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78959Re: [BackpackGearTest] EDIT: Owner Review - BearVault V500 - Michael Dax

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  • Michael Dax
    Mar 19, 2010
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      *BearVault BV500 *

      *By Michael Dax*

      *Owner Review*


      * *

      * *

      *Tester Information*

      * *

      NAME: Michael Dax

      AGE: 23

      GENDER: Male

      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.

      * *

      *Product Information*

      MANUFACTURER: BearVault

      MANUFACTURER�S WEBSITE: www.bearvault.com

      PRODUCT: BearVault BV500


      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)

      MSRP: N/A

      * *

      * *

      *Product Description*

      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.

      * *

      *First Trip*

      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
      (13.5 kg).

      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.

      * *

      *Second Trip*

      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
      batteries.* *

      * *


      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.

      *Likes* *

      Transparent Heavy

      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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