How can I tell if my Ursack is sewn with Spectra thread?
S29 AllWhites without sewn grommet holes are made with Spectra thread. S29s made before April 2013 (which may or may not have come with SeamGrip) have sewn grommet holes and are not sewn with Spectra thread. About 90 S29s sold in April 2013 have sewn grommet holes but also have Spectra thread. Some green Ursacks made in approximately 2004 were also sewn with Spectra thread. After that we were no longer able to get that thread or the fabric because the military requisitioned most of the available Spectra.
How can I cinch my Ursack AllWhite or Ursack Minor completely tight?
For either model Ursack use leverage if necessary--wrap cord around a solid object and pull against it. Always eliminate any slack in the cord or gaps in Ursack's closure. Always tie a knot that a bear cannot untie. Directions for S29: If not already laced, cross the cords once so that they form an X before emerging through the eyelets. Pull cords tight to eliminate any gaps in Ursack's closure. Then, tie a double overhand knot: Hold the cords so that one end is in each hand. Cross the right cord over the left cord and pull through the loop that has been created. Before cinching, wrap the right cord over and through the loop again. Pull the knot tight. Work the cords so that the knot constricts around itself. The knot must be tight, and there must be no gaps in the closure. Keep bears out! Stop bears from using teeth and claws to untie the knot. Best way: Where allowed, tie the loose cord ends snugly around a tree branch or other fixed object. Otherwise, tie more knots over the first one. Bears don't have prehensile thumbs. Use yours.
Where can Ursack be used on the Pacific Crest Trail?
Almost everywhere except Yosemite N.P. and three areas of SEKI! By our rough calculations made by referring to the SIBBG map, only about 40-50 miles of the 2,650 mile trail is through areas in which an approved bear canister must be used. That is less than 2% of the PCT. The Forest Service Order for Inyo National Forest for 2009 allows Ursacks. It says: food must be stored in a container designed to prevent access by bears. In the past, Inyo has specified only SIBBG approved containers. That is no longer the case. In addition, there are Park supplied food storage lockers at 11 locations in that restricted area. Remember, it is not illegal to hike anywhere with an Ursack. Only camping in a restricted area without an approved bear-resistant container (or food locker) is prohibited.
What is the difference between an Ursack TKO or V27 or S29 and the current model? Why did you change the color from green to white?
In order to avoid confusion, we have renamed Ursack models by reference to the specific fabric they are made with. The original TKOs were made with a lighter Spectra (Green with white ripstop) and then replaced with heavier Spectra (Green--no ripstop--gusseted bottom)in 2004. That fabric became available again and the green Ursack made with that fabric is called S29 (Spectra 29 yarns per inch). Our (yellow) Vectran models were called the TKO 2.0; it is now called the V27 (Vectran 27 yarns per inch). The S29 AllWhite is Spectra 29, but there is no green coating. Spectra cannot be dyed. Its native color is white. We used to coat it green, but that added weight and made it harder to cinch tight. Ursack is washable.
Should the Hybrid be tied to a tree or other fixed object?
Not in restricted areas of the Sierra National Parks or Forests. Maybe elsewhere. Please check local regulations--approval and use of Ursack varies from place to place around North America. Some Sierra rangers are concerned that tying Ursack to a tree branch or even a rock could lead to resource damage as the bear struggles with it. Therefore the approved method of use is to cinch the Ursack tightly closed, TIE A STRONG KNOT, and place the Ursack a safe distance from camp.
Won't a bear carry the Ursack away if it is not tied to a fixed object?
Probably not. The SIBBG rangers tested the Ursack Hybrid in both the summer of 2004 and 2005 to see whether a bear would carry it away. They even put a tracking device in it as part of the testing procedure. The results, so far, are that bears are leaving Ursacks very close to where they found them.
What were the results of the Sierra tests in 2004?
SIBBG conducted an exhaustive wilderness study of 15 Ursack TKOs in the summer of 2004.
Despite numerous bear encounters, no bears or marmots were able to access food from an Ursack.
SIBBG, through wildlife ecologist Harold Werner, produced a 20 page single spaced footnoted report accompanied by hundreds of photographs and field notes.
To which we add: The older Kevlar Ursacks, which are yellow, have not been evaluated by SIBBG. Theoretically, they will do well with the aluminum insert, but it is unlikely that such bags would be considered "conditionally approved" for the Sierra. Also, we have changed the construction of the bag itself since our early days with Kevlar.
What assembly is required to create an Ursack Hybrid?
You will need to squeeze the aluminum liner into your Ursack and push it to the bottom.
You will know that you have done it right if you are able to cinch the opening of the Ursack completely with no gaps.
Does the Ursack Hybrid need to be tied to a tree branch?
Although we still strongly recommend counter-balancing or tying Ursack to a tree branch, the Ursack Hybrid can simply be placed on the ground like any canister. In grizzly country this is not advised. Be sure to cinch the opening completely; then tie a double overhand knot plus a few more knots that a bear can't untie.
Will the aluminum liner bend?
The aluminum liner is designed to bend but not break. It is possible that a bear might bend the liner out of shape, but even then your food should survive just fine. The liner can be reused although it may have to be reworked into a cylinder shape.
If Ursack is so great, why do I need an aluminum liner?
Ursack is all about light weight alternatives.
For maximum weight savings, use the Ursack by itself. Our Field Test page has a number of reports from those whose food survived bear attacks with little impact. But there is clearly a risk that food carried in an Ursack without a liner will get crushed. The Ursack S29 weighs about 7.2 ounces.
The aluminum liner adds about 10.8 ounces. Together, the Hybrid is lighter than any bear canister on the market. You decide how light you want to go.
Will the Aluminum Liner fit in older model Ursacks?
Maybe. It is 8 inches in diameter and 12 inches tall. The liner may require trimming to fit in Ursacks with a sewn bottom (as opposed to gusseted). All kevlar models and most spectra with ripstop models had a sewn bottom.
Is Ursack resistant to rodents, marmots, wolves, etc?
Ursack is highly effective against Marmots and raccoons. It should not be considered wolf or dog resistant. That's because they have sharp teeth and strong jaws. Bears have great strength, but their teeth are not sharp. We now make a rodent resistant bag, the Ursack Minor. It is not effective against bears although we think it is more effective against rodents than the AllWhite. Other rodents have varying degrees of success. Sometimes mice can chew very small holes, but very little of your food is likely to be taken. Some species of squirrels and (we have heard) pine martens have greater success, and may on rare occasion chew holes in bear resistant Ursacks.
What if there aren't any trees nearby?
If possible, use a rock-climbing aid wedged into a crack high up on a rock, then tie URSACK to the aid.
Since bears can't climb rocks, this should be very effective.
Otherwise, tie URSACK to any object that is too heavy for a bear to drag away.
Do you recommend tying a figure 8 knot above the slider (older model Ursacks) when the bag is cinched?
Or only on the lengths going around the branch?
Tie a secure knot (like a surgeon' knot) above the slider, then take the long loose ends and tie them in a figure 8 around a tree branch. It is important to take away slack in the cord.
We recommend a figure 8 knot around the branch because it is easy to untie even after Ursack has been pulled on by a 500 pound bear.
How do you pronounce URSACK?
UR is pronounced as in the word "turn."
SACK is pronounced as in the word "back."
Do the National Park and Forest Services accept URSACK as an alternative to hard-sided, bear-proof containers?
There is no uniform testing or approval mechanism in place the National Park or Forest Services.
Every park has its own standards for acceptable bear and critter resistant containers. For example, Canyonlands N.P. lends Ursacks to campers (with a deposit), while other National Parks restrict or ban the use of Ursacks.
Some parks require bear-resistant containers, but do not specify any particular brands.
Always contact the Park you will be visiting BEFORE you bring Ursack (or any other container).
Can a bear chew through the plastic cord lock (older models)?
None of our test bears were able to chew through or damage the cord lock.
The cord lock is mostly there to help you cinch the bag tight.
Even if the lock were destroyed, URSACK should stay secure because the cord is tied around a fixed object.
The more a bear tugs on the cord, the tighter the closure gets.
It also helps to tie a single overhand knot on the outside of the cord lock.
Have there been any failures?
We have sold bags in 50 states, Canada and assorted foreign countries.
So far, there have been no reports of a bear compromising a S29 AllWhite Hybrid. The S29 (green, no ripstop, heavier fabric) introduced June 1, 2004 had double the breaking strength of earlier models. It was the model tested by SIBBG, and the fabric has been nearly perfect. User error (not cinching and knotting Ursack tight) has resulted in a few bear incidents. That's why we changed the design in the AllWhite: to make the cinching and knotting easier.
There is no such thing as a bear proof container.
Rangers have reported to us that even the hard sided canisters are broken by bears on occasion.
Won't my food be squashed?
With an URSACK Hybrid it won't be squashed.
If you use Ursack without the Aluminum Liner, probably some, but not all, of your food will be crushed.
However, substantially packaged freeze dried foods and similar items should still be edible. They are pre-squashed anyway.
Worst case : you will eat nutritious mush.
Best case : you will not have to carry nearly three pounds of a bulky, hard-sided canister.
Some people carry both URSACK and a canister, keeping their most precious items in the canister, and reserving URSACK for expendables and garbage.
Will I be able to untie the cord after a bear pulls on it?
If you follow the directions and use a figure 8 knot to secure URSACK®, you should be able to untie the knot even after a bear has yanked on it. Take a look at the bear test video at the Grizzly Discovery Center in May 2013. A number of bears attacked the Ursack for an hour and we were able to untie it from the tree and untie the closure without using any tools. Worst case: although the cord is highly resistant to chewing, you can cut it with a very sharp knife.
Does the Odor Protection [O.P.] Sak require special handling?
Please use care when packing the O.P.SAK to avoid pulling the seal off the film. It is also important not to over stuff or force the O.P.SAK to close. When possible, leave the O.P.SAK inside your Ursack and retrieve your food without removing the O.P.SAK. This will prolong the life of the O.P.SAK and will also help keep food smells from your hands off the bag. O.P.SAKS should be replaced after extended use.
Is Ursack waterproof?
Ursack is not waterproof.
The fabric it is made from will not absorb water, but the weave is loose enough to allow some water intrusion.
The opening cinches very tightly but not enough to be waterproof.
However, the odor bag that comes with Ursack is waterproof.
As long as you use the odor bag your food will stay dry and you can wring out whatever water clings to the Ursack itself.
What color does the Ursack come in? Is the green Ursack still available?
The Ursack S29 AllWhite comes in one color: you guessed it--white. Our older versions were green, which we achieved by coating the fabric (Spectra S29) with a silicon urethane coating. We eliminated the coating to make the Ursack easier to cinch tight and to lighten the weight. Unfortunately, Spectra cannot be dyed.