Bear Canister Noob Question

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Miya

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Dec 31, 2017
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Per usual...
1. I looked through old posts, but didn't really find an answer. So I apologize, since I can see bear canisters have been brought up a lot.

2. Embarrassed to ask this question. I feel like I should know. However, it has been on my mind a lot and I have a good buzz going, so I don't care as much.

Bear canisters are required all over CA, so I have gotten used to just taking it every time I have an overnight trip.

Questions:
1. I only go on 1 or 2 night trips so far and always run out of room in my canister! Storing my toiletries and trash in my canister really limits the food I can bring. Obviously, only going for a few days, I won't die if I run out of food, but just wondering...does sunblock need to go in there? Also, what about bug spray and purell? I just feel like those won't smell appetizing to a bear? But I don't really know. Some of my bug sprays are the lemon eucalyptus kind.

2. What the heck do I do with my bear canister for the night!? LOL I don't put it in my tent. However, does it need to be buried, strapped to a tree...thrown into a mass of bushes....? LOL or do I just go put it on the ground some 200 ft from my tent (that is what I have been doing)?

Thanks in advance everyone! The two different types of bear canisters I ordered came with instructions on how to open and close, what to put in it, but not where the heck it goes.
 

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KevinD

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Jan 31, 2017
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Which size bear can are you using? and how much food are you packing? Maybe the toiletries are too big? All of the ones I pack for Ashley and I take up the size of a dinner meal.

Regarding what to do with the can, it depends on the areas you go. For example, I believe rangers still want you to be near it around Snow Creek Yosemite as a bear or Bears have been found to roll them down the cliff and collect the bounty 2000 feet below. Other areas, I just put it away from camp. But don't tie it to a tree or shove it between rocks of down branches. If you do so, it will prevent the can from rolling and making it easier for the "bear" to potentially access the food.
 

Vegan.Hiker

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When I used to carry a canister out here in the required areas I would just put it a few hundred feet from my tent on the ground. The idea behind the design is that a bear can’t pick it up and just wander off with it. They could bat it around though so obviously don’t put it on the edge of a cliff or next to a raging river.

I usually use my Ursack now as its on the approved bear canister list in most places and only weighs 8.8 oz. I just did a quick google search and it looks to be approved everywhere in CA except for Yosemite, but i’m guessing they’ll eventually come around like all the other parks. The ursack is a soft sided Kevlar bag, which a bear could walk away with in his/her mouth so it needs to be tied to a tree. You put your food in a smell proof opsack (it’s like a huge ziplock) inside the ursack. The downside is a bear could potentially gnaw on it and mash up your stuff. It’s never happened to me, but eating mashed up food would just be an inconvenience. Imo the weight saving justifies the risk of mashed up food and the extra inconvenience of having to tie it to a tree, but that’ll have to be your call. You could also hang it like a bear bag if you really wanted to I guess. Aside from being bear proof, it’s rodent proof, and is pretty big. The standard model that I have (S29) easily holds a week of food with spare room. It’s also less bulky to carry than a hard canister and compresses down smaller the emptier it gets, unlike a canister.

Besides food and garbage, the only other thing I’d throw in there is toothpaste and the lemon eucalyptus to be safe. If it was regular deet type spray I probably wouldn’t bother (mostly cause I wouldn’t want that in my food bag).

And not a silly question at all.
 

Shirt357

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I normally go at least 100 feet from my tent and then start looking for a place to stash my bear vault. Never put it near water or a cliff since its possible the bear will push it in the water (good bye) or off the cliff. I have a few friends who have painted a stripe of orange or other bright paint on them to make it easier to find if a bear plays with it and pushes it a ways away, but I have never had this issue. I always seem to find a good place to jam it in (under a boulder, etc.).

A few things you can do for space purposes is to to use your own packaging. I.E. some food stuff you buy takes up more space, but if you move it to a ziplock, you can squeeze the air out and fit more in... same with toiletries. I pretty much put anything that is not a normal "nature" scent item in there, so food, trash, etc. What sized container do you have? I can easily fit in 2 days of food plus toiletries and even a few times put in my cook gear :) ).
Also like @Vegan.Hiker I do not put the bug spray in the canister....
 

balzaccom

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As per the rangers in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite last week:

1. Yes,, all of that stuff needs to go into your bear box. What is appealing to you may be different than what is appealing to a bear. My wife takes smaller containers of her skin care products so that they fit in our bear can. Repackage everything, remove all the air from packaging, etc.

2. Yosemite rangers suggest placing the bear can about 30 feet from the tent. NOTE THAT THIS IS IN BLACK BEAR COUNTRY in the Sierra. That way, if you hear a bear messing with it, you are within range to try and scare the bear away. YMMV in Grizzly country!
 
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Miya

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I normally go at least 100 feet from my tent and then start looking for a place to stash my bear vault. Never put it near water or a cliff since its possible the bear will push it in the water (good bye) or off the cliff. I have a few friends who have painted a stripe of orange or other bright paint on them to make it easier to find if a bear plays with it and pushes it a ways away, but I have never had this issue. I always seem to find a good place to jam it in (under a boulder, etc.).

A few things you can do for space purposes is to to use your own packaging. I.E. some food stuff you buy takes up more space, but if you move it to a ziplock, you can squeeze the air out and fit more in... same with toiletries. I pretty much put anything that is not a normal "nature" scent item in there, so food, trash, etc. What sized container do you have? I can easily fit in 2 days of food plus toiletries and even a few times put in my cook gear :) ).
Also like @Vegan.Hiker I do not put the bug spray in the canister....
Yes, my entire bear cansiter is wrapped loudly with duct tape (top of pack) It is extra visible! Haha
Emigrant Lake-66.jpg

I do the freezer bag bad method to cook my food. So that definitely helps!

I have the BareBoxer Contender (for 2-3 days). And Bearikade, The Blazer (for 9 days), I haven't had to use this yet though.

Cool, bringing deet and leaving it out. Saving me space already!
 

Miya

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As per the rangers in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite last week:

1. Yes,, all of that stuff needs to go into your bear box. What is appealing to you may be different than what is appealing to a bear. My wife takes smaller containers of her skin care products so that they fit in our bear can. Repackage everything, remove all the air from packaging, etc.

2. Yosemite rangers suggest placing the bear can about 30 feet from the tent. NOTE THAT THIS IS IN BLACK BEAR COUNTRY in the Sierra. That way, if you hear a bear messing with it, you are within range to try and scare the bear away. YMMV in Grizzly country!
Oooh interesting. Yeah I might hit up Toulumne Meadows this weekend. Just debating because it says there might be thunderstorms.
I have repackaged all my toileties into smaller containers, but thinking I might turn my soap into those little thin strips to helo save even more space!
 

Miya

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Joined
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Messages
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When I used to carry a canister out here in the required areas I would just put it a few hundred feet from my tent on the ground. The idea behind the design is that a bear can’t pick it up and just wander off with it. They could bat it around though so obviously don’t put it on the edge of a cliff or next to a raging river.

I usually use my Ursack now as its on the approved bear canister list in most places and only weighs 8.8 oz. I just did a quick google search and it looks to be approved everywhere in CA except for Yosemite, but i’m guessing they’ll eventually come around like all the other parks. The ursack is a soft sided Kevlar bag, which a bear could walk away with in his/her mouth so it needs to be tied to a tree. You put your food in a smell proof opsack (it’s like a huge ziplock) inside the ursack. The downside is a bear could potentially gnaw on it and mash up your stuff. It’s never happened to me, but eating mashed up food would just be an inconvenience. Imo the weight saving justifies the risk of mashed up food and the extra inconvenience of having to tie it to a tree, but that’ll have to be your call. You could also hang it like a bear bag if you really wanted to I guess. Aside from being bear proof, it’s rodent proof, and is pretty big. The standard model that I have (S29) easily holds a week of food with spare room. It’s also less bulky to carry than a hard canister and compresses down smaller the emptier it gets, unlike a canister.

Besides food and garbage, the only other thing I’d throw in there is toothpaste and the lemon eucalyptus to be safe. If it was regular deet type spray I probably wouldn’t bother (mostly cause I wouldn’t want that in my food bag).

And not a silly question at all.
Yeah...the Ursak. I have seen or heard of some damaged ones. I think I find comfort in the canister, even though it weighs more.
I have a fear of getting my food stuck in a tree lol Also, I usually look around my campsites "ok if I had a bear bag, where would I hang it?" I usually can't figure out a spot. Either lots of dead trees or trees piled on trees where my cord would get tangled before it could reach a tall enough limb.
I bet if I practiced though, it would be fine.
 

Miya

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Which size bear can are you using? and how much food are you packing? Maybe the toiletries are too big? All of the ones I pack for Ashley and I take up the size of a dinner meal.

Regarding what to do with the can, it depends on the areas you go. For example, I believe rangers still want you to be near it around Snow Creek Yosemite as a bear or Bears have been found to roll them down the cliff and collect the bounty 2000 feet below. Other areas, I just put it away from camp. But don't tie it to a tree or shove it between rocks of down branches. If you do so, it will prevent the can from rolling and making it easier for the "bear" to potentially access the food.
I use the BareBoxer Contender. It is actually pretty dang small and has a large lip. My friend has the Garcia and she always has extra room for my stuff when we go to bed.
I don't bring much food. I fill it up about half way with food and leave the other half for all the trash and toiletries. All my toiletries fit in a sandwich bag with some spare room.
 

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Shirt357

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I bet if I practiced though, it would be fine.
Always a good idea. First time I went out and had to hang food I was providing the entertainment for my friend for at least 30 minutes trying to get the rope over the limb I wanted. Nowadays, if I hang a bag, I find it easier to toss a small bag with either a few rocks or a few tent stakes. Gives enough weight and usually does not get tangled up.
 

Vegan.Hiker

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I use the toothpaste tablets. I like them and they are easy to portion out. I wouldn’t say they are a huge weight or space savings over a travel sized tube of toothpaste but if you’re gram counting every bit helps.

Not sure if it matters since you like the canister Miya, but I don’t hang my Ursack, I just tie it to a tree and take my chances. If my Ramen or freeze dried stuff got mashed up, I wouldn’t care too much. The IGBC tests stuff pretty thoroughly before they approve something (you can find videos of their bear tests on YouTube) so I’m surprised you’ve seen damaged ones. A grizzly must have really gone to town on it. I'm not trying to push the ursack on you just wanted to clarify what I meant before.
 
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Vegan.Hiker

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This is one of the videos I was thinking of..

 

mikejones3

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What kind of food are you storing? Are you storing the dehydrated meals? If you are eating dehydrated meals take them out of their packaging, and put them in small Ziploc bags save a ton of space. If you want pics I wrote an article about this here.

The only downside I see of storing in Ziploc bags is that you lose the container to cook them in. I ended up just cooking it in a bowl instead, it's not as hot as cooking in the bags but your camping so yea I just rough it a little.

The advice I got on what to store in a bear canister is to store anything that smells or has a scent. Aka toothbrush, toothpaste food etc.

When sleeping I store my bear canister a good 100m plus away and try and wedge it between stuff so if a bear does find it he doesn't kick it down a hill etc. Hope this helps!
 

Miya

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What kind of food are you storing? Are you storing the dehydrated meals? If you are eating dehydrated meals take them out of their packaging, and put them in small Ziploc bags save a ton of space. If you want pics I wrote an article about this here.

The only downside I see of storing in Ziploc bags is that you lose the container to cook them in. I ended up just cooking it in a bowl instead, it's not as hot as cooking in the bags but your camping so yea I just rough it a little.

The advice I got on what to store in a bear canister is to store anything that smells or has a scent. Aka toothbrush, toothpaste food etc.

When sleeping I store my bear canister a good 100m plus away and try and wedge it between stuff so if a bear does find it he doesn't kick it down a hill etc. Hope this helps!
Thanks! Yes I already use the freezer bag method. Otherwise I wouldn't even be able to fit a days worth of food and trash and toiletries haha
 

Miya

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I do!

Assuming you’re okay with brushing once a day I can even pack a week’s worth of them right in my toothbrush...





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Oooh I am digging that. Gonna have to order some. :)
 

Miya

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I use the toothpaste tablets. I like them and they are easy to portion out. I wouldn’t say they are a huge weight or space savings over a travel sized tube of toothpaste but if you’re gram counting every bit helps.

Not sure if it matters since you like the canister Miya, but I don’t hang my Ursack, I just tie it to a tree and take my chances. If my Ramen or freeze dried stuff got mashed up, I wouldn’t care too much. The IGBC tests stuff pretty thoroughly before they approve something (you can find videos of their bear tests on YouTube) so I’m surprised you’ve seen damaged ones. A grizzly must have really gone to town on it. I'm not trying to push the ursack on you just wanted to clarify what I meant before.
Digging a little more, it looks like the failed Ursack reports filed to Ursack, they are saying those are older versions. Not the IGBC approved ones. And who knows, maybe some people purchased rip offs too?

I feel like it is something I will try out in the future. :)
 

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