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Gear Guy

Is the Stealth Can really bear-proof?

What do you know about the "Stealth Can" and its effectiveness? From what I read, it's impenetrable to bears and seals in odors to throw animals off the scent. I like the idea of pre-empting animals from entering cp, rather than "teasing" them with food they can smell but not reach. Mark Ewing, New Jersey

A: I haven't used the Stealth Can (, but the principle makes sense. Bears, of course, find food with their noses. That's why people in bear country are advised to cook well away from their camp, and even change out of the clothes they've worn while cooking. Plastic anti-bear containers, like those made by Garcia, are not totally smell-proof, so bears can still detect the concealed food. The Stealth Can, on the other hand, simply tries to avoid detection. It's an impervious metal tin, much like a paint can, with a smell-proof seal. The Stealth Can folks claim that these cans, stuffed full of tasty bear treats, have sat unmolested for days in bear-heavy areas. It comes in several sizes, from two to eight quarts; cost is $45 for the five- and eight-quart models.

Personally, I like the idea of out-smarting the bears more than out-muscling them. The Stealth Can, Garcia, and similar canisters are imperfect solutions—they may keep your food safe, but they're heavy, bulky, and you still have one frustrated bear on your hands. And who needs that? Yes, I'd be willing to try a Stealth Can, but I'd also take all the usual precautions—cook away from camp and get the canister up on a bear wire or some similar off-the-ground device. (I know, bears are on to those, but it's the smells that lead them there.) I'd also be VERY careful to keep the Stealth Can clean—greasy fingerprints will surely ID the thing as bear bait. And once a bear goes to work on a Stealth Can, it won't last long.

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