Home Camping Tips The Bear-Proof Camper: From Bear Fear to Bear Aware
The Bear-Proof Camper: From Bear Fear to Bear Aware

5 min

September 8, 2023

Camping soon? What if we told you that the snuffling sound you hear at night might be more than just the rustling of leaves? 

If the thought of snuggling with a grizzly makes you lose your marshmallows, then this is just the information you need. We’re here to guide you on making your campsite as appealing to bears as a vegan potluck. 

Channel Your Inner Bear

The first step in bear-proofing your campsite is thinking like a bear. Or rather, the opposite of a bear. Bears have a knack for the berry patches, lakes, animal carcasses, droppings, and diggings. So, basically, if it’s fascinating to a bear, it should be a red flag to you. 

Common red flags to avoid include:

  • Bear droppings
  • Grizzly diggings 
  • Trees with claw marks 
  • Animal carcasses 
  • Bear tracks 

Mastering Campsite Set Up

Let’s talk about campsite setup. Think of a triangle. Your sleeping area (the top peak), a hanging food storage (a base point), and cooking spot (the other base point) should form the three corners of the triangle. Each corner should be around 100 yards apart. 

Remember, the tastier the food smells to us, the more enticing it is to our furry friends. So, as heartbreaking as it might be, you may have to say no to that bacon, steak, or fish. And don’t even think about leaving your food unattended. That’s like inviting the bear to a picnic. Don’t do it!

Campsite Hacks for Food Storage 

Storing food wisely is like life insurance against scary bear encounters. If you are near your vehicle, store all scented items in a cooler or container, in the trunk. 

Away from the vehicle? Create a bear hang (this is essentially bear pinata that they can’t reach). Another alternative for car campers is to use coolers, odor-proof bags, or unscented trash bags. 

Don’t be Lazy, Do Your Chores

We get it. Cleaning is about as fun as walking barefoot on legos, but it’s necessary. Even the smallest of food scraps can attract a bear. So, the rule is simple: as soon as you’re done with your meal, clean up immediately. Burying food scraps or garbage is a big no-no. Instead, store waste in bear-proof containers or burn leftover food. 

Additional Tips

  • Do make noise: Bears usually avoid people, but they might not be aware of your presence. Make noise, especially when moving through dense vegetation or near streams where they might not hear you coming.

  • Do carry bear spray and know how to use it: Studies show that bear spray is the most effective deterrent, working in 92% of cases, according to the Journal of Wildlife Management.

  • Do use bear-proof containers: Use specially designed containers to store food and dispose of garbage. These containers are made to withstand a bear’s powerful force and keen sense of smell.

A few essentials can make your camping trip safer and more bear-proof:

  • Bear Canisters: These are sturdy, sealable containers designed to keep your food and other scented items secure from bears. The BearVault BV500 is a popular choice, praised for its high capacity and user-friendly design.
  • Bear Spray: The Counter Assault Bear Deterrent comes highly recommended for its 12-second continuous spray and 32-foot range.

Here are some bear-free camping destinations:

  • Everglades National Park, USA
  • Joshua Tree National Park, USA
  • Death Valley National Park, USA

It’s a Bear World Out There

While camping in bear country, it’s about being proactive and not paranoid. Nobody wants to encounter a bear at their campsite, but it’s essential to prepare for that possibility. So camp smart, stay alert, and keep your food to yourself!

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