Every camper and backpacker should know that you are never supposed to store food in the tent with you, unless you want a bear coming in after that food. But storing your food outside of the tent wont prevent a bear from eating all of that food, and leaving you hungry. That's what a bear canister is for.
Bear CanisterFeatures to look for on a bear canister.
- National Parks Service Approval - A bear canister is a great way to protect your food anywhere in bear country, but a great many people end up purchasing bear canisters because they are required in a variety of parks throughout the country where park rangers want to prevent bears from looking at campsites as an area where they can get an easy meal. If you plan to go camping or backpacking overnight in a national park, you should check to make sure that your bear canister is approved. Here is the Olympic Park list of approved bear canisters, for instance, and here is the Sierra Wild list of approved bear canisters.
- Weight - Bear canisters are heavy. They have to be, to keep the bears away from your food. So if you are carrying a bear canister, you might as well be carrying the lightest bear canister possible.
- Capacity - If you cant fit all of your food in to your bear canister, you're going to be in trouble. Related to this, make sure that the bear canister has a big enough opening to get your food inside.
Best Bear CanisterThe best bear canisters around.
- BearVault BV500 - The BV500 is an ideal bear canister. It won an Editor's Choice Award from Backpacker magazine way back in 2004. It holds 700 cu, or 11.5 liters, which is enough room for about a weeks worth of food, for one person. It also has an extra wide opening, for all those Mr. Noodles, and has clear sides, so you can see where things are buried, and don't have to do too much rooting. Best of all it weighs just 2.55 pounds, or 1160 grams, making it the lightest bear canister on this list. It's also approved by the National Parks Service as of this writing, and there is even a smaller version, the BV450, if you don't need something so big.
- Garcia Bear-Resistant Container - This bear canister from Garcia is similar to the BV500 in a few ways, but also falls short in a few ways. First, it holds a similar amount, at 614 cu, or 10 liters, and weighs just a little more, at 2.75 pounds, or 1247 grams. But black sides and a smaller opening mean that you might have more trouble getting your food in to the container, and then also more trouble trying to find the food, once it's in. That said, it's certainly a viable option for backpacking or camping, and is approved by the National Parks Service.
- Counter Assault Bear Keg - The Bear Keg is one more bear canister, this time from Counter Assault. It holds slightly more than either of the other containers, at 716 cu, or 11.7 liters, but it also weighs significantly more, at 4.2 pounds, or 1920 grams. One thing that you might like about the Bear Keg, however, is that it is a bright yellow. Bears will often drag a bear canister away in to the bush, and then in the morning you will have to go hunting for it. The clear BV500 and the black Garcia will be a lot harder to find than the bright yellow Bear Keg. The Bear Keg is also approved by the National Parks Service.