How to use a bear canister?

How to use a bear canister?



Using a bear canister is essential for outdoor enthusiasts who venture into bear country. These sturdy containers are designed to keep food and scented items secure, preventing bears from accessing them. In this article, we will delve into the details of how to properly use a bear canister, ensuring your safety and the well-being of the wildlife.

Choosing the Right Bear Canister

Size and Capacity: Bear canisters come in various sizes, so it’s crucial to select one that suits your needs. Consider the length of your trip, the number of people, and the amount of food you plan to carry. Remember, larger canisters provide more space but may be heavier to carry.

Weight: When backpacking, every ounce matters. Look for lightweight bear canisters made from durable materials like polycarbonate or carbon fiber. These materials offer strength while keeping the weight down.

Certification: Ensure that the bear canister you choose is certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) or the Bear-Resistant Products Testing Program (BRPTP). These certifications guarantee that the canister meets the necessary standards for bear resistance.

Preparing Your Bear Canister

Organize Your Food: Before packing your bear canister, organize your food into separate meal bags. This helps minimize the time spent with the canister open, reducing the chances of attracting bears. Additionally, it allows for easier access to specific items without disturbing the rest.

Pack Efficiently: Utilize the available space in your bear canister effectively. Start by placing heavier and denser items at the bottom, followed by lighter and bulkier items. This helps maintain balance and stability when carrying the canister.

Secure the Lid: Ensure the lid of your bear canister is tightly secured. Some canisters have a double-locking mechanism for added security. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to properly lock the lid, preventing bears from prying it open.

Storing Your Bear Canister

Location: When camping, it’s crucial to store your bear canister a safe distance away from your sleeping area. Place it at least 100 yards away to minimize the chances of bears being attracted to your campsite.

Elevation: To further deter bears, store your canister at least 10 feet off the ground. Use a sturdy branch or hang it from a tree trunk using a bear-resistant hanging system. This prevents bears from easily accessing the canister and discourages them from attempting to do so.

Interacting with Your Bear Canister

Opening and Closing: When opening your bear canister, do so away from your campsite. This prevents bears from associating the sound of opening the canister with a potential food source. Similarly, when closing the canister, ensure it is securely locked to prevent any accidental spills.

Cleaning: After each trip, thoroughly clean your bear canister to remove any food residue or scents that might attract bears. Use unscented soap and water, avoiding any strong-smelling cleaning agents. Allow the canister to dry completely before storing it.


Using a bear canister is a crucial step in minimizing human-bear interactions and ensuring the safety of both humans and wildlife. By selecting the right canister, properly preparing and storing your food, and following best practices for handling the canister, you can effectively protect your food and prevent bears from becoming habituated to human presence.