How To Store Food When Camping In Bear Country?

Are you going camping and you are terrified to encounter a bear? These giants are attracted to food and they can attack you at your campsite if you haven’t stored it properly.

store food when camping in bear country

I know 5 different ways to store the food in the wild so bears and other animals won’t be able to reach it.

I will also give you smart tips on what smells do they hate, what you should’t do and what steps to consider if you encounter the bear.

Remember, your safety is at stake so consider my tips and stay safe when enjoying the outdoors.

The truth about bears and humans

Before you jump to conclusions, you should know the truth about these wild animals. These large animals actually fear humans.

They will hide away from you when they sense your presence so you will hardly come across them on the trails.

Bears, however, love food. Its smell usually gets them excited to the extent that they no longer fear people.

These animals get the urge and drive to go after the food and they can harm whatever is in their way, including the humans themselves.

bear food on camping trip 101

You are, therefore, at risk of getting attacked if you don’t store your meals properly when being in nature. Consider the 5 solutions I have prepared for you to stay safe.

5 ways of Bear food storage

It is important that you take out the trash or seal it in the bags because these wild animals have a good smell. Taking care of the trash is also one of the golden rules of camping etiquette to consider.

Also, seal your food and leftovers tightly. Here is how to do that.

camping in bear country

1. Use the storage locker in your campsite at night

Most campsites have storage lockers for storing food and you should use them to keep your meals safe. These lockers are usually secured properly and will ensure that animals don’t get to the food.

Don’t forget to lock the locker after storage as it makes no sense to store snacks in an unsecured locker.

2. Can I leave food in my car in bear country?

Your car is also an ideal place for food storage when you are camping in bear country. Choose an area that is out of sight in the car such as beneath the car seat and store snacks there.

You can also place it on the car seats and cover it with a blanket so it is out of sight for bears to see it.

However, you should place food in a sealed container before you store it in a car so it won’t generate any smells.

Don’t store it at the back of your pickup truck as it will be exposed to them and they may take your food container and try to open it.

3. Store it inside your cabin

If you are using a cabin for shelter, then you should keep your food inside the cabin all the time. Make sure that your cabin is always locked as the bears can break into searching for a snack when you leave the door open.

Use air-tight plastic bags to store meals to prevent any smell that may attract the animal. You can get the airtight food bags from your local camping store or purchase them online.

4. Store it in bear-proof canisters

This is another great way of storing it outdoors. Bear-proof canisters are secured properly to ensure that they can’t access your food even when they get to the canister.

bear in a campsite

They are usually portable and easy for you to move from place to place. Put your foodstuff in the canister and place it about 100 feet away from the campsite.

You shouldn’t attach a rope to the canister as this makes it easy for a bear to carry it to another place and try to crack it.

You can rent it in the campsite but to be on the safe side, buy your own as you may find that your campsite has rented all the canisters that they had.

5. Create a bear hang

This is an effective technique that will help you keep the snacks safe. Use a tree on your campsite as a bear hang or create one with poles and ropes.

Put your food in an air-tight bag and hang it on a tree with a rope. Tie a knot at the end of the rope for pulling down the bag. Make sure that the knot is too high to reach it.

create a bear hang

Can bears smell food through a car?

They have an extraordinary smell and if you will leave the food open in the car, they could smell it. It is important to seal it properly and close the windows so they won’t have a reason to come close to your campground.

They can be very persistent when it comes to reaching the food they see and smell. People report damaged cars because the bear smelled it inside or saw it or something that reminds him of a good snack.

You can store food in the car just make sure to close it in a tight bag and close the windows.

What smells do they hate?

According to Bear Smart Durango, they have 100 x more sensitive noses than we do. There is a smart way to repel bears with smells that even we hate.

bear in nature

Bleach & ammonia

You can use cleaning products that contain bleach or ammonia as bear deterrents. People report that they have used them in buckets and containers and had some success.

If you want to do the same, make holes in the lid that you covered the container with and leave it where he can get through, let’s say in front of the doors.

Pro tip: Never mix bleach with ammonia because it produces fumes that can be deadly to you and bears.

Smell of pine

If you have a cleaning product that contains a strong smell of pine it is wise if you take it camping in bear country. Bears hate its strong scent so it is worth trying.

pine in nature

Can you use a bear spray as a deterrent?

Don’t make a mistake and use a bear spray as a deterrent and spray all around the campsite with it. You would be surprised what it does when it dries out.

The point is that when a spray dries out the pepper residue mellows out and creates bear attracting odors.

I am sure you don’t want to attract them to your camping place so I advise you to forget about this option and use others that I mention.

What you shouldn’t do?

There are some unwritten rules that are clever to consider if you don’t want to invite this giant into the camping place.

You shouldn’t:

  • Sleep in the clothes you have been cooking in
  • Bring food in a tent and eat inside
  • Bury the leftovers because they can smell it
  • Get near the bear (especially if there are youngsters)
  • Getting close to him to take a picture
  • Avoid bringing aromatic food as fruits and fish
  • Look him in the eyes, run or yell if you encounter him

What to do if you encounter him?

How to survive a bear encounter and stay safe? I will tell you some of the tips that you should consider if you meat with him while camping or hiking.

bear camping 101

First, I will cheer you up by the fact that these animals are afraid of humans like many others. In most cases, they will run away if they see you but there are some of them where they are ready to strike at you.

So, you should know what to do to survive and stay safe. Here is what you should do.

Step #1 -Stay calm

If he didn’t run off you should stay calm, talk slowly, don’t look him in the eyes, and start waving with your arms slowly up and down so he will know you are human.

Step #2 – Slowly back away

If the first step doesn’t work, you should still proceed with it. If this happens, the bear is not sure what to do, is feeling threatened or is in a predatory mood. So, talk slowly, don’t look him in the eyes and slowly go back, step by step.

Pro tip: Never ever turn a back on him.

Step #3 – When he approaches you

If he doesn’t want to go away, this is what you will do. When he is approaching, stand still, talk slowly and wave your arms as before. If he stops step back slowly, if he doesn’t proceed with waving and standing still.

bear camping

Step #4 – The attack

This is rear but if he tries to attack you then it is best to lay flat on the ground with the face down, and putting your arms on the head to protect it. If he will see that he’s not threatened by you, he will leave.

However, he may be defensive or in a predatory mood. If he is in a predatory mood he won’t stop so easily.

In this case, stand up and look as big as you can. You can use a stick or a bear spray on his face to protect yourself if you will be forced to fight.

Seal the food and trash

Food will attract bears to your campsite so make sure that you store it properly to keep them away. Use my techniques to protect it and yourself from these wild animals and be stress-free.

Also, consider my tips if you encounter this wild animal and what you shouldn’t do at the campsite or on the trail if you see him.

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