Finally! Ursack is famous at last.

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On the February 9, 2017 episode of Jeopardy, the answer was “bear” and the question was:

Thanks to Paula Whittington of Loksak (maker of OPSak) for spotting this and being quick enough to take a picture of her tv set.

Successful Zoo Test of the New Ursack AllMitey

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We will soon be offering the Ursack AllMitey, which is resistant to all creatures great and small. Made of a laminated fabric comprised of Spectra (the same as used in our AllWhites), EVA and Kevlar Primo (made to resist shivs in prison), the AllMitey is impervious to punctures. While bears are virtually never able to tear holes greater than a 1/4″ in our S29.3 AllWhite models, their teeth and claws can sometimes penetrate the bag (often a weave separation) and mess up your food. That can’t happen with the AllMitey, which means your freeze dried food will survive a bear attack as well as the efforts of sharp toothed rodents. Progress does not come without costs. The AllMitey weighs 12.5 ounces and will retail for $124.95. We took the AllMitey to the Folsom Zoo on January 19, 2017, and with the help of 6 year old Henry, a black bear, and his somewhat older zookeeper, Amy Van der Molen, we put it to the test. Amy has been an invaluable help to our testing program since we first started going to the Folsom Zoo in 2000.

We filled the AllMitey with a variety of freeze dried food and a juice box. The juice box failed (but what backpacker would carry such a thing?). The food survived nicely. There were no holes in the AllMitey by which food could escape, and to my mind all of the food would have been completely edible. There was no bear slobber on it, and while some of the packaging was a little worse for wear, the contents were intact.  Here are some pictures:

New Survey About Ursack Adoption Rate

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Sectionhiker.com, a website devoted to backpacking with 300,000 unique readers per month, has just published a survey entitled Ursack Bear Bag Adoption Rate.

Here is a summary of the results:

There were 409 participants in this survey. Of these, 338 reported that they camp or backpack in areas that require protecting food from bears. Within that population:

  • 58 respondents (17%) already own and use a Ursack;
  • 65 respondents (19.2%) have definite plans to acquire a Ursack;
  • 101 respondents (29.9%) are considering a Ursack;
  • 140 respondents (41.4%) have used a bear canister in the past, when required.

And here is a link to the entire article: http://sectionhiker.com/ursack-bear-bag-adoption-rate-survey-results/

Happy New Year.

Interview with Andrew Skurka about Ursack

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I recently completed an interview with famed backpacker and writer Andrew Skurka about Ursack. You may find it informative: http://andrewskurka.com/2016/ursack-bear-bag-interview-ceo-founder-tom-cohen/

Andrew Skurka is an accomplished adventure athlete, speaker, guide, and writer. The 34-year-old is most well known for his solo long-distance backpacking trips, notably the 4,700-mile 6-month Alaska-Yukon Expedition, the 6,875-mile 7-month Great Western Loop, and the 7,775-mile 11-month Sea-to-Sea Route. In total, he has backpacked, skied, and packrafted 30,000+ miles through many of the world’s most prized backcountry and wilderness areas—the equivalent of traveling 1.2 times around Earth’s equator! He is the author of The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools & Tips to Hit the Trail and guides about 15 trips per year under his company. Skurka has been named “Adventurer of the Year” by both Outside and National Geographic Adventure, as well as “Person of the Year” by Backpacker. National Geographic described him as “a superman among trekkers” and “one of the best traveled and fastest hikers on the planet.” He has been featured by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News Channel, National Public Radio and dozens of local media outlets.

The Wall Street Journal Profiles IGBC Grizzly Test: “The Gold Standard”

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In the September 8, 2016 Wall Street Journal, the newspaper covered bear product testing at the Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center in West Yellowstone stating: “Passing the Discovery Center’s test is the gold standard for bear-resistance certification from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, a group of representatives from state and federal agencies that promotes grizzly populations in the U.S. and Canada.”  This is, of course, the test that the Ursack S29 AllWhite passed after two hours of mauling.

Here is a link to the article and video: http://www.wsj.com/articles/nice-trash-can-lets-see-what-the-bears-think-1473346166

 

Yosemite’s Problems with Approved Hard Sided Canisters

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This was posted at Tuolumne Meadows wilderness permit station. In case you can’t read it, here are the highlights:

“LYV Area: The majority of bear incidents in this area are the result of improperly stored food or garbage…a bear has been successful in obtaining partial or whole canisters [or food?] because people were cooking too far from their bear-resistant container.”

“Snow Creek Footbridge: A bear in this area has been rolling bear-resistant containers away from campsites in the night. Bear-resistant containers should be placed overnight in an area that it is difficult for a bear to roll or bat it away and within viewing distance of your camping area. Additionally, it can be helpful to place noisy objects (like your cook pot) on top of your canister to help alert you if an animal is attempting to move it.”

Also, the ranger there confirmed that at least one bear was still rolling canisters off of a cliff and collecting food from the broken canister at the bottom of the cliff.

(Note that no bear has, to the best of our knowledge, ever broken the cord that secures an Ursack to a tree)

Your Chance to Comment on Wilderness Food Storage Requirements in Lassen NP

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Lassen National Park has implemented an emergency food storage plan which requires use of an “allowed canister.” The list does not include Ursack. The plan is open to comment from the public until September 8, 2016. To add your comment, use this link:

https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=319&projectID=66702&documentID=74495

Some of the things you may wish to consider in making a comment.

>The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) certified Ursack S29 AllWhite has never been torn open by a bear.

> Some of the “approved” canisters on Lassen’s list have never been certified by the IGBC.

>Many of the approved hard sided canisters have repeatedly been compromised by bears (about 25 in Yosemite in 2013).

>Campers are much more likely to carry a 7.8 ounce Ursack than a 2-3 pound hard sided canister.

Thanks for your help.

Still Waiting for Yosemite and SEKI to Get On Board

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Nothing new to report from Yosemite and SEKI. Ursack is still not approved in Yosemite and parts of SEKI. We are waiting for further communication from them.

Meanwhile, our record of success continues unabated. Wilderness professionals, including National Park Service and Forest Service rangers, are using Ursack like never before. It seems like the whole world (with the notable exception of a few National Park holdouts) understands that Ursack keeps bears from getting human food.

No change in Yosemite or SEKI policy, for now, but the conversation continues

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We received a letter from Yosemite and SEKI in early May. They were concerned that they could stick a pencil point through the Ursack we sent them for evaluation in October 2014. They invited us to send two more Ursacks to see if that was an aberration. We declined on the basis that even though our newer bags have twice the tear strength of the IGBC approved Ursack they had, the fabric could still be pierced by a pencil point. (Note that a bear’s teeth and claws are much thicker than a pencil–about 1/16″–but that even those more blunt instruments could still create weave separations). Our letter in response began like this:

Your letter of May 6, 2016 raises an interesting question. Will a bear that tastes a tiny amount of food or liquid from an otherwise secure bear resistant container become conditioned to anthropegenic food sources?

Apparently, Yosemite and SEKI believe the answer is yes. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee disagrees. Not surprisingly, Ursack favors the IGBC approach. They have been testing bear resistant containers since 1989 and established their standards through “consultation with North American human-bear conflict experts and bear biologists.” (all quotes from IGBC.org).  I have not seen any scientific evidence that the Yosemite/SEKI theory is anything more than just a theory.

And quoting the IGBC protocol:

“IGBC approval does not guarantee that small amounts of the contents of the containers won’t be able to leak or spill out.” “For garbage containment products, gaps, tears or holes of 1½ inches or less are allowable. For food storage products, gaps, tears or holes of ¼ inch or less are allowable.”

We offered to meet anytime anyplace with the appropriate representatives of Yosemite and SEKI to discuss these issues, and are hoping to hear back.

SEKI Publishes 2016 Canister Policy–No Ursack, No Explanation

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Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park (SEKI) has published its 2016 guidelines. Containers are required in the Dusy Basin, Rae Lakes Loop, North Dome and Rock Creek areas from May 1 through October 31. Ursack is allowed in all other areas of SEKI. The list of SEKI approved food storage containers does not include or mention Ursack. There has been no explanation given to us despite the fact that SEKI has had years to evaluate the IGBC approved Ursack S29 AllWhite. Our letters and phone calls have gone unanswered. Ursack’s perfect record has been ignored. We are not aware of any bear anywhere in the world, much less SEKI, that has torn a greater than 1/4 inch hole (the IGBC standard) in an Ursack S29/S29.3 AllWhite.