I bought myself a small bear canister last year called the Bare Boxer Contender (Model 101). It has about a two-day capacity (three if you are really careful about what you pack), perfect for the short weekend backpacking trips I take year round. I also own a larger Garcia Bear Canister but it can hold 5-6 days of food and has far more capacity than I need. It’s also an ungainly thing to pack in a smaller volume ultralight backpack and I’d rather not bother with it on shorter trips. Both of these canisters are approved by the IGBC and SIBBG for use in Grizzly and black bear country.
While I am still not required by law to carry a bear canister on weekend trips in New Hampshire, there are some advantages to carrying the smaller sized canister over a normal bear bag or a Ursack.
- The Bare Boxer Contender can’t be compromised by a bear or smaller animals like mice. Ever.
- Requires no skill to hang or tie knots.
- Can be stored on the ground.
- More time for hiking. Easy to stash, even after dark.
- Fits inside small ultralight backpacks easily.
- Easy to clean.
At 275 cubic inches / 4.5 liters, the Bare Boxer Contender (Model 101) is the smallest volume and lightest weight bear canister available today. 275 cubic inches will fit 2 days of food or even 3, if you pack very carefully with as little packaging as possible.
|Mfg.||Model||Weight in oz.||Cubic In.||Liters|
|Bare Boxer||Contender Model 101||26.3||275||4.5|
|Wild Ideas||The Scout||27||500||8.2|
|Wild Ideas||The Weekender||31||640||10.5|
|Wild Ideas||The Expedition||36||900||14.75|
|Backpacker's Cache||Garcia Container||43.5||614||10|
|Counter Assault||Bear Keg||58||716||11.7|
While small, the Bare Boxer Contender is more than adequate for a weekend trip, easy to pack, and barely larger than a large stuff sack. It can also be stored inside or outside you pack easily, provided you have some kind of top pocket that can hold it to the top of your backpack.
The locking mechanism on the Contender is very simple, just three rotating locks with a pin that must be depressed while turning the lock. This is easily done with a small knife or the nail file on a tiny Swiss Army Classic knife. I doubt a bear could get his claw into the narrow slit provided. That’s all there is to it really.
You’re probably wondering why I would consider carrying a bear canister instead of the Ursack (a soft bear resistant Kevlar bag) that I’ve been using for the past 6-7 years. There are a couple of reasons. First, my local US Forest Service Conservation Officers are becoming increasingly vigilant about enforcing backcountry bear storage regulations in the parts of New Hampshire where I do most of my hiking and backpacking. I talk to the rangers regularly, including the rangers in charge of bear enforcement, and none of them have ever heard of a Ursack (nor will they want to be educated when writing a $125 ticket.)
Hopefully, that time won’t come, but the increase in food related bear incidents in New Hampshire suggests otherwise. Regardless, the length and frequency of my overnight trips will not change, hence the need for a lightweight bear resistant canister capable of carrying 2-3 days of food like the Bare Boxer Contender.
Disclosure: Philip Werner bought the Bare Boxer Contender Model 101 reviewed here with his own funds.
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