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.
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.||Model||Weight in oz.||Cubic In.||Liters|
|Ursack||Ursack Major XL||8.8||925||15.0|
|Ursack||Ursack Minor Critter Bag||5.3||650||10.6|
|Frontiersman||Insider Bear Safe||48||735||111.9|
|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 EX||58||716||11.7|
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.
Editor's note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed on SectionHiker.com, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!