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Bear canisters

Old 03-15-21, 09:41 PM
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Bear canisters

I have an Ursack. Convenient but not critter-proof. Didn't consider canisters back then, thinking that their shape was a significant drawback. Reconsidering since a canister can probably be secured to the rear rack just as a bag might have been, is probably more convenient than a bag, and doubles up as a seat so this meets the multiple uses criteria . In anticipation of a ride in bear/critter country (abundance of raccoons, skunks and what have you). While I am quite familiar with this kind of environment, it'll be the first time I'll camp where there are no bear boxes and no car to store food during the night.

Interested in reading about experiences. Canisters being a staple of backpacking, I assume that this is a no-brainer, although I am not so sure that it can easily be secured on a rack (by design most are slippery).
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Old 03-15-21, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
I am not so sure that it can easily be secured on a rack (by design most are slippery).
Bet you could find or make a stuff sack type thing that fit the canister and had some loops on the outside to run attachment cords through. You could probably even just make a "cage" of webbing or even with a lot of care knot some parachute cord into a sort of course net of the right shape.

Of course you'd leave it out of that at night.
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Old 03-15-21, 10:58 PM
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If mounting to a rear rack, I bet one of those elastic cargo nets would work well. I use an Ursack, not a canister, so I can't recommend from experience, but I love my cargo net for securing my tent and other gear to my rear rack.

https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5053-457/Elasto-Cargo-Net
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Old 03-15-21, 11:20 PM
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Would you be able to use a food hang? I went backcountry camping in Yellowstone and just did that. I know GTNP required bear canisters but at the time Yellowstone didn't (dunno if they do now).

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Old 03-16-21, 06:32 AM
  #5  
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I own a Garcia and a BV450. I have never toured with either. I most often use the BV450 when backpacking and usually limit myself to trips where I can resupply with it's capacity range. I am getting to where I don't want to carry more than that these days any way. The Garcia is only for canoe camping for me these days. Where I have toured there have generally been bear boxes or I have been able to get by with hanging my food or other measures if critters were a problem. Once in a great while I was in a place where there was a threat of problems and no trees. In those VERY few cases I put my food away from camp and hoped for the best. I got by with it, but I have considered an Ursack for those places where I needed something and a hang was impossible or inadequate. That was a rare occurrence because anywhere that I have been that required canisters in the backcountry had bear boxes in the campgrounds, so I didn't need a canister on road tours and only rarely couldn't use a hang or some other means.

More to your question... Garcia sells a cover for their canister that makes it easy to strap it down. As was mentioned, take it out of the cover at night or the bears will be able to carry it. The BV 450 fits easily in all of my backpacks down to the 45 liter one so I think it would fit in many panniers.

How much food do you need to carry? Many of us try to minimize how much food we carry and restock very frequently. If that is the case for you using a very small canister may help as it fits in other baggage. You lose the advantage of it being as comfortable of a seat though. There are only a few small ones available though and they are not carried widely by retailers. The BV450 is the one I have. The little Scout Bearikade is a pricey $275, but is superlight. The Bare Boxer in another tiny one, but I have never even seen one of these.

Edit: I should have mentioned that the BV 450 isn't all that limited in how much food it carries in a road touring context. If you are going to into the backcountry and away from resupply for longer distances it is a different story.. With careful packing I can go 4 days or so when backpacking, but it requires careful packing and food choices. You are likely to fit less than that when touring unless you treat food choices as if you are backpacking by choosing stuff that packs well. I don't go the freeze dried route even when backpacking, but the amount of fresh food carried in a small canister would be limited. You could carry compact stuff and supplement with fresh food those days when it was available.
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Old 03-16-21, 07:05 AM
  #6  
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In photo below, my bear canister is inside a red stuff sack up front, and then attached with shock cords to the rack.

This was on a trip coming down the Alaska Highway. I was still fortunate not to see many bears on that part of the trip, but the canister was still useful.
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Old 03-16-21, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by surlylhtfan View Post
Would you be able to use a food hang? I went backcountry camping in Yellowstone and just did that. I know GTNP required bear canisters but at the time Yellowstone didn't (dunno if they do now).
Hangs are actively discouraged (because most backpackers don't do them well). They also suppose that you have access to the proper kind of trees, which will not be my case. And, from what I read, it requires time and there's the possibility that you'll lose material (bag not coming down, line stuck, etc.).

I hear you but will put myself in the category of unqualified hanger

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Old 03-16-21, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I own a Garcia and a BV450.
The Garcia is not easy to source in Canada, whereas the BV500 (10.6L version of the BV450) is available at leading stores. I am currently leaning towards the BV -- translucent + ridges to channel tie downs.

Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
How much food do you need to carry?
Good question. For the trip I have in mind ATM, if I am lucky (i.e. stores are open and accept business from travellers) 1 or 2 days of autonomy should be enough, although I tend to eat oatmeal for breakfast which means a scented food source for the duration of the trip. I would go for the BV500 in order to be able to store close to a week of food, and because its longer shape should prove easier to stabilise on top of the rear rack. (I also have in mind a month long trip where, for now, I have a little notion of the maximum autonomy I'd need. One week should be enough).
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Old 03-16-21, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
In photo below, my bear canister is inside a red stuff sack up front, and then attached with shock cords to the rack.

This was on a trip coming down the Alaska Highway. I was still fortunate not to see many bears on that part of the trip, but the canister was still useful.
Too rich for my blood I hope to be able to fit everything in two front panniers + canister (perhaps delusional. will see)
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Old 03-16-21, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
The Garcia is not easy to source in Canada, whereas the BV500 (10.6L version of the BV450) is available at leading stores. I am currently leaning towards the BV -- translucent + ridges to channel tie downs.
The BV models are nicer any way for a number of reasons so just as well that the garcia ones are harder to source there.
Good question. For the trip I have in mind ATM, if I am lucky (i.e. stores are open and accept business from travellers) 1 or 2 days of autonomy should be enough, although I tend to eat oatmeal for breakfast which means a scented food source for the duration of the trip. I would go for the BV500 in order to be able to store close to a week of food, and because its longer shape should prove easier to stabilise on top of the rear rack. (I also have in mind a month long trip where, for now, I have a little notion of the maximum autonomy I'd need. One week should be enough).
​​​​​​​Sounds like you have a handle on the relevant factors that will affect your choice.
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Old 03-16-21, 11:30 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Hangs are actively discouraged (because most backpackers don't do them well). They also suppose that you have access to the proper kind of trees, which will not be my case. And, from what I read, it requires time and there's the possibility that you'll lose material (bag not coming down, line stuck, etc.).

I hear you but will put myself in the category of unqualified hanger
Got it, I was going to suggest this but there are lots of places with poor tree choices. And it can take some practice to getting the food rope thing figured out. I use two ropes, one or two pulleys, works well for me but some people can't figure it out.

Photo is solo backpacking in black bear country, did not have much food weight so I only used 1/8 inch (about 4mm) line and some small dry bags that were color coded for meals.



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Old 03-16-21, 12:22 PM
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Really impressed by your throwing accuracy. (great pic)
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Old 03-16-21, 01:23 PM
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gauvins, last summer when I rode from Montreal to Ottawa but via Mont Laurier, I put my tent on the top of the rear rack, using these thicker webbing straps that I have. I have always used bungees in the past, but wanted to try these. They held extremely well, and never loosened once, but I think it was because of the thickness of the straps, so that they were not prone to slipping (but harder to slide through the plastic thing , for tightening)
It made it a bit harder to tighten, but I was really impressed with how they stayed tight.
I'll try to find a photo of them.
Just keep this in mind if you strap the barrel to your bike, non slip type straps like these will be a help.
I have a bag of various straps, and these ones were always annoying for putting around campmats or whatever, because it was hard just to quickly cinch them tight, but for holding my tent down, it was an advantage because they didnt loosen with lots of vibrations and bumps.
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Old 03-16-21, 02:08 PM
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Someone above noted that an elastic net would probably hold the canister on your rear rack, Djb suggested straps. I would try the elastic net. I was surprised how well it worked on one of my dry bags.



In my case above, the rack is a Logo which has a very narrow platform, but the two panniers were higher than the rack and that made a nice place to put the dry bag.


Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Really impressed by your throwing accuracy. (great pic)
Lots of practice over the decades. Some people put the line in a weighted throwing bag, you toss it and as the bag sails through the air, the line comes out of the sack. But I have never found the right combination of sack and line to work well.
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Old 03-17-21, 09:07 AM
  #15  
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I have been using the Garcia for over a dozen years but never felt the need on a bike tour. On back country trips on foot I've fit 8 days worth in there but it is TIGHT. The Garcia is also a bit of a PIA because the lid is considerably smaller than the end diameter and it can make it difficult to extricate stuff. The BearVault is more user friendly in this regard. I only bought the Garcia because, believe it or not, here in NY at that time there was a specific female bear living in one of my frequent destinations that figured out how to open the BearVault cans, and IIRC they were taken off the "approved list" for the Adirondack High Peaks. I bet this was a unique situation...that bear is gone; I don't know if the regs have changed.
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Old 03-17-21, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by kaos joe View Post
I don't know if the regs have changed.
From what I've read, BV are "legal" in the Adirondacks. The official NY state "bear resistant canister" page lists the technical requirements for compliance, and you can see a picture of a BearVault if you look carefully at the page. This being said, still very easy to find sources saying that they were unsafe. Looks like the (in)famous Yellow Yellow forced them to add an additional button to prevent bears from breaking through. Interesting read
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Old 03-17-21, 10:49 AM
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One more thought, since you have the Ursack already, if you had too much food to fit in the cannister, the Ursack could be used for temporary overflow until you run out of that excess food. You could pack the food least likely to be damaged in an Ursack by crushing (bears) or any claws that puncture the bag (smaller critters) and put the more fragile food in the cannister. For example, it would be hard to do significant damage to dry pasta noodles in a ziplock bag in an Ursack.

I assume you are aware of the piece of sheet metal that you can use to turn your Ursack into something more like a cannister.
https://ursack.com/products/ursack-a...31950347599947

I do not have the sheet metal, so I do not know how well it would work, perhaps others that have it will comment?

It looks like the most expensive piece of sheet aluminum that I have seen in a long time, if it was me I might look for a different source.

I bought an Ursack, but have not used it yet. But for now my plans are to use an Ursack without aluminum sheet, but with a perfectly fitting drybag inside. Then when there are no good hanging trees at a campsite, I should be able to sleep better.
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Old 03-17-21, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I assume you are aware of the piece of sheet metal that you can use to turn your Ursack into something more like a cannister.
TBH, I knew that there was a liner available, but hadn't looked into it seriously. Which I just did thanks to your post. In the process, came across several threads -- not very kind to this contraption whose purpose in life is to reduce the risk of your food being made into a pulp by a meticulous bear -- including several suggesting that the Ursack major was actually pretty good against critters after all (in my previous search I had come across reviews suggesting that squirrels were able to chew Kevlar) so I end up much less inclined to invest in a plastic barrel for this summer... I'll probably stick to the Ursack, perhaps stuffing it with a couple of cans just to frustrate squirrels, raccoons and such
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Old 03-17-21, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
.... I'll probably stick to the Ursack, ...
My last backpacking trip, year and a half ago, some people used the Ursack when I was trying to hang food. And sometimes I was unable to find a good food tree. I was aware of the Ursack before that but had never looked into it.

And one campsite, a couple hikers came in after I had made camp, they made a quick supper and one guy took his Ursack and tied it around a tree about chest high. I asked about that and he said that it was good enough if you use a good knot.

I invested in an Ursack.

I think I would hang it higher where I can, but where I can't I will probably just do what he did. But like I mentioned above, I have a dry bag that fits the inside of it perfectly, that should keep my food drier and hopefully reduce the scent of food.






There are about 20 person days of food hanging on that line in the photo below, used two rescue pulleys.



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Old 03-17-21, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
There are about 20 person days of food hanging on that line in the photo below, used two rescue pulleys.


very cool shot, like it
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Old 03-17-21, 09:19 PM
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We have bike toured in black bear country (US/Canada) for 30 years and never have used a canister. If we didn't have a decent tree to hang food (usually we could), then we would keep it near us, outside the tent. Sometimes (very few) a bear approached. I will agree it is stimulating, but black bears have always immediately ran off when we yelled or banged on stuff. Skunks/raccoons/squirrels are a different sort of issue.

We have also backpacked extensively in grizzly country, mostly the Canadian Rockies. I view grizzly country as fundamentally different. We always used the two rope pulley system, taking pains to find appropriate trees. Although, these days I would likely use a canister. Also very careful with cooking and all smelly stuff.

Perhaps carrying a canister on a bike is not a big deal, and why not? The food must be in something anyways and it deters all varmints. However, I have never felt the need for a canister in black bear territory.
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Old 03-18-21, 07:06 AM
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BV450 fits fine standing up in an Ortlieb Backroller Plus.
Apart from using as a camp chair, I use mine as a washing machine: fill up with clothes, hot water and shampoo, screw the lid on and shake (or just leave overnight) before rinsing.
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Old 03-18-21, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by IPassGas View Post
We have bike toured in black bear country (US/Canada) for 30 years and never have used a canister. If we didn't have a decent tree to hang food (usually we could), then we would keep it near us, outside the tent. Sometimes (very few) a bear approached. I will agree it is stimulating, but black bears have always immediately ran off when we yelled or banged on stuff. Skunks/raccoons/squirrels are a different sort of issue.

We have also backpacked extensively in grizzly country, mostly the Canadian Rockies. I view grizzly country as fundamentally different. We always used the two rope pulley system, taking pains to find appropriate trees. Although, these days I would likely use a canister. Also very careful with cooking and all smelly stuff.

Perhaps carrying a canister on a bike is not a big deal, and why not? The food must be in something anyways and it deters all varmints. However, I have never felt the need for a canister in black bear territory.
Interesting. I've wild camped quite a bit and frankly, it is the critters that bother me the most. In my experience, mice aren't afraid of human scent and our kids (less careful than adult wrt food inside a tent) have had a couple of break-ins over the years. Which is why we now travel with an Ursack (and gave stern lectures )

Now, this will be my first solo trip, wild camping, in an area where bear sightings are common and, perhaps more significantly, some bears may have become used to man's presence (there is a report of a death, a few years ago, although circumstances are unclear and the official advice is that there is very little risk with the exception of the presence of young cubs -- we all lose our temper from time to time when there are kids, so no surprise here

I've read interesting and often opinionated debates on the reasons/merits/etc of canisters/ursack/hangs. I will very probably settle on our tried and true (so far) Ursack. Save a few $ and limit the storage space devoted to touring-related gear.
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Old 03-18-21, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
... with the exception of the presence of young cubs ...
I hear you on that. We were hiking and came within eyesight of grizzly cubs once, we turned about and took the other path less traveled. We move in and on their land, I have the greatest respect, so if someone decides to use a bear canister in black bear country...good on them.
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Old 03-18-21, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
..., this will be my first solo trip, wild camping, in an area where bear sightings are common ....
I assume black bear country, in which case trying to keep your food away from the bear is usually pretty easy. And you can often drive the bear away, if noise does not work, throwing rocks or pieces of wood at them can drive them away.

But, once a bear has your food in its paws, it could be dangerous to try to extract it.

But if in brown bear country, things are more dangerous.

Cook away from your tent, you do not want your tent to have food scent.
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