Owner Review: Wild Ideas Bearikade Expedition MKII - Colleen Porter
- this is my first OR in a long time. hope it's any good, and thanks
for your edits.
Bearikade Expedition MKII
Name: Colleen Porter
Height: 5'8" (1.73 m)
Weight: 145 lbs/66 kg
Email address: tarbubble at yahoo dot com
Location: Orange County, CA
Backpacking Background: I've been backpacking for 10 years, usually
with my husband. We used to be heavyweights, but having children
forced us to go ultralight, and now on my own my 3-season base weight
hovers around 13 pounds. On family trips the weight usually
doubles. I just had my second child in June of this year and he is
now 2 months old, plenty old enough to start backpacking. My typical
haunts are the mountains of southern California, the Sierra Nevada,
the Grand Canyon, plus the Mojave and Colorado deserts. Yup, gotta
carry a lot of water.
Manufacturer: Wild Ideas, Inc.
Year Manufactured: 2003
MSRP: $245.00 (US)
Dimensions: 9" diameter base by 14" length (22.8 cm diameter by 35.5
Listed Weight: 2 pounds, 5 ounces (1.049 kilograms)
Tested Weight: (including three stickers I put on it myself)
Description: From the manufacturer's site - "The Bearikade is a bear
resistant container made of a lightweight composite sandwich. The
Bearikade is easily opened by a human using the edge of a coin or
other flat object such as a screwdriver blade. Animals, on the other
hand, find it virtually impossible to open." The Bearikade is a
cylinder made of composite carbon fiber and "aircraft grade" 60-61 T6
aluminum. The walls of the cylinder are carbon fiber and the caps at
either end are aluminum. The top lid is removeable and locks on at
three different points, and the bottom cap is not removeable. The
Expedition model, the subject of this review, has a capacity of 900
cubic inches (14.75 liters).
Field Information: The Expedition was purchased in Spring 2003 and
has been used almost exclusively in the Sierra Nevada mountain range,
in central California. Elevations have ranged from 4000 to over
13,000 feet (1200 to over 3900 meters). It has been carried in
multiple types of backpacks (both internal and external), and has
been exposed to rain, hail, subfreezing temperatures, and
blisteringly hot granite. It has been buried under rocks, wedged
between tree roots, and simply left on its own to fend off bears. I
cannot recall the number of nights it has been used, if I count the
trips I remember it adds up to at least twenty - but I'm certain the
number is higher than that..
Review: There are several models of bear-proof canisters currently
approved for use, and we opted to purchase the Bearikade Expedition
for a number of reasons. For our growing family, we needed more
capacity than other models on the market, and even in the Expedition
size (Wild Ideas makes smaller versions, but the Expedition is the
largest stock size offered) the Bearikade was still lighter than any
other model on the market at the time, with almost 50% more
capacity. The price tag was the only tradeoff, but we figured if we
amortized the cost against the number of years we'd use it, it would
be worthwhile. So far, we have no regrets about the splurge.
The most important thing, the purpose that the Bearikade was designed
for, is keeping human food away from bears. So I'm happy to report
that a bear has never gotten our food while we have been using the
Bearikade. Now, you might say "But how do you know a bear ever even
tried to get into your food?" We have camped in areas that were
famous for their marauding bears. In Yosemite National Park, at
Sunrise Creek, our site was raided by bears in the middle of the
night. They dug up the fire pit, bluff-charged me, and stole my
husband's empty pack (don't worry, we found it not far from camp),
but they didn't get into the Bearikade. In Lyell Canyon, where bears
have been known to leap onto tents in pursuit of food, the Bearikade
sat undisturbed. I used it to cache food and left it under a bridge
for three nights, then returned to find it unscathed. I wonder if
bears have learned to leave them alone and go looking for easier
The opening of the Bearikade is large, almost as big as the diameter
of the cylinder (the lid housing intrudes a few millimeters), and
makes for very easy loading and unloading of the canister. When we
have needed to jam in as much food as the laws of nature will allow,
this large opening is heavenly. Likewise, when we haven't packed
cleverly and need to rummage at the bottom to find the precious
peanut butter, the large opening is crucial to keeping our sanity.
The inside of the cansier is light grey, and as such isn't a dark,
gaping black maw in which food disappears. It's pretty easy to find
and dig out the food we are looking for.
W have used the Expedition pretty hard. We've dropped it and jammed
it in tight spots, buried it under rocks and left it in the car to
roll around as we drove. There are a few scratch marks, but all very
shallow and they don't appear to compromise the strength or function
of the canister.
There are a few caveats. The Bearikade is not waterproof - we found
this out the first time it was used in a rainstorm. In the morning
we had to dump out the food and dry off the bags, and anything that
wasn't properly sealed up had water in it. My trail mix was ruined!
So now when we put it out at night we set it upside-down, because the
water leaks through the miniscule gap between the lid and its
housing, but the bottom is tightly sealed. This way the Bearikade
will only leak if a puddle builds up under it.
The lock system for the Bearikade is very sturdy, but does require
some hand strength. There are three locks, which can be opened from
the outside by using a qaurter or a similar-sized metal washer. It
is necessary to apply some strong torque, but even a weakling like me
can eventually get it open. The same goes for locking it.
The lid is secured to the canister body by a short length of bead
chain, which is sheathed in a plastic tube. This is a nice feature,
meant to keep users from losing the lid. But on our Bearikade, the
bead chain detached from the lid rather quickly and we promptly lost
the plastic tube, which slid off very easily. The chain was easy to
reattach, but kept detaching and was unreliable. I finally took a
pair of pliers and crimped the chain's ball socket to keep the chain
in place. When it is open, the lid can bang loudly against the side
of the canister.
The large size of the Expedition sometimes makes carrying it a
challenge. On a large external frame pack it's no problem, but for
smaller internal frame packs it can take up quite a bit of space,
which is why we eventually decided to invest in a smaller canister
for solo and non-family trips. I did manage to carry it inside a
3400 cubic inch (56 liter) pack for a seven-day trip, but my gear
load was very compact - silnylon tarp, down sleeping bag, alcohol
Summary: Worth the high price tag. This is a solid canister with
only a few minor drawbacks. I would choose a Bearikade over any of
the other models on the market (and I've used all the major ones).
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