How to Make Your Food Bear Safe When Camping


Camping out in the woods is wonderful and exciting. That is, until some curious and starving bears wander into your camp and wreak havoc everywhere. Animals are attracted to the scent of food, and by food we mean anything that you are able to put in your mouth or on your skin. This includes perishable foods, soap, insect repellent, lip balm, medication, canned food and deodorant. But if you’re going out camping, you cannot do without these items. So, to save you from a potentially life-threatening situation, here are 4 ways to store your food efficiently. Other tips include cooking food without strong odours and disposing of it properly.

Storing Your Food

1.Store your food in the food locker at night.


Generally, campsites in bear territory provide food lockers for campers. These lockers are usually located near the parking lots of the campsites. Place your food items in the locker and remember to lock it.

2.Store your food in the car during the day.


Make sure your food is out of sight, in an airtight plastic bag, under the car seat or in a cooler. Ensure that all windows and doors are closed. Do not store your food in the bed of a pickup truck or strap it outside the car.

3.Keep your food inside your cabin at all times.


Bears can easily break into cabins so make sure that all windows and doors are shut and locked. Keep the food in an airtight container or bear-proof canister. You can buy these from your local camping or outdoors store.

4.Use a bear-safe canister to store your food.


These portable canisters are essentially bear-proof. Put all your food in the canister and place it about 100 feet downwind from your campsite. Bear-safe canisters are available online for $75-$275 and some campsites also give them out on rent.

5.Use a bear hang.


Place your food in an airtight bag. Pick a place about 100-200 yards downwind from your campsite and a tree that looks sturdy and stands at least 18 feet high. Use a bowline knot to attach a carabiner to a 40 feet long rope. Attach the carabiner to the bag’s handle. Throw the bag up and over a branch and pull until the bag is 12 feet off the ground and at least 6 feet away from the tree trunk.

Cooking food

1.Only take the food you will be cooking.


Keep the food you will not be cooking in a food locker, cabin or bear-safe container. Cook the food at least 100 feet away from your campsite downwind.

2.Avoid cooking food with strong odours.


Avoid bacon, steak, syrup, pastries and other foods with strong odours. Stick to dry items like pasta, rice, tortillas, dried fruit, beef jerky, eggs and protein bar.

3.Cook and eat in a special set of clothes.


Clothes absorb smells and scents easily so wear only specific clothes when handling food. After you’re done, pack away those clothes in an airtight bag or container and only take them out when you’re going to cook again.

Hiking with food

1.Use a bear-safe container or bag to carry your food.


Store the container or bag in a bear-resistant Kevlar bag while you hike.

2.Keep an eye on your food.


Do not wander off and leave your food alone. Always keep it in your line of vision and within arm’s reach.

3.Carry your trash in airtight bags.


Trash also has an odour that attracts animals so dispose of them in airtight plastic bags. Carry the bags inside your backpack with you and throw them away in the nearest possible bear-proof disposal unit.

Disposing of food

1.Wash eating and cooking utensils immediately.


As soon as you’re done with your meal, prepare a bucket of water and dishwasher soap. Scrub the dishes and the cooking utensils at least 100 feet downwind from your campsite. Airdry the dishes and store them away in an airtight bag or container. Dispose of the dishwasher water in an area far away from your campsite. Throw the sponge away in a bear-safe disposal unit.

2.Pack your trash in an airtight bag.


Just like you would do on hikes, dispose of the bags in a bear-proof disposal unit.

3.Avoid burning or burying excess food.


Get rid of the idea that burning food is a good and safe way to dispose of it. Bears are still attracted to the smell of partially burned food. Similarly, burying the food is no good either.

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How to Make Your Food Bear Safe When Camping

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