Bearvault 500 Review

BearVault BV500 review

Last Updated on September 7, 2021

Bear encounters are commonplace in wilderness areas, and even when humans don’t observe them, they are often nearby drawn by the allure of an easy meal.  Fortunately, these hungry foragers aren’t usually looking for human-sized snacks, but rather the food that humans bring with them.  To protect both your food and the well-being of bears, The BearVault500 offers a storage solution that will keep a whole family of bears from getting their paws on your supper.

Bearvault 500 Review

Size and Material


Photo from

BearVault is a stanchion in the world of bear safety products, and it can be seen on trails and in campgrounds all around the country.  Made out of sturdy polycarbonate plastic, this barrel is heavy duty, yet still under three pounds in weight when empty.  700 cubic inches of space allow for packing several days’ worth of food, which has made this a popular choice for long backpacking trips.  The clear blue plastic allows you to see inside and the wide opening makes retrieving snacks and items a piece of cake. (However, we don’t recommend putting cake in the bear container.)


When it comes time to open the container, a bit of force is needed. The side of the lid must be squeezed inwards to allow two plastic tabs to move past a “lock”.  With a little practice, removing the lid is simple, but it still requires some force and effort.  Colder temperatures can make it a little difficult to open. The only real concern about the construction is in regard to the locking mechanism.  If the plastic tab on the lid or barrel break, the lid will be rendered un-lockable.

BearVault BV500

Photo of the locking mechanism

Packing and Usage

It easily straps on to the outside of a pack, allowing straps to fit in to grooves on the canisters’ midsection.  When at a campground it serves as a sturdy stool for sitting, or a tabletop for food prep.

Personal Experience

As a result of numerous years of research, design, and testing, the BearVault is approved by all National Parks and Forests.  It has personally served me well during numerous camping and backpacking excursions in northern Arizona, Yosemite, Yellowstone, The Wasatch Range and the Grand Tetons.  On several occasions that I have seen bears, I have never had intrusions into my BearVault.  However, I have also never seen evidence that a bear has tried to get inside the canister, so in that regard it still remains “untested” for me. The fact that the bears are not drawn to the smell of food inside the canister may be the best quality about the canister.

Unsuccessful Stories



While the BearVault has worked for me and thousands of other users, but it also has seen some recent adversity.  Several bears, namely in the Adirondacks, have purportedly learned how to open the canister, or at least have been able to force their way through the plastic.  A simple search for cases like this will yield several stories and photos of mangled blue barrels.  These incidents, however, seem to be small in number and concentrated to certain areas.


  • Large Capacity
  • Durable
  • Wide opening for ease of access
  • Brand boasts research and testing
  • Available warranty against animal damage
  • Under 3 pounds
  • Doubles as a camp stool.


  • Lid can be tough to remove (Then again, that’s the whole point, right?)
  • Purportedly, some bears have been able to forcibly open them
  • If plastic tab on lid breaks, the canister can become useless


Many parks around the country require bear containers for food and personal item storage.  When recreating in these areas, follow the law and keep yourself and the bears safe, even if it does cost a few bucks up front.  The price tag is far less than park fines, lost food, or worse, a bear that becomes too familiar with humans and must be dealt with.  The BearVault500 is a fine choice, unless you happen to live in upstate New York.

About the author

Mariah Swigart

Mariah Swigart is often found camping, climbing, hiking, and kayaking in her home state of Arizona. She loves exploring new locations for her outdoor hobbies, and believes each trip is an opportunity to try a new piece of outdoor gear. Check out to read about her most recent adventures.

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