How do you store your food while camping in bear country?

Discussion in 'Camping Around Wildlife' started by vin_bom, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. vin_bom

    vin_bom New Member

    Sep 4, 2008
    Metro Detroit, MI
    We are traveling to Rocky Mountain National Park for six nights the second week of July and camping in our PUP at the Estes Park Campground. My question is: what is the best way to store your food? We have a Crew Cab pick-up, not an SUV, so this is a little more difficult. Any suggestions? Also, what do you do during the day when you are out-and-about? What do you keep in the PUP fridge?
  2. wardog

    wardog Member

    Mar 25, 2009
    You can do a search on the portal and find a lot of information on this topic already. We also have a crew cab and traveled in bear country last year. We didn't have anything in the pup or fridge. Everything was kept in coolers or in the TV. While sight seeing around the park the coolers road in the back of the truck but when we stopped they were put in the back seat of the truck and covered with blankets, tarp or towels so that the bears could not see that it was a cooler.
  3. jbarz73

    jbarz73 New Member

    Jun 24, 2009
    Gilbert, AZ
    According to their camping brochure online, the campsites have bear boxes.

    We spent a week at Lower Pines in Yosemite a few weeks ago and kept our cooler in the bear box. We used the PUP fridge to freeze ice packs and to keep the beer and soda cold (which was not recommended, YMMV). All other food was kept in the cooler in the bear box. We did not cook or eat in the PUP while in Yosemite. We did not see any bears in our campground, however there were reports of bears in the Yosemite Valley while we were there.

    All items with a scent (food, cookware, toiletries, etc) are considered "food" and should be kept in the bear box. Just keep it clean and have a good time.
  4. jmcdtucson

    jmcdtucson New Member

    May 21, 2010
    TV (windows closed) or bear box. In a solid-side trailer I'd keep it in the trailer, but probably not in a popup.
    A bear rambled into my camp one morning, stuck her nose in my cooking coffee and burned her nose. She roared and knocked the coffee off the stove. Then she knocked the cooler off the hood of the truck, ignored the coldcuts, and ran off with a bag of ice in her mouth.
  5. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

    May 20, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    There was another poster here a while back that had a similar problem: a pickup truck with no cover over the bed and just an extended cab. Well, the bad news is that the recommended procedures don't change based on type of vehicle.

    You don't store food (toiletries and cosmetics count as food in this case) or cooking equipment (pots, pans, dishes, campstove, etc.) in the PUP. You don't cook in the PUP and you don't eat in the PUP. If you have cooked something that spatters grease (like bacon) don't bring those clothes into the PUP at night. It is best not to keep anything in the PUP's fridge either.

    If a bear box is provided you should store as many of these items as possible in it. The rest must go in the locked truck, out of sight. Bears in many places have learned to recognize food wrappers, coolers and the like. They are perfectly capable of "opening" the truck if they wish. Put food and cooking equipment in opaque storage bins. Toss a blanket or tarp over them and the cooler(s). This storage arrangement is for all day, all of the time. In other words, the stuff is stored anytime it is not actually being used. That means you will cycle it in and out of storage three times per day. It also means that whatever is not in a bear box must come with you when you leave the campsite during the day.

    Always keep a clean campsite. Pick up crumbs and other bits of food that drop to the ground and wash liquid spills from tables, chairs, etc. In the evening wash the picnic table with a wet cloth to help reduce smells. It's also a good idea to dump gray water (and rinse the container) each night before bed. It's also a good idea to use unscented cosmetics and toiletries.

    Officials in the various parks enforce these rules but the strictness and consistency of their enforcement may vary. (For example, in Banff NP in Alberta the park wardens patrolled several times per day. They would ticket a small infraction and evict a severe one or a repeat offender.) As someone who camps in bear country almost all of the time, I don't look at the process as an inconvenience, restriction or infringement. I look at it as the smart thing to do to keep myself and the bears safe. Yes, the process is also to keep the bears safe. Rangers say that a fed bear is a dead bear because bears that get human food in campgrounds become dangerous nuisances and often have to be killed.

    Be safe and enjoy your camping experience in RMNP!
  6. Dust Devil

    Dust Devil New Member

    Jun 17, 2010
    Thank you all for the advice. My son and I will be tent camping in the Sierras in a few weeks and will be employing the bear box. Fun part is going to be teaching a messy teenager that his careless habits may endanger himself (and me!).

    Saw on the news tonight a bear had to be killed up in Sedona because it was getting into trash put out for collection by residents in a housing area. Didn't hurt anyone or bother anyone, but had to be put down because of the threat of future problems.
  7. kjcamper

    kjcamper New Member

    Jul 12, 2008
    I camped near Estes Park a couple years ago and when I made reservations I asked about bears. The campground owner said they had not seen a bear in their area for years. Elk on the other hand were a problem as they would lay around on the campsites in the early summer before heading up to higher ground. We did not keep food in our camper anyway, did not eat in the camper in the evening, and stored food in my truck( Chevy Trailblazer ). We hiked around the area pretty extensively and never saw a bear track in the area.
  8. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

    May 20, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    ...and that's a good thing.

    One possible reason you didn't see bears in the campground is that the programs to keep clean campsites, which don't attract bears, are working. I didn't see bears the last couple of times I was at Yellowstone, either.
  9. TempestT-37

    TempestT-37 New Member

    Jul 9, 2010
    I have been going to RMNP since 96 and have seen only one bear near the Beaver Meadows entrance.
  10. Mtnseeker

    Mtnseeker Colorado Campers 36 yrs; 29 in PU

    Feb 23, 2009
    We camped at Glacier Basin Memorial Day weekend and saw a family of van campers lose their food boxes they had left scattered at their campsite and went away for the day. The rangers did return them after a good discussion that evening.

    We keep all our food boxes, and cooler in the 4Runner. We do keep food in the camper cooler. We do not cook in there (except for coffee) and usually eat outside unless weather prohibits. I clean all cooking surfaces with sanitizing towelettes and use pine-sol scented wash liquids.

    We keep a clean camp site, but not perfect. In 30 years of camping in Colorado, never have had a bear intrude - once at a nearby dumpster, before the design of those things was improved.

    Have fun!
  11. Albert and Melanie

    Albert and Melanie The "pup" Palace

    Mar 30, 2009
    We tent camped in Estes Park for a week in 2008 and never saw one either. I have another bear question. What about dogs? Would they attract bears? Or keep them away? Also, one more. Someone told me one time that bears were attracted to the scent of a woman's menstrual time. Yeah, it's kind of embarrassing to ask that, but given what just happened near Yellowstone, it's a question that women need the answer to.
  12. JamesRL

    JamesRL New Member

    Nov 1, 2007
    Brampton, Ontario
    The fact that we had a dog did not stop a bear from ambling through our site. I awoke one night to hear what sounded like a pig, but it didn't stay long. (Our food and toileteries in the TV). The next morning he came by when my wife was making coffee. The dog, a black lab, let out a low growl, but the bear stayed a few seconds then ambled off.

    A bear that has been habituated to human food isn't easily scared. I watched that same bear ignore humans yelling and banging pots together. It ignored a half dozen rubber balls fired at it by rangers with paintball guns, until it finally decided it was finished demolishing the neighbours cooler.

    The authorities suggest keeping your dog on a leash when bears are near. If the dog charges the bear, and the bear responds by charging back, the dog will likely run to you. And then you have a scared dog and angry bear to deal with.
  13. Flyfisherman

    Flyfisherman New Member

    This is the the only close up pic of my pick'em-up truck bed cover I have, but it opens the last 1/3 of the cover, much like a big car trunk! But that's where the ice chests go at night along with the food stuffs box that has opened stuff like bread, crackers, donuts, ect., ect. Sealed foods, like canned goods and those heavy sealed plastic food stuffs that are unopened, I leave right in the pup. 99% of our cooking and eating is outdoors, if forced in because of weather, we'll do just warm ups, soups and such.

    Now, this is not to say Mr. Bear could not very well tear that fiberglass cover right off the pick-up, but it is insured ... and nobody's sleeping in there!

  14. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    In the TV; we haven't had the pup in the more-bear likely areas, yet, so we'll move the few food items kept there (tea, hot chocolate) into the TV. We keep everything but the water and camp stove put away in the TV between meals anyway, except for the rare occasion where DH drives off for a day hike and leaves the cooler and some snacks for me. In the Tetons, we had to keep the stove and water put away as well.

    The bear lockers in the few places we've camped in that had them seemed to be more for those traveling without a solid vehicle for food storage, such as motorcycles and bicycles. I assume there are some places that require all food to be placed in a locker, but also that there would be one for each site in that case.

    We always take a bear canister for backpacking, as much for rodent protection as anything else. We did use the ammo cans provided in the Grand Canyon main corridor campgrounds (Bright Angel at the bottom, Indian Gardens halfway up), in addition to our canister, mostly because it meant we didn't have to cram things in and then unpack every time we wanted something.

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