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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Bear Canister Reviews

We tested bear canisters in three categories: best bargain, weekend size, and big trip size.

by: Jason Kauffman

PAGE 1 2 3
Garcia Backpacker's Cache (Courtesy Photo)
Garcia Backpacker's Cache (Courtesy Photo)
UDAP No-Fed-Bear Bear Resistant Container (Courtesy Photo)
UDAP No-Fed-Bear Bear Resistant Container (Courtesy Photo)
BearVault Canister (Courtesy Photo)
BearVault Canister (Courtesy Photo)

[best bargain]
Garcia Backpacker’s Cache

Though it was the heaviest bear canister in our test, the Backpacker’s Cache makes up for it with its brawny feel. And it’s so affordable that there’s just no excuse to set out into bear country without the peace of mind that only a canister can provide. The slippery smooth, high-impact plastic gives bears zero leverage necessary to pry it open. After being hauled through rugged terrain spanning the northern Rocky Mountains by our testers, the Backpacker’s Cache only shows a few cosmetic scratches. Said one tester: “The canister is wider in the middle and smoothly tapered, so I found it easy to cram tons of food inside (up to a week’s worth) and I also liked how the shape makes it easy to slide into even narrow-mouthed packs.” Gripe: The narrow opening (5.5 inches) makes inserting large items difficult.

>2 lbs 12 oz.
>600 cubic inches
>8.8 in. (diameter) by 12 in. (length)
PAGE 1 2 3

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Paul Andrews
Oct 22, 2012

I rely on my Garcia heavily. It is quite sturdy, and I always make sure to use all its space, first with food and smellies, then any other little stuff I can throw in to leave as much room as possible elsewhere in my pack. One thing I would mention - the top is not watertight, so I would advise to always store the can upside down in wet conditions in order to keep the inside dry.

high sierra
Sep 20, 2012

How come every time bear canisters pop up you guys talk about those heavy things. Bearikades canisters are almost a pound lighter. Little pricey but worth it.

Hiker C
Jul 16, 2012

Regarding how to fit it in your pack, I place mine vertically in the middle of my pack towards the top and pack other stuff around it, this way you can open the top flap and easily access the contents. Other options are to lay it horizontally across the top of your pack or if you are already fully loaded you can strap it to the outside of your pack, some manufacturers offer bags to let you do this. I don't like this option as a fully loaded can is going to weigh 7-8lbs so it screws up the balance of your pack, you really want it high up and close to your back to get the best balance.

I have both sizes of the Bear Vault and find them easy to use. I have not had any problems getting the tops off in any temperatures. I am not sure if there are manufacturing tolerances that make some harder to open than others so it may be worth checking in the shop. One tip to make it easier is not to screw the lid on too tightly, to make it secure you only have to tighten it past BOTH locking tabs but no further. As other users have suggested, hold it under your arm in a headlock and push in the tabs with your fingernail then spin off the lid.

When looking for a place to store your can, it should be at least 50ft from your tent, you should also consider cooking away from your tent if you know there are bears around. Wedge it between rocks if you can to try and avoid the pre breakfast game of find the bear can. Do not tie it to things as bears with rip it off then use the cord/straps to drag your food off into the sunset.

Jul 06, 2012

Uhm how do you put this bulky thing in a pack?

Feb 23, 2012

Funny to hear that people can't open their canisters. I don't own one, but, like I do with any new gear I get, I go through the paces. I do it with the instructions first, then without, then blindfolded until I get it right the first time a few times in a row.

Feb 04, 2012

Have the bear vault. Agree it can be hard to open at times but is worth it. Wanted the carbon fiber one but its to expensive for me.

Feb 03, 2012

Have the bear vault. Agree it can be hard to open at times but is worth it. Wanted the carbon fiber one but its to expensive for me.

Steve Lindeman
Sep 02, 2011

Several years ago in Yosemite a bear tried to get into my Bear Vault BV500 and cut/chewed the top's side slightly, but not enough to open the canister (the top is slightly soft and thin). After I saw that I started locking the canister between rocks with the top down showing only the tough bottom. That fixed the problem. I contacted the company re this and they sent me a new top no-charge.

Jul 12, 2010

I've used the large Bear Vault for several years and never had a problem getting it open. Before actual first-time use in different temperature conditions I practiced with it by trying differnt pressure techniques...which thumb, which fingers, which use to depress the catches until I got the hang of it. After all, it's a security feature; it's supposed to take effort and knowhow to get past it. All it takes is a little forethought and practice. Incidentally, I like the flourescent orange paint idea. Gonna go home and do mine tonight! Thanks for the tip. /B.

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