Planning to thru-hike an extended version of Roper’s Sierra High Route, I knew the dreaded bear canister had to join for the escapades. Shortly after becoming enamored with my Gossamer Gear “Kumo” backpack, the question popped into my head: Can I carry the Kumo with a bear canister? Research online proved little-to-no-help, so I set out to test not only the possibility but also the comfort of carrying a bear canister with my beloved pack. The results, a resounding success!
The most food I carried in my Kumo during the SHR was 7 days. I used the BearVault 450 as well as a LOKSAK OPsak zipper bag (20″ x 12.5″). Of course, your mileage may vary, but here’s how I got it all to work, and to be comfortable to boot!
Five days of food fit into my BV 450 canister, a little over a day’s worth of food fit into my OPsak, and the rest was placed in my outside mesh pocket (snacks for the day were in the short side of the mesh pocket for easy access while hiking, and 1-2 meals into my tupperware container that I use for rehydrating). Since I use the optional Kumo hipbelt pockets, I can also stash a couple snacks into a pocket if need be. It’s all about utilizing space.
I had to play around with the actual packing process in order to create a shape that would not be awkward to wear with that much food and a hard, cylindrical canister. I tried several options before finding the perfect fit for my gear and food.
Here’s how it went down with a full load, starting from the bottom of the pack:
– Trash compactor bag with sleep system and clothes, squished down with the top twisted and tucked.
– Bear canister set on top of this, pushed off to the far right or left side of the pack in order to make room for the OPsak with 1-2 days of food in it, which was rolled up and placed vertically next to the canister.
– Next, in the spaces both in front and behind the OPsak, I stuffed my rain jacket and an insulative layer.
– This leaves room for a one-person shelter to fit on top of everything, stuffed in the outside mesh pocket, or one of the side pockets. Once food dwindles down after a couple days, it is easier to tuck a shelter neatly beside the canister.
There simply was not enough room to put the OPsak of food in without off-setting the canister to the side, but I did not find this to be uncomfortable or an uneven distribution of weight since I tucked clothes into the gaps both in front and behind the OPsak, and the food in the OPsak evened out the weight on each side.
The only slightly tricky part is to shove the rain jacket and insulative layer into the voids in such a way that would smooth out the back of the pack so the rounded canister could not be felt. This did not prove to be a problem and if I packed poorly, it was an easy 2 minute fix.
Sure, with 6-7 days of food the Kumo doesn’t feel as good as it does with 5 days and less, but it was only noticeable the first day out from resupply, and even then I found it to perform amazingly well! The ultimate comfort and functionality of the pack-itself outweighed the heavier resupply load that first day or two.
So after about 250 of the most arduous miles I have ever hiked and climbed, the Kumo stood up to be one tough, tasty little cookie…bear canister and all!
Writing by Virginia; Photos by David