Tips & Tricks

Packing Food in your BearVault®

  • Pack your BearVault® before you leave, to make sure all your food fits. If space is tight, consider excluding your first days’ lunch and snacks.
  • Remember to allow space for scented toiletries, trash, and pet food. Some people store camp cookware in their bear canister, and if you have plenty of space it’s a good idea, but it is not necessary. Most campers simply clean their camp cookware after each use and leave it out in the open, away from their tent (it will still have some scent on it).
  • If you use insect repellent with DEET, do not allow it to come into contact with your BearVault®. Double-bag it in ziplocks, and ensure there is no residue outside the bags. DEET causes irreparable harm to the plastic in bear canisters, and it voids your warranty.
  • Include a trash bag to keep your trash separate from your food.
  • Repackage food into ziplock bags to reduce space taken by inefficient packaging materials.
  • Organize food into larger ziplock sets so it is easier to locate food by meal.
  • After a few days of eating, you will have extra space in your BearVault®. Fill the space with other items to keep your pack as compact as it can be.

Packing your BearVault® in your Pack

  • Once your BearVault® is packed with food, it will probably be the single heaviest item in your pack. You want your pack to transfer the weight onto your hips, for the most comfort and energy conservation while hiking. Ideally, you should pack heavy items close to your body and at mid-back level. In other words, layer the bottom of your pack with items that are less dense (sleeping bag, tent, inflatable sleeping pad, clothes you don’t need handy). Next place your heavy items (food, tent pegs, etc.). If your pack is wide, place the heaviest items close to your back, not far away from your back. On the top you should place remaining items, and those that you need to have handy (rain jacket, snacks for the day, etc.).
  • BearVault® Canisters can be strapped to a pack. There are dimples on the side that serve as strap guides, to help secure it to the pack. However, if at all possible, it is better to place the weight mid-back inside your pack.

River, Lake and Ocean Trips

  • BearVaults are not waterproof. Please use a dry bag over the BearVault when doing water-based trips.
  • Take care to keep salt off the threads. Evaporated salt can result in a sticky lid. Use a dry bag over the BearVault, and inspect/clean threads periodically.

Use Around Camp

  • It is best practice to cook before dark, when possible. Bears most often visit campsites around dusk or after dark.
  • When you arrive at camp, take your BearVault® out of your pack and find a good place to store it. Don’t leave it in your pack!
  • When you cook, take the needed food out, then immediately close the lid of your BearVault. Bears who are habituated to sites can become opportunists. Don’t give them an opportunity.
  • When you close the lid, close it fully: two clicks past the stopper.
  • If you sit on your BearVault®, ensure the lid is fully closed to reduce wear and strain on the threads.
  • Keep scents out of your tent, always. Do not eat in your tent, or brush your teeth, or apply sunblock. If you spill food on your sweater, keep it out of your tent until it is fully washed. Keep your tent “pristine” when it comes to scents.

Storage at Camp and at Home

  • Do not hang a bear canister. Bear canisters are designed for on-ground use, to withstand the antics of bears’ paws and jaws. They are not designed to withstand loaded drops from high up in trees.
  • Store your BearVault® (and anything with a smell or scent) far from your tent: at least 100 yards away, and downwind.
  • Ensure the lid is closed fully: two clicks past the stopper. Do not over-tighten the lid: two clicks is enough. Changes in air pressure and temperature can make it very difficult to open a threaded canister if it is over tightened.
  • When you’re back home, clean the canister with mild soap and water, and store it with the lid on in a cool dry location.

Bears Around Camp

  • Black bears are naturally shy, but they can overcome this and become habituated to people (or even become aggressive), if they are repeatedly “rewarded” with food.
  • If a black bear approaches camp or your t®, use noise (banging pots, yelling, whistles) and bold movements (arm waving) to ward it off. Be loud and assertive – bears can perceive the tone of your voice.
  • You can move towards a bear while being assertive, but do not get too close to it or endanger yourself. Remember, bears (like all animals) have a “fight or flight” reaction to danger. If you are too close, you risk triggering a bear’s fight reaction. Always put your own safety first.
  • Within the limits of your own safety, try your best to scare bears away from camping and food storage areas. Try to keep bears wild for the safety of people and for their own future.
  • Many hikers now carry bear spray. Bear spray should be used as a last resort – if a bear is threatening a person – not as a scare tactic.
  • Problems with bears should be reported to the local rangers. This helps them monitor and manage issues before they get out of hand.
  • A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear: While rangers in some areas will try to relocate “problem bears” to remote areas, the success rate is low. Once bears have become habituated to people and human food, they tend to wander back to populated areas. In the end, most bears who frequent campsites, town trash bins and dumpsters, and other areas where they are rewarded with food will end up being put down. Each year in the USA, approximately 1000 bears are put down for this reason.

Opening and Closing the Lid

  • Open the lid by swiveling it counter-clockwise until the black nubs on the lid lock against the blue plastic stopper. With your finger or thumb, push in on the black nub, or just above the nub on the textured area, and then guide the nub past the stopper. Repeat for the second nub.
  • Grip your canister between your knees for extra traction.
  • If your fingers are feeling cold, sore, or weak, this process can be eased with a little trick: place a plastic card between the nub and the stopper, to help it glide past.
  • If the lid is sticky or difficult to open: If it is a new canister, please contact us. If it has become harder to open over time, try cleaning the threads of both the canister and the lid with a mild soap and a toothbrush, and then apply a food-grade silicon lubricant.

Why not Hang Food?

Food hangs are not ideal in most settings: trees become damaged and broken with frequent use around designated campgrounds; It is unusual to find the ideal tree limb for a food hang. Furthermore, bears have been known to climb trees and to send cubs up onto smaller limbs to pull down food hangs.