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does anyone have experience with an Ursack?

Hi,

I do a lot of backpacking in bear country and really hate carrying my bear can.  I thought about trying an Ursack and actually bought an Ursack Allmitey for our trip(s) that got cancelled last year.  Before my one year was up, I tried to pack food into it and couldn't get our normal 5 days worth in it.  I chose the Allmitey since the problem we usually have is with mice and mice can chew through the kevlar mesh of the regular Ursacks but can't chew through the fabric that lines the Allmitey.  So I was wondering if there is some trick to packing an Ursack, or is the Allmitey just hard to use due to the closure and stiffness and the non mouse resistant ones are better.  We also have and use Loksacs.  Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks

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14 Replies

I have not used one but this review is followed by an interesting discussion in the comments...

https://sectionhiker.com/ursack-allmitey-bear-bag-backpacking-review/

It seems Ursacks are kind of a mixed bag so to speak.  sorry 🙂

A "10 liter" allmitey ...

https://www.rei.com/product/124165/ursack-allmitey-bear-and-critter-sack-10-liters

supposedly has slightly smaller capacity than a BV500 (11.5L) which is big enough for 7 days of food.  I have used one of those for 7 nights and had food left over...we repackaged things like Mountain House which otherwise take too much space.

Most likely it has to do with the food packaging you are carrying which is causing the bag to flatten rather than stay cylindrical which will maximize its volume.

I was a Wilderness Ranger for a period of time at Desolation Wilderness, southwest of Lake Tahoe. The Lake Tahoe basin has one of the densest populations of black bears in the United States.

Bears were typically not a problem in the backcountry - plenty of food in the mostly unguarded garbage cans of the communities around Lake Tahoe. For example I never used a bear can in Desolation Wilderness nor did any of the other Wilderness rangers who I worked with on the Eastern side. I heard that there were a couple of rangers on the western side that would use a bear can, but I never heard of an incident over there.

We would hear of an incident every couple of years on the Eastern side. One of those stories was recounted to me directly. The people had brought an Ursack and hung it in a tree away from camp. It's very difficult to find any version of appropriate tree in Desolation Wilderness. The bear did not wake them up when it got the bag out of the tree.

After searching around a bit they would find pieces of cord stuck in bushes that was bit off. They eventually found the bag, absolutely crushed. The bear had tried to get the food on the inside and had made an absolute mess of everything. They had to walk out. They felt really guilty when they admitted to me that they left the most of the food there because it was such a mess that they didn't want to put that in their backpack. Win - Bear!

In my time walking through the Sierras I often get to talk to other Wilderness rangers. I would say about half of them have stories similar about the Ursack. I considered getting it for varmints as well. I figured I could use it in the deserts where there are so many mice, and I don't want the diseases they carry. Never did. Carried a can once. I've got 3!

Roundabout answer is, I would never use an Ursack in Bear Country. I hope you find a way to pack your food in it effectively.

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Thanks for your experience @SolaceEasy .  I'd read about bears smashing them as well.  I was hoping that if I used it with a LocSac that would help with that issue and hanging as well.  Since I returned the one I bought originally, maybe I'll just forego and stick with the cans.

In the parks we've visited, Rangers get pretty picky about backpackers carrying cans, especially in the parks with grizzlies.  Maybe rangers can get away without using one, but we've had rangers come through and check. 

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Bear cans are not required everywhere. They are not required in Desolation Wilderness. They are perhaps not necessary many places as well. I have been places where there are plenty of bears, bears I have seen, and canisters are not required in that area.

Most people carry more fear on their backpacking trips than me.

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This seems dangerously like the "it can't happen to me!" attitude. A situation's safe 'til it isn't & wilderness is outside of a single person's control. If "fear" makes a person cautious... extra weight on your pack isn't worth a bear attack.

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Seems you have trouble reading situations, people, and animals. Just saying. Kind of like you.

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I agree, bear cans are not required everywhere but in parks with lots of bears and especially grizzlies, they are.  In Great Smokies, they are not but you are required to hang, and if you have a can, you still have to hand; the black bears have figured out how to pry off the lids!  We will be in grizzly country this fall, so my bear can and locsac with be with me.  At Grand Canyon this spring, it will not.

Lassen Volcanic had a large part of its wilderness area closed last fall and over the winter since bears had broken into some back-country camps.

I don't carry fear of black bears with me, just a healthy respect for their beauty, strength, and claws.  If it costs me extra weight, I'll be better safe than sorry.  Cans keep the little critters out as well.

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I have had bears wake me up sniffing my face with their cubs multiple times when I was sleeping on the ground. Twice in Yosemite and once in remote wild Arizona. I was more concerned about the coyote that woke me up sniffing my face. Still, I was able to fall asleep quickly after I scared them away.

It's typically not wise to lecture your Wilderness Ranger on wilderness techniques and ways of moving in the wilderness. They've probably been doing it a lot more than you. They've seen all kinds of versions of mistakes. I spend more days outside backpacking in Bear Country in one year than most people do in their lifetime. 

I have never had a bear get my food. Never. It's not because I am lucky. I am not careless. I pay a lot of attention to detail. I do not pay attention to unnecessary details.

Nuff said on this topic. Too many inattentive readers comment on my posts.

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@SolaceEasy, sorry, I wasn't trying to lecture you.  I realize you've done a lot more stuff than me.  Just my experience, my experience with rangers, and my point of view.  No hard feelings.