Bear canister fit test

First I know this is not a post seeking advice. It is however a followup to 2 threads asking for advice so I am posting it here rather than on discussion.

I borrowed a Garcia bear canister from a friend. It is 12in x 8.8in to test in my kayaks.

  1. The canister will not fit through the Force 3 large oval valley hatches flat.

  2. The canister will not fit through the Force 3 rear valley hatch even putting it in tilted. The depth is too shallow to make the turn to flat once in the hatch at an angle.

  3. The canister will fit through the Force 3 front hatch. However the depth clearance is so small that it only fits if the end toward the cockpit is placed in first. If done the other way, it sticks just like in the rear hatch. Once in the front hatch the canister will not slide forward or aft. It sticks up just enough that the rubber hatch cover will not fit down properly with the canister there.

  4. The canister will not fit sideways in the Force 3 in front of the footpegs. The deck is too low on the sides.

  5. The canister will fit lenghtwise in front of the foot-pegs in the Force 3. However it sticks out far enough back toward the seat that my feet will not fit on the footpegs.

  6. The canister will not fit lenghtwise or sideways behind the seat in the Elan.

  7. The canister will not fit sideways in front of the footpegs in the Elan. Same problem with deck height on the sides as in the Force 3.

  8. The canister will fit lenghtwise forward of the footpegs in the Elan. It will slide quite a way forward since there are no bulkheads.

  9. If I slide the canister as far forward as it will go in the Elan I can not use the large tapered dry bag I normally use in the Elan. If I put the large bag in first and then slide the canister up to the end of the bag there is a lot of “wasted” space around the canister.

  10. Final conclusion - The Garcia bear canister will not work at all in the Force 3. One Garcia canister will fit in the Elan in front of the foot-pegs. I need to do some more experimenting to find the best way to place the canister and which dry-bags work with different placements.

    Thanks for all the useful information on my other 2 posts on kayak capacity (will canisters fit) and on what needs to be in canisters.


Might one of these work better for you?

Ursack is still on my investigation list
but I think they are not approved for some of the places I am considering going. My reading showed that the company has filed a lawsuit since their conditional approval was removed.

Probably no major trips before next summmer (although Everglades are calling) so I still have some more time to experiment.

Thanks for the recommendation.


excellent work mjamja
I’m glad you provided some evidence-based experience.

I have used both Ursacks and Garcia bear canisters while backpacking but, not kayaking. My observations (as corroborated by other posters) are as follows:


Pros: Lightweight, conformable for packing, volume decreases as contents decrease, can be tied to fixed structure.

Cons: Food can be crushed (though I see they have added a rigid liner), not compliant in some areas.


Pros: Cannot be crushed, compliant in more places.

Cons: Heavier, inflexible for packing, cannot be secured in place, fixed volume.

Please feel free to add to my lists of pro’s and con’s.

If it were up to me… I’d pick the hard canisters if required by ordinance, and Ursack if legal.

Just my experience, no guarantees implied or otherwise, blah, blah blah.


I must be missing something
You say “If I put the large bag in first and then slide the canister up to the end of the bag there is a lot of wasted space around the canister”. Why don’t you put something else (a tent, another dry bag, etc.) in the space around the canister? Is all you’re going to carry one tapered dry bag and a bear canister and nothing more?

Solo Bear Vaults?
Would using several of the smaller solo Bear Vaults instead of fewer large ones fit any better?

The space around the cannister

– Last Updated: Dec-02-08 10:51 PM EST –

is essentially an annular ring that has a lot of area, but at any point is not really wide enough to fit in any standard size drybag.

I tried putting some of my water containers (soda bottles) in the space, but they were too big to fit. I did try putting my Crazy Creek type chair around the canister and that did take up quite a bit of the room. However I think I need the room for water and other stuff and the chair would be one of the last items I would "need" to carry.

When I wrote that I needed to experiment some more I was talking about finding out if I needed that space around the canister for essentials, trying to figure out what specific items might fit into that space, and how to package those items since I do not think any dry bags I have seen will fit in the space left around the canister.


I was looking at using the solo size
originally. I am not sure if the 1/2 in difference in size (8.3 vs 8.8) would make let me use them in the Force 3. It would allow me to put one through the rear hatch, but I am not sure if there would be clearance to put the rubber covers on. Measuring is a little difficult since the hull and deck are curved and I do not know exactly where the tightest spot would be located. I probably would just have to get one and test it to be sure. I am pretty sure one solo will go in front of the pegs on the Force 3. Since the Force 3 is such low volume anyway I don’t think I would have room for my other gear with the 2 canisters in it anyway. But the one solo in front would be a good solution for 2-3 day trips in the Force 3.

I do not think the solo size will change anything in the Elan. A solo might just make it under the rear deck, but it would still leave me with some odd sized spaces to fill around it and the one in the front. Besides I really like using the area behind the seat for my water.

Again thanks for the suggestion. I am going to have to think some more about the solo size bear vaults and try to get some better measurements of clearances in both kayaks.