Meals Storage and Dealing with for Campers and Backpackers


camp kitchen

All types of animals can get into your meals wherever you camp. Mice and different rodents, to not point out bears, will gnaw proper by way of a tent or backpack to get at crumbs or goodies left inside.

It’s our accountability as campers to forestall wild animals from getting any human meals. This disrupts their pure weight-reduction plan and makes them depending on folks and makes them a security risk. Bears who turn into habituated to people and a nuisance might find yourself being killed. For extra bear-safety data, learn Backpacking in Bear Nation.

Along with avoiding issues with animals, your well being and pleasure of your out of doors journey depends on following correct meals dealing with methods. If you wish to spend your time on the path, not the latrine, be sure you heed the rules under. For extra hygiene suggestions, see Backcountry Rest room Fundamentals.

Common Meals Storage Ideas

Protecting human meals (and different fragrant objects similar to toiletries) away from animals requires related practices in each a campground and backcountry campsite. Listed below are some common suggestions:

  • By no means go away meals, trash or different scented merchandise inside your tent.
  • By no means go away your meals unattended. Jays, squirrels and chipmunks can rapidly snatch meals in broad daylight, and different animals come foraging at evening.

Meals Storage in a Campground

front country campground food handling

  • Through the day, hold all of your meals secured in your cooler or automotive, even in the event you’re sitting close by or on a brief jaunt to the outhouse, and particularly in the event you’re away on a hike.
  • At evening, place any free meals, plus a cooler when you’ve got one, inside your car or right into a steel bear field if there may be one. Raccoons and bears are adept at opening some coolers. Some cooler producers declare sure fashions are bear-proof, although padlocks may be required. You too can hold a bag of meals from a excessive tree department or use a bear canister, if bears are a recognized nuisance within the campground.

Meals Storage within the Backcountry

use of a bear canister in the backcountry

In the event you’ll be within the bear-inhabited backcountry of a nationwide park or nationwide forest, or on a nationwide scenic path such because the Appalachian Path or Pacific Crest Path, comply with its laws and suggestions for meals storage rigorously.

In the event you’re backpacking in an space the place there are not any outlined laws, you may select between three strategies:

  • Utilizing a supplied steel meals locker
  • Utilizing a bear canister or bear bag
  • Hanging your meals on a tree or pole

Listed below are the professionals and cons of the varied bear-proof food-storage strategies within the backcountry:

Steel Meals Lockers

Some campgrounds in addition to designated backcountry campsites present giant steel bear-proof packing containers in which you’ll stash your meals, trash and toiletries. These are typically communal, so there’s no assure there will likely be room to your stuff. Additionally, it’s vital to safe the latch correctly so bears can’t get in. In any other case, you may wager they are going to.

Bear Canisters

These hard-shell plastic cylinders have lids that people can screw on and off (some require a coin or screwdriver to lock and unlock). They’re designed to suit into most backpacks and are available in numerous sizes, so in the event you’re touring solo, you may select a smaller one.

In the event you’re backpacking in areas the place canisters are required, be sure you use one. If a ranger stops you on the path and also you don’t have one, you might be issued a hefty high-quality. In some nationwide parks, rangers mortgage or hire bear canisters. Nonetheless, on high-demand summer time weekends they could run out of canisters earlier than you get there, so have a backup plan. Canisters additionally stop raccoons from stepping into your meals and rubbish, and could also be required for that motive.


  • Bears have hardly ever been recognized to open a canister.
  • You possibly can go away them on the bottom as an alternative of hanging them.
  • With the lid on they make a superb camp seat.
  • Some are clear so you may see whether or not you remembered to place that chocolate bar in or not.
  • Many bears have realized that canisters are usually not value their effort and should transfer on out of your camp as soon as they see you could have one.


  • Heavy and ponderous (most weigh 2-Three kilos).

Tip for utilizing a bear canister:

  • Put reflective tape in your canister. That means, in the event you hear one thing disturbing it at evening, you may extra simply see what’s happening.

Store bear canisters

Bear Luggage

If a bear canister is just not particularly required however you continue to want to guard your meals from bears, then a bear bag is an efficient alternative. These are fabricated from a high-density polyethylene bear can not tear open. An aluminum liner is obtainable individually that matches contained in the smaller mannequin to maintain a bear from crushing or puncturing the contents.

Odor-proof plastic luggage (which can be additionally waterproof, in contrast to the bear bag itself) can be found individually to place your meals and rubbish into first to additional add bear deterrence.

Some fashions are designed to discourage marmots, mice and different rodents, however in the event you’re in bear nation, select a bag mannequin that’s particularly for bears and has handed the check of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC).


  • They’re light-weight and compact.


  • Some nationwide parks don’t settle for bear luggage as a bear-proof food-storage technique.
  • A bear may crush it (with out the aluminum liner) and even carry the bag away, even when it will probably’t get into the bag.

Ideas for utilizing bear luggage:

  • Make sure to cinch the drawstring tight and tie the knot precisely the way in which the producer instructs.
  • Whereas these luggage will be left on the bottom like a canister, you may need to tie the bag to a tree limb or hold it from a bear pole (see under).
  • Bear luggage are often stable white. To inform yours aside from others’, use a everlasting marker to jot down your identify or draw a design on it.
  • In the event you’re unsure whether or not to make use of a canister or bag, deliver a canister to your most vital meals in addition to a bear bag to your trash and least essential objects. 

Hanging Your Meals

Listed below are the primary strategies for hanging meals:

  • You possibly can droop your meals from a excessive, sturdy tree limb.
  • At some backcountry campsites you’ll discover bear poles, a significant enchancment over tree branches. With this method, you’ll discover a tall steel pole with giant hooks on the prime from which you’ll hold your meals bag or complete backpack. An extended steel lifter pole is supplied for hoisting your meals bag up onto one of many hooks.
  • Or you could discover a excessive horizontal steel cable strung between two poles, which is often simpler to hold your meals bag from.


  • You don’t want to purchase specialised gear. Some rope and a sturdy bag are all you’ll want.


  • In the event you’re backpacking above tree line or in desert areas with low shrubs, hanging from a department is just not even an possibility.
  • Hanging meals in a tree will be troublesome and time-consuming. Making an attempt to maneuver a meals bag with an unwieldy pole onto a hook atop a tall pole takes a whole lot of effort.
  • Some bears have realized to tug on ropes to get on the bag.

Ideas for hanging meals from a tree or cable:

  • Tie a 50- to 100-foot rope to a weight (use a hand-size rock or fill your tent-stake bag with native rocks) and toss it over the tree limb or cable. It might take many tries to get it over.
  • As soon as over and again on the bottom, untie the rock or tent-stake bag, and fasten your meals bag.
  • Hoist your bag 10 to 15 ft excessive so a standing bear can’t attain it, and ensure it’s at the least 4 ft out from the trunk or pole.
  • Tie the opposite finish of the rope to a tree trunk or pole to safe it.

Meals Dealing with Fundamentals

camper preparing a meal at camp

The very last thing you need to do whereas tenting is spend time dashing to the latrine. There are three widespread methods you may turn into sick from improper hygiene and meals dealing with whereas tenting:

  • Transmission of pathogens to your palms and mouth after going to the lavatory (fecal-oral transmission)
  • Consuming spoiled meals from a cooler
  • Improper dealing with of uncooked meat

The right way to keep away from fecal-oral germ transmission:

  • After going to the lavatory, wash your palms totally with cleaning soap and heat water (away from camp and away from a fresh-water supply).
  • Dry palms with a towel not used for drying dishes.
  • In the event you can’t wash, use hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes.
  • Wash or sanitize your palms once more earlier than making ready a meal.
  • In the event you plan to share a bag of path combine with others, shake the meals from the bag into their hand. Don’t let unwashed palms attain right into a bag of meals.

The right way to hold cooler meals from spoiling: Likelihood is you’ll have a cooler in the event you’re automotive tenting. In it you’ll need to hold any perishables, similar to meat (particularly uncooked), cheese, eggs and milk, at 40 levels Fahrenheit or colder in order that they don’t spoil.

  • Pre-chill the cooler with ice or ice blocks for an hour earlier than you set in any meals.
  • Fill giant polycarbonate water bottles with water, juice or milk and freeze (go away room on the prime of the bottle for growth). These hold your cooler colder longer than fast-melting ice cubes, and you may drink the liquid when you don’t want the ice.
  • Double-bag any uncooked meat so it doesn’t leak onto different meals; freeze forward of time no matter you’ll be consuming after the primary day.
  • Put the meals you’ll eat first close to the highest. Put frozen uncooked meat on the underside, the place the cooler is coldest.
  • Use a thermometer contained in the cooler to verify how chilly it’s staying.

The right way to deal with uncooked meat in camp: It’s a good suggestion to chop up your uncooked meat at house into bite-size items and place in a zip-top bag. That means you could have much less to clean in camp. Listed below are extra suggestions:

  • As you’ll at house, be particularly cautious about dealing with uncooked meat. After you chop uncooked meat in camp, place the meat items into your cookware and instantly wash the reducing board, knife and your palms with cleaning soap and scorching (if attainable) water earlier than you contact anything.
  • By no means minimize veggies or cheese on a floor that has uncooked meat residue on it.
  • Any plastic wrap from uncooked meat must be double-bagged and saved in your cooler or trash bag till you get house; or dispose it in a campground-provided trash bin.

Extra meals dealing with suggestions

  • Maintain odors at a distance: Cook dinner meals and wash dishes (and palms) properly away out of your tent so odors don’t appeal to animals close to the place you sleep. Use solely a tiny little bit of liquid unscented cleaning soap.
  • Dishwater: Pressure out any meals scraps and put them in your trash. Disperse rinse water over a rocky space if attainable, properly away out of your campsite.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here