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[pct-l] Ursack Update

I have been following the Ursack development. For those who don't know the
URSACK is a 4-5 ounce bag that is designed to keep bears from getting food.

Bear Protection-Current
Currently, most weekend and section hikers in the High Sierra carry plastic
or aluminum bear canisters. Kings Canyon has regulations that REQUIRE
backpackers entering and exiting along popular access routes to the PCT/JMT
carry a bear canister. Hikers passing through the Kings Canyon area
[thruhikers for example] are required to use bear boxs through specific
areas. Yosemite doesn't YET require bear canisters but is on the way.

The bear canister has the problem of being heavy 2#3oz to 2#9oz, and really
not providing enough food for a weeks hike for most people [careful packing
can overcome this but most people don't do it]. The result is overflow food
that is either hung [usually poorly] or stuffed in a bear box when one is

The URSACK Major has double the room of a standard bear canister but weighs
only 5 ounces. Obviously, if it worked, it would be a better answer than a
bear canister. The first prototype models that were hand sewn worked well,
resisting the attacks of bears in zoos. The first production models,
however, had seam problems. The seams failed under repeated bear accacks.
These were recalled and double stiched. Later URSACK models have taped seams
in addition to being double stiched. This adds less than an ounce to the
weight. The ursack inventor, Tom Cohen has been very forthright with me
about URSACK failures indicates that none of the taped seams URSACKS have
failed. The taped seams should also solve the fabric fraying problem that
has been reported

"Approved" Bear Canisters
The NPS talks about "approved bear canisters". However, it has no process to
test and approve canisters. In the past, if a canister fails it was not

My personal Plan-
I have two URSACKS. I use one inside the other. I also have 15' of slightly
heavier cord that is installed in one bag [old bag]. The double bag
overcomes the possibility of the bear worrying the fabric enough to wear a
hole in the bag [single reported instance]. The double knot overcomes the
NPS reported problem with bear germs being transmitted to human food. I
separately knot the inner bag [short string] then place it in the outer bag
[long string}. I knot the outer bag and tie around a tree then tie the inner
bag [short] string around the outer bag's knot. The entire contraption
weighs 10 ounces [1/3 of bear canister] with double the volume. Cost was
$130, $59 each for the bags plus $10 for the longer, heavier cord and

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