Campers, backpackers and hikers all have to respect the wide variety of animal life that exists in nature. Bears in particular are often drawn to campsites by cooking and food smells, and can be dangerous if encountered. Even worse, bears that manage to find food in campsites become habituated to it, and will seek out campsites in the future, looking for another easy meal. For this reason, it's a good idea to use a bear resistant canister when camping or backpacking in bear country.
Bear Resistant CanisterFeatures to look for when you are shopping for a bear resistant canister.
- Lightweight - Bear canisters are heavy, in part because building a canister that will keep a bear out requires a lot of material. But despite that, there are some big differences in the weights of bear canisters, and if you are going to be carrying your bear canister for any appreciable distance, you will be less fatigued by a lightweight bear resistant canister.
- Big Enough - Bear canisters also come in a few different sizes, and depending on how many of you there are and how many days you are going camping or backpacking for, you may want a certain size of bear canister.
Best Bear Resistant CanisterThere aren't too many bear resistant canisters to choose from, but there are a few of the better ones.
- Counter Assault Bear Keg - When a bear gets a hold of a bear canister it will often drag the canister away in to the woods to try and get it open. And while your bear canister likely will not go too far, you may have a difficult time finding it in the morning. Which is why the bright yellow Counter Assault bear canister is a good option. It does, however, weigh 4.4 pounds, or 1.92 kilograms, and holds 11.7 liters, which is enough room for about 7 days of food, but not a particularly impressive weight to capacity ratio.
- Garcia Bear Resistant Container - This bear canister from Garcia is slightly smaller, with just a 10 liter capacity, but also weighs quite a bit less, at just 2.75 pounds, or 1.24 kilograms. It's also black, so not the easiest bear canister to find in the morning, but even so, a good option as far as bear resistant canisters go.
- Bear Vault BV500 - The BV500 is the best bear canister on a couple of different metrics, the most important being weight. With a weight of just 2.56 pounds, or 1.16 kilograms, it's the lightest bear canister on this list. It also provides 11.5 liters of storage space, which is quite good, considering the weight. Best of all, however, it's clear, which means you can find food inside the bear canister without having to root around or dump the whole thing out. It also comes in a smaller size, called the BV450.
Camping or Backpacking in National ParksMany people end up buying a bear resistant canister specifically because they are required in some parks where there are large bear populations. Park officials want to ensure that bears don't start associating campers and campsites with an easy meal, and bear canisters are a good way to do that.
Before buying a bear canister for use in a park, you should make sure that the bear canister you are buying is approved for use in the park. As of this writing, all of the above bear canisters are approved, but this may change without warning, if any of the bear canisters above are reported to have been penetrated by a bear, for instance.