News & Updates

Bear Canisters

Guest - March 6, 2015

Big Bear Lake, CA: It is almost springtime and bears will be awakening from their hibernation, stretching their limbs, and will be searching for a meal. Bears could hunt, fish, or seek out berries; but finding food left out in a campsite, in a backpack, or in a tent would be so much easier and much more delicious! Of course you can always hang your food from a tree 12 feet off the ground, six feet way from the trunk of the tree, and six feet from the branch it is hanging on. In some areas a bear hang will not be ideal or possible due to treeless areas, areas were bears have outsmarted the bear hang methods, above tree line, or in popular areas in which land management agency personal have found that people do not properly hang their food.

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A bear canister can be superb way to properly store your food safely from bears when bear hangs won’t suffice. A bear canister is a durable hard sided cylinder with a complicated enough locking system that a bear is unable to open. Bear canisters are meant to hold your food, trash, and smellables (toiletries, sunscreen, etc…). Most bear canisters can hold up to 3 days of food and smellables for 2 people.


At Leave No Trace we encourage people to follow the land management agencies rules and recommendation. Always secure your food whether you hang your food, use a bear canister, or use provided bear lockers at established backcountry sites. “A fed bear is a dead bear” is a common phrase mentioned when the issue of bears and food securing requirements are addressed. Bears pay the ultimate price if food, trash, and smellables are not secured and habituation/attraction to humans occurs. Bears that are attracted to humans in search of food have to be captured and moved to another part of the park or forest and if that does not stop them, then they are euthanized by park personnel.


Pros and Cons of Using Bear Canisters


·      With the exception of an area in the Adirondack mountains (one bear figured out how to open it), bear canisters are able to secure your food, trash, and smellables.

·      With a bear canister you won’t have to worry about hanging a bear hang.

·      Bear canisters are easy to use and can double as a camp stool.


·      They are heavy. Two to three pounds.

·      Canisters are sometimes not packed properly. People forget to pack their smellables when prepping for their trip, then realize they don’t have enough room for their food and smellables.

Thanks for reading and remember to be like Bigfoot and Leave No Trace!

Pat and TJ

Leave No Trace’s Patrick and Theresa Beezley are part of the 2015 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Hi-Cone, REI, and Smartwool.


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