Storing food properly and disposing of garbage efficiently can mean life or death to you and the bears of the wilderness. Moreover, while outdoors you not only have to protect your food from bears but protect bears from your food. Bears are known to learn quickly and return to areas where they found food before. It can be dangerous for people, but it is also harmful to bears.
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Why Human Food Is Bad for Bears?
Bears can lose their preference for natural food and their sources by eating human food. Their fear of humans would also be lost if they constantly approach them for their items. Additionally, such habits can lead to unpredictable, aggressive, and dangerous behaviors. Looking for human food and garbage, bears can damage properties and injure people. Since they pose risks to public safety, they are often euthanized for it.
What Bears Consider As ‘Food?’
- Bears have an amazing sense of smell and an insatiable appetite
- Anything with a scent is considered as food by bears
- Eatables – canned goods, drinks, raw ingredients for meals, trash
- Miscellaneous – soaps, cosmetics, trash, toiletries, and everything with a smell
Precautions You Can Take For Proper Food Storage For Outdoors
Food storage regulations differ depending on which national park you decide to visit and what types of bears are present there. Moreover, some parks require visitors to bring food lockers or bear-resistant food containers commonly known as bear canisters. Nonetheless, there are alternative methods like hanging goods from a tree in a food bag.
In Picnic Areas and Campgrounds
- Always keep your food within arm’s reach which you can easily reach in emergencies
- Do not turn your back on the food items while outdoors
- Some parks allow food items to be stored inside the car as long as it is out of sight
- Keep car windows completely closed if you plan to keep food inside only during daylight
- Avoid keeping food strapped to the outside of vehicles or in pickup truck beds
- In some parks, all food must be removed from your car and stored in lockers
- Clear your car of everything including food wrappers, crumbs, canned food, and drinks
- Secure the garbage, food items, and anything with smell immediately at a campsite
- Avoid storing food in your tent or backpack and wash dirty dishes immediately
- Do not burn excess food in a fire as it requires a very hot fire to completely burn them
- The partially burned matter will still draw wildlife towards camps
In Hotel Rooms and Cabins
- Keep all food inside your room with the windows and doors locked
- Bears can easily break into rooms and cabins through open windows and doors
While Backpacking Or Hiking
- Bring along portable containers designed for backpackers and outdoor activities
- Use the food lockers provided at the parks or bring portable ones along with you
- Choose compact, compressible, high-calorie food items without strong odors
- Food Examples – nuts, dried fruits, rice, tortillas, peanut butter, protein bars, etc
- Take foods out of their original packages to fit more food in cans and reduce garbage
- Go for resealable bags instead of jars, bottles, and cans
- Double pack your food and garbage using plastic bags to avoid odors in backpacks
- Bear canisters only work if they are closed tightly and always locked
- Place containers on leveled ground hundred or more feet away from the campsite
- Avoid placing containers near water sources and cliffs as bears may knock them around
- Do not attach anything to containers as ropes can allow a bear to carry them away
- Place pans and pots on top of containers to act as bear alarms
- Learn how to pack your container efficiently through instructions and videos
- Pack all uneaten food and never dispose of food waste in the wilderness
Bear Canister Alternatives For Food Storage
Using a bear canister to store food is the most common method for food storage in the wilderness. But, there are other methods like metal food locker, bear bags, or sacks to hang food on trees or poles.
(A) Metal Food Lockers
Some campgrounds and designated backcountry campsites provide large metal bear-proof boxes to store your food, trash, and toiletries. These are mostly communal so there is no provided guarantee that there will be enough space or even a space for your stuff at all. Secure the latches properly so that bear cannot get in or smell the food. Nonetheless, you could also take along portable sturdy lockable containers for your important items.
(B) Bear Bags
Bear Bag is a good choice if a bear canister is not available or expensive for you. These are made from high-density polyethylene, which bears cannot tear open. There is an aluminum liner that fits separately inside the smaller model to keep a bear from crushing or puncturing the contents. Odor-proof plastic bags are also a good water-resistant item you can use to put your food and garbage into first to further add bear deterrence. In addition, some bag models are designed to deter mice, marmots, and other rodents. But, in places with dangers of bears, choose a model that is specifically designed for bears and passed the test of the IGBC – Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
(C) Hanging Your Food
The main methods for hanging food include suspending food from a high, sturdy tree limb. At some campsites, you can even find bear poles, a major improvement over tree branches. With this system, you can hang the bags or backpacks from the large hooks at the top of a tall metal pole. Additionally, a long metal lifter pole is provided at some places for hoisting your bags up onto one of the hooks. Nonetheless, you may find a high horizontal metal cable strung between two poles, which makes it easier to hang your food bags from.
Top 5 Bear Canister Alternatives
1) OPSAK – Odor Proof Food Storing Sack
OPSAK is a must-have item while camping outdoors as food and hygiene items attract bears and critters. This odor-proof essential can be filled with boiling water to cook food, with soapy water for washing, and more. OPSAK prevents air-sensitive foods from getting stale by keeping them sealed and fresh.
- 2 level patented seal, the durable film stays sealed under pressure
- The leakproof, airtight seal can protect important items from animals
- An enhanced aLOKSAK, water-resistant, also odor and vapor-proof item
- An absolute airtight hermetic seal to prevent the re-entry and release of air and micro-organisms
- Protects against microscopic particles like sand and dust
- Recyclable, Reusable, Made in the USA, withstands direct heat up to 170 Fahrenheit
Where to buy OPSAK? OPSAK Discount & Pricing
There are no available discounts for OPSAK, make sure you only buy from the official vendor here as there are some sites claiming they offer discounts when there are none.
2) Ursack Major – Bear Resistant Food Sack
Ursack Major Bear Resistant Food Sack is critter resistant food sack, which is also an updated version featuring a tighter weave and more double than the tear strength of previous models.
- Lightweight – weighs 7.6 oz, Spacious – about 10.65 Liters capacity
- Strong, durable product with 6 foot, 2500 pound high tensile strength cord with a secure knot
- Flexible, odor barrier bags can be fit inside the Major
- Tie the cord with a double overhand knot tightly
- URSACK must be secured to a fixed object that is a safe distance from your campsite
- If you are using more than one Ursack, separate them by at least twenty-five yards
Where to buy Ursack Major? Ursack Major Discount & Pricing
There are no available discounts for Ursack Major, make sure you only buy from the official vendor here as there are some sites claiming they offer discounts when there are none.
3) Selkirk Design Ultralight Food Bag Hanging System
Selkirk Design’s Ultralight Food Bag Hanging System has a two-to-one pulley system to quickly and easily hang food by putting a few rocks into the Rock Sok. You can tie off the rope and toss it over a branch of high trees. Use the pulley system to raise your food as high as you want as both the ropes and carabiners act like a pulley, which means you only need half the pulling force to raise your gear.
- Perfect for camping, hiking, backpacking, backcountry fishing, etc.
- Use this kit to hang your food & gear safely on a branch
- Lightweight – only weighs 6.5 oz, so you can carry it anywhere
- Protection against bears, wolves, cougars, raccoons, or even your dog and kids
- 1 Bear bag, 1 Rock Sok, 2 Ropes, 2 Carabiners & Waterproof/Tearproof Instructions
Where to buy Selkirk Design Ultralight Food Bag? Selkirk Design Ultralight Food Bag Discount & Pricing
There are no available discounts for Selkirk Design Ultralight Food Bag, make sure you only buy from the official vendor here as there are some sites claiming they offer discounts when there are none.
4) Jink Locker – Lockable Storage Cabinet
Jink Locker has ample storage with an amazing depth of 18 inches and a good storage capacity of 22 gallons in each cabinet. Jink Locker can be used at offices for employees, at home for keeping children away from important items, or outdoors in the wild.
- Tough – made from high-grade polypropylene resin
- A sleek contemporary finish, infused with a strong frame
- Each lockable storage cabinet has a set of 2 keys that are unique to that locker
- Use it inside or outside, compatible with all environments
- Quickly assemble, stackable, brilliant interlocking design, connects horizontally, vertically or both
- Available in up to five vibrant colors – red, yellow, gray, white, and blue
- 3” height x 15” width x 18” depth – Each storage cube organizer features a large 90 quarts of space
Where to buy Jink Locker? Jink Locker Discount & Pricing
There are no available discounts for Jink Locker, make sure you only buy from the official vendor here as there are some sites claiming they offer discounts when there are none.
5) Vaultz Locking Storage Box
Vaultz Locking Storage Box is a heavy-duty safe with a combination lock that can be used to store valuables and other items.
- Locking box ideal for documents, laptops, tablets, wallets, cash, passports, and other personal valuables
- Built to last features durable metal corners and reinforced hinges
- Lightweight and easy to transport with dual carrying handles
- A convenient combination lock for extra security with trademarked Vaultz key-less locking
- Perfect size to put under dorm room beds or desks
- A steel cable tether is given to keep the case extra protected and free of theft
Where to buy Vaultz Locking Storage Box? Vaultz Locking Storage Box Discount & Pricing
There are no available discounts for Vaultz Locking Storage Box, make sure you only buy from the official vendor here as there are some sites claiming they offer discounts when there are none.
There is no doubt that all the bear canister alternatives have their own benefits and limitations. Against determined and agile bears, hanging food from trees may not be as effective as having bear canisters. You need practice and proper methods to do it plus its time consuming and can lead to injuries or fatalities. But, they are affordable and moderately safe alternatives, which can offer protection against animal invasion when used properly.