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12 days in the Mariposa Plus

bear can backpack


I don’t know if you are still looking at ideas for packs to carry bear canisters, but I had good luck last summer with the Mariposa+ with a bungee cord setup on top of the pack.  Worked better than my previous Mariposa because the grosgrain loops were symmetrical on each side of the pack. The earlier model did not have the grosgrain loops in the same place on each side of the pack and would pull the canister backwards.  I carry the food inside the pack in a stuff sack during the day and stick it in the can at night.  I put the shelter and down  jacket in the canister during the day and it carries much better that way.  Worked great.  We did 11 days wandering in the southern Sierra with that setup last summer and it was fine, including some nice cross country (actually carried 12 days of food but came out a day early.

We were stopped on the trail by folks who had trouble believing that we were in for twelve days with our setup.  I was wondering if you ever considered making up some Gossamer Gear stickers with the website address that could be handed out.  I told people the name and url but don’t know how many remember it.  Just an idea.


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7 Responses to 12 days in the Mariposa Plus

  1. Jim Richardson March 29, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    I have a Mariposa+ also and love it. Robert, what is the make and model of the hat you’re wearing. I’ve been looking for one like it?

    I also am amazed that you could take enough food for that long, even with two packs. I cannot imagine what your food list was.


  2. LarryB March 29, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    That is a great setup! How much did your pack weigh with the whole 12 days of food included?


  3. Evan Ravitz March 29, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    I’ve gone for 14 days many times with my Mariposa Plus. I’m base-camping, so I bring extra stuff like a travel hammock and a 3-person shelter. I’m not supposed to say, but I’ve carried 50 pounds several times. After 5 years I had to reinforce the harness stitching. I use quinoa, kasha & pearled barley as my staple grains, instant beans, cheese, and miso, olive oil & chipotle peppers for condiments. Oatmeal, dry fruit & nuts for breakfast. Larabars. No expensive freeze-dried stuff.

  4. Jon March 29, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Did you ever get inspected by a Ranger? My understanding is that ALL food has to remain in the approved bear canister even while on the trail while in the designated areas.
    Possible penalties could be: $, escorted out, and not allowed back in for two years.

    How tall are you? When I’ve tried the same system the back of my head hits my Bearikade when ever I look straight ahead, not even looking up.
    I’m 5’7″

    I see what appears to be shipping or airline stickers on the top of your Bearikade???

    I’m planning a 2013 thru hike and was looking at getting a different pack, just for the Sierras, due to the fit (or lack of) for my Bearikade and your experiences will be VERY helpful.
    If the my Marriposa was just 1/2″ deeper it would work great for me.

    Thx for you story,

  5. Mary March 29, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    I would never want to put any non-food items that will stay in the tent into a bear canister; they will pick up food odors from the canister!

    Jon, the Yosemite NP website says it’s OK to have food outside the canister in the daytime as long as your pack is “within arm’s reach” (no naps or swimming). It’s supposedly OK to leave your first night’s dinner outside, for example. Ditto snacks and lunch for on the trail that day.

  6. dave March 29, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    I had faily good luck with strapping a bear canister to my GG Gorilla pack. I was a little careless one time and it fell out. The canister needs to be seated properly and the strap needs to be tight. I was using the Garcia at the time. Perhaps other canisters would work batter.

  7. Robert March 30, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    @Jim- The hat is a Sunday Afternoons Adventure hat. I have been wearing that model for ten years and love it. Good coverage and no stiff brim on the back to hit the pack or bear can.

    Food: like Evan below says we don’t carry freeze-dried meals, mostly meals made up of commonly available food plus some home-dried tofu and vegetables. High calorie count is important plus using things that can pack smaller, i.e. tortillas instead of bagels or bread, etc. We try to follow the Mike Clelland suggestion of 1.4 to 1.6 pound of food per person per day.

    @ LarryB- The pack weighed about 44 pounds at the start for me and 32 for my hiking partner. We each carried a Bearikade Expedition canister. I have a bad habit of carrying too much water (I hike a lot in the desert) so was carrying over two liters of water at the start. Not necessary in the Sierra most of the time.

    @Evan- I have carried heavy loads in my Mariposas and while it is not always comfortable the first day or two it is possible. We don’t often basecamp and usually move camp each day. We do use our packs as daypacks for summit climbs and exploring and in that instance will leave items we don’t need near our campsite for the day including food inside the bear canister. Later in a trip when the food is light we carry the packs all the time. On the trip highlighted we carried our full packs on Day 11 to the top of Mt. Langley, 14, 024′ on my map, since we only had four meals left.

    @Jon- We hike mostly in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park (SEKI). Our starting trailhead was in Inyo National Forest which has a rule that food is to be carried in the bear canister all the times so I did carry it in the canister the first day and the canister was inside the pack. Not as comfortable as carrying it on top but it handles the weight a bit better. We did meet a ranger shortly after crossing the boundary into SEKI who checked our permit but basically didn’t worry about the canister. We told him we had a canister and the permit we received stated that we were carrying canisters. In SEKI (except for the Rae Lakes Loop) if you wish to hike from bear box site to bear box site you do not need a bear canister. We were hiking off trail much of the time so a canister was required. We saw another ranger twice who saw the canister on the pack and didn’t ask to see permit. I have found most rangers to be quite reasonable about bear canisters. Descending to Whitney Portal after hiking the JMT two years ago a ranger going in on patrol looked at my canister and said “I wish I had that canister!” He was carrying two Garcia canisters to hold the food he needed.

    I am 6’1″. I don’t like my head hitting the pack either but you can see from the heavy load that my pack is hanging down lower than usual. I don’t know what the solution is for you, sorry.

    Good eye, the stickers on top are mailing labels and postage. I thru-hiked the PCT in 2006 and carried the canister from Kennedy Meadows to Sierra City, then mailed it home empty. Just stuck the postage and label on top and it went through just fine.

    I agree about the Mariposa depth. I carried an older model G4 pack on my first JMT hike and it the bear canister fit easily inside the pack. On my thru-hike I carried the canister inside the pack and it did tear the seams near the top. I sewed them up with dental floss and the pack worked fine all the way to Canada.

    @Mary- We cook in clothes that we wear all the time so we really don’t worry about food smells getting on the tent or anything else. Foods with a strong smell (cheese) go into OPSaks inside the canister. Food smells do not seem to be retained by the canister.

    I follow the guidelines you mentioned. The canister is always in “arm’s reach”.

    I hike every year in the Sierra and have not seen a bear since 2006. Stealth camping, not camping near water or other hikers and camping above treeline seems to keep the bears away.


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