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  • Bear Vault - BV500 Bear Resistant Food Canister - BV500

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  • Bear Vault - BV500 Bear Resistant Food Canister - BV500

Bear Vault BV500 Bear Resistant Food Canister


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    • BV500, 700cu in

    67 Reviews


    A fed bear is a dead bear. The BV500 protects you and our furry friends.

    Head out for a trip into Yosemite or Denali National Park with your food safe and secure in the Bear Vault BV500 Bear Resistant Food Canister. This large-capacity container's 700 cubic inch interior stashes enough supplies for weeklong trips into bear country. An innovative tool-free top gives you quick access to your goodies, and the see-through polycarbonate housing and extra-wide lid make it easy to find what you're looking for. Slip this lightweight Bear Vault canister into your expedition pack or use the guides to strap it down.
    • Item #BRV0004

    Tech Specs

    Transparent polycarbonate
    700 cu in 11.5 L
    8.7 x 12.7 in, 21 x 32 cm
    Claimed Weight
    2 lb 9 oz, 1160 g
    Recommended Use
    Storing supplies/food in bear country

    Tech Specs

    • Reviews
    • Q & A

    What do you think about this product?

    Have questions about this product?

    beefy and effective

    • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

    Before I took this bad boy out into nature, I threw it around in my friend's kitchen and abused it a bit to make sure nothing broke. It didn't.

    It's pretty bulky, so it's reserved for longer trips for me. Doubles nicely as a little stool as well.

    Good For Peace of Mind

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I did a bike tour from Prudhoe Bay to the lower 48 traveling down the bear infested Stewart-Cassiar Hwy in BC and used the BV500 to protect my food and give me peace of mind in camp. It's so nice being able to walk a distance from camp, plop it on the ground and forget about it. I never had issue with break-ins although I did find the canister toppled over a couple mornings. Also, in the arctic there aren't any trees to hang food so this is a necessary piece of kit. I used it as much to keep the rodents at bay as I did the bears. Another person I was traveling with hung his $120 pannier in a tree only to have something chew the ever loving crap out of it to get to what was inside.

    I'm giving it 4 stars because it does allow moisture to get inside even when standing upright. There must be some type of wicking action that takes place with the lid because after a night in the rain, there would be moisture inside the canister. It was a enough that any food items not in plastic would have gotten wet. I ended up putting a plastic bag over the top and it ended the moisture problem.

    An added bonus is it makes a nice camp seat.

    As far as it being difficult to open, follow this grom's advice. It works like a charm.

    UPDATE: As to the problem with moisture getting in, here is what the folks at BV said:

    "There is a small lip on the BearVault housing which prevents a bear’s claw or tooth from getting under the lid during an attack. If the BearVault is almost perfectly upright then during a rain this lip can allow a small “moat” of water to form at the top of the housing. If the storm then passes during the night, the atmospheric pressure gets higher and this forces the water in the “moat” up the threads and into the housing.

    To prevent this, just tilt the unit slightly during the night so that the water cannot accumulate in that “moat” if it rains- it’s that simple."


    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    A total requirement when camping in bearitory. I've never had mine preyed on, but I always keep my food in the BV500 when in the backcountry. It also serves as my snack and dry goods container when desert camping, where I've had plenty of mice and other small, likely hantavirus-infected rodents open up wrappers and nibble away while I was sleeping.
    The BV500 is pretty difficult to open when it's brand new, but it seems to get easier on your fingers the more often you use it.

    Best "budget" canister out there

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I purchased this for the John Muir Trail as most of the trail it is a requirement and for good reason.

    Many reviewers have touched on a lot of the things I would have to say about this item, however I have to disagree about the size/weight ratio.

    I own this canister in both sizes and for their carrying capacity they have some of the smallest overall footprints and weights. Realistically you are looking at getting a Bearikade if you want anything that is either higher in carrying capacity or lighter and have you seen the price tag on those things? Not worth the extra cost unless you need a much larger capacity.

    Keep in mind the number of days that they say you can fit seems to be based around the average 2000 calorie diet. I was eating over 3000 on the trail and still lost 15 pounds so I could never get as many "days" as they say. Most people have little need for the smaller one because you end up needing to put more things than just food in there as well. One large and one small worked well for me and a partner but if either of us were alone we would have definitely needed the big one.

    As for the lid opening issue, it can be a little tricky. I seemed to have less issues than many other fellow hikers (this was the most popular canister on the John muir trail with the garcia in a close second). Most people also really only seemed to have problems in the early morning when their hands were cold. If your hands are cold you can use a coin to push on the textured black part on the tab. Alternatively and what I did when I needed to was pick up a stick or a rock. Thumbs and tools are cool!

    Mixed Emotions

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    This item gets the job done and will keep the bears out just fine it seems. It would work great for a base camp/car camping situation. It seems excessively heavy in my opinion, but it may have to be to keep the bears out. As the other reviews say, its a great stool.

    Protects your food stash

    • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

    I purchased this for a backpacking trip on the Lost Coast of California, where carrying bear canisters is mandatory. Until this trip I have gotten by just fine with hanging my food in bear country. More storage space then I thought, but it does go fast. I think you'd have to get pretty creative to pack a whole weeks worth of food in it. I packed several fragile food items and like that they were protected in the pack. Relatively easy to open, and the lightest wight canister I could find.

    Beary safe!

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    This canister is awesome! So secure i'm ashamed to say it takes me a little bit of effort sometimes to get into it. I feel so much more confident going into the backcountry with this cansiter and knowing that my food is secure. Not only for my safety but for the animals as well. It can be a little awkward to carry but I love how burly it is so It's worth it to me. If you need a bear canister this is definitely a great option for you!

    Heavy but works

    • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

    While we didn't get to "test" it up against a bear, we did haul this thing to the top of Yosemite Falls full of food. It is HEAVY. It can be a little difficult to get open, but that's the goal, right? The Yosemite park employee recommended hiding them and making them difficult for the bear to get to. "she has been dropping them off cliffs to bust them open". Where there's a will there's a way!

    Easy to pack & a great camp seat

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I bought this for use in RMNP - a place I frequently travel in the summer months. Bear canisters are required for the warmer months, and this was a great option. I did a ton of research before, and had tried some of the alternatives. Options like the Bearikade are lighter, but the BV provides a good price to weight ratio. Counter Assults/Garcia's are super burly, but don't provide a good seat and are harder to pack due to their unique shape.

    Speaking of packing, I like the volume of this one as it provides enough room for 1-2 days worth of food for a group of 4. Obviously, the type of food you are bringing is a large factor, and learning to pack smart allows you to maximize space. Start with the last meal at the bottom and work your way up to the first meal on top with snacks in between. Remember to leave enough room on top for your toiletries and other smelly items at night.

    Opening this lid can be difficult, but I use a spork to keep my fingers from struggling to move the latches. The other canisters I mentioned earlier are a little easier to take off - given you have a tool or quarter handy.

    Even with the difficulty opening at times, this canister is a good value due to it's moderate weight, large volume, easy packing, and ability to use as a camp chair. I would also note, I carry this internally in a larger 65L pack. Might be difficult to strap to a smaller pack.

    Overall, 5 stars and would recommend to any friend who needs this type of product.

    Awesome review Andrew and glad the Bear Vault has worked out for you so far! Do you have any big trips planned for the summer ahead? Reach out to me directly if you ever have any backpacking gear questions in the future --

    Expert Gearhead

    The Bear Necessities

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    All bear cans suck to some degree, but the Bear Vault sucks less than the alternatives. Do your part to keep bears alive.

    -Can easily hold 7 days of food
    -No tools required for opening
    -$200 dollars cheaper than a Bearikade (and no wait times for a rental)
    -Lighter than a Garcia
    -Great place to put all those extra bumper stickers

    -Not quite as light as a Bearikade

    Safety First

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    When entering an area you know there is bear activity, this is one of the MUST haves on the list. Yes it is big, yes it is hard, but it will save your life.
    This canister is perfect, great seal, and impact resistance.

    Bear tried and true

    • Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

    Product worked as promised. We had a bear who raided our camp and ate all the food that wasn't in the canister. Really wrecked the trip. You are asking why wasn't all the food in the canister. We had 3 people and 3 days worth of food in our group trying to fit into one bear canister. The math didn't work. In retrospect the large one I think would be challenging to get 7 days of food for one person. The food in the canister was safe compared to the mountain houses that the bear ate (can you imagine eating a dry mountain house?) I give it 4 stars as a design flaw. It is very hard to attach to the top of your pack. I intend on attaching some nylon webbing so it can easily outside.

    Bear tried and true

    Good purchase

      This product performs as expected. The clear container is a major plus. It is sturdy. Opens and closes easily enough. Holds a considerable amount as well. Solid product. Well designed.

      Love this BearVault

      • Familiarity: I've used it several times

      Love that you can see the contents, lighter than other bear canisters, perfect for 3 nights and 2 people...a "tool" (like a stick spoon) to push the tabs in, is easier on the fingers.


      • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

      this is a big container , i took it on a 27 mile backpack trip it held enough food for me and my dog 7 days ,its kind of hard to get in to which is the point i guess , i plan on useing it for years to come ,im going to glue a piece of dense foam to the lid ,it makes a great seat

      No Complaints

      • Familiarity: I've used it several times

      The vault was great on the JMT. Durable, fit 7 plus days of food. Easy to open and close, and fit nicely inside my pack. I like using the vault even when not required by parks so I don't have to hang my food.

      The Big One

      • Familiarity: I've used it several times

      When going into bear country, you need to have one of these with you. If you have more than one person and are going to be staying multiple nights the BV500 Bear Resistant Food Canister is what you will need. If you are traveling solo or just bringing enough food for one night then the smaller BV450 Solo Bear Resistant Food Canister should suffice. This canister looks huge, but once you start loading it up with food you will realize that this larger size is necessary for longer trips with multiple people. This is a great product, and has a sterling reputation in the bear food protection industry. Don't go into bear country without one!

      I am planning to thru hike the AT and have...

      I am planning to thru hike the AT and have heard that some bears in that area have learned how to open these canisters. Now, I may seem a bit paranoid but I've had some VERY close encounters with bears in the past ( In Glacier and Denali). Once I was followed by a 500 pound grizzly only 30-50 feet behind me for almost 2 miles while on a day hike- I didn't even have ANY food or other scented items. So anyway that's a little background. I love to hike but have a somewhat irrational fear of bears. My question is: Would it be practical to use the canister AND also hang it from a tree? Would that be an added security measure or just a waste of time, space and weight? Thank you.

      Practical? No. But, if it makes you feel better, the few ounces of extra weight for a sack and cord would be worth it.

      It looks like there are only a couple of bears in one specific area that have figured out how to open the Bear Vault. While your previous encounters may have heightened your worries, the chances are slim you'll encounter those specific bears.

      Besides - from the sound of it, the bears are more interested in you than you food.

      Based on my last trek in Yosemite's bear country, I would not bother hanging the canister. Our 3 canisters and camp kitchen items were sitting on a rock in the open quite a distance from our camp and were not disturbed by bears. A group near us, however, weren't so lucky. What were the bears after? The nearby group put their camp kitchen items (stove, clean pots) in a bag which for some reason they hung. The only thing the bear went after was the hanging bag. Bottom line, at least in bear-rich Yosemite where they have experience with hanging food bags - bears see a hanging bag like a neon "EATS" sign so why hang something that will no doubt be an attractant? In my opinion, you're better off securing the food in a canister and placing it a good distance from your camp in a manner where it won't roll away if disturbed by a bear. If the bear wants it, he/she will get it, but will hopefully lose interest after not being able to open it.

      Unfortunately, hanging it from a tree can be counterproductive and shouldn't be done. While a bear isn't getting into it, putting it in a bag does make it possible for the bear to get it down (some well-conditioned bears can get hanging bags down) and then carry the canister off in its mouth by holding onto the rope and/or bag. The bear won't be fed - but neither will you!

      Leave it out of the bag, on the ground like it's meant. They're slippery - if you wedge it between some logs/rocks and keep it away from water or cliffs, the bear can't do anything but play with it for a while and then leave.

      When we use the vaults in the rain, we...

      When we use the vaults in the rain, we find the lid very difficult to unscrew. It's as if the humidity creates a friction and resistance in the threads that makes it extremely difficult to turn the lid. This is before we push the tabs to open --- we're just trying to move the tabs into position to depress and open.
      Any ideas? Might using some paraffin on the threads help counter the effect of humidity friction?

      Hi Nancy, I have experienced the same situation but only during elevation changes, i.e. pressure changes... yeah I would try some sort of lubrication and see what that does... if that doesn't help, you might check that there isn't some binding or other build up that could be sanded off of the threads on both the canister and the lid...

      My wife and I get that every so often also. We also get a vacuum effect, which is interesting. We counter this by not screwing the lid on much beyond the tabs and sometimes holding the bugger between our knees while unscrewing it.

      How does the thing open?

      How does the thing open?

      Best Answer

      There are 2 tabs on the lid that must be depressed before it can be unscrewed. Here is a video that demonstrates. It begins with them saying that they got one of the tabs pressed already:
      I hope this helps!

      Look on the side of the lid, yep, you gotta look the full 360 degrees. There's a little protrusion, sort of a serrated hook. Push that in and unscrew. Took me about half an hour, a few times through the manual, and yikes, asking help from a girl. I guess that's how come it stands up so well against the critters.

      My Grandson and I are planning a 10-14 day...

      My Grandson and I are planning a 10-14 day wilderness trek into Yosemite. My last trip I used the conventional pvc cannisters. I'm considering other cannisters like bearvault or ursack.. Coming from Hawaii makes it quite difficult to decide until other brothers and sisters are willing to provide suggested ideas..

      Best Answer

      Ursacks are not approved in most parts of the Sierras (might want to double check with a ranger). Some ranger stations will rent you a canister for your trip which should save you some trouble if you're coming from HI. Not sure about Yosemite specifically though.

      Just wondering if anyone knows the real...

      Just wondering if anyone knows the real answer, but I heard & read that the BV500 isn't approved for the Grand Tetons yet. That seems weird if the BV400 is approved and the BV500 is pretty much identical. Thanks

      Best Answer

      I would imagine the National Park Service hasn't updated their website to include the BV500. It doesn't make sense unless the BV500 has a design change rendering it less effective. Easier fix: call National Park Service in GTNP to be sure.

      According to http://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/bears_bc.htm "GrandTetonNationalPark’s new canister requirement program will authorize the use of any of these and any canisters approved by IGBC." and the BV500 is on the IGBC approved list: http://www.igbconline.org/BEAR_RESISTANT_Oct2010.pdf

      How big is 700 cubic?in plain english...

      How big is 700 cubic?in plain english please

      Are these the newest model with the red...

      Are these the newest model with the red decal on the lid?

      Is it approved for use in the Inyo National...

      Is it approved for use in the Inyo National Forest (Ansel Adams Wilderness)?

      Yes, you won't have any problems using this at Inyo. I love mine (BV400) since I can actually see my food and not have to un-pack the entire thing to find what I want as opposed to the ever popular and omnipresent Backpacker's Cache.You won't be disappointed.To the best of knowledge, this device is approved in all national parks & certainly national forests.

      http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sierra/publications/pdfs/rogs/ansel-adams2006.pdf speaks in general about bear cannisters - they are required, they may be rented. I would like to note the gentlemen "above" is speaking about his 400. The 500 is a totally different animal. I would suggest calling "Ansel Adams" about this matter at 559-877-2218 or 760-924-5500. All this being said, I would guess that if the 500 is conditionally approved at Yosemite, it is probably conditionally approved in Ansel Adams as well, as many people cross back and forth between its shared border.

      yes. They will ask if you have a bear canister once you're out there, too. You can rent one through Yosemite & return it by mail at the end of your trip although I would buy one if you ever plan on going backpacking in a major US Park


      I am going to buy this today as the second...

      I am going to buy this today as the second one for our trip. I just bought one about 2-3 weeks ago. Since this is on sale, can you give me a 20% discount on my first one too? I believe that this is a fair request. Thanks, Rob

      Best Answer

      Rob-This is something you're going to have to take up with Backcountry's customer service by either calling, e-mailing them at service [at] backcountry.com, or using their live chat function.I'll be a pretentious jerk though and offer my unsolicited advice: Backcountry provided you a great product, downright dazzling customer service, and got you the gear you needed when you needed it. Backcountry sold something then at a set price, and you accepted the terms of that sale and acknowledged that the product and service were clearly worth what you were paying.Now that you've found a better deal, you want out. While your request is in theory reasonable, in reality you're basically wanting your cake and to be able to eat it too.If you really want to stick it to them, buy two canisters now and return one of the new ones from the old invoice. If you're willing to accept that you got exactly what you paid for the first time you bought it, honor that customer-seller agreement you made and just buy the second one. Besides, it'd be like you're getting both of them at 10% off.For whatever it's worth, this canister absolutely rocks. I'm glad I have mine every time I manage to sneak away up to Yosemite.bc.com is a very fair company to work with. Hope all works out for you.

      What's the difference between the 500...

      What's the difference between the 500 series Bear Vault and the 400 series??