*BearVault BV500 *
*By Michael Dax*
NAME: Michael Dax
HEIGHT: 6�3�� (1.9 meters)
WEIGHT: 210 lbs. (95 kg)
EMAIL ADDRESS: mjdax30@...
CITY, STATE: Old Faithful, Wyoming (Yellowstone National Park)
I grew up hiking, backpacking, and cross country skiing in the Northeast
including New York, New Hampshire and Maine. For a short while I lived at
the Grand Canyon and I now live in Yellowstone. I am not fanatical about
light weight hiking, but I am starting to be more mindful of my gear.
MANUFACTURER�S WEBSITE: www.bearvault.com
PRODUCT: BearVault BV500
YEAR OF MANUFACTURE: 2007
LISTED WEIGHT: 41 oz. (1.1 kg)
ACTUAL WEIGHT: 41 oz. (1.1 kg)
LISTED DIMENSIONS: 12.7 x 8.7 in. (32 x 19
ACTUAL DIMENSIONS: 13 x 8.5 in. (33 x 19 cm)
The BearVault BV500 is a bear resistant canister designed as an alternative
to rigging a bear bag so that bears and other critters cannot get to your
food and other odorous objects. Bear Canisters are required in many popular
backcountry camping areas including the High Sierras of California and the
High Peaks of New York State.
The BearVault BV500 is 700 cubic inches (11.4 liters) and roughly 13 inches
tall by 8.5 inches in diameter (33cm x 20cm). It is designed to hold
roughly 7 days of food.
The BearVault BV500, along with other BearVault canisters, uses a screw top
lid. The lid locks shut after two small knobs that are on the lid have been
�clicked� past a piece of plastic that is on the canister. This piece of
plastic on the canister allows for the top to be screwed on easily, but not
off. To screw off the lid, the two knobs must be pushed inwards as each
knob passes the piece of plastic on the canister that prevents it from
unscrewing easily.* *
The BearVault BV500 is made of a transparent plastic that has a bluish tint,
but still allows its user to see into the canister from almost every angle.
The sides of the canister have dimples and ridges that make it easier for
the user to grip.
My first trip with the BearVault BV500 was down into the Grand Canyon for
two nights and three days. My friend and I camped at the same campsite in
Grapevine Creek for the two nights and did a day trip down the creek on our
second day. Our elevation started at 7400 feet (2250 meters) and dropped to
2500 feet (760 meters). The terrain was rough, but because of the
dependable weather, our packs for the trip were light at around 30 pounds
My friend and I were sharing the canister. He was carrying it during the
day, but we were both using it in camp and at night to store our food.
there are no bears at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, but there are some
very brazen mice that were running around our feet while we were in camp.
My friend was carrying a ULA Catalyst pack and the canister fit into his
pack horizontally with ease. However, he neglected to remember to put his
snacks for that day in the top of his pack and had to go into the canister
which was at the bottom of his pack each time he wanted food. However, the
canister was transparent, and he could easily find the particular food
object he was looking for each time.
When we got into camp, we both put all of our food into the canister and
proceeded to set up camp. It was nice to be able to leave our food in the
middle of camp knowing that it was safe from mice without having to take
time-consuming precautions or precautions that would make it hard to quickly
access our food once we needed it.
The canister proved somewhat difficult to open at first. The new plastic
was not very malleable. We ended up using the flathead screwdriver piece of
my Swiss Army knife to push the knobs on the lid in as using our fingers
proved difficult. This maneuver was difficult at first, but got easier with
The canister also made a very nice seat. However, we had to make sure that
the lid was screwed down all the way before we sat on it. If it wasn�t, we
would do damage to the threads on the canister and compromise its integrity.
Making this another step in our camp routine was all we had to do to
The next day on our day hike, we simply took the food we needed for the day
and left the canister sitting in camp. Once the lid was screwed tight, we
left it for the next 8 hours completely worry free.* *
There are other rodent resistant products that are lighter than the
BearVault, but we used this trip as a test run for later forays into bear
country. Its weight is definitely a burden, but with the light packs we
were carrying, it made little difference.
Later in the summer, my friend, my girlfriend, and I backpacked the John
Muir Trail (JMT) which is 220 miles (345 km) and has over 45,000 feet
(13,200 meters) of elevation gain and loss. For the entirety of the 19 days
that we were on the trail, we were in major black bear country. Our packs
ranged from roughly 35 pounds (15.9 kg) when we carried 3 days of food to 45
pounds (20.4 kg) when we carried 7 days of food. My friend and I both
carried a BearVault BV500 while my girlfriend carried another canister.
Once again, the canister fit well into my EMS Summit 5500 pack when placed
horizontally. Over the course of the trip, the canister held up perfectly.
It acquired some scuff marks, which is to be expected, but no structural
damage was done to the canister. No bear got into the canister throughout
the trip; however, as our canisters were always exactly where we put them
the night before, I do not think a single bear attempted to get into our
One thing that I noticed was that over the course of the 19 days, the
canister became easier and easier to open. The more I opened it the less
stiff the plastic lid became. It also helped that I had a lot of practice,
and by the end of the 19 days, I had no problems opening the canister at
The BV500 has a couple of benefits over other canisters. The first one is
that it is transparent. It is much easier to find a toothbrush or a
Werther�s Original at the bottom of the canister because it is transparent.
Second, the lid on other canisters has a tendency to jam when the canister
is very full; a problem that the BearVault did not have.
Because we were in black bear country, we had to put everything that might
have a scent in the canister. This meant chapstick, toothpaste, floss, and
contact lens solution. With all of this stuff in the canister, I was still
able to carry seven days of food. In all honesty, it was probably even more
than that because I took a slightly larger load than my girlfriend.
Finally, on a long trip like the JMT, it was nice to have the canister as an
organizational tool. After we stopped at certain ranches and other
re-supply points, it was nice to be able to put any loose change in the
canister as opposed to having it spread throughout my pack. It was also
great for other odds and ends such as matches, IDs, credit cards and extra
Bear canisters are a necessary evil. They are heavy and they take up a lot
of space, but when backcountry regulations require them, there is not
another choice. In fact, many places now require them. As far as they go,
the BearVault BV500 is great. Its transparent body allows me to see into
the canister which makes finding small things infinitely easier. The
locking mechanism was initially cumbersome, but within a couple of uses it
became much easier. It is slightly larger than many canisters, but still
fit horizontally into every pack in which I put it. Finally, it makes a
great seat in camp which can always be useful.
Disclaimer: There is a black bear in the Adirondacks that has become quite
good at opening these canisters. This is the only known instance of a bear
breaking into the canister of which I am aware.
Easy open Takes up
Good camp seat
Good organizational tool
Fits a lot of food
Peace of mind
No hassle compared to bear bag
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