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Which Bear-Resistant Container is Best for You?

Updated: Jun 27


Which Bear-Resistant Container is Best for You?

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear


If you're planning a backpacking trip in bear country, taking precautions to keep your food and scented items safe from bears is essential. One of the most effective ways to do this is by using a bear canister. These containers are designed to be bear-resistant and prevent bears from accessing your food, toiletries, and other scented items.


There are several types of bear canisters available, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the different types of bear canisters and help you choose the right one for your next outdoor adventure.


Hard-sided Bear Canisters


Hard-sided bear canisters are the most popular type of bear-resistant container. They are made from durable materials such as polycarbonate or plastic and have a locking lid that is designed to keep bears out. They come in various sizes, with the larger models able to hold several days' worth of food for a group of hikers.

One of the main advantages of hard-sided bear canisters is their durability. They can withstand the weight of a bear and protect your food from being crushed or punctured. They are also relatively easy to use.

The main disadvantage of hard-sided bear canisters is their weight which can be an issue for hikers who need to pack light. They are also bulky and take up more space in your backpack.



Bear Bags


Bear bags are another type of bear-resistant container. They are made from durable, puncture-resistant materials such as Kevlar or nylon that are designed to keep bears out. They are lightweight and can be packed into a small space in your backpack.


One of the main advantages of bear bags is their weight. They are the lightest type of bear-resistant container and are an excellent option for backpackers who need to pack light.

The main disadvantage of bear bags is if a bear does get your bag and doesn't crush everything in it trying to get to the goodies, it can be easily hauled away unlike bear canisters. Bear bags need to be properly hung from trees or poles. Many wilderness agencies don't allow the use of Bear bags at this time.


Bear Proof Container Comparison

Backpacker's Cache: Comes in one size. Pros: Most Durable Cons: Requires a flat metal object to open and close, Bulky, Heavy, Less storage volume Cost: $90 Weight: 43.2 oz Volume: 614 cu in. IGBC Approved: Yes Note: Turn it upside down in the rain, can leak if you don't


Bear-Resistant Container

Bare Boxer: Comes in one size. Pros: Durable, Affordable Cons: Requires a flat metal object to open and close, VERY Small Cost: $74.99 Weight: 25.6 oz Volume: 275 cu in. IGBC Approved: Yes Note: Only good for MAYBE a weekend trip


Bear-Resistant Container

BearVault: Comes in multiple sizes. Most common one you will see on the trail Pros: Lightweight, Durable, Keeps the rain out, Affordable Cons: Hard to open on cold days, Bulky Cost: $76.95-$94.95 Weight: 17.92 oz - 44.8 oz Volume: 305 cu in - 700 cu in. IGBC Approved: Yes Note: Great weight-to-volume ratio for the price


Bear-Resistant Container

Counter Assult Bear Keg: Comes in one size. Pros: Easy to see, Durable, Keeps the rain out, Affordable Cons: Requires a flat metal object to open and close, Bulky, Heavy Cost: $94.95 Weight: 49.6 oz Volume: 716 cu in. IGBC Approved: Yes Note:


Bear-Resistant Container

Frontiersman Bear Safe: Comes in one size. Pros: Easy to see, Durable, Airtight, Affordable Cons: Requires a flat metal object to open and close, VERY Bulky, Heavy Cost: $79.99 Weight: 48 oz Volume: 735 cu in. IGBC Approved: Yes Note:


Bear-Resistant Container

Ursack: Made from kevlar fabrik. Comes in multiple sizes. Pros: Lightweight, Small size, Easy to pack Cons: Expensive, Need an odor barrier bag, Food can get crushed Cost: $109.95-$229.95 Weight: 7.6 oz - 13.8 oz Volume: 650 cu in - 1220 cu in. IGBC Approved: Yes Note: Only works if you have someplace high to hang it, which means you would have added weight for gear to hang the bag.


Bear-Resistant Container

Wild Ideas Bearikade: Made from aluminum and carbon fiber. Comes in multiple sizes and even can be customized to shave off some weight. Pros: Lightweight, durable, customizable, and easy to open in cold weather Cons: Expensive, requires a flat metal object to open and close, Bulky Cost: $326-$425+ Weight: 17.92 oz - 36 oz Volume: 500 cu in. - 900 cu in. IGBC Approved: No Note: Turn it upside down in the rain, can leak if you don't. Great weight-to-volume ratio


Bear-Resistant Container



 

About the IGBC Bear-Resistant Products Testing Program

IGBC began providing guidance and direction relative to bear-resistant containers in the 1980s with the goal of ensuring effective storage of attractants and minimizing human/grizzly bear conflicts. The testing program is a partnership with the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, which conducts the live testing with grizzly bears in West Yellowstone, Montana, and the Wildlife Management Institute, which provides financial and administrative support. Products must meet specific criteria in order to be certified as bear-resistant by the IGBC. The protocol for testing was developed through a cooperative effort among IGBC, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the US Forest Service, the Living with Wildlife Foundation, and the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.

 

When choosing a bear canister, it's essential to consider your needs and preferences. Hard-sided bear canisters are the most durable and can withstand the weight of a bear, but they are heavier and take up more space in your backpack. Soft bear bags are lighter and more flexible but don't protect your food from being crushed or taken away by animals.

When choosing a bear canister, it is important to consider the size of the canister, its weight, its durability, and the price. It is also essential to choose a canister that is approved by the appropriate agency, such as the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service, to ensure that it meets safety standards.


Personally


At first, I used the Bag in the tree method for a handful of years and stopped after a few incidents. The first one was in Angeles Crest National Forest where I ran into a Bear trying to figure out how to get my food down from the tree I placed it in the night before. Took a lot of yelling a rock-throwing before the bear gave up and walked off. The next and last incident was in the Sierra Nevada mountains and the tree I hung my food in decided it wasn't going to give it back. The rope I used must have become wedged in the bark and the bag wouldn't lower down the next morning. I had to get creative with a very long stick, duct tape, and a pocket knife. After a little research, I went with a BearVault BV450 (34 oz) for short trips and the BearVault BV500 (44.8 oz) for longer trips. After a bunch of years with BearVault's, I caught Ultralightus and started shaving off the ounces. I went with the WildIdeas Scout (17.8 oz) in place of the BV450 and the WildIdeas Blazer (33 oz) in place of the BV500 and have been using them ever since.


Tips & Tricks


Place reflective tape on your Bear Container, this will help you find it at night. If a Bear does decide to play with it, it may not be in the same place you put it. Don't place your Bear container near running water or hills, you may not find it the next morning.


Remember to dispose of waste properly: Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter. Leave no trace of your visit.




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