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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Bear Resistant Containers > BearVault BV500 > Owner Review by Michael Dax

BearVault BV500

By Michael Dax

Owner Review

April 19, 2010



Tester Information


NAME:                        Michael Dax    

AGE:                            23

GENDER:                    Male

HEIGHT:                     6’3’’ (1.9 meters)

WEIGHT:                    210 lbs. (95 kg)


CITY, STATE:             Old Faithful, Wyoming (Yellowstone National Park)


I grew up hiking, backpacking, and cross country skiing in the Northeast including New York, New Hampshire and Maine.  For a short while I lived at the Grand Canyon and I now live in Yellowstone.  I am not fanatical about light weight hiking, but I am starting to be more mindful of my gear.



Product Information


MANUFACTURER:                                       BearVault


PRODUCT:                                                     BearVault BV500

YEAR OF MANUFACTURE:                        2007

LISTED WEIGHT:                                          41 oz. (1.1 kg)

ACTUAL WEIGHT:                                        41 oz. (1.1 kg)

LISTED DIMENSIONS:                                 12.7 x 8.7 in. (32 x 19 cm)

ACTUAL DIMENSIONS:                              13 x 8.5 in. (33 x 19 cm)

MSRP:                                                             N/A



Product Description


The BearVault BV500 is a bear resistant canister designed as an alternative to rigging a bear bag so that bears and other critters cannot get to your food and other odorous objects.  Bear Canisters are required in many popular backcountry camping areas including the High Sierras of California and the High Peaks of New York State.


The BearVault BV500 is 700 cubic inches (11.4 liters) and roughly 13 inches tall by 8.5 inches in diameter (33cm x 20cm).  It is designed to hold roughly 7 days of food.


The BearVault BV500, along with other BearVault canisters, uses a screw top lid. The lid locks shut after two small knobs that are on the lid have been “clicked” past a piece of plastic that is on the canister.  This piece of plastic on the canister allows for the top to be screwed on easily, but not off.  To screw off the lid, the two knobs must be pushed inwards as each knob passes the piece of plastic on the canister that prevents it from unscrewing easily.


The BearVault BV500 is made of a transparent plastic that has a bluish tint, but still allows its user to see into the canister from almost every angle.  The sides of the canister have dimples and ridges that make it easier for the user to grip.



First Trip


My first trip with the BearVault BV500 was down into the Grand Canyon for two nights and three days.  My friend and I camped at the same campsite in Grapevine Creek for the two nights and did a day trip down the creek on our second day.  Our elevation started at 7400 feet (2250 meters) and dropped to 2500 feet (760 meters).  The terrain was rough, but because of the dependable weather, our packs for the trip were light at around 30 pounds (13.5 kg).


My friend and I were sharing the canister.   He was carrying it during the day, but we were both using it in camp and at night to store our food.  Obviously, there are no bears at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, but there are some very brazen mice that were running around our feet while we were in camp.


My friend was carrying a ULA Catalyst pack and the canister fit into his pack horizontally with ease.  However, he neglected to remember to put his snacks for that day in the top of his pack and had to go into the canister which was at the bottom of his pack each time he wanted food.  However, the canister was transparent, and he could easily find the particular food object he was looking for each time.


When we got into camp, we both put all of our food into the canister and proceeded to set up camp.  It was nice to be able to leave our food in the middle of camp knowing that it was safe from mice without having to take time-consuming precautions or precautions that would make it hard to quickly access our food once we needed it.


The canister proved somewhat difficult to open at first.  The new plastic was not very malleable.  We ended up using the flathead screwdriver piece of my Swiss Army knife to push the knobs on the lid in as using our fingers proved difficult.  This maneuver was difficult at first, but got easier with practice.


The canister also made a very nice seat.  However, we had to make sure that the lid was screwed down all the way before we sat on it.  If it wasn’t, we would do damage to the threads on the canister and compromise its integrity.  Making this another step in our camp routine was all we had to do to remember.


The next day on our day hike, we simply took the food we needed for the day and left the canister sitting in camp.  Once the lid was screwed tight, we left it for the next 8 hours completely worry free.


There are other rodent resistant products that are lighter than the BearVault, but we used this trip as a test run for later forays into bear country.  Its weight is definitely a burden, but with the light packs we were carrying, it made little difference.



Second Trip


Later in the summer, my friend, my girlfriend, and I backpacked the John Muir Trail (JMT) which is 220 miles (345 km) and has over 45,000 feet (13,200 meters) of elevation gain and loss.  For the entirety of the 19 days that we were on the trail, we were in major black bear country.  Our packs ranged from roughly 35 pounds (15.9 kg) when we carried 3 days of food to 45 pounds (20.4 kg) when we carried 7 days of food.  My friend and I both carried a BearVault BV500 while my girlfriend carried another canister.


Once again, the canister fit well into my EMS Summit 5500 pack when placed horizontally.  Over the course of the trip, the canister held up perfectly.  It acquired some scuff marks, which is to be expected, but no structural damage was done to the canister.  No bear got into the canister throughout the trip; however, as our canisters were always exactly where we put them the night before, I do not think a single bear attempted to get into our canisters.


One thing that I noticed was that over the course of the 19 days, the canister became easier and easier to open.  The more I opened it the less stiff the plastic lid became.  It also helped that I had a lot of practice, and by the end of the 19 days, I had no problems opening the canister at all.


The BV500 has a couple of benefits over other canisters.  The first one is that it is transparent.  It is much easier to find a toothbrush or a Werther’s Original at the bottom of the canister because it is transparent.  Second, the lid on other canisters has a tendency to jam when the canister is very full; a problem that the BearVault did not have.


Because we were in black bear country, we had to put everything that might have a scent in the canister.  This meant chapstick, toothpaste, floss, and contact lens solution.  With all of this stuff in the canister, I was still able to carry seven days of food.  In all honesty, it was probably even more than that because I took a slightly larger load than my girlfriend.


Finally, on a long trip like the JMT, it was nice to have the canister as an organizational tool.  After we stopped at certain ranches and other re-supply points, it was nice to be able to put any loose change in the canister as opposed to having it spread throughout my pack.  It was also great for other odds and ends such as matches, IDs, credit cards and extra batteries.





Bear canisters are a necessary evil.  They are heavy and they take up a lot of space, but when backcountry regulations require them, there is not another choice.  In fact, many places now require them.  As far as they go, the BearVault BV500 is great.  Its transparent body allows me to see into the canister which makes finding small things infinitely easier.  The locking mechanism was initially cumbersome, but within a couple of uses it became much easier.  It is slightly larger than many canisters, but still fit horizontally into every pack in which I put it.  Finally, it makes a great seat in camp which can always be useful.


Disclaimer:  There is a black bear in the Adirondacks that has become quite good at opening these canisters.  This is the only known instance of a bear breaking into the canister of which I am aware.




Likes                                                               Dislikes


Transparent                                                      Heavy

Easy open                                                        Takes up space

Good camp seat

Good organizational tool

Fits a lot of food

Peace of mind

No hassle compared to bear bag


Read more reviews of BearVault gear
Read more gear reviews by Michael Dax

Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Bear Resistant Containers > BearVault BV500 > Owner Review by Michael Dax

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