Ursack Update

November 15, 2002

Welcome to Ursack Update. All (or most) of the latest news from Ursack will appear here. Ignore the November date up above-- I can't get rid of it.

1. ODOR RESISTANT LINERS. Our new, exclusive to Ursack, odor resistant bag liners are now shipping with all new purchases of TKOs. Although these look like ordinary zip lock plastic bags custom sized for Ursack, they are not. These patented bags have thousands of times more odor resistance than a standard plastic bag. They provide 17,000 times more of an odor barrier than high density polyethlyene. Testing with dogs has produced phenomonal results so far. We will be selling replacement liners at 3 for $9.95. If ordered separately, shipping by mail will be $3.95. Shipping is free if ordered with an Ursack.

2. NEW BAG CONSTRUCTION. As a result of an unhappy bear/Ursack incident in the Adirondacks, we have changed the construction of our TKO. A bear there got into an Ursack TKO by essentially pulling the fabric out of a seam by its roots. The fabric did not tear, but the camper (who was, unfortunately for us, the editor of National Geographic Adventure Magazine) lost his food. We have done two things to try to prevent this in the future. New TKOs now have a much bigger seam allowance (longer roots), and all seams will be sewn with Spectra thread as opposed to Kevlar. It seems that while the Kevlar thread did not break, it did not hold the dissimilar Spectra fabric in place. Now our Spectra fabric TKOs will be sewn with Spectra thread, which should keep the roots in the ground--as it were.

3. PARK SERVICE DISPUTE. Our dispute with the rangers of Sequoia/Kings Canyon continues. In July 2002, we protested their arbitrary decision to ban Ursack TKO in some parts of the Park. The Regional Office of the National Park Service finally responded on December 10, 2002. In essence, the regional NPS response was to stand behind their rangers based on the theory that food can leak out of an 1/8" hole enough to provide a significant food reward for a bear. Our theory is that, even if this were true, the only bears willing to expend the energy necessary to get these crumbs are already food habituated, and that Ursack is not changing any behavior patterns. What's interesting is that the bear in our zoo test (the one they think we flunked) spent less than five minutes with Ursack before giving up--even though the bag had a quart of honey poured directly in to it, which by NPS theory could have been sucked out of the 1/8 Inch holes. Our newest video, on our web site, shows the entire active sequence of the zoo test. Only the boring parts are cut. We would like to think that bears need protection, but that back packers also have the right to make informed decisions as to what kind of food protection to use. We have retained an attorney to help us resolve the dispute, and hope that he can help the recalcitrant rangers see that backpackers have rights, too. In the meantime, please read the regulations posted on our web site. There are many areas within Yosemite, SEKI and Inyo that the Ursack TKO can be used. The fine in NPS areas for improper food storage is $150, but these may only be levied by the limited number of law enforcement rangers.

Please send us your stories of Ursack in the wild. Happy trails.


Thomas A. Cohen
Ursack, Inc.
PO Box 5002
Mill Valley, CA 94942