Gear Review: BearVault BV450
Weight: 2.1 pounds
Capacity: 7.2 liters
I backpacked in Shenandoah National Park with a Garcia Machines Model 812 Backpackers Cache Bear Canister in my pack and backpacked on Pennsylvanias Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail with a BV450 Solo Bear Vault in my pack. In addition, I have also camped in West Virginias Monongahela National forest two or three times and used the BV450. While both products probably perform as advertised, neither has been disturbed by a bear while I was using them; therefore I cannot vouch for their effectiveness against ursine activity. Nevertheless, I prefer the BV450.
I often backpack alone for short trips of just a few days and nights so I prefer the smaller BV450 Solo Bear Vault over the Backpackers Cache Bear Canister. The BV450 weighs in at two pounds and one ounce while the Backpackers Cache is a little heaver at two pounds and twelve ounces. Yes, the Cache offers 615 cubic inches of storage space, but the BV450s 440 cubic inches of storage space is all I need for three or four days on the trail. The larger BV500 offers 700 cubic inches and at two pounds nine ounces still weighs less than the Cache, but I have never carried one.
I Can See What Is Inside It
The BV450 and BV500 as well as the Cache can all do double duty as a camp stool, and I have used the BV450 that way. The reason I really like the BV450 is because it is translucent, and I can see what is inside; making it easier to find what I am looking for. I cannot see what is inside the dark interior of the Cache except through the opening which is smaller than the opening of the BV450.
On a recent longer trip, I carried more food than would fit in the BV450, so I also hung a bear bag the first couple of nights. After a couple of days, however, all my food and trash fit inside the container. Eventually I also started adding not only personal hygiene items that might attract bears but also smaller personal items that might otherwise drop to the bottom of my pack. By the end of my trip, almost all my smaller items were stored in the BV450.
More Than a Bear Canister
More than once I have emptied the BV450 of all contents and used it as a water container. When camping at campsites with a water pump where the water was not potable, I used the BV450 to collect the water I pumped and then used my filter to pump and filter water from the vault into my bladder and Nalgene bottle. I also used the BV450 to wash and rinse soiled clothes in. I modified my BV450 by attaching light reflecting tape all along the edge of the lid and around the top of the canister so that I can check on it at night and hopefully more easily find it if a bear were ever to punch it about or knock it down a slope.
I pack the BV450 near the top of my pack so that I can easily get things out of it while I am on the trail. When I have stopped for lunch, I have used the lid to hold small items I am using and to keep food off the ground.
If I could use the BV450 only as a bear canister, I might find it hard to justify the weight, but I have used in so many other ways that I think the weight justifies carrying it.
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