 3:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Reads like they're VERY skittish about human-bear encounters..... .

Thing Two is that little tidbit of regulation is buried way down in their stuff. NOT in anything about backcountry camping or food storage etc. (where it's just the usual "smellables" etc. that are listed) but on the general "Black Bears" page down the "Nature & Science" subdirectory.... who'd twig about a food handling regulation on what to all intents is clearly a natural history page?
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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 4:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You will fit a lot more food if you repackage the freeze-dried meals into ziplocs, push all air out when you seal it, and stuff/mash the baggies down so that you leave zero dead airspace inside. Keep that in mind as you are testing, those Mountain House and such take up a lot of extra space in their original packaging.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2013, 4:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I can't believe they make you put your cooking gear in the bear vault. I've never had any problems with animals of any type bothering mine and I just leave it setting out. I do this when bping and canoeing.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 10 2013, 9:10 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One more reason I don't BP in NP's...

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PostIcon Posted on: May 10 2013, 12:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(BradMT @ May 10 2013, 6:10 am)
QUOTE
One more reason I don't BP in NP's...

Great, it's working.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 10 2013, 12:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(JRinGeorgia @ May 09 2013, 4:21 pm)
QUOTE
You will fit a lot more food if you repackage the freeze-dried meals into ziplocs, push all air out when you seal it, and stuff/mash the baggies down so that you leave zero dead airspace inside. Keep that in mind as you are testing, those Mountain House and such take up a lot of extra space in their original packaging.

Or carry Mary Jane's Farm meals.  I find they pack in a bear canister much more efficiently than any of the other brands.  They should be available at REI for you to try with the BV.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 10 2013, 1:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Any of the stiff packaging meals benefit from repacking in freezerbags.
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