in: Outdoor/Survival, Skills, Visual Guides

• Last updated: June 1, 2021

How to Keep Animals Out of Your Camping Food

How to hang food while camping illustration step by step with diagram.

When you’re in the wild, protecting and properly storing your food is critical if you want to make sure that those beloved meals don’t get grabbed by Yogi Bear and the like. In some instances, it’s also critical to your safety. An overnight in the woods could prove deadly if your midnight snack lures a grizzly bear into your tent.

Keeping animals out of your food is a matter of making it impossible to access and/or putting it out of reach. At many car-camping sites, metal food lockers are available for you to store your food (some parks have rules against storing food in your car; bears can do serious damage to your vehicle trying to get in). If those aren’t available, you can purchase a bear canister (often required at particular parks in the West) or special bag to store up your goodies. Bear canisters and bags are strong plastic or fabric containers that have been designed and tested to stop bears and other creatures from getting inside. If you don’t have a canister or a bag, or access to food lockers (this is especially the case when backpacking), then the hanging method shown above is your best choice. You’ll want to put the bag high enough to be out of reach of bears, without being so close to a tree branch that squirrels can get at it.

Remember to clean up any crumbs, and to pack anything that has an odor, including toothpaste and deodorant, in the bag with your food.

1: Deposit all your food and oder-producing items into a heavy bag.

2: Cinch the top of the bag shut and tie it the end of a rope. Your rope should be at least 50 feet long.

3: Tie a rock or heavy piece of wood to tie other end of the rope.

4: Using the rock or piece of wood, toss the rope over a hefty tree branch.

5: Pull the rope to raise your food bag, positioning it at least 12 feet off the ground and 5 feet from both the truck and the branch above.

6: Tie the rope off to a different tree or nearby root if possible. (A)

If no other trees are around, tie it to the trunk of the same tree. (B)

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Illustration by Ted Slampyak

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