In my humble opinion, the bear canister is the most useless thing in your backpacking arsenal. I understand the reasoning behind the bear canister; I’m just not sure if I believe there’s a need for the bear canister. After all, it is rare to run into a bear and if you do, I think you and the bear will have a lot more on your minds besides the bears craving for your toothpaste.
With that being said, I would still be willing to haul a bear canister if the cost/benefit ratio was in the favor of hauling the canister; but it’s not.
The benefit side of the ratio includes the extremely rare chance of a bear stumbling into your camp site and then wanting to eat or taste items that smell appealing to you. Not to mention, if these two occurrences were to meet and you had a canister, the only benefit would be to the bear and I’m guessing if you asked the bear, he would not see the benefit. In other words, benefit side = low.
Whereas the cost side of the ratio is high and only affects you, not the bear. I mean you have to haul the heavy, unpackable, unattachable, unwieldy canister up the mountain. And just because you’re in bear country, doesn’t mean you’re heading towards a bear. After all, a bear’s territory is acres or square miles. The chances of me heading towards a bear are just as good as me heading away from a bear.
However, as stated earlier, I would be willing to haul the canister if the cost/benefit ratio were tipped in the benefit’s favor. Perhaps in order to tip the equation, the park rangers would consider marketing the bear canister for other purposes, such as:
- A stool to sit upon around the campfire
- A floatation device in the event I fall into a raging river or lake
- A portable bathroom (after all, we are supposed to pack out our waste)
- A water heater. It is black and plastic and would get quite toasty in the sun
- Fuel for the fire. It’s larger than any log I’ve stumbled upon
- A rather large fishing bob (but you will need high test line)
- A footrest