Guest - Not logged in 

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

Ursack Bear Bag

by Joe Schaffer
May 30, 2013

NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
AGE: 65
HEIGHT: 5'9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.4 kg)
HOME:  Hayward, California USA

    I frequent California's central Sierras, camping every month; up to 95 nights a year; about half the time solo; moving nearly every day. As a comfort camper I lug tent, mattress, chair, etc. Summer trips last typically a week to 10 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food-related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day. I winter camp most often at 6,000' to 7,000' (1,800 to 2,100 m); 2 to 3 nights; 55 lb (25 kg); 1 to 4 miles (1.5 to 6 km) on snowshoes. I work occasionally at an outdoor store.

Ursack on a tree (post-bear attack)
        The Product:
            Ursack Bear Resistant Food Sack
            Manufacturer: Ursack
            Web site:      
            Purchased: 2008

        My Bag:
            Weight: 7.3 oz (207 g)
            Diameter: 7.4" (18.8 cm) 
            Length (cinched): 13.5" (34.3 cm)
            Volume: 581 cid (9.5 L)
            Tie cord: 66" (1.68 m)

        Factory Specs (from website for S29 AllWhite):
            Weight: 7.3 oz (207 g)
            Diameter: 8" (20.3 cm) 
            Length: 13" (33 cm)
            Volume: 650 cid (10.65 L)
            Tie cord: 72" (1.83 m)
            MSRP: US $67.89

Calculations for S29:
    Volume per wt: 89.04 ci^3 per oz (0.051 L per g)
    Volume per US dollar of MSRP: 9.57 ci^3 (0.157 L)

Kindly Note:

      My bag is superseded by the S29 AllWhite. Mfr replied S29 has stronger Spectra fabric than the Vectran in mine, citing no other differences.

Product Description:   

    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 tree. Tear strength appears to exceed the capacities of even two black bears. The material is not waterproof. My bag and the S29 are not rodent-proof as the material can be cut with sharp implements such as chipmunk incisors. Bags are not approved for use in Yosemite; or in bear-can-required areas of Sequoia-Kings Canyon. An optional aluminum liner is available for the purpose of making the bag too big for a bear to jaw the bag's girth.

Field Conditions:

    I've carried my bag for about 100 hiking days over 5 years; mostly in California's Sierras and a week last summer in a couple of wilderness areas in Oregon (USA). I always use an OPSak liner with nested plastic grocery bags to limit odor Ursack and hard canemission, keep food dry and inhibit oozing under attack. I sometimes rely on the bag exclusively; and where cans are not required, sometimes use the bag as "overage" when everything doesn't fit in one bear can. Rodents have so far not assailed the bag. I don't use the aluminum liner.


    I find the Forest Service's mandated hanging method for vulnerable bags nearly impossible if not nearly always impractical and certainly always inconvenient to follow. Tying to a tree is not so difficult. I first cinch the Ursack with a surgeon's knot, include a bear bell and then a figure 8.  I secure the bag to a 6" to 8" (15 to 20 cm) diameter, preferably dead standing tree. I tie the bag as high as I can reach, encircling the tree with the tie cord as a "choker" that will tighten as the bag gets pulled, making it more difficult to pull the bag lower; then a surgeon's knot finished with a figure 8. (Surgeon's knot absorbs much pressure that might otherwise lock up a figure 8.)

     The bag is feather-light compared to hard containers; less than a can of tuna. It also folds smaller as the days go by. Most importantly, I have found it presents an effective obstacle to bears intent on snitching food. My bag has survived two determined snack attacks. 

    black bear foragingThe first was in 2008 on Kibbie Ridge just outside the border of Yosemite National Park on the 3rd day of a 10-day trip. The bag was tied about 4' (1.25 m) up a dead hemlock sucker so sturdy I could not budge it. The bear was getting it to crack in a rhythm of pushing it with his front paws while jerking back on the bag. (I didn't think they could bring that much force to bear standing on their hind legs.) The bag wasn't full and he had his mouth fully around the top. The picture shows him in retreat. He'd been on the bag long enough the top was drenched in slobber and bore a few scuff marks. I guess because he got a mouthful of bag above the food, only a single cup of applesauce actually got squished. The incident demonstrated the gravity of logic in using the hard can to store wet (if even lower priority) stuff on trips I have both.

    The second event occurred in 2012 at the Boat In site (we backpackers walk to it) on Loon Lake in Ebear bitel Dorado National Forrest in California; 1st night of 3. Two bears were on the bag, which I'd tied to a tree about 20' (7 m) from my tent. They managed to put about a third of the contents in distress. I counted 24 weave separations, and one broken thread. Perhaps the team was a sow and adolescent, with junior's puppy teeth sharp enough to penetrate the weave. The punctured can demonstrates the vitality of the incursion. Ybag biteet after a thorough rinsing, all but one thread restored to original weave and little evidence of the incident remains.

    In both events the bears masticated with my interpretation of savage intent. None got a literal food reward. Even with dozens of holes in the bag, the liner and plastic grocery bags kept ooze contained. In the second incident they no doubt could taste what their teeth had penetrated. It looked to me that the bears (in both incidents) became tantalized at the prospect of a pigout; and had they been allowed to persist long enough, perhaps they'd have forced ooze to squeeze through.

    I don't always think a bear can necessary, but I never want to be responsible for buggering a bear's natural foraging instinct. Secondly, a loss of food could lead to a truncated trip. At best I'd lose a day of hiking to spend a day driving and gas to the nearest store to restock. I find Ursack a practical, effective and convenient short term way to prevent bears from rummaging my rations and getting spoiled with a food reward. 

Ursack quick shots:

    a) Light
    c) Packable
    d) Effective
    e) Tantalizing

Read more reviews of Ursack gear
Read more gear reviews by joe schaffer

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

Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

All material on this site is the exclusive property of
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson