To Bring a Bear Canister And If So Which One? BearVault vs Lighter1

Lighter 1 Bear Canisters both with a lid that converts into a pan. "Big Daddy" on the left and "lil Sami" on the right Bear Canister, no bear canister or which bear canister? Canister review and thoughts.

So I have really been putting in the work to lower my base weight and so far it started with spending the extra money to swap out each of the big 3 and it saved over 3lbs. I’ve still got a long way to go with weight and would like to cut another 4lbs, 6lbs if I hike with a bear canister to make up for the 2lb 9oz weight of the canister I have.

I know they’re heavy but they have a purpose. A purpose that would be served if all hikers would submit and comply. Which once again makes you ask why even try? But I don’t want to be kicking myself in the ass when a bear gets ahold of my bag and crushes my food or gets into it.

So I’ve been really doing my research and can’t really decide on what to do. I just purchased the BearVault BV500 and figured I’d give it a go adding it to my already heavy and full pack. Yes it’s big but it fits in my bag as long as I put my toiletries, stove and pot in there to, which turns out is practical since toiletries have odors that attract bears and your pot will too. It also can serve as a seat which is a bonus. I know I can hang it on the outside which I haven’t ruled out either but will that throw of the pack balance?

Now today I stumble across a new, innovative Bear Canister I found in backpacker magazine called Lighter1, a company featuring 2 different sized Canisters both with the genius lid that converts into a pan. You read that right a lid that turns into a pan with a very simple handle. The small version the “lil Sami” is great however it’s too small for a thru hike.  But the “Big Daddy” is 10.5L and where as the BV500 is 11L. The weight difference is 1 ounce. That’s right the Big Daddy is 1 ounce more, weighing in at 2lbs 10oz.

So the breakdown. Both BearVault and Lighter1 are see through which I love. The BV500 capacity is 11L and weighs 2lbs 9oz. The capacity of the Lighter1 “Big Daddy” is 10.5L and weights 2lbs 10oz which includes the lid that’s also a pan and only costs $20 more.

So is the upgrade worth it? Has anyone else tried this product yet? Are there any people out there who love their bear canisters? Enlighten me please. REI is going to flag me soon if I keep returning and exchanging stuff.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 7

  • Chili : Jan 19th

    Which canister you use can very well depend on where you’ll be. If you plan on hiking in the Adirondacks, for example, they’ll ask you about your bear canister (at the Loj).

    They’ll ask: “Do you have a canister?” If you don’t have one, you’ll need to rent one. If you answer yes, they’ll ask: “What color is it?” If your canister is blue (bearvault/lighter1), they won’t let you use it.

    Some bears in the ADK high peaks region have learned how to open the bear vault by biting down the plastic nub that keeps it locked. Also, when I was up there this past July, I was told that someone with a Lighter1 (or similar) canister actually had the bottom of the canister torn off by a bear at Avalanche lake, and lost all their food.

    This may not be a problem everywhere, but it’s something to consider.

  • Sean : Jan 19th

    If you’re in an area that requires a bear canister, leaving your food container open while cooking with a frypan seems to be a terrible idea. It might even be prohibited.

    Andrew Skurka did a really good breakdown of bear canisters a while back and it’s worth a read.

  • KC : Jan 19th

    Okay. I’ve never read anywhere of anyone using a “bear cannister” while through hiking.

    • twinnriver : Mar 22nd

      I’m a through hiker carrying a bear canister

      ATC recommends doing so

      Small weight penalty to save a bears life

    • Maria : Apr 13th

      Depends where you hike. In the National Parks out west where I have hiked, they have always been required. I use it in other areas as well if there are bears and no trees or the type of trees are not conducive to bear hangs, particularly areas where evergreens dominate.

  • John : Feb 7th

    Hi Kristin, I have the BV500 and used it on several hikes. Not sure it would be worth the hassle of exchanging. If it is raining and you need the pan from the lighter1 for cooking, what happens to your food with no lid? Not that the BV500 is completely water tight. What if you don’t particularly like the pan that comes with the lighter1?

    I hope you detail your final gear list for us. Good luck!

    • twinnriver : Mar 22nd

      I’m a thru hiker carrying a WildIdeas Expedition.

      It’s simple

      Carry a can
      Save a bear

      ATC recommends carrying a can the entire length of the trail.
      Trust the ATC to make the right decisions to protect the trail.


What Do You Think?