Few things are as frustrating, or nerve-wracking, as an unwanted encounter with a bear. Campsite raids are often encouraged by easy access and the smell of foods.
Using food storage canisters designed to discourage bears from making campsite visits aren’t just beneficial, they are becoming a mandatory requirement by agencies in charge of U.S. forests and National Parks with bear populations.
Bear Vault is known to offer canisters that meet with regulatory requirements, and the two products they manufacture have distinct features that may be hard to distinguish at first. This review will compare the BV450 vs BV500 and help to determine which is better suited for your needs.
|Product||Dimensions (W x H)||Weight (empty)||Mouth Opening||capacity (interior)|
|#1. BV 500|
Our Best Pick
|8.70 x 12.70 in.||2 lbs. 9 oz.||38 sq. in.||700 cu. in.|
|#2. BV 450 |
|8.70 x 8.30 in.||2 lbs. 1 oz.||38 sq. in.||440 cu. in.|
Bear Encounters Bear Vault!!
Bear Vault Canister Designs
An important consideration for any canister design is the amount of time it can hold foods and keep them fresh. Both products have a lockable lid that helps foods to last longer than when they are placed in containers with air circulation.
Both of the Bear Vault models are constructed out of polycarbonate plastic. Both products are impact resistant and shatterproof. This material provides a solid construction that can withstand potential abuse from animals attempting to get into it.
This material is also clear, allowing you to view inside of the canister to locate exactly what you are looking for. The polycarbonate makes this a hard-bodied container.
Hard-bodied food containers supply greater protection for foods than a soft-sided container will. This rigid body also meets the requirements of many governing bodies throughout North America.
Lid and Opening
Both Bear Vaults offer 38-square inches of opening space at the top of the container. This allows you to load and unload these products quickly and gives ample space to load packaged items without having to open them or break them down.
It also provides plenty of access for rummaging around the interior to get at items at the bottom of the food pile.
The screw-on lid design allows the lid to line-up properly as well as sealing the contents within. A snug fit prevents water from entering the canister, allowing your food to stay dry as well as fresh.
Two lockable points keep the lid secure and prevent clever or determined animals from unscrewing the lid.
This lid design feature does make it more difficult to operate though. Both points must be pushed down and moved past a locking snap before they can be loosened completely. This can be difficult to do when wearing gloves or for those who struggle with dexterity-oriented tasks.
Size and Weight
Both Bear Vault models are nearly nine inches in diameter, with the BV450 standing 8.3 inches and the BV500 measuring almost 13-inches tall. The Bear Vault 450 weighs just over two pounds empty while the 550 model is closer to three pounds before it is filled.
These dimensions make these items bulky and this feature should be taken into account when making room for it when packing to a campsite. The taller BV500 can easily be used as a make-shift stool in a pinch as well.
The smaller BV450 has 440 cubic inches of usable interior space, while the BV500 will provide 700 cubic inches. The volume provided by the 450 design holds approximately four days of food and the larger 500 model can hold up to seven days worth of food per fill.
That makes the BV450 a good choice for a weekend excursion and the BV500 better suited for longer camping trips, or for family campsites.
Other Design Considerations
Both products are covered in dimples across their exterior surface. These bumps can help keep tie-down straps in place if the containers are tied down to a backpack exterior.
The polycarbonate can be cleaned with mild soap and the wide opening allows you to clean all parts of the interior with ease. The clear plastic does have a blue tint that can disguise light scratches, but sharp objects will mark the interior or exterior of the containers.
A decent seal allows these products to hold insect repellants, sunscreens, tubes of toothpaste, and other strong smelling items as well as food. This allows campers to store almost any items that could attract nearby bears.
Approval and Field Testing
The Bear Vault 450 and 500 containers have been tested and approved by the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group and Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
This should promote consumer confidence, as both organizations are dedicated to promoting standards in bear-related products.
Which Bear Vault is Better?
As expected, the BV450 and BV500 offer the same build and design features as part of the Bear Vault product line. The BV500 does provide more space for storage, and this feature makes it stand out when compared with the smaller BV450.
At the expensive of a little more bulk, the BV500 allows campers to store seven days of food, an additional three days worth of meals. That keeps you in the wilderness longer and also provides more room for campsites with multiple campers.
The additional room can also be used to store other items with strong odors, keeping them away from the strong olfactory senses that bear possess.