How to Store Food Outdoors in the Wilderness

Learn how to store food outdoors from NYC Outward Bound instructor Marko Yurachek in this wilderness survival skills video from Howcast.


So now we have food. We have fish and we have eggs. We probably could eat them all right now. However, if we had a cache of food, if we hiked in with food, if you're backpacking with food, and you're not carrying it on you, you're going to sleep for the night, you want to store it in some manner that is going to keep critters from eating it. The ideal way to do it would be to hang it.

And to hang it, you're going to need something to hang it with. I just happened to find this handy rope right here, where we were making our shelter. And I'm sure it was used for hanging food. So if you're going to have some food to hang, if you had a stuff sack, you can put it in the stuff sack. Throw this rope up and over something that's a nice, tall limb, and pull it up on one side. When you are hanging food, you want your rope to be out, not hanging next to the tree like this where something could climb up to the tree and eat it. But say a limb was sticking out. And some of these limbs are . . . like there's a limb over there that's sticking way out. You want it about maybe 10 to 12 feet out on a limb, and throw it over, pull it up.

How do you get it up over there? It's really difficult to get this rope to go up in the air. So you could tie a stick onto it. You could tie a rock onto it, and throw the rope with the rock up over. This rope is really a pretty heavy rope to get up in the air. A piece of cordage would be probably more ideal. Parachute cord, something like that.

So when you get your rope over, you're going to haul your food up. You don't want it all the way up to the limb, because then things can walk down on the limb and eat it. Obviously squirrels can go up and down the cord. They're the only thing you really have to contend with. Squirrels and birds. But if you do have it hanging up, it's going to keep the mice away for the most part, the raccoons, the bears. Even though those things can climb, they're going to be dissuaded from getting it if it is hanging high up in the air.

If there are no limbs between trees, you can tie a rope off to one tree, run it over to another tree, and tie it off to a second tree. Say, that tree over there. And if you have your rope hanging between two trees, you can throw a second cord over the rope or hang your bag right off of this. So you can tie between two trees, or you can go over a limb. Another possibility is to make a dip in the rope, throw this over a limb, and then pull it up that way.

So a variety of methods to hang food. Hanging food is going to be the ideal way to store it.

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