The concept for the BearVault was first born during the summer of 2002 during a Sierra backpack with friends from the San Diego Hiking Club. We were camped around a mountain lake lamenting the problems we had with our bear canisters. We all agreed our canisters were too heavy, held too little and had too small an opening. Several of us also had external frame packs and attaching the bear canister to those packs was a problem. Why didn't someone make a better canister? We decided to be that someone.
In order to address all of the concerns above, we knew it would take a radically different design than what was currently available. We decided to try a "child resistant" screw on cap. This was a completely novel bear canister design that had a lot of unknowns; the biggest being whether the lid would pop off when a large bear pounded on the canister.
During the autumn and winter of 2002/2003, we made several undisclosed prototypes which were impact tested by the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group (SIBBG). By May 2003 we had a canister that was ready for the ultimate test by Fisher, the 560 pound black bear at the Folsom Zoo. Fisher, with his massive bulk and powerful jaws had sent many designers back to the drawing board and that is exactly what he did to us. The SIBBG required the canister to last 1 hour and after just 8 minutes Fisher had torn into the canister, getting rewarded for his efforts with the meat, peanut butter and jelly which were inside.
Undeterred, we revised and strengthened the canister design, and in July 2003 we re-tested the new and improved canister with Fisher. After 24 hours, he gave up. Wanting to see how much punishment the canister could endure, it was then immediately put into Sequoia's cage; another large black bear. After an additional 24 hours the canister was removed, still intact. So the BearVault lasted 48 hours of abuse by two very large black bears, vastly exceeding the 1 hour requirement for certification.
In October 2003 the BearVault was Conditionally Certified by the SIBBG. Production began in November just in time to get the BearVault into stores for the Christmas shopping season. In November 2004 the Conditional Certification was changed to fully approved by the SIBBG.
Please feel free to contact us via e-mail with your BearVault experiences.
Thank you for your support
Jamie and Cindy
Avid backpackers and BearVault owners