When I was preparing for the John Muir Trail (JMT), I dove deeply into the world of bear canisters. I already had a Garcia canister, which I would use for trips to the Adirondacks, but I needed a canister that would be able to handle at least a week’s worth of food. So, I gave myself a project–research available canisters. Others on the trip piped in. We looked at volume, size, cost. And, then as any good UL backpacker would do, a spreadsheet was made to compare the canisters in consideration.
If you’re in the market for a bear canister, there are two questions you’ll want to answer first.
- How many days worth of food will you need to store?
- Which bear canister is approved for use in the area you’ll be traveling to?
Once you know that, you can start to narrow down your options. I wound up going with the BearVault 500 for the JMT. It was large enough to handle about seven to eight days of food that I needed to store, plus it was priced reasonably. Perhaps if I lived or backpacked in a region where bear canisters were required, I might have been tempted to spring for the more expensive (and lighter) canister.
We’ll talk about other food storage options in future posts, but this will give you a good look at a number of bear canisters to help you get started with your search.
|Make and Model||Weight (oz)||Volume
|Volume/oz||Size||Capacity for One Person (as advertised)|
|Bearikade Scout||28||500||17.86||9″ diameter by 8″ length||Four to six days|
|Bearikade Weekender||31||650||20.97||9″ diameter by 10.5″ length||Up to six days|
|Bearikade Blazer||33||650||22.73||9″ diameter by 12″ length||Up to nine days|
|Bearikade Expedition||36||900||25.00||9″ diameter by 14.5″ length||Up to 12 days|
|Garcia Backpacker’s Cache (sold through REI and EMS)||44||614||13.95||8.8″ diameter by 12″ length||Up to six days|
|BearVault BV500 (sold through REI)||41||700||17.07||8.7″ diameter by 12.7″ length||Up to seven days|
|BearVault BV450 (sold through REI)||33.6||440||13.10||8.7″ diameter by 8.3″ length||Up to four days|
|BareBoxer||25.6||275||10.74||7.4″ diameter by 8″ length||Up to three days|
|UDAP No-Fed Bear||38.4||455||11.85||8″ diameter by 10″ length||Up to four days|
Originally published by Jen Adach on DC UL Backpacking “Gear Talk” message board on Dec. 29, 2013. Chart contains contributions from other JMT 2014 trip members. Photo by Brian H.