27 Tips - How To Keep Bears Away When Camping

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Photograph of a bear walking in the woods

Key Tips

  • Bears are interested in your food
  • Keep food out of your tent and car
  • Store food in bear lockers if available, otherwise use approved bear-safe containers
  • Camp and hike in groups
  • Make noise while hiking
  • Cook and clean downwind from your tents
  • Keep calm and don’t run if you encounter a bear
  • With black bears make noise and appear larger
  • With brown bears keep calm and don’t make eye contact
  • Bring bear spray

Table Of Contents

I spend almost 30 days a year sleeping outside. I have camped with bears, snakes, and alligators. The animal that has given me the most trouble has been raccoons.

Bears deserve our respect but they shouldn’t keep you from camping.

How To Keep Bears Away From Campsite

Choose your campsite wisely. Cook and eat upwind from your sleeping area. Store food and scented items in a bear locker or similar container. Maintaining a clean campsite helps prevent attracting bears.

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or just getting started, it’s important to know how to keep bears away from your campsite.

Bears can be unpredictable and dangerous, so it’s best to take some precautions to ensure your safety.

However, keep in mind, that even as scary as bears are, human fatalities are rare. Even in a remote National Park like Denali which is known for its bears, there’s only been 1 human death from a bear attack.

This blog post will outline some tips for keeping bears away from your campsite. And sorry, locking your tent won’t keep a bear out. Read on to learn more!


Photograph of a bear catching a fish

When choosing a campsite, it’s important to think like a bear.

Bears are attracted to campsites because they offer an easy food source in the form of human garbage.

To avoid attracting bears, choose a site that is far away from areas with signs of bear activity, such as bear scat, bear tracks, or animal carcasses.

It's pretty ... scary being in a tent while hearing the breathing on the other side of the fabric.


When you’re camping in bear territory, there are a few things you need to keep in mind in order to stay safe.

First, you should always set up your tent upwind of your cooking area.

This will help to prevent bears from being attracted by the smells of food.

Second, you should store your food away from your tent and kitchen so that it forms a triangle.

This will help to deter bears from being able to smell your food and being tempted to come into the camp.

Finally, always clean up thoroughly after cooking and never leave food out overnight. By following these simple tips, you can help to keep yourself and your campsite safe in bear territory.

This is referred to as the “bearmuda triangle.”

I got chased down the road on my bike when I was a kid by a black bear.


As any experienced camper knows, there are certain precautions that must be taken when camping in bear country.

One of the most important things to remember is to avoid leaving any food out that might attract bears.

This means no fish, bacon, steak, or even toothpaste because anything that smells like food will attract a curious bear.

While these may seem like tasty treats, they will only attract bears to your campsite. and that’s not something you want!

So be safe and stick to foods that won’t attract bears. Your fellow campers will thank you for it!


Photograph of a bear locker at Big Bend National Park

** Never store food in your tent or your car in bear country. Use a provided bear locker. Or use a bear canister or approved bear sack. If you are using a cooler use a certified bear-resistent cooler. **

When camping in bear territory, it is important to take steps to protect your food and garbage from bears.

One option is to use a bear locker if your campsite has one.

Otherwise, you will need to check regulations to see if a bear canister is required.


First, after you have backpacked for many miles, the last thing you want to do is spend time finding a proper tree to hang your food from. And the higher you go in altitude, the harder it is to even find a tree to hang food from.

Second, it takes skill to properly hang. This is a skill you are not going to practice until on the trail. Thus you are unlikely to become a hall-of-fame tree hanger.

Third, bears can climb trees. Bears are exceptionally smart. Bears maybe as smart as apes. Bears have all night to figure out how to get that bag of food off the tree. Mama bear can work with her cubs to get the food. So don’t use a traditional bear hang.


Photograph of a bear canister

The key is to put it [canister] someplace where it won't roll off a cliff or into a river if a bear does mess with it.


Photograph of a Ursack bag

If not, you can try alternatives (which we go into detail in this article) a bear hang.

To do this, tie your food and garbage up in a bag and throw it over a tree branch, at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet out from the trunk of the tree.

Bears are attracted to the smell of food, so it is important to keep your campsite clean and free of any food smells.

By taking these precautions, you can help to prevent attracting bears to your campsite.


For decades, we were taught to hang food off trees to prevent bears from getting into our food. This is no longer a recommended practice.

If you do want to hang your food in bear country, use a modern bear sack. Modern bear sacks such as Ursasack are made with kevlar fibers. These make the bags much tougher than a cloth sack.

Even if a bear gets a hold of a kevlar bear bag that is properly closed, the bear is not going to be able to open it up. They cannot untie the knot. Their claws and teeth will not easily rip open the bag. The bag is designed to last long enough that a bear will give up.

As a result you don’t need to hang the bag as high as a traditional bear hang.

The modern bear bag will also protect from rodents and raccoons. Raccoons are the ninjas of the outdoors.

I will never forget the overnight backpacking trip where my friend Scott asked me “Where is the food bag?” Scott had stored the food bag outside of his tent but had not secured it.

We found the food scattered a few yards from his tent. The raccoon had snuck in, while I was cowboy camping ten feet away, and ran off with our food.

I learned that raccoons like honey and raisins but are not crazy about freeze-dried food.

One final point, a modern bear bag can protect your bag from being opened but it won’t keep the food from being crushed if a bear or raccoon does try to open it up.

Since we usually take freeze-dried meals or ramen noodles or oatmeal, this usually isn’t a problem because they’re already crushed by the time we get to camp anyway.


A bear hang looks simple but hard to do in real life because you rarely can find the perfect tree plus, after hiking all day, you might not have the energy to throw the sack properly.

You need a carabiner, 40 feet of rope, and a bear sack. Throw the rope over a tree and pull the rope through the carabiner after attaching it to the bear bag so that you can pull it up the tree.


After a long day of hiking and exploring, it can be tempting to just relax at your campsite and enjoy the evening.

However, if you’re in bear territory, it’s important to do your after-dinner chores as soon as possible.

Bears are attracted to food smells, and if they catch a whiff of your dinner leftovers, they may come looking for a meal.

So, be sure to clean up your campsite quickly and properly dispose of all food scraps.

You should also store any food or scented items in a bear-proof container or hung from a tree.

By doing your chores ASAP, you’ll help keep bears away from your campsite and reduce the risk of an encounter.


In bear country, it’s important to keep your campsite clean.

That means properly disposing of all garbage, including food scraps and used cooking gear.

Store these items in a bear-proof container or hang them from a tree to keep them out of reach of curious bears.

You should also clean up any spills right away, as bears are attracted to the smell of food.

You can learn how to build a DIY cleaning station in this article.

Finally, make sure to store all food and scented items in your vehicle or tent at night. By taking these simple steps, you can help keep bears wild and reduce the risk of human-bear conflicts.


When camping in bear territory, you should consider leaving your dog at home. That poses zero risk to your best friend.

it is important to be aware of your pets and take steps to protect them.

Bears are attracted to campsites because they often contain food, garbage, and other attractants.

If a bear smells food on a pet, it may try to approach the campsite in search of a meal.

To protect your pets (and yourself), keep all food and garbage securely stored away from your campsite.

Do not leave pet food out overnight, and clean up any messes promptly.

You should also avoid walking your dog at dawn or dusk when bears are most active.

If you do encounter a bear, pick up your small dog immediately and keep it close to you.

If a bear approaches you, make loud noises and try to scare it off.

By taking these precautions, you can help keep your pets safe and reduce the risk of attracting bears to your campsite.


When you’re out camping in bear country, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to build a bear fence.

This is simply a barrier that will keep bears out of your campsite.

The most important thing is to make sure that the fence is tall enough and strong enough to deter bears from getting through.

You’ll also want to make sure that there are no gaps or openings that a bear could squeeze through.

Building a bear fence may seem like a lot of work, but it’s well worth the effort if it means keeping yourself safe from these potentially dangerous animals.

PS This tip is best for people who own their own campground. Don’t create an actual fence on land that you don’t have permission to do so.


This is a tip I learned from a member of the Facebook Car Camping group. Get some magnetic motion alarms. You can attach them to your car or anything metal in the campsite. If a bear comes by, they will activate and should scare the bear away.

You can also use your car alarm to frighten the bear away.

Use magnetic motion alarms on your car to automatically scare bears away.


When camping in bear territory, it is important to be proactive and not afraid.

Bears are attracted to campsites because of the food that is often left out.

To avoid attracting bears, be sure to store all food in airtight containers and keep them away from your tent.

You should also avoid cooking or eating near your tent. If you see a bear, do not try to run away. Instead, stand your ground and make yourself as big as possible.

Make loud noises and wave your arms to scare the bear away.

By following these simple tips, you can decrease your chances of encountering a bear while camping.


Camping in bear country can be an amazing experience.

You can get up close and personal with some of the most majestic creatures on earth.

However, it is important to remember that bears are wild animals and should be treated with respect.

Never approach a bear, even if it seems friendly.

Bears are very protective of their space and may view you as a threat.

If you see a bear while camping, make yourself as large as possible and slowly back away.

Remember, bears are wild animals and should be treated with caution and respect.


When camping in bear territory, it’s important to take precautions to avoid encountering a bear.

One of the best ways to do this is to hike with a group.

Bears are less likely to approach a group of people than they are to approach a lone hiker.

If you do hike solo, make sure to make noise by singing or talking loudly.

This will help alert bears to your presence and give them the opportunity to avoid you.

Additionally, carry bear spray with you and know how to use it.

By taking these simple precautions, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable camping trip in bear territory.

Always hike with a group. If possible go with 3 or more people. There's not a known bear attack involving 4 or more people.


When camping in bear territory, it is always important to carry bear spray.

Unlike firearms, bear spray can be quickly drawn and deployed when needed, making it an ideal way to deter an attacking bear.

In addition, bear spray is far less likely to cause fatal injury to the animal, making it a more humane option for self-defense.

While it is still possible to fire a kill shot with a gun in bear country, the chances of doing so are slim.

In most cases, it is simply not possible to get a clean shot off before the bear is upon you.

For these reasons, carrying bear spray is always the best choice when camping in bear territory.


One of the most important things to remember when camping in bear territory is to change your clothes after cooking.

Bears are attracted to the smell of food, and if you wear the same clothes that you cooked in, you’re more likely to attract their attention.

It’s also a good idea to keep your sleeping area and your cooking area separate so that bears don’t associate the two with each other.

When setting up camp, make sure to keep all food and garbage securely stored away from your tent, and never leave food out in the open.

By taking these simple precautions, you can help to avoid attracting bears to your campsite.



When camping in bear territory, it’s important to be aware that bears are smart and curious creatures who may be attracted to the new smell of human urine.

While bears typically shy away from humans, they may be drawn to campsites in search of food.

For this reason, it’s important to take precautions when camping in bear country.

Be sure to store all food and trash securely, and avoid leaving food out in the open.

If you must urinate at a campsite, do so away from sleeping areas and dispose of used toilet paper properly.

By taking these simple steps, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable camping experience for everyone involved.


When venturing into bear territory, it is important to take precautions to avoid an encounter with a potential predator.

One way to do this is to make your campsite as unappealing to bears as possible. Bears have a keen sense of smell, and they are particularly sensitive to the smell of vinegar.

As a result, pouring vinegar around your campsite can help to deter bears from entering the area. In addition to making your campsite less inviting to bears, Vinegar can also help to mask the smells of food and other attractants that might attract them.

As such, it is an essential part of practicing bear safety when camping in bear territory.


I was walking along a blueberry trail when I an encountered a bear. He looked at me and I looked him. Then he turned around and walked away.

Bears are large and potentially dangerous animals, so it’s important to take precautions when camping in bear territory.

One way to do this is to play a podcast or talk radio at a volume that makes it clear humans are present because music is not clear to a bear that humans are in the area.

The sound of voices will help to deter bears from approaching your campsite, and it can also give you an early warning if one is approaching.

Of course, you should still take other precautions like storing food properly and keeping a clean campsite.

But playing a podcast or talk radio can help to make your camping trip safer and more enjoyable.


When camping in bear territory, it’s important to be aware that bears may be attracted to your campsite by the smell of food or toiletries.

If you’re using a tent, this means that you need to take care to store these items in a safe place away from where you’ll be sleeping.

One option is to hang them from a tree branch using a rope or cord. Another is to keep them stored in an airtight container inside your vehicle.

By taking these precautions, you can help to avoid any unwanted encounters with bears while you’re enjoying the great outdoors.


When you’re camping in bear territory, there are some important things to keep in mind in order to avoid attracting bears.

One of those things is to be careful with your food, and that includes anything that might have a strong smell.

Coffee is one of those things.

Bears have a keen sense of smell, and if they catch a whiff of coffee they may associate it with food.

That means they could start hanging around your campsite looking for handouts, which is obviously not something you want.

So if you’re going to enjoy a cup of coffee while camping in bear country, be sure to do it away from your tent and any other food storage areas.

And remember to dispose of your coffee grounds properly.


One of the dangers of camping in bear territory is that bears are attracted to the smell of fire.

If you build a fire, there is a chance that a curious bear will come sniffing around your campsite.

Bears have an incredible sense of smell, and they can easily be drawn to the scent of wood smoke.

If a bear smells food cooking on a campfire, it may become aggressive in its search for food.

For this reason, it is important to be careful when building fires in bear country. Make sure that the fire is completely extinguished before leaving the area, and be sure to store all food and garbage in airtight containers.

By taking these precautions, you can help to avoid an encounter with a hungry bear.


When camping in bear territory, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers. One of the most common mistakes people make is assuming that Ziploc bags are airtight and will keep bears from smelling their food.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Bears have an acute sense of smell and can easily detect food that is sealed in Ziploc bags.

For this reason, it’s important to store all food in airtight containers such as Tupperware or metal cans.

Bear-proof containers are also available for purchase. By taking these precautions, you can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable camping trip.



There is no “fear” smell.

Bears want to avoid humans if they can.

You do not want to run away because you are scared because that will trigger a bear’s natural chase instinct.

Instead stay calm, back away slowly, and make it clear that you are not a threat to the bear.


Black bears are beautiful, powerful animals that are an important part of the ecosystem.

However, they can also be dangerous if they feel threatened.

If you encounter a black bear in the wild, it’s important to stay calm and make lots of noise.

Stand up tall, wave your arms, and shout at the bear to make yourself look as big and intimidating as possible.

This will usually make the bear back down and leave you alone.

However, if the bear does not seem scared off, then you should start to back away slowly while continuing to make noise.

Never turn your back on a black bear, as this could provoke an attack. If a black bear does attack, fight back with everything you’ve got. Use rocks, sticks, or fists.


Grizzlies are one of the most feared animals in North America and with good reason. These massive bears can weigh up to 800 pounds and stand over six feet tall.

They are also incredibly strong, capable of running up to 35 miles per hour and swiping with enough force to break bones.

However, despite their intimidating appearance, grizzlies are generally shy animals that prefer to avoid humans.

In most cases, if you encounter a grizzly bear in the wild, your best course of action is to keep calm and avoid making eye contact.

If the bear does perceive you as a threat, be clear that you are not intending to harm it.

Speak in a low, calm voice and back away slowly.

If the bear does attack, aim your bear spray low to avoid going over the bear’s head. The spray often results in the bear realizing you are not worth the trouble.

If you don’t have spray then play dead while covering your head with your hands and hope the bear loses interest.

One more bonus tip, in grizzly territory, avoid going anywhere even to poop alone.

The odds of being attacked by a bear rapidly decrease when there are multiple people and there are no reports of a bear attack involving a group of 3 or more.


When camping in bear territory, it’s important to be aware of how to properly dispose of garbage and leftover food.

One of the worst things you can do is bury it in the ground, as bears are very good at digging up food.

Not only will this attract bears to your campsite, but it can also lead to dangerous confrontations.

If you must dispose of food, do so by packing it out with you. By taking these simple precautions, you can help to keep both yourself and the bears safe.


When camping in bear territory, it is important to dispose of greywater away from camp. Greywater is water that has been used for cooking or washing and contains food scraps, grease, and other waste products.

Bears are attracted to the smell of food, and disposing of greywater near camp can attract bears into the campground.

Additionally, once a bear has found a source of food, it will continue to return to the area until the food source is gone.

To avoid attracting bears, campers should dispose of greywater in an area at least 100 yards from camp.

This will help to keep bears away from the campground and ensure a safe and enjoyable camping trip for everyone.


Bears, in general, tend to avoid confrontations with humans and are not typically aggressive during human encounters. The natural response of bears, including brown bears, is to avoid humans, and they consistently do so even with repeated human approaches on foot (Moen et al., 2012), (Ordiz et al., 2019).

While there are instances of bear attacks on humans, most professional recommendations suggest that these are typically defensive rather than predatory in nature. For black bears, mountain lions, or wolves, the suggested response is to increase distance and fight back if attacked. However, for grizzly bears, a more passive response is advised (Brown & Conover, 2008).

Human activity can induce changes in bear behavior. For instance, higher human activity is associated with increased nocturnality in non-habituated bears, leading to potentially suboptimal foraging (Wheat & Wilmers, 2016). Additionally, black bears show a tendency to adjust their spatial movements to avoid risky places with high levels of human activity, especially hunting (Stillfried et al., 2015).

In summary, the predominant behavior of bears towards humans is avoidance and non-aggression. Aggressive encounters, when they do occur, are more often defensive rather than predatory. This behavior aligns with bears’ natural tendency to steer clear of human interaction and adjust their behaviors in response to human presence and activities.


North American Bear Population Since 1800s

The bear population in North America has experienced significant changes since the 1800s.

  1. Grizzly Bears: Initially, grizzly bear populations underwent a range reduction from the south to the north between 1900 and 1940, followed by an exponential expansion back towards the south from 1940 to 2000, approximately doubling the area they occupied every 20 years (Pyare et al., 2004). However, by the 1950s, less than 1% of the original grizzly population occupied less than 2% of its former range in North America, with only four isolated populations remaining in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho by 1975 (Dax, 2015).

  2. Black Bears: Black bear populations have shown varying trends. For example, a study area in Alberta, Canada, saw the population double from 80 bears in 1968-71 to 175 in 1973, but then decrease to 137 by 1975 (Young & Ruff, 1982). Overall, black bear populations have expanded due to their adaptability, tolerance of living near people, and management agencies controlling hunting and human-sources of mortality (Garshelis et al., 2020). In the mid-20th century, they experienced declines but have since rebounded and recolonized extirpated areas (Malaney et al., 2018).

In conclusion, while bear populations in North America have faced challenges, including range reductions and population declines, management and conservation efforts have aided in their recovery and expansion in recent decades.

Fast, Big, Strong

If ever you were interested in crushing a bowling ball, a grizzly bear would be just perfect for the job. Grizzlies have a whopping 1200 PSI biting force and can run up to 40mph. Polar bears, on the other hand, can weigh anywhere between 900 to 1500 pounds and usually grow anywhere between 60 and 10 feet in length. With such incredible strength and traits, they’re considered as the most dominant predator.

How Many Types Of Bears Are There?

If you didn’t already know, there are 8 species of bears in the wild. These being the polar bear, the brown bear, the North American black bear, the panda bear, the Asiatic black bear, the sloth bear, the Andean bear, and the sun bear. Due to their distinctive features, they are never mistaken for each other.

Small Steps

Bears are known for walking very short distances on their hind legs. Due to this astonishing feature, they were thought of as beasts who walked like men by the Native Americans. We’ve all seen dancing bears here or there at some cruel establishment and its due to their shuffling movement that makes it seem like they are dancing. Bears usually use this to get a scent or a better view of what’s ahead of them.

Very Smart And Have High IQs

If you didn’t already know, bears are classified as the most intelligent land mammal in all of North America. Their brains are quite larger than other mammals of the same size. Bears depend on their brain as it aids them with a number of behavioral patterns.

In the case of grizzlies, they remember prime spots even after 10 years for food and they do a great job at covering their tracks. They’ve even learned to hide their natural scent by rolling on rotting flesh as they sneak up on their prey.

Where Do Bears Live?

Brown bears are more common than any other bear species and are found in more places. They live in northern Asia, the Middle East, northwestern North America, northwestern Africa, and the Atlas Mountains. They’ve even been found living in the coastal areas of Alaska.

Black bears are found in North America only. The Asiatic black bear is found anywhere in Asia along with the sloth bear. Sloth bears are also found in Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, and Nepal. Polar bears, on the other hand, are among the rarest and can only be found in the Arctic. Panda bears live in central Asia among the bamboos.

Who Is More Aggressive?

Grizzlies usually live in areas that are more open while black bears seek peace in forested regions. If somehow both came face to face with each other, the grizzly would most likely take the win. They are larger, more aggressive, and more powerful making them the sure winner in terms of who is more aggressive.

Can Bears Climb Trees?

While people are advised to climb a tree if ever they should meet a bear, this method is sure to fail if they encounter a bear that climbs perfectly. Some bears are natural climbers and will easily scale the tree right behind you. Grizzly bears are known to be better climbers when compared to black bears.

The ability of the grizzly to climb a tree depends on the branches and the tree. While they have huge claws, they need to be met with a tree that is large enough so that they can get a firm grip. So if you’re ever running from a bear, it’s advised that you should look for a tree that has very thin branches. However, it should still be strong enough to properly support you and resist being pushed over by the bear.

Grizzly bears are better at climbing when they are younger and smaller. As they start growing, it becomes quite difficult for them to make their way up a tree. Hence, smaller bears will follow you up a tree if need be and large bears will push the tree over. So if ever you’re being chased by a bear, be sure to drop an item that keeps them occupied for a while.

Can Bears Swim?

More than often enough, a lot of people wonder if bears can swim. The short sweet answer to that is yes, they can swim. While some of us might not be the best swimmers, bears are really good at swimming. Quite a number of bear species spend most of their time in the water and are some of the best that you’ll ever see.

Bears can swim pretty quickly. They can easily go a cool 6 mph while we do anywhere between 3 mph on a good day and 2 mph on a normal day. Bears are known for spending a lot of time in the water hunting for food and they usually use it as a means of getting from one place to another. They even paddle along on really hot days to keep themselves cool.

Polar bears regularly swim up to 30 miles and there has been one amazing story of a polar bear who swam 220 miles in one go.

How Long Do Bears Live?

When in the wild, bears live up to roughly 25 years of age. There have been cases where bears have lived past the age of 25. However, most bears don’t see their golden days because of human activities.

As we conclude, we have just looked at 10 interesting facts about bears. Bears are known as the strongest predators in the wild. They swim pretty well and climb trees if need be. So if you ever find yourself in the presence of a bear, be sure to drop something to distract them as you make your escape.