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    Default Bear proofing food

    Planning an AT thru hike in 2020. Considering carrying a bear canister because it just seems easier than doing a bear hang every night with the added benefit of using it as a camp chair. The Bearikade brand seems like the best bet in terms of weight. Thoughts?

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    It's all about the trade-offs. It is becoming more critical to protect your food along the AT, so some attention to it is certainly good. If you find hanging inconvenient and don't mind the weight, then a canister is a good idea. Bearikades do have a good reputation, so you'll probably do fine with one. It may actually become a requirement for certain sections if rumors currently circulating are true (GSMNP, for instance) so you might just be ahead of the curve.
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    Registered User stilllife's Avatar
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    So where is a bear canister placed at night?

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    At every shelter in New Jersey there was a large bear box. The only place in New York I saw on2 was Wildcat Shelter. Fingerboard had cables. (As of September 2019 )

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    Quote Originally Posted by stilllife View Post
    So where is a bear canister placed at night?
    Some will say "several hundred feet from camp"... others will say "somewhere within ear shot".

    But the basic idea is that you want some distance between you and the bear canister. The idea is that the bear will smell the food and try to access the contents of the bear canister. But there will not be any edges for the bear to grab onto to get any leverage and won't be able to open it. After a while of trying, the bear will give up, and the next time he encounters a similar canister, won't even bother.

    But in the mean time, because a bear is likely to slap the can around a little bit, it's going to do some rolling. So you don't want to place it somewhere that will be easy for bears to roll it down a hill or into a body of water. So it's usually best to be placed in a natural depression or in some bushes... anything that makes it a little more difficult for the bear to accidentally roll it to somewhere that is inaccessable to you while they try to figure out how to get inside.

    So if you're in wide open country where there is little chance a bear can knock the canister down a hill, it's likely better for the canister to be placed farther from your camp. But in some place like the mountains where you're likely camping on something of a hill side, it's better to have the canister closer to you (will something on top to make noise if a bear messes with it) so that you have a better chance to try to scare the bear away before your canister gets rolled down a hill.

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    The only down side of the Bearikade as I see it besides the cost is that if you have a dcf pack, I have heard that the edges on the bearikades causes wear to the dcf fabric. Careful packing may eliminate this, just something to consider. That and cost are what has me staying with the bearvault for the foreseeable future.
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    Quote Originally Posted by irishkat View Post
    The Bearikade brand seems like the best bet in terms of weight. Thoughts?
    I used the Bearikade for a JMT thru hike and LOVED it... I liked being able to easily open it with a coin/washer compared to the BearVault that takes more of a medicine bottle approach. I also liked that I could place it standing up-right in the top of my pack and could access it's contents without removing it from the back pack. And as you point out, it's the lightest bear canister for it's size commercially available.

    Down sides:
    1. EXPENSIVE... about 3x the cost of heavier bear canisters
    2. NOT IGBC approved. For many places, this might not be an issue. It depends upon what are the rules for the area you plan to camp. For places that simply say "any commercial bear canister", you are good. Some places (such as Yosemite and surrounding areas) only certain models of bear canisters are approved (which Bearikade is on the Yosemite list). But other places such as Yellowstone require a canister that is IGBC certified.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stilllife View Post
    So where is a bear canister placed at night?
    You simply place it on the ground in a spot where it can't easily be rolled into a body of water or down a hill. Distance ... ? Some say a hundred yards, some say a hundred feet, some say within eye shot of your tent. Good idea to have some reflective tape on it or some bright colored tape in case a bear bats it off somewhere. I usually try to locate a spot between two downed trees to make it difficult to get pushed around. My daughter and I got bear canisters after multiple bear problems in VA/NC. Didn't have another bear event for the next 120 days of our thru hike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slumgum View Post
    You simply place it on the ground in a spot where it can't easily be rolled into a body of water or down a hill. Distance ... ? Some say a hundred yards, some say a hundred feet, some say within eye shot of your tent. Good idea to have some reflective tape on it or some bright colored tape in case a bear bats it off somewhere. I usually try to locate a spot between two downed trees to make it difficult to get pushed around. My daughter and I got bear canisters after multiple bear problems in VA/NC. Didn't have another bear event for the next 120 days of our thru hike.
    I second the reflective tape recommendation. It makes my canister much easier to locate at night.

    The one thing Iíll add to the above is that you should not tie any ropes or straps around the canister when stored and should not jam it under rocks or directly into the crook of a tree. The idea of the canister design is to make it do bears canít get a grip on it and doing any of these things can provide the bears with enough traction or leverage to break the canister or carry it off.
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    That is what I wanted to hear! Thanks

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    Thank you for the feedback!

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    Quote Originally Posted by irishkat View Post
    Thank you for the feedback!
    One more: if I had to carry a canister consistently, I'd probably bite the bullet and go for the Bearikade also, for the weight savings. But I only occasionaly have to do so, so I'm sticking with the Bearvault for now. Just FYI, I've used the Bearvault out in your neck of the woods (RMNP in late October, about 25 degrees at night) and had no problem with the opening/closure system; I've yet to understand what it is that gives people problems with it. So if you do end up needing to save money, I'm just suggesting you not pass up the BV because of the closure method.

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    The heck with bears, you really need a way to mouse-proof your food.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleolith54 View Post
    I've used the Bearvault ... and had no problem with the opening/closure system; I've yet to understand what it is that gives people problems with it.
    I think part of the problem is that you have to "bend" the plastic lid so that the tabs can pass the "locking" tab.
    One morning on the JMT, a neighboring camper came over for help trying to get into their Bear Vault. The temperatures were so cold and the plastic so ridged that on their own they could not "bend" AND twist the lid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    I think part of the problem is that you have to "bend" the plastic lid so that the tabs can pass the "locking" tab.
    One morning on the JMT, a neighboring camper came over for help trying to get into their Bear Vault. The temperatures were so cold and the plastic so ridged that on their own they could not "bend" AND twist the lid.
    Yep, I get that, I'm just saying I've not had any trouble doing it down to the mid-twenties. Below that, I can't testify.

    EDIT: although if someone is actually trying to depress the lid itself enough to allow the tabs to pass the lock, that's probably the problem. I depress the tabs themselves, and so far no problems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarcasm the elf View Post
    I second the reflective tape recommendation. It makes my canister much easier to locate at night.
    And I'll "third" the reflective tape trick. I used a BV500 on my thru-hike of the JMT last summer. A partner used the Bearikade. He also hauled a camp chair. My BV was my chair.
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    From the Smokies to Erwin, I don't recall a shelter area that did not have bear cables. To each their own, but it seems a whole lot easier to hang your food in a tree, or (while not suggested, but commonly done) on one of the numerous hangs inside the shelters. There are some pricier ones made of carbon fiber if you want to save some weight.
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    FWIW I used a rented Bearikade Expedition in Olympic Park Bailey Range traverse, a borrowed Bearikade Expedition for the JMT, and now own a Weekender that I have used on Tahoe Rim trail and in Yosemite. Expensive, but have most volume for size (thinner walls), an easy opening system, and work well as a seat. I did not find that there were abrasion issues with my Gossamer Gear packs, though I tended to put them in vertically rather than horizontally.
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    Quote Originally Posted by irishkat View Post
    Planning an AT thru hike in 2020. Considering carrying a bear canister because it just seems easier than doing a bear hang every night with the added benefit of using it as a camp chair. The Bearikade brand seems like the best bet in terms of weight. Thoughts?
    Bearikade user here. It's a great can and as you stated you can use it as a chair.

    The untold part of doing hangs is that doing a proper hang can sometimes be impossible in many areas due to the types of trees. I've seen lots of people hang food over the years and have rarely seen a proper hang (i.e. something such as the PCT method or similar and that is high enough off the ground).
    AT: 2007-2019 (45 sections)
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    Quote Originally Posted by stilllife View Post
    So where is a bear canister placed at night?
    As others have stated, somewhere where it can't be rolled away (like down a hill or into a body of water) and is sitting loose. I like to set mine close by so that if I hear it being messed with I can run out and scare the bear off. Haven't had to do this yet.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mouser999 View Post
    At every shelter in New Jersey there was a large bear box. The only place in New York I saw on2 was Wildcat Shelter. Fingerboard had cables. (As of September 2019 )
    Some states have boxes, some have cables and a few locations (SNP primarily) have poles. Many states have nothing.


    Quote Originally Posted by JC13 View Post
    The only down side of the Bearikade as I see it besides the cost is that if you have a dcf pack, I have heard that the edges on the bearikades causes wear to the dcf fabric. Careful packing may eliminate this, just something to consider. That and cost are what has me staying with the bearvault for the foreseeable future.
    If this is an issue I would just pack a piece of clothing such that it is covering the edge, and that should solve the problem.


    Quote Originally Posted by Turk6177 View Post
    From the Smokies to Erwin, I don't recall a shelter area that did not have bear cables. To each their own, but it seems a whole lot easier to hang your food in a tree, or (while not suggested, but commonly done) on one of the numerous hangs inside the shelters. There are some pricier ones made of carbon fiber if you want to save some weight.
    There are cables in Smokies, but the OP is going to thru hike and parts of the trail have no food storage. Also, very few people do proper food hangs (based on many years of hiking the AT and seeing tons of craptastic hangs), and doing a proper one can be very difficult in a lot of areas due to large old growth trees, pines or other types of trees that just don't have that nice branch that is parallel to the ground. Hanging food in the shelter will keep it away from rodents (maybe), but ain't gonna do nothing if a bear rolls up in there.
    AT: 2007-2019 (45 sections)
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