Are Alu-Box bear proof ?

Zarges cases look like a nice piece of lightweight kit; lighter and cheaper than my current Pelicans and I just might design my slide out shelf around these cases over the Wolf-Packs just so I can leave them out and not panic about weather.
 

EquiptExpOutfitters

Supporting Sponsor
Chiming in on an old thread here!

The Aluboxes we import are not tested and not advertised as bear proof. They are made out of 1mm aluminum with the cast corners riveted in. As previously stated in this thread, a bear can, and will, get into one of these cases if they want to.

It is my understanding that there is a group of bears at the Grizzly and Wolf wildlife rehab/rescue center outside of Yellowstone that are the best at breaking open cases and coolers. Companies pay this center to have their products tested, if any bear can get into a new case or cooler, its these bears. Alubox has not paid to have these tests done and I do not expect them to try.

They are a great option for dry food storage, recovery gear, firearms or anything else in need of superior protection but please keep your expectations realistic.

I don't see why you couldn't load up your camp food in an Alubox and hang the entire box from a tree or a bear pole in a campsite though. Please remember to follow the proper guidelines at all campgrounds and campsites in bear country as they may differ from location to location.

Best,

Morgan Griffith
Customer Experience Lead
#BuiltBetter
 

llamalander

Active member
Bear poles/bags and lines are not the sure thing they used to be. Bears are getting smarter with every half-assed job that people do, plenty of them can figure out how to cut a line between two trees if it smells good. In Alaska many folks rely on electric bear fences or nets to protect their tents and food. Not an instant setup & you're placing a lot of faith in a handful of D batteries, but it makes good use of their willingness to learn.
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
The other factor to consider with regards to "Bear Proof" is not "practical", so much as "legal".

Whether or not a bear can actually get into a container, in many jurisdictions, you can be legally culpable if you are found to have stored food in a "non-bear-proof" way - particularly if there is an incident with a bear which forces a relocation or euthanization.

I'm not saying everyone needs to have heavy-duty bear proof boxes for all their stuff, but neither should they go into bear country without an understanding of their legal obligations for a particular area. As Morgan points out, there is a quasi-standardized testing regimen for certification. It's true that not every jurisdiction applies the same standards (or indeed relies to any degree on any certification), but buying a product which has actually been certified for bear use, versus one that is "functionally bear-proof" does give one a bit of legal cover.

Again, this comes down to your interactions with any given jurisdiction. In the tourist-heavy campgrounds, anything short of using the provided steel Bear Lockers can get you a citation. In areas with less tourist traffic and a "wilder" bear population, enforcement may be satisfied with "uncertified" storage right up to the point that they have to euthanize a Bear that got into your stuff, in which case they could theoretically prosecute you harshly. (Maximum penalty in a NP, for example, is impounding of your vehicle and a $5k fine)
 

1000arms

Well-known member
The other factor to consider with regards to "Bear Proof" is not "practical", so much as "legal".

Whether or not a bear can actually get into a container, in many jurisdictions, you can be legally culpable if you are found to have stored food in a "non-bear-proof" way - particularly if there is an incident with a bear which forces a relocation or euthanization.

I'm not saying everyone needs to have heavy-duty bear proof boxes for all their stuff, but neither should they go into bear country without an understanding of their legal obligations for a particular area. As Morgan points out, there is a quasi-standardized testing regimen for certification. It's true that not every jurisdiction applies the same standards (or indeed relies to any degree on any certification), but buying a product which has actually been certified for bear use, versus one that is "functionally bear-proof" does give one a bit of legal cover.

Again, this comes down to your interactions with any given jurisdiction. In the tourist-heavy campgrounds, anything short of using the provided steel Bear Lockers can get you a citation. In areas with less tourist traffic and a "wilder" bear population, enforcement may be satisfied with "uncertified" storage right up to the point that they have to euthanize a Bear that got into your stuff, in which case they could theoretically prosecute you harshly. (Maximum penalty in a NP, for example, is impounding of your vehicle and a $5k fine)
Camping in Bear County Yellowstone NP might be useful. Please be aware that the rules aren't the same at each US National Park. For example, one can still leave food in a hard-sided vehicle in Yellowstone NP, but NOT in Yosemite NP, because the bears break in to vehicles in Yosemite NP.

For a bit more food storage info, especially for anyone backpacking, one might look at: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/bear-resistant-canisters.html

For Banff, please see: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/mtn/ours-bears/securite-safety/camping-propre-bare-camp
 
The other factor to consider with regards to "Bear Proof" is not "practical", so much as "legal".

Whether or not a bear can actually get into a container, in many jurisdictions, you can be legally culpable if you are found to have stored food in a "non-bear-proof" way - particularly if there is an incident with a bear which forces a relocation or euthanization.

I'm not saying everyone needs to have heavy-duty bear proof boxes for all their stuff, but neither should they go into bear country without an understanding of their legal obligations for a particular area. As Morgan points out, there is a quasi-standardized testing regimen for certification. It's true that not every jurisdiction applies the same standards (or indeed relies to any degree on any certification), but buying a product which has actually been certified for bear use, versus one that is "functionally bear-proof" does give one a bit of legal cover.

Again, this comes down to your interactions with any given jurisdiction. In the tourist-heavy campgrounds, anything short of using the provided steel Bear Lockers can get you a citation. In areas with less tourist traffic and a "wilder" bear population, enforcement may be satisfied with "uncertified" storage right up to the point that they have to euthanize a Bear that got into your stuff, in which case they could theoretically prosecute you harshly. (Maximum penalty in a NP, for example, is impounding of your vehicle and a $5k fine)
My thoughts exactly on why I am planning few design changes to incorporate a few BP boxes like Zarges; its the legal side I am concerned with because a bear wants into my Rover, he's coming in if he's dedicated enough. Not much going to stop a determined bear but ensuring we can get in and out of the parks and camp legally is a concern. My food storage would stay away from the vehicle/camp at night so if the bear wants it at least he/she has to work to get it and may buy some time. Whether I get the stuff back or not is not of concern; its the Ranger that follows up on the bear report and turns my $200 box loss into $5200 box loss....:p:D
 

Roaddude

Long time off-grid vanlife adventurist
My thoughts exactly on why I am planning few design changes to incorporate a few BP boxes like Zarges; its the legal side I am concerned with because a bear wants into my Rover, he's coming in if he's dedicated enough. Not much going to stop a determined bear but ensuring we can get in and out of the parks and camp legally is a concern. My food storage would stay away from the vehicle/camp at night so if the bear wants it at least he/she has to work to get it and may buy some time. Whether I get the stuff back or not is not of concern; its the Ranger that follows up on the bear report and turns my $200 box loss into $5200 box loss....:p:D
.

I have three "Certified Bear-Resistant" Zarges K470 containers and have had them on adventures around North America over the last three years. I have two #40810 and one #40678.

Rangers have come in camp multiple times in bear country when on their rounds and twice have said the sizes I have, because they are rated Bear Resistant by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, are among the few containers for which they do not give a fine. A couple times in Smoky Mtn NP in TN; heavily visited, no bear boxes in organized campgrounds, cables for hanging food in many backcountry sites, and once in Big Bend NP in TX; bear boxes in both organized campgrounds and backcountry sites.

The day they were in my camp in the Smokies they issued fines to neighboring camps for leaving non-approved containers out and about but said I was good. I've chased black bears off more than once in the Smokies, both in broad daylight and on full moon nights.

Can't guarantee all rangers will be as informed as these rangers were, of course, though the ones I've spoken to sure recognized my K470s. One ranger nodded towards the containers, smiled and said "Oh, you know." While the Smokies have problems with black bears, and Big Bend with Mexican black bear, not grizzlies or brown, the containers IGBC rates are done with grizzlies with the Grizzly Bear Recovery Area in mind (location list here: Food Storage Regulation Map), where you are far more likely to be fined for unapproved containers.

Though I've camped in black bear country in several other states and in grizzly country in Montana and Wyoming, I have no personal experience with rangers elsewhere in regards to containers.

Interesting article from May 2019 - Timeline: History of Grizzly Bear Recovery In the Lower 48 States
IGBC Certified Product List - Feb 2020
Food Storage Regulations organized by state with interactive map
Zarges K470



org_0438-900.jpg


 
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Camping in Bear County Yellowstone NP might be useful. Please be aware that the rules aren't the same at each US National Park. For example, one can still leave food in a hard-sided vehicle in Yellowstone NP, but NOT in Yosemite NP, because the bears break in to vehicles in Yosemite NP.

For a bit more food storage info, especially for anyone backpacking, one might look at: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/bear-resistant-canisters.html

For Banff, please see: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/mtn/ours-bears/securite-safety/camping-propre-bare-camp
We camp in bear country a lot. And usually in populated campgrounds.

The difference between park rules is mainly because of the idiot campers at Yosemite. They've fed bears over the years, and ignore the park regulations regarding food storage. The black bears in that park have learned that coolers = food, so if they see a cooler - or any rectangular box - it probably has food. That means inside of vehicles, too. That's why Yosemite requires food stored in lockers.

Grizzly bears tend to destroy stuff to get food, but are usually more wary of people. They are inquisitive, for sure, but in my time at Glacier and Yellowstone and elsewhere, there have been few griz sightings or incidents in campsites.

I do wonder though, with the proliferation of awnings, if they trap food smells, since I presume a lot of people cook under their awnings. If that's the case, then awnings would be an attractant for bears. I change shirts before I get in the tent because bacon splatter and whatever else gets on the shirt from cooking.

As long as you keep your camp area clean, bears shouldn't be a problem. Don't throw your food scraps in the fire, or burn your paper plates. Or coffee.

Interesting note - Yeti coolers are only "bear proof" if you padlock them. Which, from my observation, is rare.
 

EquiptExpOutfitters

Supporting Sponsor
.

I have three "Certified Bear-Resistant" Zarges K470 containers and have had them on adventures around North America over the last three years. I have two #40810 and one #40678.

Rangers have come in camp multiple times in bear country when on their rounds and twice have said the sizes I have, because they are rated Bear Resistant by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, are among the few containers for which they do not give a fine. A couple times in Smoky Mtn NP in TN; heavily visited, no bear boxes in organized campgrounds, cables for hanging food in many backcountry sites, and once in Big Bend NP in TX; bear boxes in both organized campgrounds and backcountry sites.

Can't guarantee all rangers will be as informed as these rangers were, of course, though the ones I've spoken to sure recognized my K470s. One ranger nodded towards the containers, smiled and said "Oh, you know." While the Smokies have problems with black bears, and Big Bend with Mexican black bear, not grizzlies or brown, the containers IGBC rates are done with grizzlies with the Grizzly Bear Recovery Area in mind (location list here: Food Storage Regulation Map), where you are far more likely to be fined for unapproved containers.
Great info here @Roaddude

How do the bear certified sizes of Zarges K470 family differ from their standard cases? What makes them airline and bear approved vs. their other cases? Does it have something to do with the lock that would be used to secure the lid? Otherwise, they look identical to the non bear certified Zarges cases and the line of Aluboxes we import.

Interesting stuff here, learning a lot about being bear aware in the backcountry!
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Great info here @Roaddude

How do the bear certified sizes of Zarges K470 family differ from their standard cases? What makes them airline and bear approved vs. their other cases? Does it have something to do with the lock that would be used to secure the lid? Otherwise, they look identical to the non bear certified Zarges cases and the line of Aluboxes we import.

Interesting stuff here, learning a lot about being bear aware in the backcountry!
It may also have to do with the geometry of the cases. I'm far from an expert, but many years ago I did research Bear-"proof" standards at one point for a project, and I recall that some of the specifications had to do with needing to support x-many pounds of force applied on a given face of the box. (One of the ways Bears "work" a box is basically to bounce on it with their front paws.) Boxes that are longer or taller may offer too much "face" between the end supports and thus might buckle under whatever is the specified load where the shorter boxes may not. This is speculation, as I said, it's been a while.

Other things that I remember as being factors in the tests I was reading:
  • Protection against areas where a bear could hook a claw under and pry (bad for the box but also a potential injury for the bear)
  • Protection against catastrophic failure in a way that can create its own hazard (we ruled out the carbon fiber-based bear container we were considering, based on this)
 
.

I have three "Certified Bear-Resistant" Zarges K470 containers and have had them on adventures around North America over the last three years. I have two #40810 and one #40678.

Rangers have come in camp multiple times in bear country when on their rounds and twice have said the sizes I have, because they are rated Bear Resistant by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, are among the few containers for which they do not give a fine. A couple times in Smoky Mtn NP in TN; heavily visited, no bear boxes in organized campgrounds, cables for hanging food in many backcountry sites, and once in Big Bend NP in TX; bear boxes in both organized campgrounds and backcountry sites.

The day they were in my camp in the Smokies they issued fines to neighboring camps for leaving non-approved containers out and about but said I was good. I've chased black bears off more than once in the Smokies, both in broad daylight and on full moon nights.

Can't guarantee all rangers will be as informed as these rangers were, of course, though the ones I've spoken to sure recognized my K470s. One ranger nodded towards the containers, smiled and said "Oh, you know." While the Smokies have problems with black bears, and Big Bend with Mexican black bear, not grizzlies or brown, the containers IGBC rates are done with grizzlies with the Grizzly Bear Recovery Area in mind (location list here: Food Storage Regulation Map), where you are far more likely to be fined for unapproved containers.

Though I've camped in black bear country in several other states and in grizzly country in Montana and Wyoming, I have no personal experience with rangers elsewhere in regards to containers.

Interesting article from May 2019 - Timeline: History of Grizzly Bear Recovery In the Lower 48 States
IGBC Certified Product List - Feb 2020
Food Storage Regulations organized by state with interactive map
Zarges K470




View attachment 580052

That my friend is exactly why I am ordering some right there. Even if a Ranger was to issue a ticket for a Zarges box because they didn't know, I am not going to argue with the Ranger other than to ask him to take photos and write my exact "storage box part number" on the ticket. I can google prove it if I have service and if not, I'll handle it and get off on that with the follow on legal side with proper documentation of my kit. No biggie to me, these Rangers need to do what they need to do and I won't fault them for that and I hope I just do not get tossed from the park; small instances I am sure of this happening.

Here are the current 3 x Zarges K470 boxes (SKU's) that are IGBC Certified.
Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 4.20.30 PM.png

Great info here @Roaddude

How do the bear certified sizes of Zarges K470 family differ from their standard cases? What makes them airline and bear approved vs. their other cases? Does it have something to do with the lock that would be used to secure the lid? Otherwise, they look identical to the non bear certified Zarges cases and the line of Aluboxes we import.

Interesting stuff here, learning a lot about being bear aware in the backcountry!
Many times when it comes to a "federal certification" of any sort that means it has an exact law/spec that is for exact part number of the box the manufacturer wants to certify. So let's say (Example Only) Zarges has 15 different model/part numbers due to all the different sizes boxes; we know each one is a different SKU for their logistics system. So when Zarges wants a certification, they will have to pay for the testing and certification for each SKU (model number) to get it officially certified with the controlling agency or regulator of certification. It would cost Zarges lots and lots of money to certify all sizes that they most likely will not get that money back on most sizes in sales (RoE).

So Zarges probably chose a few sizes they feel are going to sell and be used the most in these "bear environments". They then have to pay for each and every part number so it is registered with the Park Service or whatever controlling agency as the exact box that has been certified. This keeps a company like Zarges or whomever from just saying "all of our cases are bear safe" even though not all Zarges cases have not been tested and certified to meet that requirement.

We do this in aviation all the time. Certifications, especially federal are stacked full of permits fees, licensing fee, and testing and evaluation is off the charts expensive. If it has a part number, that exact part number built to the exact spec must be certified specifically for that law/regulation. Kind of like crash testing a car; Ford can't say "the Explorer has been tested and meets all crash tests and safety tests set forth by whomever and therefore ALL of care makes and models meet them as well even though we haven't tested them."

Hope that helps and it's my best guess this is why they only have a few cases that show "certified".
 
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1000arms

Well-known member
Some bear links:


There is probably an advertisement before the video: https://www.greatbigstory.com/stories/bears-as-product-testers


Sam, the 1000+ pound grizzly, doesn't get to test containers due to being "unrepresentative" of the Lower 48 grizzlies. https://www.denverpost.com/2017/11/30/bear-resistant-containers-tested-by-grizzly-bears/

I wonder if testing is different in Canada ( @billiebob ) and Alaska?
 
That was awesome! I mean not a fan of these animals being locked up so I won't get into that but at least they seem to have a hint of enjoyment in what they are doing.

Could watch that stuff all day long; thanks for sharing!
 
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