How Do You Bear Proof A Tent?
Bears are one of the most common fears that individuals have when it comes to camping in a tent or spending time outdoors. Despite the fact that bears aren’t nearly as dangerous as they are portrayed to be, bear-proofing your tent and campsite is crucial if you want to prevent having an unpleasant experience on your next outdoor expedition. If you want to bear-proof your tent, you’ll want to set up your campsite such that your cooking area and tent are at least 200 feet apart from one another.
Make use of a bear canister or bear hung instead, and keep your campsite nice and tidy at all times to keep bears away.
Following that, we’ll go over everything you need to know about bear proofing a tent, as well as some helpful hints for reducing the likelihood that a bear may decide to roam through your campground.
How Rare Are Bear Attacks?
Attacks by bears are extremely, extremely rare. In the United States and Canada between 1900 and 2009, an estimated 63 individuals were murdered by black bears, according to a 2011 research. Grizzly bear assaults on humans occurred in North America between 2000 and 2015, according to a research published in Nature this year. The great majority of attacks occurred in Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon, according to the findings of the study. Unquestionably, every bear attack or fatality is a terrible and tragic occurrence, but when you consider the vast amount of people who spend their time outside, the odds of being attacked or killed by a bear are incomprehensibly minimal.
In most black and brown bear assaults, the bear is hungry and wants a bite of whatever you’re eating for dinner, or the humans involved have somehow (usually unwittingly) gotten in between a female bear and her cubs, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
While there have been some predatory assaults (for example, when a bear follows humans in search of food), bear researcher John Beecham says that they are extremely rare and that they are the exception rather than the norm in bear behavior.
Will Bears Bother You In A Tent?
On the whole, bears are uncomfortable being around you, just as much as you are uncomfortable being around them. In addition, because the vast majority of black and brown bears are primarily interested in food, they will only approach humans in tents if they smell anything good inside. Consequently, bears are less likely to walk into your tent area if you do not store food and other “scented” objects, such as toiletries, in your tent. When it comes to bears, avoiding an encounter is essential.
If you adhere to bear safety practices, such as putting your food in a bear canister or a bear hang (more on that later), you can avoid bears interfering with your camping experience by sleeping in a tent at night.
Will A Tent Protect Me At All From A Bear?
It’s doubtful that your tent will keep you safe from a determined bear unless you chance to buy a tent that is reinforced with steel bars. Unless they’re constructed of heavy duty nylon or polyester, most tents are composed of flimsy nylon or polyester fabric that bears may easily cut through if they’re on the search for food. Having said that, this should not be a cause for concern or a reason for you to forego going camping. As previously said, bear attacks are quite rare, and following correct bear safety measures when camping in recognized bear habitat will do far more to protect you from a bad bear encounter than the majority of people believe.
Steps To Take For Preventing Bears From Being Interested In Your Tent
When it comes to bear-proofing a tent, the most important thing to remember is to prevent bears from becoming interested in your tent in the first place. It all boils down to correctly setting up your camp and keeping your food so that bears do not have access to it at night. Here’s all you need to know about the situation.
How To Set Up Camp In Bear Country
When hiking through bear territory, one of the most essential things you can do is make sure your camp is properly set up before you leave. If you were camping in a frontcountry campsite at a recognized campground, it’s likely that you erected your tent very near to your kitchen. You should, however, pitch your tent at least 200ft (60m) away from your kitchen and water if you are in recognized bear territory. This is around 70 adult paces away from your kitchen and water. Finding a suitable tent site that is at least 70 meters away from the nearest water source is an excellent approach to start your camping adventure (this is normally a requirement on most public lands).
Due to the fact that preparing food creates a lot of food-based odors, keeping everything contained to a single location that is separate from where we want to sleep for the night might reduce the likelihood that a bear would walk over to where we are sleeping.
How To Store Food To Keep Bears Away From Your Tent
Proper food storage is the second factor of bear avoidance when camping that must be considered. Because bears are mostly just interested in food, they are frequently drawn to campsites in search of a small morsel of whatever you had for supper that night. We don’t want bears to eat human food for two reasons: first, it is harmful to their health.
- Human food is not a typical component of a bear’s diet and does not supply the necessary nourishment for them to thrive
- Bears that consume human food rapidly develop accustomed to human presence and behavior. This greatly increases the likelihood that they may begin to loiter around popular campgrounds or towns, or that they will attack someone. Whenever this occurs, the bear is nearly often put down, which is not a pleasant experience for anybody concerned.
As a result, understanding how to properly store your food will not only keep bears away from your tent, but it will also assist to guarantee that the bear population in our favorite camping places remains healthy and vigorous.
Food Storage Options For Camping In Bear Country
When you’re camping in bear territory, you have a few alternatives for food storage that you might consider. It is crucial to remember, however, that certain public areas have quite severe rules for the containers in which you may and cannot keep your food. These include some of the most popular national, state, and provincial parks and forests in the United States and Canada, as well as some of the most remote areas in the world. The obligation of the camper is to be knowledgeable about the regulations for wherever he or she is going to be.
It is possible to face harsh repercussions from local authorities if you violate the restrictions, particularly if a bear gets into your food. The following are the four basic methods of storing food in bear country, which vary based on your geographic area.
A bear canister is a container with a hard outside that has been constructed to prevent a bear from gaining access to the food within. The majority of them are composed of hard-sided plastic with specific lids that bears are unable to open. Despite the fact that bears may and do attempt to open these canisters in order to obtain the food contained therein, when utilized properly, they are exceedingly unlikely to be successful. What’s the drawback of using bear cans? They’re large and cumbersome.
Bear Hang/PCT Method
Some property managers will require you to use a “bear hang” in locations where a bear canister is not necessary, but bears are still present. This is done to prevent hungry bears from taking your food. When it comes to lightweight backpacking options, bear hangs are a favorite since they are simple to set up and require nothing more than a piece of rope with two or three carabiners, and a bag to store your food. Unfortunately, if you’re camping above treeline, they won’t be very effective, and they won’t do anything to deter rats from stealing your munchies at night.
Bear-proof coolers are a relatively new concept in the camping industry, but they’re quickly gaining popularity at established campgrounds. Most firms that offer “bear-proof coolers,” such asGrizzly Coolers, have their goods approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC), which puts the coolers through their paces on real bears. Having said that, these coolers are not permitted at all campgrounds, so double-check the rules and restrictions at your destination before purchasing one for your next camping trip.
Some campgrounds in national parks and national forests will have specially constructed steel “bear lockers” for storing food, which will be available for use by bears. A general guideline is that if there is a bear locker available at your campground, you must use it if there is one. Because these bear lockers are extremely effective at preventing bears from gaining access to human food, several property managers demand their usage on their properties. It is normally not permitted to store food in a car at campgrounds where a bear locker is provided; thus, make sure that all of your food will fit inside the bear locker when you leave for the night.
Can Bears Smell Through Ziploc Bags?
Ziploc bags do not have a strong fragrance, and a bear can readily detect anything you’re storing inside of them. LOKSAKIs a good option if you want to keep your food in an odor-proof bag within a bear-proof hanger or canister, locker or cooler. While camping in bear territory, these odor-proof and reusable storage bags can help keep food odors at bay, providing you with more peace of mind.
What To Do If You Hear A Bear Outside Your Tent
If, despite your best attempts, a bear manages to stroll into your campground, the first thing you should do is shout in a loud, strong voice to scare it away from your campsite. Because bears are normally terrified of humans, they will be surprised and flee if they see you. Although it is extremely unlikely, if a bear begins to attack you while you are sleeping in your tent, the National Park Service suggests that you defend yourself.
Because these bears frequently perceive humans as prey, more protective techniques, such as pretending to be dead, are unlikely to be effective.
Should You Keep Bear Spray In Your Tent?
If you know how to use bear spray and have it readily available when you need it, it may be a very effective tool in repelling an angry bear. Because bear spray may be quite effective in a bear assault, you’ll want to have it close at all times during the night. To be on the safe side, it’s advisable to keep your bear spray in the vestibule of your tent rather than directly next to your sleeping bag. This is because it is conceivable, though not likely, that you will accidently remove the safety tab from the bear spray while you are tossing and turning in your bed at night.
- This will ensure that you are well prepared should things go wrong.
- The National Park Service suggests that you rinse out your eyes and skin with cold water for 15-20 minutes after the bear has left to decrease the stinging effects of pepper spray in these cases.
- So, before you embark on your next journey, make sure you are familiar with the local legislation.
- Even when I’m camping in bear territory, I always set up my campground so that my cooking and tent areas can be kept apart from one another.
- The same caution should be exercised by anybody planning to camp in recognized bear habitat.
- Following that, in terms of wildlife safety, is: Is it safe to sleep in a roof top tent when there are bears around?
- Best Bear Spray: Proven and Effective Top 5 Options What Should You Do If You Come Across a Cougar While Hiking?
Backpacking in Bear Country
There have been 429 reviews, with an average rating of 4.6 stars. Bears are amazing creatures, and it may be thrilling to come face to face with one when you are at a suitable distance. When hiking or backpacking in an area inhabited by black bears or grizzlies, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of having a bear encounter and to ensure that you are prepared to act if you do have an interaction with a bear.
Video: Backpacking in Bear Country
Before you venture into the wilderness, check with the local authorities to see if bear-related rules are in effect. Bear canisters are required in certain parks, although they are not required in others. When visiting national parks where grizzlies are found, such as Glacier or Grand Teton, park rangers advise visitors to bring bear spray. Bear spray is not authorized in some areas, such as Yosemite National Park, where only black bears exist.
Also, before you leave, check to see if bear poles or metal lockers have been erected in the backcountry campsites where you’ll be camping, since this may have an impact on the equipment you bring.
How to Avoid Bears While Hiking
In certain regions, you may be fortunate enough to see a bear even before you arrive at your first camping destination. Your primary objective will be to trek without arousing the attention of any bears in close proximity, particularly a mother with cubs. Some recommendations that are particularly important to follow in grizzly bear area, but which may also be applied to black bear region, are outlined below.
- Hiking in the crack of dawn or night is not recommended. That is the time of year when bears are most active. Maintain a close-knit group of four or more people when hiking
- Groups of this size are less likely to be assaulted. Make noise when hiking in order to avoid being surprised by a bear. Make frequent “Hey, bear!” exclamations, speak or sing loudly, clap your hands, and clack your trekking poles together to attract the bear’s attention. Using a whistle, blowing with a whistle, or screaming is not recommended by the National Park Service. These noises may resemble those of an injured animal, which may draw the attention of a bear. The majority of bells marketed as “bear bells” are not loud enough to be of any use. Also, have a constant awareness of your immediate surroundings. Because of the noise of the streams, the wind in the trees, the bends in the route, and the deep foliage, a bear may not be aware of your presence. Bear spray should be carried. Bear spray includes red pepper compounds, which have an adverse effect on the eyes and respiratory system, among other things. It’s meant to fend off an attacking bear (although it can also impair your own breathing and vision if the wind blows it in your face), and it can be emptied in as little as 7-9 seconds if used correctly. It has a range of 12-30 feet and is effective at that distance. Maintain direct physical control of the weapon by wearing it in a holster rather than in your pack (or even in an exterior mesh pocket, as it might be knocked out). Approximately 90 percent of the time, bear spray is an effective deterrent against bears. Make sure you understand how to utilize it because you may only have a few seconds to do so. Normally, you must remove the safety clip before you may push the nozzle depressing button. Before you go for your trip, practice taking it out of the holster at home. Due to the nature of the aerosol, it is important to research aircraft rules as well as foreign limits.
Warning: Never proactively spray your tent or pack with bear spray while you’re camping; bear spray is NOT a mosquito repellent. It’s possible that it will attract bears. Bear Spray may be purchased online.
How to Discourage Bears in Camp
Those bears who have tasted human food grow addicted to it and may become a nuisance; these bears are often killed. So, for the sake of the bears’ well-being and your own safety, keep food away from them. Always remember to adhere to the following rules:
- Never leave food out or unattended while you are working. Store food at all hours of the day and night since wildlife is always on the go. Make use of suitable food preservation techniques: Food, snacks, empty food containers and cookware (even if they have been cleaned), personal hygiene products like toothpaste, feminine products, and sunscreen, and even the clothes you wear while cooking should all be stored in a bear canister, bear bag, tree- or pole-hung bag or provided metal food locker to prevent bears from gaining access to them (clothing can absorb food odors). Some hikers even bring their stove along with them. See our page on food handling and storage for more information. for additional information on how to utilize a bear canister or bear bag, as well as how to hang your food, please visit: Maintain a safe distance between you and odors: Cooking and washing dishes (as well as your hands) should be done far away from your tent to avoid attracting bears to the area where you sleep. Only a little amount of liquid unscented soap should be used. Food particles should be strained out of your dishwater using a little piece of metal screen, which you should bring along. Stack these particles in a garbage bag and toss them in the trash
- When disposing of human waste, adhere to the principles of Leave No Trace (as well as any applicable statutory rules).
Black Bears vs. Grizzlies: What To Do if You Encounter a Bear
The majority of bears are fearful of people and will escape as soon as they smell, hear, or see a human. Bears, on the other hand, are unpredictable and deadly. When at all possible, keep a safe distance between you and a bear. The way you react to a bear encounter may change based on the sort of bear you are dealing with. Because both black bears and grizzlies can range in color from blonde to black, distinguishing between the two can be difficult (in the eastern U.S., however, black bears tend to be only black).
Black bears are distinguished by the absence of a shoulder hump, the height of their ears, and the profile of their face.
Grizzlies are found in Alaska and western Canada.
What To Do if You Encounter Either Type of Bear
- Never get too close to a bear
- If you observe bear cubs, stay at least 100 yards away. It has been reported that mother bears are extremely deadly, and that they will charge and attack at close range without warning. Back away from the bear, keeping your gaze fixed on the bear, if you happen to see one before it notices you
- If you’re with others, form a tight group to appear more intimidating
- If as all possible, retreat and redirect your path so that you can give the bear a wide berth. If you are unable to make progress on the route, it is preferable to postpone your trek. If you have bear spray, have it ready
- If you don’t, don’t bother. If you find yourself in any of the following scenarios, fight back: You are assaulted in your tent, at night, after being stalked, or at any other moment when your position appears to be critical.
What To Do if You Encounter a Black Bear
- If a black bear is approaching you, lift your arms to make yourself appear larger and cry loudly, smash pots together, or hurl things at it to scare it away. To defend yourself, get a long, solid stick. If you’re in camp, secure any food in a bear canister or metal locker as soon as possible, or carry the food with you (even if it’s in a cooking pot) as you back away from the campfire. Avoid allowing a bear to take your food
- This is critical. If the bear continues to approach you and appears to be more interested in your meal than you are, put the food down as a last option and walk away from the animal. No matter how innocuous a black bear appears to be when it approaches out of curiosity, keep attempting to frighten it off and back away.
If a black bear attacks you, you should do the following:
- If you are attacked by a black bear, you should do the following.
What To Do if You Encounter a Grizzly
- If a grizzly bear gets up and looks at you, it is evaluating your situation. Discuss it quietly, avoid eye contact, and back up slowly—you don’t want it look as if you are threatening it. Its ears will be up, and it may huff and bound toward you if it engages in a bluff charge, which differs from a full-on attack in that it is not as aggressive. Try not to panic
- Instead, maintain your composure and communicate with the bear to let it know you are kind. Prepare your bear spray in advance
- Never turn and flee! After making a bluff charge, the bear may turn and withdraw
- Continue to back up.
If a grizzly bear attacks you, you should do the following:
- If a grizzly’s ears are laid back and it is quiet while charging with its head lowered, this indicates a full-on aggressive attack. When the bear is 30 feet away, you should use your bear spray. Don’t get too excited and start spraying too soon. Aim low in order to avoid hitting the bear in the head
- If you don’t have any spray, or if it doesn’t work, pretend to be dead. Try to lay flat on your stomach with your pack between you and the bear
- Cover the back of your neck with your hands—your elbows and extended legs can help protect you from being rolled over
- And keep your head and neck covered with your hands. You should continue to roll until you are back on your stomach if the bear manages to flip you over. You might also attempt a cannonball pose to see how it feels. It’s possible that the bear will bite you and then depart
Hiking & Camping
Recreational use of parks and wilderness areas is increasing. Tolerance and an appreciation for the unpredictable nature of resident wildlife is increasingly important. Negative encounters are often a result of human carelessness rather than an aggressive act by the animal. This is especially true with bears. Most bear “attacks” are caused by surprising a bear and usually can be prevented. Understanding bear behavior and recognizing bear sign are important when hiking or camping in Bear Country.
- Exceptional sense of smell (7 times stronger than that of dogs)
- Can detect aromas from more than a mile distant. During hibernation in their northern region, they go without food for 6 to 7 months at a time. Curiosity, resourcefulness, and intelligence characterize this individual. Excellent memory and can recall food sources for the rest of his life
- When surprised, trapped, or provoked, this nervous, timid, easily terrified individual can do terrible hurt. Humans are usually avoided at all costs. When food is abundantly accessible, opportunistic individuals will take advantage of the situation. When hungry or accustomed, a person becomes more assertive. Because they are extremely powerful and intimidating, they should be approached with caution and respect. Climbing, swimming, and sprinting at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour are among her strengths. Frequently avoids open areas in favor of the protective shelter provided by trees and thickets
- It is estimated that around 85 percent of the diet is composed of vegetable matter, which includes nuts, berries, seeds, and grasses. Does not attack, but rather stands up on its hind legs for the sake of curiosity or to obtain a closer look at something or sniff something.
Before Leaving on the Trip
- Prepare yourself by planning ahead of time. For information on the animals in the region, hiking/camping protocols and precautions, as well as any current bear awareness recommendations, contact the local wildlife agency or park headquarters. Understand bear behavior and indications by being familiar with them. If you’re camping, learn about the different methods of hanging food out of reach of bears, including the use of counter-balances. Make sure your tent, sleeping bags, and skin are clear of any remaining food scents before you go camping. Avoid bringing odoriferous food and nonfood goods (fragrant cosmetics, toiletries, and other personal care products). Bear-proof containers, doubled plastic bags, or airtight canisters can be used to keep scents contained. Make sure to bring extra bags for leftovers and to take out the rubbish if required. Bring a torch and binoculars with you. Avoid bringing your dog or keep it on a leash.
During the Hike
- Travel in groups to save money. Allowing youngsters to stray or run ahead is not recommended. Always stay on the route and never trek at night
- Always be on the lookout for danger. Wearing bells, chanting, clapping, and other methods of “advertising” your presence are all acceptable. Allowing your “commercial” to take your attention away from being aware of your surroundings is not a good idea. Garbage should be disposed of in bear-resistant trash cans or packed out in sealed plastic bags. Make no trace of your presence
- Don’t take a bear by surprise! When going in windy weather, downwind, approaching blind bends, dense foliage, and loud streams, use extra caution since a bear may not be able to see, smell, or hear you coming, so proceed with caution. Stop, take a look, and pay attention. Make a lot of noise before you enter these regions. Circling birds and/or foul scents may signal the presence of an animal carcass
- Avoid the area or exercise great caution if this is the case. Never leave anything, including food or a backpack, unattended.
Bears are normally fearful of humans, but they may become “habituated,” or acclimated to humans, if they are exposed to people on popular hiking paths. By never feeding or approaching bears, you can keep the region safe for both humans and bears. If a bear comes close to you, it is most likely because he is interested or because he scents something fascinating. Standing up indicates that he is not planning to fight, but rather is only attempting to get a better look or sniff. The likelihood of being killed by a bear is exceedingly low; in comparison, the likelihood of being killed by a dog is around 67 times higher, and the likelihood of being murdered is over 90,000 times higher.
Remember that bears are extremely powerful and strong animals, and that they should always be treated with care and respect. Bear Encounter Procedures and Procedures
- If a bear approaches you, maintain your composure. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT RUN (running may cause the bear to respond with a pursuit reaction)
- Pick up tiny toddlers to prevent them from running, screaming, or panicking
- Bring your friends together and confine your dog
- Inform the bear that you are a human being
- Use a soothing tone of speech and raise your arms upwards to appear larger. Retrace your steps away from the bear while maintaining a calm voice
- If the bear lunges, snaps his jaws, or smacks the ground or brush with his paw, he perceives that he is in danger – you are too near for comfort. Continue to back up gently without turning away from the bear. Another “bluffing” method used by the bear is to abruptly rush forward and pause, in order to terrify you into leaving. Hold your ground for a few while, then continue backing away and speaking gently
- Don’t surround the bear
- Instead, give him a clean path to flee. Make a complete retreat from the area or take a very long detour to avoid the bear. As long as you continue to be pursued by him, you must maintain your composure and shout, clap your hands, wave your arms, or hurl something at him, repeating the process until he flees. Dropping anything like a hat will serve as a last resort to divert him
- However, do not throw food or your backpack at him because he will rapidly learn to face other humans in search of food incentives.
- A place with plenty of open space away from dense vegetation, natural food habitats, forest cover, and natural paths is ideal. Stay away from unkempt areas and locations with bear signs: logs that have been broken apart, trails, trampled bush, scat, and claw marks on trees
- All fragrant things should be secured by hanging them at least 10 feet above the ground and 5 feet from a tree. All activities such as cooking, dining, cleaning, and food storage should be kept at least 100 feet away from tents. Do not sleep outside of your tent or with any “smellables” in your tent, such as food wrappers that have been left open. Never leave food leftovers or waste out in the open. Disinfect plates and utensils as soon as possible
- Dispose of waste water downwind, 100 feet from the sleeping area. When walking about at night, always use a flashlight and proceed with caution. All food and odorous attractants (including waste and cooking clothing) should be stored in airtight containers or canisters to avoid contamination.
This site’s material is protected by intellectual property laws, and any illegal redistribution or reproduction of part or all of it, in any form, is strictly forbidden. Unless you have received specific written permission from the American Bear Association, you are not permitted to disseminate or use the content or to store it on any other website or other kind of electronic retrieval system.
What You Need To Know About Camping And Hiking In Grizzly Country
Are you planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park, the Tetons, or the Wind River Range? Perhaps on a trekking excursion with Wildland Trekking? Known as “the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone,” the Greater Yellowstone Region is a pristine natural wonderland and one of nature’s most beautiful works in the lower 48 states. The roughly 20 million acres of land in the region encompasses everything that entices people to spend time in the great outdoors. Rolling ridgelines, wildflower-filled meadows, deep woodlands, and variable weather are all features of this landscape.
There was an abundance of fauna.
Black bears may be found throughout most of the United States, whereas grizzlies can be found in the Greater Yellowstone Region, the Canadian Rockies, and the state of Alaska.
Before you embark on a backpacking trip in bear area, read this guide to learn all you need to know about hiking and camping in bear territory safely.
Black Bears vs Grizzly Bears: What is the Difference?
Every year, tens of thousands of tourists hike through Yellowstone National Park. The majority of people never see a bear. However, this does not rule out the possibility that they are present. Perhaps they were the ones who first noticed (or, more likely, scented) you. There are two sorts of bears that live in this region: black bears and grizzly bears (sometimes called brown bears). It becomes a little more tricky from here on out. Black bears aren’t usually black; they may also be brown, cinnamon-colored, or blond in color.
- However, each species has a few distinguishing characteristics that allow you to identify them differently.
- Instead, when you encounter a bear, pay attention to these few characteristics: Grizzly bears are distinguished by a prominent shoulder hump (as shown on the left), a dished nose, and tiny rounded ears.
- Given that it is unlikely that you will be able to distinguish between them until you get close enough to do so, if you are going into Grizzly Bear territory, presume the bear is a grizzly unless you are told differently.
- While black bears in Yellowstone cause their fair share of problems — mostly food theft but also rare aggressive acts toward humans — it is the grizzly bear that commands our undivided attention when traveling through Yellowstone’s wild interior.
- Zoos are far inferior.
- Brown bears are the royal monsters of much of North America (with the exception of polar bears), and they, like all magnificent creatures, deserve our awe and respect in return.
We never make any attempt to grab their attention. We never “go looking” for bears; instead, we let the trail’s twists and turns expose the park’s occupants, and we respond in accordance with long-established policy.
Camping With Bears
Camping with bears in Yellowstone National Park requires adherence to a few basic but crucial backcountry guidelines in order to truly appreciate what this incredible location has to offer. The most critical guidelines to observe when hiking in grizzly country are those that pertain to food preparation and storage. It is said that grizzlies have extraordinary senses of smell. Consequently, when camping in bear country, we keep all of our food downwind and at least 100 yards away from our tents.
- Bear canisters with hard sides or storage bins given by the park
- Bear hangs
The sort of bear-safe food storage you choose will most likely be determined by the location where you’re going camping. While in Yellowstone, you must hang your food from a tree in order to stay in any backcountry campsite. If you’re hiking in Yosemite and you’re in the vicinity of black bears, you’ll need to bring bear canisters along with you. Some remote camps will have food storage lockers that are specifically intended for this purpose. In order to ensure the safety of you and your food, be certain that they are available at each and every campsite where you want to stay.
As a result, we bring bear canisters with us for the entire journey!
Of course, if you decide to join us on a guided backpacking trip, we’ll take care of all the details for you!
You’ll get the knowledge, skills, and self-assurance necessary to trek unaccompanied in grizzly bear territory.
bear canisters or bear boxes
If you’re traveling through black bear area, it’s likely that you’ll need to have a bear canister with you. With a lock system that might be tough to unlock even for humans, these handy capsules keep your food safe and fresh for longer. Backcountry permits are required in all backcountry sites and in alpine places where bear hangs are impossible in national parks such asOlympic, Yakima, the Rocky Mountains, and the North Cascades. Many ranger stations will lend bear canisters to you so that you don’t have to purchase one yourself.
If you’re using a bear canister in grizzly bear territory, make sure to select one that has been approved by the International Game Conservation Council (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee).
Just be sure to properly seal them after each time you place food in them to keep it safe. In contrast to many other parks, such as those in the Sierra Nevada, Yellowstone does not offer locking steel boxes at some backcountry locations.
A rope (at least 35 feet in length), an auto-biner, as well as some stuff sacks for food and scent-sensitive objects, are all required when utilizing bear hangs as a survival technique. Depending on how long your journey will last and how much food you’ll be packing, you may need to bring several bear hang systems. Bear hangs are available in two varieties: 1) pre-established bear hangs and 2) improvised bear hangs. Pre-established bear hangs are the most common type of bear hang. The National Park Service has installed bear hangs at all backcountry campsites in Yellowstone National Park.
- Pre-established bear hang systems are quite simple to use: two large trees hold a solid cross-beam from which you’ll hang your food, and the system is relatively simple to set up.
- Then, at the other end of the rope, hook the carabiner to it.
- Then, using the opposite end of the rope, pull the bags of food up to a height of at least 10 feet above the ground, replacing the rock as needed.
- Then secure the rope to a nearby rock or tree to ensure that your food remains secure.
- Having to go out and find your own tree to use as a bear hang will make for an interesting experience.
- If you want to hang your food more than four feet from the trunk of the tree, you’ll need to choose a tree with a strong enough limb.
What goes into your canister or bear hang?
You’ll put all of your food and rubbish in the bag or container you’ve chosen. In addition to food and garbage, you’ll place all of your perfumed products in the food cache, including our soaps, lotions, toothpaste, deodorants, and even our lip balms. Check your packs and pants pockets for food and wrappers every night before bed, even the occasional stray cashew or breath mint that may have gotten into your bag. You should never, ever store food in your tent when you’re in grizzly territory (or any bear habitat, for that matter).
Also, never leave food in an unattended bag or container of any kind.
Bring your belongings.
This will not only keep you safe in bear area, but it will also deter smaller creatures such as chipmunks and marmots from gnawing holes in your pack while searching for tasty treats.
tips for camping in bear country
If you follow a few easy rules for keeping your camp clean and being mindful of bears while hiking, you may have a successful and enjoyable experience. Here are the most important lessons we’ve gained from our years of experience in the field:
- Maintain a tidy and well-organized camp
- When you’re cooking, make a point of cleaning up any food that falls on the floor. Pack out any food waste (even little leftovers and crumbs) in a garbage bag and then place it in your bear hanger or canister if possible. Make sure to thoroughly clean all kitchenware – don’t leave a mound of dirty dishes at the campsite after a night’s work. Disperse dishwater at least 100 yards away from your sleeping area. Food leftovers should not be thrown into the fire. It’s always a good idea to notify someone if you’re leaving camp for whatever reason
- Bear spray should be carried at all times, including when you leave your tent in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Keep an eye out for and respond properly to any indicators of bear activity, such as excrement (scat) or tree scrapings. Never spend any amount of time around an animal dead, especially if it is roadkill in a crowded area.
Despite the fact that this appears to be a lot to be concerned about, you should become familiar with these recommended practices. All hiking scenarios, even those in which your most significant wildlife encounter is a bored ground squirrel, are covered by these rules.
We usually bring bear spray with us on Wilderness expeditions as a safety measure in case we come across a bear who is not particularly thrilled with us. Everyone who visits the Wildland Guides is taught how to use bear spray, and all guests are given a demonstration. If you’re traveling alone in grizzly bear territory, you should always have bear spray with you at all times. However, it is not as critical in black bear territory as it is in other areas. The basic concept of bear spray is similar to that of personal-defense pepper spray, but it is powerful enough to take on even the largest bear.
You should never attempt to use a fatal weapon on a bear since weapons are extremely poor at deterring aggressive bear behavior and, in fact, more often than not, they further compound the bear’s situation.
tips for bear safety while hiking
When we go on our camping excursions in the Greater Yellowstone region, we talk about a variety of bear protection procedures. If a bear does exhibit signs of hostility, you’ll be prepared to respond appropriately. While violent bear behavior is extremely unusual, it is critical for everyone in a backpacking party (or hiking group) to learn how to navigate securely in the woods when there are bears in the immediate vicinity. Whatever your reason for visiting bear country, whether you’re traveling alone or simply want to brush up on your expertise before your guided backpacking trip, the following are some useful tips:
- Hike in a group to lessen the likelihood of being attacked by a bear
- Make a lot of noise when hiking, especially if you’re approaching a blind bend. You don’t want to spook a bear, do you? (However, avoid going overboard.) After all, you are in the middle of nowhere.)
- Avoid trekking between the hours of dark and sunrise, when bears are at their most active. While hiking, keep your bear spray close at hand – the waistline is a typical storage site for it. Don’t pack it with your belongings. Before you carry bear spray, be sure you understand how to use it correctly. You should back away carefully and give the bear plenty of space if you spot one. If you come upon a mom and her cubs, give them even more space. If you encounter a grizzly bear, don’t scream or make any other disturbance. Maintain your composure. Keep your movements to a minimum and avoid climbing trees. If, in the extremely unlikely occasion that a bear charges you, maintain your composure and have your bear spray ready. The majority of charges are bluff charges. Only use your bear spray if a bear is aggressively coming at you and comes within 30 feet or less of your location. If you come into touch with a protective bear (signs include: head low, ears back, huffing, snorting, mom with cubs, etc.), drop on the ground and pretend to be deceased. Place your backpack over your shoulders and around your neck. Maintain your silence so that you do not appear to be a danger. Maintain complete stillness for many minutes after the bear has departed. However, if the bear is not aggressively assaulting you, you should refrain from doing so. Fight back if you are assaulted by an inquisitive bear (with your head up, ears erect, and standing on two feet)
Knowledge is power when it comes to going through grizzly bear territory – in the unlikely event of a charge or attack, you’ll have the knowledge and skill set to respond effectively, reducing the danger associated with a bear encounter. We hope that you are more skilled and confident as a result of this experience. But, fortunately, this is information that we will never have to use.
Camp in Bear Country – Yellowstone National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
Bears have made a tremendous comeback in Yellowstone, and you can help to ensure that they continue to do so by keeping your food out of reach of bears. Bears are intelligent creatures who swiftly adapt to new food sources. Allowing bears to acquire human food, even for a little period of time, frequently results in them being violent toward people when they return in search of more. The presence of aggressive bears endangers human safety and must be removed from the park or killed at some point.
Keep a Clean Camp
Keep all food, rubbish, and odorous materials out of reach of bears by storing them in a secure location.
Ravens have been known to open containers or bags and spread the contents of the containers or bags. It is recommended that the following things be properly stored while not in use (even if they are clean and empty):
- Refrigerators and ice chests
- Cooking and dining equipment
- Cooking stoves and barbecues
- Coolers and beverage containers Garbage, whether bagged or not
- (Even if they are in containers) Food and condiments
- Cosmetics and toiletries are included. Pet food and dishes are also available. Containers such as pails, buckets, and wash basins
Keep these goods in your car or in one of the bear-proof storage lockers that are offered at many campgrounds. These things should not be stored in tents or vehicle beds, nor should they be left unattended on picnic tables. Always clean up any food scraps or rubbish that has fallen on the ground following a meal. If a bear breaks into your camp, gather your belongings, especially your food, and flee to the shelter of a car or a structure. Do not attempt to flee. Bear boxes may also be used to store food in a secure manner.
In the Backcountry
- Bears should be kept on the lookout both on the trail and at camp. Make a lot of noise and carry bear spray on hand at all times (we recommend one can per person). More information on recommended practices for hiking in bear territory may be found here. Bear activity such as digging, tracks, or scat should never be allowed to occur in a camping location. It is best not to carry odorous meals into the bush. Secure all food and other odiferous objects by hanging them from the food poles supplied at backcountry campsites when they are not in use (you’ll need at least 35 feet of rope to accomplish this). Everything should be hung 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet away from tree trunks to ensure a safe environment. Some wilderness campsites have food storage lockers available for use
- Others do not. Certain bear resistant food containers (BRFCs) can be used for food storage instead of hanging, if the bears are not a threat. In the cooking area, BRFCs can be hung or placed on the ground beneath a food pole or in the preparation area. Before you embark on your journey, double-check that any food and odorous objects will fit inside a container. It is not acceptable to leave food-filled backpacks or bags unattended, even for a few minutes. Keep your food safe and create noise to deter a bear from entering your camp if you notice one approaching. If a bear enters your camp, take any packs or food that hasn’t been hung and carefully back away from the animal’s approach. Allowing a bear access to your food is not recommended. Read on to learn more about how to respond when you come face to face with a bear. Remove food particles from the dishwater and dispose of them in the rubbish can. Disperse dishwater at least 100 yards away from the tent site, and Ensure that all food leftovers and debris are removed from fire pits
- It is recommended that you sleep at least 100 yards (91 meters), ideally upwind, from the “core camp,” which is where you will cook, dine, and hang your food. Maintain the cleanliness and odor-free condition of your sleeping clothing. Don’t cook in your tent, and don’t sleep in the clothing you’ve been wearing while cooking and eating in your tent. There is no association between bear assaults and period scents, according to statistics from Yellowstone National Park.
Among the many common backcountry items that must be hung, in addition to food and garbage, are beverage cans (empty or full), coolers, lip balm, sunscreen, bug spray, and lotions; toothpaste; food panniers; horse feed; some medications; clothes worn while cooking; and eating utensils that haven’t been properly cleaned before use. Make sure that all food and odor-causing objects are kept out of sleeping bags, tents, and their stuff bags.
Hiking & Camping in Bear Country [Everything You Need To Know]
Wandering out into the woods soon and don’t know what to do if you see a bear? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know when trekking through bear country. But before we dive into the tips, let’s talk about bears for a bit. (And below are quick navigation links to sections within this article) What to Know About Bears
- Bears are classified into several categories. Which areas in the world are home to bears
- Where do the majority of bear attacks occur? What you need to know about hibernation
Bear Country Essentials is a collection of products that are designed to help you survive in the wilderness.
- Bear spray vs firearms
- How to store food in bear area
- And more.
Bear Country is a great place to go camping or backpacking.
- Camping and hiking with dogs
- Tent camping
- Car camping
- Hammock camping
- Camping and hiking with children
When a Bear Attacks, What Should You Do?
- Assaults by black bears
- Attacks by grizzly/brown bears
- What to do if bear spray accidentally falls
What to Know About Bears
There are various different varieties of bears that may be found in the North American wilderness, and you may come into one of them when hiking through their territory. There are just three varieties of bears that may be found in North America, and they are all brown. There are three types of bears: black bears, brown bears (which include grizzly bears), and polar bears.
Black bears are the most often encountered bears over the whole continent. These bears are the tiniest of all the bears in North America, and they are active throughout both the day and the night. Although black bears are known to avoid conflicts with people, you should still give them plenty of room if you happen to spot one in the woods.
Brown bears are the second-largest bear species in North America, behind grizzly bears. They are known to be significantly more hostile towards people than other animals of the same species. Particularly grizzly bears, who cannot climb trees well, typically avoid danger by standing erect and imposing their presence. Mother bears are well-known for being the most violent, and they are more prone to attack than males or females who are not nursing cubs at the time.
Although they are the biggest bears in North America, polar bears do not frequently contact with humans.
When faced with a conflict, Polar bears will nearly always flee, unless they are extremely hungry, in which case any attack on a person is almost always lethal. However, there are relatively few assaults since it is quite uncommon to come across a polar bear and get near enough to it.
Where are bears located?
Bears of many kinds may be found all throughout the continent, including black, brown, and polar bears. According to Discover Wildlife, the black bear population in North America is estimated to be around 800,000 individuals, and there are approximately 55,000 wild grizzlies left in North America, the majority of which live in Alaska, with a few scattered individuals living in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming as well. While the National Park Service estimates the Polar bear population to be between 4,000 and 7,000 individuals, all of these individuals are found in the state of Alaska.
View this bear map from Geology.com to show how bears are scattered across the United States and Canada.
When and where do most bear attacks happen?
Since 1900, bear assaults have grown less and less prevalent in the United States of America. The most prevalent sites where bear attacks occur are in areas where more humans come into contact with bears, such as state parks and national parks. The most bear assaults have occurred in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, with 12 and 8 deaths, respectively, as a result of bear attacks. It has been reported by Vox that roughly half of all bear assaults have occurred between six national parks in the United States.
Approximately 80% of these fatalities occurred in the wilderness when people were out hunting or fishing.
What should you know about hibernation?
We all know that bears hibernate, but when exactly does hibernation begin, and what should you keep in mind while watching for bears? Bear hibernation can endure anything from a few days or weeks in warmer climes to up to six months in colder climates, depending on where you are traveling. Bears spend these months away in dens, largely sleeping, in order to keep their body heat up to a level that allows them to respond rapidly in the event of a threat close and food supplies unavailable. Because female bears displaying indications of pregnancy prefer to den at higher elevations, the higher the altitude of a bear den, the greater the likelihood that a bear within that den is pregnant.
Bears that are taken off guard are more inclined to attack, which is why you should constantly be on the lookout for bear dens in the vicinity.
During the winter months, you should constantly keep an eye out for any openings in your immediate vicinity, just to be on the safer side. The good news is that bear spray does not freeze, so you may carry it about with you at all times.
What happens after hibernation?
As hibernation draws to a close, male bears will emerge from their dens in search of food. Afterwards, females and females with offspring will depart their caves in short order. Given that this is the time of year when bears are at their hungriest, it is critical to understand when bears typically emerge from their dens after the winter in your region. During this time of year, it is critical that you adhere to food storage regulations as well as bear country etiquette in order to keep you and your belongings safe.
Bear Country Essentials
If you find yourself in bear territory, it is critical that you carry all of the necessary supplies to keep yourself safe. Whether you’re camping or hiking, there are a few items you should have with you in order to avoid any unwelcome encounters with bears.
Choose Bear Spray Over Guns
As reported by a Bear Biologist and the authors of the research, just three persons had minor injuries in 133 bear encounters employing bear spray, according to the findings of the research. Seventeen humans and hundreds of bears died as a result of the 269 incidents in which somebody approached a bear and used a firearm. In addition, if you shoot a bear in the lower 48 states, most state governments will force you to trek the bear carcass out of the woods and/or penalize you for shooting a bear, depending on the circumstances.
Using bear spray is not only safer for people, but it is also safer for bears because you are invading their territory without their permission.
Bear-Proof Food Storage
A bear canister or bag should be included if you plan on carrying food with you on your adventure. By storing your food in an area where bears cannot smell it, you may avoid attracting bears’ attention to yourself, the trail, or the campground where you are staying. This type of container not only keeps food odors at away, but it also prevents your food from being consumed in the event that a bear or other animal happens to come upon your food container. The animal, whether it is a bear or not, will struggle to open the case or bag and will eventually get too bored to continue.
How to Store Your Food
When it comes to storing food to keep it secure from bears and other wildlife, there are a variety of options.
Carry a Locking Bear Canister or Box
When you purchase a bear box or bear canister, it is normally equipped with a locking mechanism that needs you to unscrew or unlock the box using either a key or a coin to operate. Additionally, you can utilize a secured box given by the campsite if one is available; however, you must remember to lock the box each time you leave or when you do not want access to your belongings. Once you’ve secured your food in your bear canister, it’s time to get creative.
- Take a 100-yard walk downwind from your camping spot. Find an excellent hiding spot for your canister, such as among the brush or rocks
- You should avoid putting your container near a slope, cliff, or water supply since bears may push it over and take the container away from your location
Hang a Bear Bag or Sack
Another alternative is to use a bear bag that hangs from a tree, however this may involve a bit more effort on your part.
Although it is far lighter than a bear canister, you will need to make room for 20-30 feet of rope or chain to hang the bag, as well as two stuff bags if you do not have a prefabricated bear sack.
- Seek out a branch that is both load-bearing and around 25-30 feet above the ground level. Tie a large, heavy item, such as a boulder, to one end of your rope or cord and hoist it over the opposite side of the branch to complete the project. Always take a step on the other side of the rope to prevent it from being dragged down with the rock
- In the event that you are utilizing two stuff sacks, separate your food into the two bags. Join the string to one stuff bag or bear sack and raise it to the top of the branch with your other hand
- Attach the second stuff sack, if you have one, to the cable and pull it up to the same level as the first one
- Don’t forget to insert the end of the rope or cord into one of the sacks to keep it from dangling off the branch
- Otherwise, it will become tangled.
Bear warning signs are posted in National Parks to keep visitors safe. Pro Tip: If you are in bear territory, you should never leave food in your car or tent overnight. Because of a lack of trees or vegetation, you may want to consider utilizing bear wires from a park (which can be used in the same way as a bear bag) or transporting a portable electric fence into the backcountry to keep your canister. Storing your food away from your camp, following the 100-yard-downwind guideline, and putting it within a small electric fence or on bear wire will all assist to keep your food secure and protected.
What to Do While Camping in Bear Country
In the event that you and your camping companions find themselves in bear territory, the following suggestions will assist you in keeping the bears at bay: Always trek in a group to avoid getting lost: Hiking in bear country should only be done with a group of people. The greater the number of people with you, the less probable it is that you may find bear pals along the journey. Consider the signals you send out before you send them: Brightly colored apparel, powerful fragrances and colognes, and other less-noticed “signals” in the backcountry will entice bears to come closer and have a look at what’s going on around them.
- Recognize your surroundings and keep a deterrent on you: You should constantly be aware of your surroundings and keep a sharp look out while hiking through the backcountry, no matter where you are in the world.
- Make a lot of noise while you walk: The fact that you think you’re alone in the forest does not always imply that you are.
- Clapping, whistling, and chit-chatting with your pals are all encouraged during the game.
- If you see a bear, never engage in conversation with it or go closer than 100 yards away from it.
- You should back away gently and keep your eyes on the bear if you happen to spot one before it notices you.
What kind of camping is best in bear country?
Generally speaking, there are certain limits on the types of camping that may be done in the wilderness, but whether you are vehicle camping, tent camping, or hammock camping, you should be aware of a few important facts about each to help you make the best selection.
When you’re in the center of bear country, tent camping is perhaps the most common sort of camping you’ll encounter. The decision to tent camp raises the possibility that a bear may track down any evidence of food or water.
Always have adequate food storage with you, and make sure it is hung or secured a safe distance away from your tent. However, keeping any strange odors or fragrances away from your sleeping space will assist to keep you safe and comfortable.
When automobile camping, just like when tent camping, you should avoid leaving any food in your vehicle while you sleep to avoid spoiling your food. If you don’t have any other choice, you should always store it in a tightly sealed container and make sure that all of your car windows are completely rolled up and closed. If you are traveling in a car that has a separate trunk, you may also store your food and used utensils in there as well.
You should avoid leaving any food in your vehicle when car camping, just as you should avoid doing so while tent camping. Even if you don’t have a choice, you should always store it in a well sealed container and make sure that all of your car windows are rolled all the way down. Food and used utensils can also be stored in the trunk of a car if it has one, if it has a separate compartment.
What about bringing dogs into the backcountry?
It is never a good idea to leave your dog alone when hiking or camping in bear country with them. Your dog should always be kept on a leash since any encounter with a bear, whether close or far away, might escalate if a dog is running loose and provoking wildlife. Despite the fact that dogs may be a nuisance in bear territory, they can also be beneficial since they have senses that humans do not have and can detect potential dangers that you may be unaware of. Secure any dog food or treats away from your human food in the same manner you would your human food to avoid providing a tempting snack for bears.
What To Do When A Bear Attacks (Which is Rare)
Bears don’t attack very frequently, but when they do, you need to be prepared to deal with the situation and (hopefully) get yourself to safety as quickly as possible. Keep this in mind if you suspect a bear assault is on the way.
Black Bear Attack Protocol
If you are being chased by a Black bear, you should do the following:
- Always keep an eye out for the bear
- Find a large stick or a collection of pots, pans, or musical instruments to beat together. The greater the amount of noise and the greater the size of yourself, the better. If at all possible, try to keep the bear away from your food
- Nevertheless, if the bear is on your tail, you should leave the food behind if you believe the food is what the bear is wanting. If a bear continues to assault you and you are in immediate danger, DO NOT PLAY DEAD
- Instead, call for help. If you can’t get away from the bear, use bear spray or whatever you can find around to defend yourself, such as rocks, sticks, and punches. If at all possible, concentrate on the eyes and nose. When you appear to be dead, you run the risk of being attacked by a black bear, who will continue to harm you because death is its main purpose for its victim.
Tips: If you are cooking beside the trail or find yourself outside of your tent at the campground, you should always keep your bear spray close by in case you need to run into one of the animals.
Grizzly Bear Attack Protocol
Grizzly bear assaults differ from black bear attacks in a few ways, so be sure you understand the differences before shouting at an approaching bear. Here’s what you should do if you think a Grizzly bear is on the prowl.
- Grizzly bears who are investigating you or your campsite should be talked to softly, rather than appearing to be a danger. Do not shout
- The best course of action is to avoid making eye contact while backing up slowly instead. Not necessary to agitate the bear
- Instead, attempt to understand what the bear is trying to do. Keep your cool if the bear looks to be coming at you or makes any huffing and puffing noises
- Otherwise, run for your life. NEVER, EVER RUN. Running will simply encourage the bear to pursue you even farther. Stand firm and maintain your composure while speaking in a neutral tone of voice
- In the event that a bear approaches within 30 feet of you and you don’t have bear spray, be prepared to use it. It is not necessary to spray before that time, and it is best to aim low to prevent missing the bear totally.
If Your Bear Spray Fails
- PLAY DEAD if your bear spray doesn’t work or if the bear continues to attack you. In contrast to black bears, you have a chance to rescue yourself by pretending to be dead. Hopefully, you have a bag or some other kind of protective equipment on your back at this time. If this is the case, lie down on your stomach and let the bear to attack the back that is between the two of you. Always keep your hands on the back of your neck and your arms and legs wide apart when you are sleeping. The bear will have a harder time rolling you over if you do this
- If the bear does manage to move you over, simply keep rolling until you’re back on your stomach again. PLEASE DO NOT RUN
- The ultimate aim is to sustain the least amount of injuries possible during an assault, which ends in the Grizzly bear fleeing because there is no more hunting to be done.
Bear Safety is Key
We can all agree that witnessing a bear in the outdoors is awe-inspiring, but bear safety is essential to keeping everyone in your camping party, as well as the bears themselves, safe. When we venture into the environment and come face to face with wildlife, it is not only our job to ensure our own safety, but also that of the animals we encounter. No matter how much we enjoy visiting the great outdoors, we must constantly remember that the backcountry is where they call home. Making every effort to be prepared and safe will go a long way toward keeping our outside environments and animals in their natural state, which is wild.
Erin likes to be outside, no matter where she is or what she is doing.
When it comes to outdoor activities, Type 2 fun is her middle name, and she’s always ready for a new adventure.
Everything from muddy cliffside walks in Hawaii to backcountry camping in White Sands National Park is something she will go through in order to enjoy a beautiful sunset or reach the top. Follow her experiences on Instagram at @withdogshetravels to find out where they’re going next!