Bear Canister for Colorado Trail

Do I Need A Bear Canister On The Colorado Trail?

If you’re planning on thru-hiking or section hiking the Colorado Trail, you may be wondering what gear you need to protect yourself against bears.

I thru-hiked the Colorado Trail in July 2021 and I brought a bear canister with me, specifically the BV450 bear canister.

Not to bury the lead I would say you don’t need a bear canister on the Colorado Trail but if you do bring one, bring a bigger one than the BV450.

I would suggest the BV500, this will be more than enough for most thru-hikers.

My Bear Setup (Which I Don’t Recommend)

I brought the BV450, which is the smaller bear canister and was able to cram about 5 days of food in it.

However, you should note that because I used the Vargo Bot HD 1L for my cooking pot I was able to keep this outside my bear canister. Thus allowing me to put more food in my canister.

This is because the Vargo Bot has a screwable airtight seal and so becomes it’s own little canister. I’m sure a bear could crush it if they tried but I figured it was worth. So at night I would put my bear canister and vargo bot away.

Pro Tip: If you do bring a bear canister, cover the outside with some reflective tape. That way at night or on dark mornings you’ll be able to find it again using your headlamp.

Thankfully my full gear list was already ultralight so the extra weight didn’t slow me down too much.

But I wouldn’t recommend this set up. There were times I wish I was able to carry more food.

You think you’ll use it as a chair but the BV450 is too small really, the BV500 could be used as a chair but you won’t use it as often as you would think.

There are bears on the Colorado Trail for sure, but I never saw any and I would say most people won’t see any bears on their hike.

Ursack or Bear Bag?

So, if a bear canister is overkill for the Colorado Trail you are left with 2 options.

A bear bagging kit, where you have to hang your food each night or an Ursack.

For the Colorado Trail I would far and away recommend the Ursack.

There are some sections where finding an appropriate tree to hang your bear bag would be a pain.

The Ursack is easy and can be hung pretty much anywhere. I used one on my section hike of the Appalachian Trail and it was great.

Bring Bear Spray If You Want Extra Protection

If you are worried about bears you might be more inclined to bring a bear canister.

However, I would suggest that you just bring an Ursack and some bear spray.

This will be a much lighter option and in the worst case scenario a much more effective option.

My Recommendation:

So to sum up, a bear canister is probably overkill for the Colorado Trail. If you want to bring one, bring a bigger one (BV500).

The best balance of weight, functionality and safety is an Ursack coupled with some bear spray.