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Spent some time this morning researching and testing out the Ursack Major AllWhite Bear Bag. What else are you going to do on a Saturday morning when the house is still clean from the holiday and you #opt(ed)outside all day on Black Friday? Note: The Ursack is now made in black but works the same.
The Ursack is basically a bulletproof fabric bag that protects your food from Bears while you are backpacking without having to find the perfect branch and hang your bag 10 ft up in a tree. It can be hung at a more accessible height on a branch, cached on the ground or in rocks. From what I have read, it’s effective on bears…but not so much with little critters such as mice and squirrels, so I wouldn’t leave it on the ground. It is not odor proof without a liner…so DON’T put it in your tent. It’s basically an alternative to heavier plastic Bear canisters.
Because hanging a bear bag every night for a couple of weeks straight doesn’t sound like much fun…the Ursack was on my SHT Thru Hike wish list and was my biggest score at the last REI Garage Sale. If you missed it, check out my tips on how to totally rock an REI Garage sale! I nearly peed my pants when I saw it on the table and only found it because I asked an employee working the sale if he’d seen one. He had never heard of an Ursack, so I asked him if he saw a white canvas looking bag anywhere—he pointed over in the general direction and then told me he didn’t think it was bear-proof and not to use it for that. This Garage Sale was at flagship REI in a HUGE tent in the parking lot so it was like finding a needle in a haystack. But there it was, stuffed in with the tents for $19.83!
Specs from the Ursack site:
The Ursack S29.3 MAJOR AllWhite (IGBC cert. no. 3738) is the larger version of our classic S29.3 AllWhite. The Major holds about 50% more food than its smaller sibling and weighs 8.7 ounces. Otherwise it is identical. The Major is made of “bullet proof” Spectra fabric and is designed to prevent bears from getting your food in their territory. It comes with an integrated six foot, 2,500 pound tensile strength cord. The Major weighs 8.7 ounces. It is about 24 inches in circumference (<8″ dia.), 18.5 inches tall and holds about 925 cubic inches (15 Liters). The Major does not come with an odor barrier bag (OPSak) or an aluminum liner–neither of which are made to fit the Major. Two OpSaks would be required, and must be purchased separately. We highly recommend OPSak, which is designed to always be used inside the AllWhite. Without the optional aluminum liner, your food may be crushed, ripped or punctured.
The Ursack Major currently retails for about $90 and is available at REI and Backcountry. The major is only slightly heavier than the smaller version, holds 50% more and is $20 more. Great for two people or longer trips. I searched on all kinds of thru hiker forums and websites and couldn’t seem to find an estimate of how much food the Ursack Major would hold since most people were solo and using the smaller version, so I got to work filling it myself.
Odorproof Opsacks are recommended liners for the Ursack and they are relatively cheap, so I’ll probably pick 2 up for our thru hike. For today, I used two mylar bags that I have been using on backpacking trips for the last 5 years. I got them for free at a bulk food place and they work great. I was able to fit two full bags with 4 days worth of food for two people and still have a little bit of room at the top for our smellables and cozies. Since my sister and I will be planning our own separate freezer bag meals, it’ll be great to each have a bag and keep things organized.
NOTE: I tied the knot incorrectly in this picture, but what’s cool is that the Ursack has directions printed on the inside of the bag so you don’t mess it up when it really counts.
Have you used an Ursack? Any tips for us before we use it in the wild? Still prefer to hang your food? Leave your questions or comments below.