This is, officially, the most terrifying thing I own.
This is a "bear canister". You can guess the size of it from the 3 cans of chili / stew inside it, as well as the single serving spam and tuna packet, 2 freeze dried meals, 7-8 tubes of Nuun as well as 1/2 of a pouch of performance, a jar of peanut butter, 4 packets of instant oatmeal, box of quinoa and rice and so on already in there.
It's designed to stop bears from opening it to get at your food.
Full stop, repeat.
It is DESIGNED... to stop BEARS... from getting at your FOOD.
And I am required to have one of these as per the North Cascades NPS rules. Ok, that isn't ENTIRELY true, the rules to have one of these things is for backcountry hikers specifically. But when I called the NPS ranger station there, and explained what I was doing, I could hear "that tone". The sort of "I can't tell you what to do, BUT....." tone?
The man on the phone said that they have black bears, so I might be able to get away with just a hanging bag to protect my food and myself from wandering bears. This was a relief, a small hanging sack is lightweight and I can easily use an on-site locker, no problems. I asked him if bear mace was important too. He said probably not, as the black bears really aren't that aggressive and.... he paused, and asked "Are... you going through MONTANA?" Yes, yes I am. "Ok, in Montana they have black bears AND grizzly bears that are a little more aggressive and..."
Ok, got it. Bear canister, bear mace. Got it, will get it, will carry with me clear through to Minnesota.
But as a result of this, well it's more weight. The thing only weighs about 2 pounds empty, but it's size is dictating my pack now as I have to work around it. Yes, they make smaller ones but they're only stubbier, not actually SMALLER.
So I'm jettisoning my camp chair, and replacing it with this bear canister to make it a camp stool. A bear can jump on the thing, I think it'll hold my weight. And instead of carrying my food in a front bag, that bag is now completely empty and will probably become a utility bag for... I don't know what yet. Laundry detergent? cold weather clothes? I have no idea yet.
But, yeah. I now own a thing that prevents bears from getting my food, because I'm biking through a section of country where WILD BEARS can get at my food.
I'm... kinda terrified about that....
T-4 days 'till my train ride out. That's how long I've got to put the packing for a 1/2 continent bike ride puzzle together.