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How to Protect Food from Animals While Camping

Getting back to nature can be an incredibly rewarding experience – unless critters come along and ruin it! Here's how to keep your food from being plundered.


  • : Never keep food in your tent. If an animal picks up the scent, your food –and you – could become its next meal.
  • Step 1: Keep your food and food trash in a locked cooler and, if you've got a car nearby, store it in your trunk at night to keep it away from prying paws.
  • Step 2: If there's no car in sight, pack your food and trash into a cloth or nylon sack. Put a few rocks in the bottom of a sock to weigh it down; then tie a long piece of rope to the end.
  • Step 3: Find a tree that's 100 feet or more away from your tent, and toss the sock over a limb that's at least 15 feet off the ground and 10 feet from the trunk. Untie the rope from the sock and attach it to your food bag, then hoist it up. Tie the rope around a lower branch to secure it.
  • TIP: Make sure the bag hangs down a few feet from the branch to prevent smaller animals from crawling out on the branch to get it.
  • Step 4: Bears will stop at nothing to get your food. If you're camping in bear country, store your edibles in a bear-resistant canister, available at most camping stores.
  • Step 5: In a pinch, put your food into waterproof bags and sink them in a nearby stream. Build a barrier of rocks around the bags and then place more rocks on top, or tie off the bags to a stake secured on the shore. Storing food under cool water can also help keep your perishables from spoiling.
  • Step 6: Always keep your campground clean and pick up any food and trash you drop on the ground. It won't just make your trip better, it could save your life.
  • FACT: A bear's sense of smell is seven times stronger than a bloodhound's.

You Will Need

  • A locking cooler
  • A cloth or nylon food sack
  • A sock
  • Rocks
  • A 50-foot rope
  • Waterproof
  • sealable plastic bags
  • A bear-resistant canister
  • Extra tent stakes

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