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My son, Greg, and I spent 19 days hiking the JMT this summer, finishing on 
August 15th.  We carried a Garcia bear canister (2 lb 14 oz), and an Ursack 
Major (6 oz).  We carried the canister because it was required along some 
parts of the trail, and the Ursack because we sure didn't want to carry two 
canisters.  This made a good system for us.  We stored the fragile stuff like 
olive oil and pop-tarts in the canister, and the overflow went into the 
Ursack.  The idea was that a bear might be expected to pulverize the contents 
of the Ursack before we could rescue it, so we kept that in mind when packing 
it.  We also lined both the canister and the Ursack with small garbage bags 
to reduce the food odor.     

We had no problems with bears testing the system.  (We were , however, asked 
on three different occasions if we were carrying a bear canister.)  After 
about 10-12 days of normal use, the Ursack material had frayed and unravelled 
along the side seam to the extent that a bear, or perhaps even a rodent, 
would have had little trouble getting inside.  Because I really like the idea 
of the Ursack as an alternative to carrying a bear canister, I sent the 
damaged bag back to Ursack and asked what, if anything, they could do to make 
it a workable option.  

Tom Cohen at Ursack called me back and also sent me the following email 
explaining the actions they are taking to correct the problems which their 
customers have experienced with early models of the Ursack.  I'm forwarding 
this information to the PCT list and other lists (AT, CDT, BackpackingLight) 
with Tom Cohen's permission.  (FYI, I like the Ursack concept; however, I 
don't work for them.)      
<<Roy:  Here is the update.  We will also be putting this on our web site 
[www.ursack.com].  -- Tom Cohen


After shipping the first few hundred URSACKs, we received reports of seam
failure and unraveling.  We immediately sent out a recall notice.  The
problem, which had never occurred in our bear tests at the zoo, was that the
aramid fiber fabric would fray and unravel under stress.  We then began to
double stitch all seams with aramid fiber thread, and to use seam tape on
the bottom and side seams of URSACK.  This has alleviated much of the
problem.  We think our next generation bags, which will start shipping in
mid to late September, will do even better.

The new URSACK is double coated.  This makes it water and UV resistant, but
more importantly, the coating prevents the fiber from unraveling and
fraying.  The seams, which will still be taped and double stitched, will
hold much better because of the coating.

We are always seeking to improve URSACK.  But we want to do so at a price
that keeps it affordable.  For example, we know that we can make a bag with
no seams or we can layer the fabric or double bag it.  But all of these
options would raise the cost.  Although the new URSACK costs us more, we
have not raised the price.  Only continual testing in the real world by real
outdoors people will tell us where we need to be.
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