Gear Review: Ursack Bear Bag Initial Impressions

The UrsackI recently purchased an Ursack “Bear Resistant Food Bag”.  I haven’t had it out in the field yet, but wanted to give a quick review.  First the specs:

My intended purpose:  General animal & varmint bag for local trips.

Material:  Ballistic Fabric & high tensile strength cord

Volume:  650 cu in

Weight:  8 oz (bag); 10 oz (aluminum insert)

Website:  http://www.ursack.com/index.html (site has videos of bears going after the bag)

Shipping:  Free via USPS for orders over $75.  Arrived in four days.

Aluminium Insert

The bag is well made and the material appears very durable with a nice tight weave.  There is a lot of room in this bag.  You can easily store several days of food.  The insert makes the bag fairly rigid and should do a good job to reduce crushing of the contents.  It is a bit bulky but you could unroll it and carry it down the back of a bigger pack.  If you carry it this way you may want to smooth out the corners some more to protect your pack; they are roughly rounded but could use a little filing.

I wanted to give the bag a test drive, but I couldn’t find any bears hanging around the house.  Then I realized I have the perfect tester already.  Saja!  Saja loves tug of war and can chew the cover off a golf ball, so I figured that if the bag could survive her I could trust it in the field.  I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous giving a $60 piece of kit to the dog, but they say it will stop a bear so why not a dog?

My Tester at Work!

My Tester at Work!

Saja was certainly up for the challenge and gave it her best shot.  She went at it for about 10 minutes, more than enough time to shred most household items.  As you can see, the bag did take some damage.  She was able to pierce the material in a couple of places but there was absolutely no lateral tearing and most of the tooth marks smoothed right out.  Her most effective assault was grinding with her back teeth.  I think that given time she could grind a hole in the bag, but with the material’s lateral integrity it would be hard to make a large enough hole to get at the food.

I would definitely recommend buying and using the aluminum insert.  It pushes the total weight over one pound and will make for a minor packing challenge, but it will save your food from crushing.  Also, the insert helps keep the bag taut which would reduce loose folds that might be chewed.  I suspect that after a couple of animals go to work on the Ursack you are going to want to replace it, but at least you’ll still have your food.

Test Results

Test Results

The Ursack is not indestructible but I do think it is a good alternative to the hard bear canisters when local rules permit.

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About the Author: Tucson, AZ Realtor & Investor. My true passions however are hiking and whisky (although generally not at the same time). If you have a question about any of these just drop me a line!

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  1. hikingshoes says:

    Well,I was wondering if my Ursack Minor(bag)would hold up for my use as a hiker/backpacker. I can say now after my test that I feel that my food will be safe from critter’s. If you take a look at my video, Raccoon vs Ursack Minor/After Action Review(AAR) you’ll see that the bag held up very well. Sorry for the poor lighting and quality,but we had no ideal or plan’s to do a test. It just came to me as we was putting the food up. I’m glad i lucked up to get a chance to make this video. Now,I know that my bag will hold up to any critter after the raccoon did’t get in the bag. Hope you enjoy the video as much as we did making. HS

  2. Ralph Alcorn says:

    We have three of the original Ursacks, and have been using them as we section hike the Pacific Crest Trail, except on the JMT part where we used canisters. We now have done almost 2000 miles, and have never had an incident with the Ursacks. A couple of maintenance items. The “odorproof” bags have the same problem as all ziplocks. After about 10 days the zip fails. But, by then we have used enough food so that we just roll them up. We have totally replaced the bags once. The other thing is that the end cap for the cord comes off easily, and then begins to shred. So far we are living with that. As far as usage, I think that tying them as recommended at eye level with a figure 8 knot is a good idea. You have to be careful to tie the figure 8 correctly. Do it wrong, and you can just pull the bag off the tree.

    • Desert Dog says:

      Thanks for the field report! Any critters go at it yet? Couldn’t you just melt the end of the cord like you would with a nylon rope?
      How long have you been working on the PCT? I’m thinking about section hiking the Arizona trail (a much more modest endeavor).

  3. Tom Cohen says:

    I’m the inventor/CEO of Ursack. Thanks for the review. I feel lucky that your dog could not tear the Ursack because it is not meant to repel canines with strong jaws and sharp teeth. Bears have great strength but their teeth are dull, and Ursack works well against them. Ironically, certain rodents with very sharp teeth are sometimes able to chew very small holes in Ursack (but not the aluminum). We could design a bag for this, but it would be much more expensive (needs finer thread and more of it) and would be ineffective against bears.

    tom

    • Desert Dog says:

      Tom,
      Welcome and thanks for the comment! I guess my warranty is void now 🙂 I figured what you said might be the case, so I kept an eye on her. Tug of war had no impact on the bag, but once she set at it with her back teeth I knew it was time to end the test. I think she could chew through a tank with her molars and the crushing, grinding motion will wear down any cloth material eventually.
      Still, I was impressed with the lateral strength and am confident that even if the bear managed to puncture the bag the material would not rip.
      It is a good product. Thanks again for stopping by.
      DD

  4. marein says:

    I had to join so I could let you know how much I enjoy your blog…Tante

    • Desert Dog says:

      Thank you! It’s always easier to write about something you enjoy. Don’t be shy about sharing the site 🙂

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