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I did a backpacking trip through bear country and was required to take a bear can with me. I opted for the BV in lieu of the ones that the NPS rents out since there will be trips in my future where I will need one again. There is more storage room than the NPS ones, easier time getting into it once it is stuffed to the gills, you can see what you want to pick out instead of rummaging though the whole can, the lid works well as a plate, the container works well to rinse your hair, and seat to boot! If I have to bring a can this one will suffice. The only negative is that I have to have the can upright in my bag as it will not fit on its side. It's good for access, but not the greatest for packing the weight near the bottom.
Used the BV500 for a 5 day backpacking trip in Wrangell St Elias National Park where bear containers are required. The fiance used my old Garcia bear container and I carried the BV500. Fits more than the Garcia does, weighs less, you can see what is inside, and it does not require tools to open. The only thing I like about the Garcia more is that the Garcia came with a carrying sleeve with straps that you can clip to your bag. This BV500 has shallow grooves they say you can use to strap it to your pack but they are only located in the middle, not near the ends where your straps would keep it secure. We had to keep the BV500 inside my pack since there was no way to keep it safely secured to the outside. Other than that, superior product to Garcia.
What can be said other than these containers are effective in protecting one's food. Their weight, of course, is the big downside.
I used this bear canister on an overnighter for one person, so it was a little bigger than I needed. I liked the fact that I could see in it without opening the top. I had absolutly no problems opening it when I wanted to. No bears tried to open it so I can't say if it will keep them out or not. If you don't need to put a lot of stuff in a bear can then I would get the smaller one.
Lighter and easier to pack than the black keg shaped one.
I have not used the BV500 I recently purchased from OMCgear.
I do, however, already own a BV450 and a BV500 and I have used them many times, so I feel qualified to write a review. The BV is lighter than the classic Garcia (and easier to use, in my opinion) for about the same price. It has fewer parts to lose than the Lighter1. The BV is not as light as the Bearikade, but I cannot justify the high cost of that item.
If you research the BV online you are likely to run across complaints over the difficulty in opening the unit (some people believe it is not only bearproof, but backpacker proof, as well). I speculate there is some variance in manufacture and that some BV's are more difficult to open than others. I recommend that those who struggle to open the BV use the "credit card method," as demonstrated by my then 10 year old son, on Youtube. Search "how to open a bearvault" on Youtube. You'll know you've found the right video when you find the kid with big, curly hair demonstrating on a BV 500. I have attached the link to this review.
I recommend the BV (both 450 and 500) for ease of use (reasonably large opening and transparent sides), price (similar to other brands, excluding the $200+ Bearikade), and wide acceptance by land management agencies (assuming you're not in the Adirondacks, where they have had some issues).
Wrap reflective tape around the BV, thereby making it easier to locate, should a bear drag it off.
Take a piece of sandpaper and dull the edge inside the rim of the canister. It can be a bit sharp, and might abrade the back of your hand as you are pulling items out.