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Kendis
member (20)member
 
01/04/2018 03:00PM
Writing with a question about food packs for an upcoming BW trip. Please note this question is in regards to the truly bear-resistant barrels and not the huge blue contraptions. Food storage is the last major piece of equipment I am looking to purchase. I vastly prefer not to have to hang a food pack each day but I'm open to it if necessary...

Do any of you own and/or have used the Counter Assault or BearVault containers on trips to the BW?

I would post links to these items but bwca.com is preventing me from doing so.

I am looking for a container that can hold enough food for two people for a five-day, four-night trip plus one extra day of food as a backup.
 
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mschi772
distinguished member (176)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/04/2018 03:50PM
Depending on where you are going, BearVaults are potentially compromised having been defeated by some Adirondack bears in the past.

Garcia and Counter Assault are very similar and quite effective.

Bearikades by Wild Ideas are tremendous. They're expensive to buy, but if you have only the rare special need for something, they come in the widest array of sizes and can be rented quite affordably.

There is also the Ursack for your consideration especially if lighter weight appeals to you and crushability isn't as much of a concern.


Judging what you need to supply X number of people for Y number of days depends greatly on what and how you are planning to eat.
01/04/2018 05:58PM
I have a BearVault (BV500) and a Garcia (now Backpackers Cache) that I have used. I now use Ursacks - switched 2-3 years ago to reduce weight and bulk. I hate to hang. I have managed to cram in 8-9 days worth of food for me, but it requires certain adjustments. For a 5-day, 4-night solo trip, I'd normally pack 4 breakfasts, 4 dinners, and 5 lunches/snacks since I'd eat breakfast the first day before entry and dinner the last day after exit. I'd also carry the first day's lunch/snacks in my pocket rather than packed in the BearVault. All the breakfasts and dinners are dehydrated meals in minimal packaging. The snacks/lunches are calorie-dense in minimal packaging. The foods and packaging allow them to "conform". A 9-day trip - 8 breakfasts, 8 dinners, 9 lunches/snacks - crams the BV pretty full.

As mschi said, a lot depends on what and how much you are going to eat. A typical day's food for me would weigh 18-20 ounces and provide +/- 2,300 calories. I don't carry an extra day of food on short trips (it takes a while to starve to death:). It took me a while to get it worked down to just what I eat, but I no longer carry twice as much as I need. I won't go into greater detail here since there have been numerous posts on the topic. If you want more detail, just let me know and I'll email you and answer any questions I can.

If you can't get it all in one BV500, your options would be to get another one, maybe the smaller one, or just get two smaller ones maybe. I can get at least as much in the Ursack and I think they now make a larger one, so that might be an option. Or you might keep the extra, maybe the first night's dinner, in a stuff sack. I have done trips where we hung an extra day or two of food in a small stuff sack, which is a lot easier than hanging a big heavy pack.

You could use some cardboard and tape to make a dummy barrel with the same dimensions to get an idea of the size, especially if you can't conveniently get somewhere to actually hold one.

If you search through the site, especially if you join the solo tripping forum, you'll find some threads about it with some alternate methods of doing it.


Northwoodsman
distinguished member(1043)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/04/2018 07:08PM
I have 3 Bear Vault 500's and 1 Counter-Assault. I much prefer the BV's. The lid is flat and easy to open without any "tool" (coin, washer, knife, etc.); they make an adequate seat. The BV's are clear so you can see what is in them. The BV's are more water-proof. I like the thought of an Ursack for the ease of packing but the lack of being water resistant and not being crush-resistant keeps me using the BV's. I'm more worried about small critters than bears.
SevenofNine
distinguished member(2219)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/04/2018 07:23PM
You should be able to get enough food for two people for a 4 day trip providing it’s dehydrated food. Trying to go with bulky food will make it impossible. But my wife and I fit enough in it for that length of time. We bring a lot of bars and nuts so I think you’ll be fine.
01/05/2018 01:36AM
I have one BV 500 and three BV450s. Sometimes it works best to take the 500 sometimes the 2- 450s work better. The 450s stacked atop each other are the same height as the 500 and I think will hold the same but sometimes it's nice to spilt the meals up, foodstuffs in the one 450, snacks in the other 450, you cram a 450 full of snacks and you can treat a whole Boy Scout troop to snacks [get them full of sugar and send them on their way, just don't camp next to them] . When you get a 500 full of food and put it in your pack you need to either put it in the center of the pack and keep it there or put it on one side then pack enough stuff along side it to balance the weight and keep it from shifting, 2- 450s will set side to side in the average pack and not shift around. Case in point last year my son and I were up in The Bright Sands River area of Ontario, I grabbed the food pack with a full BV500 in it [in the middle of the pack] when I swung it up on my back the barrel shifted and I did some dance steps not seen since the 60's dance craze to keep from sitting down in knee deep mud, my son nearly fell in the mud from laughing, that boy has got a sic sense of humor. FRED
MReid
senior member (86)senior membersenior member
 
01/05/2018 08:42AM
mschi772: "Depending on where you are going, BearVaults are potentially compromised having been defeated by some Adirondack bear

That was pretty much a fluke, and the design has been changed since then. I've used Garcias and BV, and much prefer the design of the BV (easier to load, easier to open, and easier to sit on).
Northwoodsman
distinguished member(1043)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/05/2018 09:35AM
2 BV 500's fit perfectly in a CCS Bushcrafter or CCS Rucksack when placed sideways, on top of one another. I use a Bushcrafter for my kitchen pack. I can also get my stove, fuel, pans and utensils in it.
schweady
distinguished member(6687)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
01/05/2018 11:52AM
My wife and I did a 3-night basecamp trip last summer and our major goal was to break our food prep paradigm. Our goals: try our best to keep it light, enjoy our wood fires but not depend on them for cooking, and eliminate the need to hang our food. This meant many new purchases (!) MSR WindBurner stove and skillet, Mountain House foods, some new long-handled titanium utensils... and a BearVault BV500.

I will say that, even with the usual lightweight food items, it was quite a challenge to fit all of it into the vault. We ate well enough and if need be, we would be fine going in again with just the one BV500 (700 cu in), but I am tempted to add an Ursack (650 cu in). Do folks using these trust them as-is, or do you also use OPSak bags or some other odor-barrier inside the Ursack?
01/05/2018 12:10PM
Schweady-

I use an OPsack with the Ursack for additional moisture protection and odor containment.
mc2mens
distinguished member(4102)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
01/05/2018 12:14PM
I use a Garcia bear keg on backpacking trips where weight and bulk are critical. But I have not used it on any BWCA trips. It doesn't hold much food, and I don't think I could get enough dried food in it for 2 people for 5 days unless we were fasting. I use one of those big "blue contraptions" when canoe camping. The 30 L holds plenty of food and wine for me and my gal for a week. Often I trip with two brothers and our sons (6 guys total). 2 of the 30L barrels holds enough food for 6 of us (and enough wine for the 3 old guys) for 6 nights. But we do like to eat well.
schweady
distinguished member(6687)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
01/05/2018 12:21PM
boonie: "I use an OPsack with the Ursack for additional moisture protection and odor containment. "
Thanks, boonie. I see 4 different sizes of Opsak... 7x7, 9x10, 12x20, 20x28. Is it the 12x20 that has worked best for you? (assuming the standard size Ursack at ~ 8x14)
yellowcanoe
distinguished member(5101)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
01/05/2018 01:24PM
MReid: "mschi772: "Depending on where you are going, BearVaults are potentially compromised having been defeated by some Adirondack bear


That was pretty much a fluke, and the design has been changed since then. I've used Garcias and BV, and much prefer the design of the BV (easier to load, easier to open, and easier to sit on)."


Actually it was not a fluke at all. Yellow Yellow taught her cubs how to break into BV's also. That was several years ago and since then Bear Vault has been improving the design with the help of ADK users.
MReid
senior member (86)senior membersenior member
 
01/05/2018 01:35PM
yellowcanoe:
Actually it was not a fluke at all. Yellow Yellow taught her cubs how to break into BV's also. That was several years ago and since then Bear Vault has been improving the design with the help of ADK users."


I'd posit that one bear figuring it out (and if I remember it was an "experienced" bear) is pretty much a fluke. Her teaching the kids is interesting, but not that unexpected. If I remember right, this was over ten years ago (I think I have one of the older Bear Vaults).

Regardless, the catch has been modified, and so shouldn't happen again. For thoroughly tested and approved cannisters, see Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Approved Cannisters.
TominMpls
distinguished member (338)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/05/2018 01:36PM
I own two BV500s and a BV450. Depending on the trip, I bring some combination of those. I prefer to bring two BV500s not because I need that much space but because they function as two camp stools for us. For backpacking trips, a single BV450 holds food for two people for three nights the way we eat. For a weeklong trip we could get by with a BV500 and a BV450 but we generally bring the two BV500s, which has the benefit of giving us plenty of space inside for utensils, toiletries, sunscreen, trash, etc. By the late stages of a longer trip we keep more and more of our kitchen stuff inside the bear vaults.

One note about Bear Vaults, try out the ones you're buying before you buy if possible - One of my BV500s is substantially harder to open than the other two. I can't really figure out why, but it's true enough that we tend to shift food around mid-trip to make sure we're only regularly opening the ones that are easy to open.
MReid
senior member (86)senior membersenior member
 
01/05/2018 01:45PM
Some interesting reading on the topic of Yellow Yellow Yellow Yellow and cannisters . It appears that the Adirondack bears were more adept than I realized, but I've been out of the business a while.
01/05/2018 02:43PM
schweady: "boonie: "I use an OPsack with the Ursack for additional moisture protection and odor containment. "
Thanks, boonie. I see 4 different sizes of Opsak... 7x7, 9x10, 12x20, 20x28. Is it the 12x20 that has worked best for you? (assuming the standard size Ursack at ~ 8x14)
"


Yes, 12X20 - it's the one on the Ursack site
schweady
distinguished member(6687)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
01/05/2018 03:35PM
Makes sense. Thanks again
GraniteCliffs
distinguished member(1608)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/05/2018 03:39PM
I use BV on my solos, otherwise don't use anything.
Thankfully, no Adirondack bears in the BW or Q!
houseofspam
senior member (78)senior membersenior member
 
01/05/2018 06:27PM
I do a combination of bear barrels and hang:
1 - Anything heavy or smelly goes in the Garcia barrel. I leave it in an obvious location and hope the bear finds it first and moves on. Like other people, I really only worry about it getting rolled into the lake.
2 - All the dehydrated or vacuum sealed stuff goes in a sack that I hang. This isn't very heavy, so I don't need a big tree branch. It's green so it blends in and I hide it a bit by picking a tree distant from camp or in an otherwise awkward location. I'm not convinced a bear would eat a dehydrated meal if you left it on the fire grate.

arm2008
senior member (89)senior membersenior member
 
01/05/2018 08:08PM
mschi772: "Depending on where you are going, BearVaults are potentially compromised having been defeated by some Adirondack bears in t"

One. And she died. Really, she has gone to the big campground in the sky.
ockycamper
distinguished member (470)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/06/2018 05:43PM
I have never heard of a bear getting into a Bearvault. Or even dragging one off. Ursack can be dragged off.

We stopped hanging and went to bearvaults years ago. We cook big breakfasts and dinners. Typically we use one BearVault 500 per day for a group of 6-7 men.

We have also found that you can put 4 bearvaults into a Boundary Bag pack and carry them through 4 at a time.

Best part is you can see what's inside, and can use them as chairs. As they empty out, they become trash containers to pack out.
LindenTree3
distinguished member(2354)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/06/2018 06:38PM
I have the Bearvaults, one 500 and one 450.
I also have a Ursack when I want to go lighter.

If you pack dehydrated foods a BV 450 or 500 one, not both, plus a Ursack should get you by easily on your trip.
By getting both you have options in the future. If you are worried about something getting into your Ursack, keep the food items that you can live without in there like snacks and such, and keep the survival food in your Bearvault.
bwcasolo
distinguished member(1592)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/07/2018 09:16AM
bear vault 500's for me. one for my solo trips, 2 when wife and i go. hawk vittles and good to go food's pack small, vaults hold more than enough.
01/08/2018 08:22AM
BearVaults for me in the BW, but I hang or tie off with a Ursack when backpacking to save pack room.

As others have said, 2 people's food for 5 days/4 nights would be doable in a BV500 if you're using dehydrated food and it's not in bulky packaging. After seeing a few people on here use it, I've gone to a pantry style system to further cut down on packaging bulk.
Northwoodsman
distinguished member(1043)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/08/2018 08:56AM
Another note on the Bear Vaults. They make a good wilderness washing machine. Add article of clothing, water and a drop of soap and agitate and let soak. Appropriately dispose of water. Add clean water and repeat to rinse. Also makes a wash basin for dishes.
TipsyPaddler
member (50)member
 
01/08/2018 05:22PM
hooky: "I've gone to a pantry style system to further cut down on packaging bulk."

Sounds interesting...what’s pantry style?
TipsyPaddler
member (50)member
 
01/08/2018 05:24PM
Northwoodsman: "Another note on the Bear Vaults. They make a good wilderness washing machine. Add article of clothing, water and a drop of soap and agitate and let soak. Appropriately dispose of water. Add clean water and repeat to rinse. Also makes a wash basin for dishes."

Great idea! I love this forum.
schweady
distinguished member(6687)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
01/09/2018 11:35AM
TipsyPaddler: "hooky: "I've gone to a pantry style system to further cut down on packaging bulk."

Sounds interesting...what’s pantry style?"

Bringing your goods in bulk and using a measure here and a portion there for each meal. Rather than a single package dedicated to producing each single meal.
01/09/2018 11:51AM
TipsyPaddler: "hooky: "I've gone to a pantry style system to further cut down on packaging bulk."

Sounds interesting...what’s pantry style?"


schweady explained it well. Here is a thread with discussion of Pantry Style, thinking about meal planning

butthead
01/12/2018 10:20AM
I have both sizes of BearVaults and a BearKeg. The BearKeg is heavier but I like how it looks. I use it on long trips in case a Bear gets all the food in the blue barrel.
I use the BearVaults for backpacking out west. They work well. I will probably get a Bearikade for my JMT attempt when weight will be a factor. I added the bear sticker to cover up the warning about building a fire on it or using it to store deet.

I use a credit card sliver placed between the tabs on the BearVaults to make opening them easier especially when it’s cold.

I also added a washer to the BearKeg to make opening it more convenient. The late BWCA. com member kanoes taught me that. I think he upgraded to a Garcia though and posted his weight to volume reasoning. He believed in bear containers after one got the “nectar” out of his pack.
01/12/2018 10:37AM
I always think of kanoes when I use the washer to open the BearKeg. I really miss him and his opinions in the Gear Forum on this site.
houseofspam
senior member (78)senior membersenior member
 
01/13/2018 12:52PM
Zulu: " I also added a washer to the BearKeg to make opening it more convenient. The late BWCA. com member kanoes taught me that. I think he upgraded to a Garcia though and posted his weight to volume reasoning. He believed in bear containers after one got the “nectar” out of his pack."

I did something similar using a rare earth magnet out of an old hard drive. It's glued to the inside of the lid on my Garcia barrel. Now anything magnetic sticks to the outside of the lid. That's a 2 pence coin I'm currently using.

Inside the lid:



2 Pence vs gravity:



Another shot:

01/15/2018 01:09PM
butthead: "TipsyPaddler: "hooky: "I've gone to a pantry style system to further cut down on packaging bulk."

Sounds interesting...what’s pantry style?"



schweady explained it well. Here is a thread with discussion of Pantry Style, thinking about meal planning


butthead"


butthead is the reason I'm a pantry guy now.

01/15/2018 06:22PM
That’s a great idea house! Really thinking “outside the box” ......or barrel in this case.
OldFingers57
distinguished member(5389)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
01/15/2018 06:46PM
ockycamper: "I have never heard of a bear getting into a Bearvault. Or even dragging one off. Ursack can be dragged off.


We stopped hanging and went to bearvaults years ago. We cook big breakfasts and dinners. Typically we use one BearVault 500 per day for a group of 6-7 men.


We have also found that you can put 4 bearvaults into a Boundary Bag pack and carry them through 4 at a time.


Best part is you can see what's inside, and can use them as chairs. As they empty out, they become trash containers to pack out."



Yes there was a bear that figured out how to get int a bear vault. The bear is now dead. As for bear vaults getting carried off, yes this has happened when in a pack or sone people have tied a rope or something to it and it thus gives the bear something to grab onto with its teeth and carry off. I’ve heard about this on some backpacking sites.
yellowcanoe
distinguished member(5101)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
01/16/2018 07:51AM
Yellow Yellow taught her cubs before she was shot. So bears do learn. For that reason because I am an Adirondack camper I did not buy a Bear Vault

Bear Vault the company worked closely with the ADK DEC Rangers to find out exactly why the vault was compromised and to improve the design

Its certainly understandable that unless you camp in the Eastern High Peaks of the Adirondacks you would not have heard of the "bear break ins"
ockycamper
distinguished member (470)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/16/2018 09:10AM
I do camp in the ADK. I have done several sections of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, working with outfitters each time. Their go to recommendation is Bear Vaults because of their smooth sides, ratcheting lids and not needing to tie to a tree.
andym
distinguished member(4120)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
01/16/2018 02:07PM
In the BW, it is easy to tie an Ursack to a tree and prevent it from being carried off.
schweady
distinguished member(6687)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
01/17/2018 03:08PM
Here's a quick screenshot of a food container spreadsheet I've been tinkering around with for a while. One of the guys in our men's group saw some used blue barrels on sale wondered if it was time for us (after 40 years) to move away from the chore of hanging our Duluth pack (dry foods) and insulated bag (cold stuff). One reminder I gave him was that the blue barrels are not exactly considered 100% bear proof... tell me if I'm off in that assessment.

I've listed Bear Vault and Ursack info, also, but don't believe the men's group would go to either of those systems... more as a way to explore what direction my wife and I could go, having enjoyed using a BV500 but finding it serviceable but *barely* adequate for our latest 3-night trip. This summer, we may get involved with a "group couples" trip, along the lines of kanoes' "group solo" arrangement, and each couple may be encouraged to go the BV/Ursack/dehydrated route.

Also, I know that the aluminum liner might not be seen as needed in the Ursack, but wanted to get the info in here. (It more than doubles the weight; anybody here found this metal liner useful?)

Anyway, glean whatever info you will from this and offer suggestions to add/edit.

MReid
senior member (86)senior membersenior member
 
01/17/2018 04:38PM
schweady: Also, I know that the aluminum liner might not be seen as needed in the Ursack, but wanted to get the info in here. (More than doubles the weight; anybody here found this add useful?)


The aluminum liners are to keep bears from crushing the contents. Without them, the bears may not be able to get to the food (and thus helping to prevent food-conditioning), but they can play havoc with anything inside the bag. Personally, the Bear Vault is my staple (ex-Alaskan), and the Ursack is used for overflow. I just treat the Ursack as a bear bag, and hang it, or at least tie it to a tree. An unsecured Ursack won't stick around very long if a bear finds it.
mc2mens
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01/17/2018 08:26PM
Zulu: "I always think of kanoes when I use the washer to open the BearKeg. I really miss him and his opinions in the Gear Forum on this site."

I probably learned more about BWCA tripping gear from him than anyone else here.
 
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