Ursack's products, the Ursack S29 White bear-proof food bag, and the critter-proof Ursack Minor (tan) bag qualify as a big breakthrough in my book. I'm only a reluctant user of hard-sided barrels, either carried inside a pack, or as a stand-alone. I own several, and still take them on some trips, but they are ungainly, don't collapse as your stash diminishes, and are prone to cracking over time. The Ursack bags are woven from unbelievably tough (just watch the videos to see how tough), Spectra fabric that foil full-grown grizzly bears playing tug-of-war with them. The Minor is lighter, and not quite as bullet-proof, but withstands the gnawing onslaught of mice, chipmunks, pack rats and the other backcountry denizens which are actually the more prevalent, albeit less life-threatening, nuisance.
Both sacks accommodate 650 cubic inches packed, enough to carry 5-7 days food for one person. The key is in cinching the sack closed and tying off with a complete double overhand knot (again, see the videos online). Hanging the sack in a tree takes bear/critter proofing to the next level, but with these impregnable bags, it is not strictly necessary. Several accessories add bells and whistles (aluminum sleeve inserts, odor-barrier liner bags) but I went with the sacks and called it good. In 2014 the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee added their stamp of approval to the Ursack products, but not all backcountry agencies have followed suit, so check for regulations.
Intel: Ursack S29 White: 7.8 ozs.; 650 cu. in.; 24" circumference; $68.88; Ursack Minor: 5.28 oz.; $49.95. www.ursack.com.
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