How to Keep Bears Away While Camping? 8 Tips
The goal of a camping trip is to rest and enjoy. Just pack a tent, food and head out into nature. However, since bears can also appear in campsites, caution should be taken. In this article, we’ll talk about what you need to do to keep bears away from your campsite. So, let’s start!
How To Keep Away (Scare) Bears From Your Campsite
As bears move unpredictably through the forest, you must always be prepared. In the next lines, find useful information that will help you avoid the attention of bears during a camping trip. Here is what you need to do:
1. Look For Bear Tracks At Your Campsite
Just as you like a convenient environment when you are in nature, so do bears. Bears like to be near rivers and lakes and bushes. Therefore, avoid such locations. Rather, choose spots where there are no sources of food or water.
Once you’ve chosen a location you think is suitable, be sure to check the perimeter to make sure it’s not a bear habitat. Change location immediately if you see animal skeletal remains, bear paw prints, droppings, or bear claw marks on trees.
Also, a good sign that you need to leave the location quickly is if you see game trails or digging pits characteristic of grizzlies.
2. Separate Food From Where You Sleep
Another way to keep bears away from your campsite is to organize your camping spot well. When camping in the wilderness, it is crucial to divide the camp into three areas – shelter for sleeping, storage space for food, and a cooking spot. These three areas should ideally be 100 yards away from each other in the form of a triangle.
Note that the shelter should be positioned outside the storage and cooking area. That way, if a bear is attracted to your camp at night by the smell of food, it will not first stop in your tent but use what it finds in storage or around the cooking fire. This could provide you with an opportunity to escape.
3. Choose Food Carefully
If you’re camping in an area known for the presence of bears, it is not recommended to carry fish and meat over an open fire.
Believe me, what smells good to you while cooking will also smell good to the bear, and he will follow the smell straight to your campsite. Also, after you have finished your meal, always wash the plates and everything else, and store the leftovers in containers with tight lids.
4. Store Camping Food Properly
We have already mentioned that the smell of food will attract bears to the campsite. That’s why you should do your best to protect your food supply from odor leakage. If you have parked your car next to the campsite, leaving food in a cooler stored in the trunk is the best option.
However, if you do not have such an option available, here are some tips on storing food during camping without attracting the attention of bears with its smell.
- Make a bear hang. A traditional, effective solution to hide food from bears is to place food in bags or containers that are hung from a high tree branch with the help of a lever that allows you to bring it down when needed easily. It is recommended that the bear hang is around 15 feet from the ground and at least 10 feet from the tree trunk.
- Use Bear tubes. These containers of different sizes have the Grizzly Bear Committee certification mark. The most popular are tubes in which 2 to 3 pounds of food can be stored, enough for one person/six days. Ideal for camping or hiking trips. But bear tubes or kegs can also be found in smaller sizes if you don’t need that much stock.
- Use plastic bags. By using a plastic bag, you can mask the smell of food and store it in your nearby vehicle. Leaving them out in the open won’t help much. The scent will reach the bear. When your campsite is so far from the car that it is not practical to store food in it, it is definitely better to use bear tubes.
How to Hang a Bear Hang?
If you have decided to make a bear hang, don’t worry, we will explain how to make it:
Prepare a bear bag or a regular plastic garbage bag, rope 40 feet long with a bag, a small carabiner, and a twig. Choose an ideal tree branch in the campsite. Fasten the carabiner and bag on the rope, and then pass the rope over the selected branch.
Tip, to make this job easier, put a stone or some other heavy object in the bag.
Then switch the rope bag with a bear bag and thread the free part of the rope to create a lever system that will allow you to reach your food easily. Lift the bag into the air, then attach a twig to the rope and slowly release the rope until the bag is stopped. And you’re done!
If you want to learn more about how to hang a bear bag, watch this video:
5. Clean Up Your Food After You’re Done
After each meal, make sure to store and put away all food and leftovers. That’s the best way to keep bears away from your campsite. It is also important to wash the dishes after each meal.
Bears have a very good sense of smell, they can smell food that is miles away. When they are hungry, they can come to you in the camp because of the tiniest bit of corn that fell off your plate during dinner.
Tip, when washing plates and dishes, be sure to do it away from your campsite. Traces of food from the plate found in nature after washing will easily attract bears. Also, you must have a special bag for leftover food you no longer plan to use. Do not bury the trash. This will not deter the bears, quite the opposite!
During camping, it’s also important to keep food cold.
6. Keep Your Campsite Clean
Cleaning up and putting away food and leftovers is not enough to keep bears away from your campsite. They might come over even if they smell the food on your clothes. I know that sounds extreme, but it’s true.
When camping in an area where bears are found, always have separate clothes to wear. After you eat your meal, put your clothes in a bear bag or in your car if you have one nearby.
Another thing you need to know about bears’ sense of smell: they are attracted to all smells, not just food smells. Many people have come face to face with a bear that was attracted to the camp by the smell of toothpaste!
That’s why you must always store your hygiene items also. Or find an alternative to the ones you normally use at home. For example, a good substitute for toothpaste is baking soda.
Bears will also be attracted by the smells that remain in nature after defecating. Therefore, let a place at around 300 feet away from the campsite serve as a toilet.
Digging a hole at least 5 to 7 inches deep is recommended, and burying what you use as toilet paper in it. If you use real toilet paper and do not want to leave it in nature, you must store it in a bag or container that is tightly closed.
7. Keep An Eye On Your Pets
Pets can easily attract a bear. If you bring a pet to a camping spot, you must impose rules of behavior on your pet that apply to you. So, you must feed them under supervision, from bowls, and clean up behind them after eating.
Also, you cannot allow them to walk freely around the camp. For a bear, your pet is just a tasty meal. Think carefully about the risk before you take a dog with you on an adventure in bear land.
8. Get An Electric Bear Fence
If you plan to spend a few days at a campsite, you can surround your camp with an electric bear fence. It is an expensive but effective solution in most cases. It shows good results regarding grizzlies and polar bears and can even keep black bears away from your campsite. This fence is a 6 kV barrier and will stun the bear but not kill it.
Here are some extra tips that you might want to know on the topic of how to prepare for a bear:
Safety Rules To Keep Bear Away For Campsite
When you’re out in nature, you won’t encounter a bear very often, especially if you’re careful about storing your food. However, if you encounter a bear, you must remain calm and avoid a conflict you cannot win.
Here are some tips that can save you from a bear attack:
- Avoid Using Strong-smelling Products. Bears are attracted to all smells, especially the smell of sweets. The smell of shampoo, perfume, or dishwashing detergent will also attract them. Always try to bring things with a neutral smell when camping, and do not use strong-smelling products at the campsite.
- Bears don’t Like Noise. Bears do not like noise, so they will not approach you if you make it clear that you are present by talking loudly. If you are deep in the wild, the sounds from the campsite can even scare them. However, if you are in an area with bears, known as a popular camping spot, you can count on the fact that the bears here are already used to the noise and will visit you no matter how loud you are.
- Don’t Run From Bear. Bears are hunters. This means that if you move and smell good, you will become their prey. So, if you meet a bear, don’t run away! Nor move towards him with sudden movements. Keep calm and try to make yourself taller if possible.
If you are interested in whether it is worth running from bears, read this article: How Fast Can A Bear Run? (NEVER Run From a Bear).
When going camping, there are chances of meeting a bear. But that can be avoided. In this article, we’ll explain the steps that need to be done. The basis is to choose the best way to store food and hygiene supplies, the smell of which attracts bears.
Also, the campsite should be organized so that the shelter where you sleep is 100 feet away from the food storage, and everything on the campsite should always be kept completely clean. When choosing a spot for camping, be sure to inspect it carefully first, if you see marks of bear paws or claws, find another location!