September 06, 2004
Welcome to Ursack Update. All (or most) of the latest news from Ursack will appear here.
BAD NEWS--THE WAR PUTS URSACK TEMPORARILY OUT OF BUSINESS. We have sold out of Ursacks for the season, and are unbabe to produce more until we get more Spectra fabric. Our mill is not only unable to get more yarn, they can't even get a prediction on when it will be available. As far as we know, all the Spectra is being used for body armor by the military. We will try to have some seconds for sale, and we will also try to create some bags out of our existing remnants. It's always a good idea to hope for peace, but it turns out that peace is also good for business. PLEASE VOTE.
GOOD NEWS--BEAR TESTING. The new Ursack TKO has been doing well in bear tests conducted by wilderness officials. It was tested at the Grizzly Discovery Center in West Yellowstone in early August 2004, and survived 4 grizzlies over a 2 1/2 hour period. The grizzlies never got into the Ursack and the IGBC (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee) is considering it for approval. As I previously wrote, the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group (SIBBG) has created protocols for and agreed to an extensive wilderness testing program for the new TKO. Testing began in early July 2004 in Sequoia, Yosemite and Inyo, and the interim report was that none of the Ursacks had been breached. SIBBG's test is multifaceted, and is concerned with all kinds of possible impact from litter to bark damage. We are hopeful that this will ultimately lead to SIBBG approval. 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.
GOOD NEWS--REAL LIFE TESTS. The new Ursack TKO has (as far as we know) a perfect record in the wild. As of September 7, 2004, there have been no reported incidents of bears gaining access to or tearing the new Ursack. Beginning in June 2004, we changed the fabric we used in the TKO. It is still Spectra and it is still coated with the same green coating, but the denier (thickness) of the yarn is thicker. This increases the tear strength over previous models by about 40%. We have eliminated the fiberglass ripstop, which was there for protection from sharp toothed critters, not bears. The increased thickness will also be more effective against critters.
SUCCESS RATE OF THE OLDER SEAMLESS TKO. I am happy to report that the "seamless" TKO (with ripstop) sold from November 2002 to June 2004 has an almost flawless record in the wild. We had a single report of a wild bear damaged seamless TKO in 2003. That report came from one camper who had both of his TKOs torn by a single bear one night in the Adirondacks. Notably, he was not properly using his odor barrier bag. We recently saw a single TKO damaged in the Sierra in July 2004. The "seamless" TKO can be distinguished from the older model TKOs by the white (Spectra) thread and no bottom seam. The older models, which have been very successful but not perfect, have yellow (Kevlar) thread and a bottom seam. As noted above, our newest model has no ripstop. Regardless, nothing is bear "proof" and none of the reputable hard sided canister manufacturers claim perfection. We have a confirmed report from a Sierra ranger that a couple of hard sided canisters were broken by bears in 2004.
Please send us your stories of Ursack in the wild. Happy trails.
Thomas A. Cohen
PO Box 5002
Mill Valley, CA 94942