Ursack has its place among the royalty of OG ultralight backpacking brands. Founded more than two decades ago, it’s developed a rather fervent underground following — around a product now lapping at the shores of becoming mainstream.
Having lived my adult years in Alaska and the Tetons, and holding a particular love for the same terrain that attracts bears, I don’t mess around when it comes to bear safety. Grizzlies enter the equation for nearly every outdoor adventure I undertake from spring to fall.
In years past, I’ve had the privilege of using the original Ursack model (now called the Ursack Major) in that signature white color while adventuring through the Wind River Mountains, White Cloud Mountains and Bob Marshall Wilderness — here’s to friends with an Ursack to spare, and share!This summer, I’ve had the opportunity to test out the new and improved Ursack All Mitey, which uplevels its game by being not only bear resistant, but also critter resistant. This review will focus specifically on the All Mitey, while still bringing the insight that comes from multiple years in the field with a product.
Material: Laminated UHMWP and Kevlar
Weight: 13 ounces
Capacity: about 10.65 liters (approx 5 days of food for 1 person)
Soft Sided - This isn’t just a pro, it’s almost the pro. While canisters do a tremendous job protecting against bears, they are also unwieldy and heavy. The Ursack All Mitey provides a solid level of protection while being much easier to stuff inside your pack.
Bear AND Critter Resistant - At 13 ounces, the Ursack All Mitey is almost twice as heavy as the Ursack Major, but it’s also almost twice as functional. The Major offers resistance to bear claws tearing at the fabric, but does little to fend off the teeth of rodents. By laminating Kevlar to Ursack’s signature UHMWP material, the All Mitey is able to protect against creatures both big and small!
Lightweight - While certainly weighing more than the Dyneema bear hang kits that seemingly every cottage brand has started making, the Ursack All Mitey also weighs far less than even the lightest bear canisters. I’m all for shaving ounces, but not at the expense of putting myself or others at risk. I feel there’s a time and a place for those UL bear kits — when a real, actual, proper bear hang is truly possible and bear activity is minimal. But if there’s even the slightest doubt in my mind about the efficacy of my bear safety system, better to err on the side of caution.
Intentional Design Details - Both the tag and the cord used to close the bag incorporate reflective elements, making it easier to find your Ursack with a headlamp. The Ursack’s dimensions also mean seamless compatibility with Opsak smell-proof bags. And the closure system is highly functional (as long as you familiarize yourself with the recommended knots ahead of time!)
Durable - Maybe this should go without saying for a product that is designed to withstand bears; but I still view durability as a pro. It’s always nice to feel like a piece of gear will last for years, if not decades.
Plenty of Room for User Error - This sentiment applies to bear safety in general, and it certainly also applies here. An Ursack will only be effective to the extent that it’s used effectively. A poor choice in where to place it for the night, incorrect knots, allowing smells to get all over the bag, and a host of other human factors can easily cause problems.
Not Ultralight, Strictly Speaking - As discussed above, it’s certainly not the lightest solution to dealing with bears out there ... nor is it the heaviest. What the Ursack All Mitey offers is a middle ground between burly animal protection and weight savings.
The Good To Knows
You Can Pair Ursack with Other Bear Safety Measures - On a recent backpacking trip undertaken by only myself and my 8-year-old daughter into the heart of Yellowstone’s bear country, we layered our safety measures. We used an Opsak smell proof bag inside the Ursack All Mitey, and then we set a proper bear hang — the Park Service provided the pole, so this one was super legit.
To hang or not to hang? Opinions run the gamut on this question. Grady Powell, who runs Ursack, recommends hanging when possible, while Andrew Skurka argues that hanging is obsolete. If you’re not going to hang, ensure that your Ursack is properly secured (and by that I mean, know your knots!) to a mature tree or other substantial anchor, well away from your camp. Also, obviously, to the point below, if hanging is required (as was the case in Yellowstone) then do it!
Check Local Regulations - Not all land management agencies allow for the use of Ursack. Parts of the Sierras, for example, require hard-sided canisters. As they say, know before you go!
As someone who's spent my adult years living in and adventuring through bear country, there’s no food storage solution I’ve come to love and trust more than the Ursack All Mitey, especially when paired with an Opsak. For me, Ursack is a backpacking staple.