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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Bear Resistant Containers > Ursack Major XL > Owner Review by joe schaffer

Ursack Major XL
replacing tested model S29
Owner Review
by Joe Schaffer

August 22, 2020
NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
AGE: 72
HOME:  Bay Area, California USA

   I frequent California's central Sierras, camping year around with a goal to match my age in nights out each year; often solo. Summer trips typically last 5 to 10 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food related; about 5 mi (8 km) per hiking day. I winter camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.5 km) on snowshbag belloes, pulling a sled.

The Product: Ursack Major XL
        Web site:

        Tested product age: 4 years

Manufacturer description for superseding Major XL (from website):       
    Certified Bear Resistant
Material(s): Spectra
    Weight:  8.8 oz (249 g)
    Capacity: appx
925 cubic inches (15 liters)
    Dimensions: 12.8 x 21 in. (32.5 x 53 cm) (flat); 8 x 18.5 in. (20.3 x 47 cm) (in use, cinched)
    Weight: 8.8 ounces (250 g)
    Capacity: approx. 7+ days of food for 1 person
    Cord:  6 foot (1.8 m) high tensile strength with reflective tracer
    Reflective Exterior Tag for increased visibility at night
    Recommend Odor Barrier Bag  (OPSak 12 x 20) (30.5 x 51 cm), may need two; not included.
    Less critter resistant than the AllMitey and the Ursack Minor.

COLOR: Tested bag is the superseded all-white S29; new bags are black.


WARRANTY: Limited Lifetime.  Gap, tear or hole larger than 1/4 inch (6 mm)
when properly used and caused by a bear warrants replacement or refund.
    The product is a bear-resistant food storage bag made of tactical "bulletproof" material with an integrated Spectra cinch cord long enough to secure the bag to a small tree or limb. The material is not waterproof; and rodent incisors can violate it. An optional aluminum liner is available for the purpose of making the bag difficult for a bear to jaw the bag's girth.

    Six feet (2 m) of cord allows the bag to be secured to a fixed object like a smaller tree or a limb. The cord is about 0.25 in (6 mm) diameter. It threads through the top hem of the bag; and then criss-crosses the top to thread each end each through a hole to cinch the bag. The four holes of my bag are not reinforced with grommets. Vendor says there must be no gaps. I find the thickness of the bag's hem and the cord itself will not allow the bag to close tightly, leaving an opening I can stuff my little finger in to about the first knuckle.

    Vendor recommends using the bag with an (optional) odor barrier bag to help make it less easy for animals to sniff it out.

    Product is certified by IGBC, Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. Bags are not approved by SIBBG, Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group, the governing authority for Yosemite and bear-can-required areas of Sequoia-Kings Canyon, for example. Vendor's website shows a USA park map indicating sites where the product is and is not approved. Users should check with the appropriate authority in planning a trip.

    Bell shown in the picture is not included. Tinkling of the bell is meant to rouse me, if the attacking bear's snorting and otherwise expressed frustrations do not. top

   I've used this bag 27 nights on four partnered trips of six-seven nights each. So far no varmint has attacked it. Rain has aggressively assaulted the bag twice.

   The smaller version of this bag endured two separate black bear attacks, (one by two bears at the same time, with some damaged food but none lost). Satisfied with that experience, I bought this larger one for when I'm not solo or otherwise need more storage on trips where bear resistant containers are not required. The photo shows the bag on an 8-day trip in Dinkey Lakes Wilderness for its maiden outing. Capacity easily accommodated my own rations and some of my partner's. At about the half-way point I could then stuff all of our food into the bag. I find tying the bag to a tree much easier than fussing to get a proper hang for a more destructible bag.

    Though not always with an odor barrier type, I always line the bag with plastic, typically using two bags to separate the food into half-trip rations each. I don't expect this will make the food invisible to a bear's nose, nor do I think anything will. Maybe it helps; and for sure the liner helps keep food contained if a bear bites it. Apple sauce, for example, will of course respond to porcine mastication by leaking through any holes in the liner and then seep through the bag fabric, but not as much or as quickly as with no liner. The bag is not bite-proof and a bear's teeth can easily separate the weave and possibly break a thread.

    A plastic liner also keeps rations dry in the rain. I've woken to water dripping out of the bottom, but with food still dry. The bag will dry much quicker when the contents are dry. I prefer avoiding damp and moldy food and seems I don't care for the bother of unloading the bag and waiting for stuff to dry out in front of the chipmunks. And the spill devil continues to amaze me at how much soy sauce remains in a squeezed and seemingly sucked-dry packet; a liner keeps any such mess from getting to the bag fabric, which to a bear would no doubt be akin to finding a snow cone.

    Though the fatter cord (compared to my older, smaller bag) does make cutting into the tree less likely, it should be noted that tying the bag to a small, live tree is not a good idea for the tree and is frowned upon by rangers who carry ticket books. Bears are very strong and I've read they can pull the cord tight enough to 'ring' the tree; and on a small tree even break it or pull it out of the ground. I always look for a sturdy snag. The best bet is a sound, dead tree about six in (15 cm) in diameter with a few limbs or stobs sticking out. I tie the bag as high as I can reach, above a stob when possible. The stob prevents the bear from pulling the bag down. I think they can't yank quite as hard if they have to stand on their hind legs and brace their front paws against the tree. If the tree still has a little give in it, that also helps blunt their efforts. I first tie a surgeon's knot and then a figure-8 to close the bag; then secure it to a tree with first a surgeon's knot and then a figure-8. Even the two bears noted above yanking at once on the older bag could not tighten any of the knots beyond my ability to get them loose. Bears pulled on the bag and not at the cord.

     Of course one the biggest benefits of the bag is light weight relative to hard containers. The bag also folds down as it empties, taking up less space. The bag cannot be used as a table or stool. A bear can easily snatch a loose bag, and finding a way to secure it can sometimes be nettlesome. Bears remain interested because they can bite through and taste food; but if they can't get the bag down, I've been able to persuade them to forego any further persistence. That they don't receive a food reward is the most important component of the circumstance.

    My white bag is usually very easy to see. I never thought that was a good idea, and have wondered if the reason is to make it easier to find if a bear does haul off with it. New bags are black, which to me makes far more sense. Bears may still smell it, but in the dark they'll have a harder time seeing a black bag.

Quick shots:
    a) plenty big
    b) light for volume
    c) can be quite secure
    d) not universally approved
    e) not water proof or resistant
    f) not impervious to teeth

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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Bear Resistant Containers > Ursack Major XL > Owner Review by joe schaffer

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