Bears!! Yes, they are in the backcountry (along with many urban neighborhoods) and precautions are needed to help preserve our, and their, safety. The more often bears can get into our food at camp, the more they will be considered a habitual nuisance and eventually put down. Nevermind the fact that you could be caught deep in the Rocky Mountains with no food if Yogi and BooBoo decide to drag away your picnic basket.
Many national parks and wilderness areas require the use of a certified or approved bear resistant food canister before heading into the backcountry. Rocky Mountain, Glacier, Yosemite, and Denali National Parks just to name a few. Canisters are approved by organizations such as the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, that put the canisters through rigorous tests to make sure bears cannot open or puncture them. Rangers in these areas will not issue a permit for backpack camping if you do not have a canister for your food and drinks. Even with a bear-proof or bear resistant rating, there is no guarantee that a grizzly or black bear will not find a way to access your food within a canister.
BearVault 450 Solo is a rugged bear resistant canister, designed to keep your trail goodies safe and secure. The translucent polycarbonate body allows visual inspection of what you have inside, without having to dig everything out just to find your treasured Gummi Bear snacks. Anything with an odor should be kept within an approved canister – food, tea and coffee, toothpaste, sunscreen, soap – for proper protection. I would not keep insect repellant inside, as any with DEET could saturate food. The 450 Solo is designed for approximately four days of food for one person. There is also the BV500 which is designed for seven days of food storage.
The BearVault’s large rainproof lid has two locking tabs that are pressed in one at a time while turning the lid for access. These are a little cumbersome to push in, but that is the point of the canister – to not be easily accessible for a bear. These can be even trickier with wet, cold hands. Even though the tabs are designed to be pushed in without tools, a multitool or even a credit card can be used to easily push in the tabs. When closing the lid, make sure it snaps locked past both tabs. With the lid safely closed these canisters can be used as a solid camp stool.
Personally, I prefer to carry the canister on top of my backpack, making it accessible for midday snacks, and leaving room inside the pack for gear. There are a few strap systems out there to attach the cans to a pack, or make your own using paracord or nylon webbing. Canisters full of food should be kept at least 100 feet from camp, as bears can still smell the food and items inside. I still hang the can just like a hanging bear bag or stuff sack, if camping in an area with trees. Even though the bears might not be able to break into it, they can still run off with the can full of food if it is just stashed under a shrub or between some rocks. Smaller critters like squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, and porcupines can also chew through a stuff sack and eat your rations. The mighty BearVault keeps your vittles safe from them as well.