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Ursack Bear-Proof Bear Bags

While you can leave an Ursack on the ground at night, I like to tie mine to a tree so a bear doesn't carry it off.
While you can leave a Ursack on the ground at night, I like to tie mine to a tree so a bear doesn’t carry it off.

If you hate hanging a bear bag at night to protect your backpacking food and prevent a bear from visiting your tent at night, and local backcountry regulations don’t require the use of a hard sided bear canister, I recommend getting yourself an Ursack bear-proof bear bag. I’ve been using one since 2008 and it’s proven to be a fast, no hassle way to store my backpacking food at night without having to spend 45 minutes trying to hang it from a tree.

REI has been selling Ursacks for going on 4 years now, and the increased exposure has helped many people will learn about this excellent product. During that time, Ursack also increased the number of sizes and models they make, so there’s a larger selection than ever before. Face it. Most people are terrible at hanging bear bags, and an easy-to-use product like the Ursack can help reduce bear incidents if adopted en masse by backpackers and campers.

Ursack bear-proof bear bags are made of a material called Spectra (similar to bullet-proof kevlar) that can’t be chewed or ripped open by bears. To use it, you put your food and smellables inside, knot it shut, walk it out from your campsite about 75 steps, and tie it directly to a tree trunk, branch, or stump so a bear can’t drag it away at night. There’s no need to throw a rope over a tree which is a huge time and hassle saver, especially when you get to camp near dark.

Measuring 24 in. in circumference x 14 in. tall (650 cu. in), you can get about 5 days of food into a Ursack, making it perfect for most backpacking trips and thru-hikes. And while a Ursack weighs 7.8 ounces, or a few ounces more than a traditional bear bag, 50 feet of hanging line, and a rock sack, I’ve always found those extra ounces well worth carrying to avoid getting hit in the head with a rock when hanging a bear bag at dusk.

Ursack Major
Ursack Major

The Ursack has also been approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) and was placed on its bear-resistant products list on July 31, 2014, so it can be used to store food in many places that only permitted much heavier bear canisters in the past. If you have a bear canister and you want a lighter weight alternative, here’s a comparison of bear canister weights vs the Ursack Major. There’s a significant weight reduction, as you can see.

Mfg.ModelWeight in oz.Cubic In.Liters
UrsackUrsack Major7.865010.6
UrsackUrsack Major XL8.892515.0
UrsackUrsack AllMitey13.065010.6
UrsackUrsack Minor Critter Bag5.365010.6
FrontiersmanInsider Bear Safe48735111.9
Bare BoxerContender Model 10126.32754.5
Wild IdeasThe Scout275008.2
Lighter1Lil Sami283004.9
Wild IdeasThe Weekender3164010.5
BearVaultBV450334407.2
Wild IdeasThe Expedition3690014.75
Backpacker's CacheGarcia Container43.561410
BearVaultBV5003970011.5
UDAPNo-Fed-Bear394557.5
Lighter1Big Daddy4365010.7
Counter AssaultBear Keg EX5871611.7

I’m excited to see the Ursack being sold by REI and hope that the product takes off with backpackers and campers. I think the Ursack is a great bearproof food storage product for anyone getting into backpacking or camping, and would encourage you to try it out. Made out of Spectra, this product is virtually indestructible and will last a lifetime, no matter how much you use it!

Disclosure: The author bought this product with his own funds. Updated 2018.
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7 comments

  1. I have been using one for several years. I use an Opsak inside it to seal in any odors and no critters have ever bothered it.

  2. Hi Philip, thanks for the helpful review. I’m looking for a storage solution that protects my food from as many would-be thieves as possible…from mice to bears. Have you also found the Ursack effective at keeping out mice and other rodents?

    • I’ve never once had a mouse issue in all my years of using an Ursack, but I also hang mine from a tree trunk an ddon’t leave it on the shelter floor. But if you need an absolutely rodent-proof container, you’ll need to use a canister.

      • If you’re looking for rodent protection, you can purchase an Armored Outdoor Gear Ratsack Cache food storage bag. You still must hang it from a tree to keep it from bears, but I’ve never had any rodents get into mine the two summers I’ve used it section hiking the AT (825 miles total the last two summers). It’s available in 3 sizes, 19.7L, 29.5L, and 41L weighing 8, 10, and 12 ounces respectively. Available from REI, other outdoor retailers, and Amazon. My wife and I use a medium and have easily hung 5 days of food for the two of us in it.

        Some reviewers complained that it wore a hole in their pack because it was a big square metal mesh bag. I think they weren’t taking the food out and were carrying the food in the Ratsack in their backpack. I carried the Ratsack rolled up in my pack or in an outside pocket and had no problems with it wearing a hole in my pack, and I carried a ZPack Arc Blast this year. No visible wear from the Ratsack after 392 miles through Virginia.

  3. Do you know anyone that has had a bear try to get their food while stored in a Ursack? I wonder how pulverized your food would get if a bear tried to get it. That is my only concern with a Ursack and has kept me from getting one before now. I suppose you could still pulverized food and wound’t starve.

  4. Have never had a bear challenge mine, but a really big raccoon (aka mini bear) gave it a good work out once.

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