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Gear Review: Bearikade Food Container


By Rick Booth November, 2001 

Visiting the backcountry has a variety of problems that must be dealt
with.  In many cases permits are required.  In some areas it is becoming a
requirement to pack out ones poop.  In many areas it is necessary to have
a bear canister for food storage.  Sometimes they are just recommended but
in other cases such as entering through Kings Canyon they are mandatory. 
Are there more bears out there?  I don't know.  I do know that the
bureaucrats that run the various agencies responsible for most of the
public lands think there are more bears running around in the backcountry. 
I personally have not seen any bears outside of the very populous
campgrounds such as Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne campground and Sequoia
campgrounds.  It seems to me that a smart bear would go where the
concentration of dumb humans is highest and the pickings are easy, but
then, I don't work as either a bureaucrat or bear.

So there you are.  The trip is ready to go and the permit has arrived and
it says you must have a bear canister for food storage.  These canisters
can be rented at many outdoor shops and at the trailhead in Kings Canyon. 
After a while this can get to be a time consuming project in its own
right.  There are two alternatives to renting the canister.  One is to go
without one if you can get away with it, however, it really isn't in the
bears' best interest to be running off with your food.  The other option
is to buy one.

There are not a lot of easy options here.  The popular plastic container
made by Garcia Machine is inexpensive but is heavy as lead (2 pounds 11
ounces).  It has other problems such as a too small access hole and is not
watertight.  When Dee and I decided to buy a container we chose the
Bearikade Weekender.  This particular container weighs 1 pound 13 ounces
and saves almost a pound over the plastic container.  This container also
has a great access hatch on top that essentially allows full access to the
interior of the can.  The top has an o-ring seal and the claim is that
this is waterproof although we have yet to test this feature.  The top
attaches with three twist screws that can be turned with a coin.  A
quarter works best but other coins and the back of a knife blade also
work.  According to the Wild Ideas web site the container is constructed
from carbon fiber composite and 6061 T-6 aluminum.  I have worked with the
aluminum before and it is about as good a material as it gets.  The volume
of the container is 650 cubic inches which is about the same as the
plastic container.  In spite of the Weekender name it seems to be able to
hold food for two for about three days of travel.  The Bearikade container
isn't perfect because it does add extra weight to your pack, however, it
appears to be the lightest and best made option available at this time. 
The one downside is the cost.  This container is up there in the price
department.  The Weekender version costs $195.

There are other uses for the container.  If you buy one and are resigned
to using it then it is useful to think of other uses for it.  Tired of
sitting on a rock and spending the weekend with a gargoyle shaped dent in
your butt?  Park your buns on the top of the canister.  Better yet, cut
out a chunk of blue foam and put it on top of the canister.  You will be
smiling and your climbing buddy will be frowning.

Where do you get one?  They are not available in stores so you have to
order them from Wild Ideas in Santa Barbara, California.  The phone number
is 805-693-0550 or the canister can be ordered over the internet at
www.wild-ideas.net.  If you are convinced you want a canister and can
swing the cost the Bearikade canister should work.  There is a larger
version available called the Expedition.

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