How To Keep Bears Away When Camping

One of the greatest experiences to take part in is camping. It gives you freedom, allows you to have fun with your friends or alone, and gives you some time away to think things through and feel calmer. 

How To Keep Bears Away When Camping

However, camping can bring about some very real dangers.

Wildlife can be deadly, and perhaps one of the most deadly members of the animal kingdom you can encounter while camping is bears. 

The United States is home to brown, black and polar bears which can be dangerous. However, there are ways you can keep them away from your camp. 

The best way to keep bears away when camping is prevention and removing the temptation for bears to come to your camp – however, there’s a lot more to it than that. 

Today’s article will examine the best ways to keep bears away while you are camping and why you should do so. 

Read on to learn more. 

What Bears Might You Encounter?

The United States is home to three bear species. The brown bear, often known as the grizzly bear, the black bear and the polar bear. 

Polar bears are the least likely bear you may encounter as they only live in Alaska.

Brown bears can be found in more areas, which includes Alaska too but also Montana, Washington, Wyoming and Idaho.

Black bears can be found in the rocky mountains, Alaska, Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Mississippi and other states. 

Why Do Bears Come To Camp?

Wherever you decide to camp, bears could potentially enter your chosen campsite.

However, it’s important to know that bears would typically like to avoid encounters with humans. 

Unless otherwise domesticated, bears usually only interact with humans if they feel threatened or are starving.

If a bear smells food, they become what is known as habituated – in other words, they no longer have a fear of human encounters. 

This is when bear threats are particularly dangerous. 

How To Keep Bears Away From Camp

Keeping bears away from your camp is of course critical to your survival and the safety of you and whoever else you are camping with.

Here are some top tips to keep them away. 


One of the best ways to keep bears away from your camp is to choose the spot for your camp wisely.

The first thing you should do is to check your surroundings for any signs of recent bear activity. 

You should look out for things like bear droppings, ravens (normally they come to scavenge a recent bear kill), bear tracks, scratches on trees, marks from digging, streams with spawned fish and ripe berry patches. 

Camp Organization 

Correct planning of where and how your camp is set up will play a huge role in bear prevention.

There is a method commonly known as the “bearmuda triangle” which many campers have employed over the years.

To put this method simply, you will have your shelter set up at least 200 feet away from your cooking area and food supplies.

You will want to be downwind too to prevent the bears catching your scent – remember, their sense of smell is roughly seven times that of a dog. 

Be Food Wise 

How To Keep Bears Away When Camping

We all enjoy tasty meals, but if you’re camping out in bear country – it’s probably a good idea to leave the bacon and fish cooking for some other time. 

Heavily scented food items can attract bears to your location, so think carefully about what type of food you want to bring with you and eat. 


Proper storage is a very good way to prevent bears from your camp.

Any scented items, including things like toothpaste and body sprays should be properly sealed and stored so bears cannot pick up their scent. 

It’s a good idea to seek out a camping specific storage locker if possible. However, there are some other things you can do. 

If you have your car with you, it’s always advisable to keep the food stored in it instead of out in the open. Failing this, opt for an ursack, bear bag hang or a bear canister. 

Under no circumstances should you keep food or scented items in your tent. Not only can this attract bears, but it can also attract other predators and wildlife such as flies. 

Clean Up 

Always try to clean up after yourself as soon as possible. Any leftover food and other garbage should be properly disposed of to prevent bears and other unwanted critters. 

Speaking of cleaning up, always remember to put your greywater waste in a hole around 200 feet from camp.

This includes water that you may have used to brush your teeth or basic wash. 

Pay Attention To Your Clothes 

Your clothes will pick up scents through your daily activities. While you may be “nose blind” to the scents, bears can pick them up easily with their keen sense of smell.

If you’ve recently cooked and eaten – it’s advisable to change your clothes. 

Once you have done this, consider washing and then storing the clothes with your food. 

Avoid Burying Leftover Food Items 

When you have leftover food items, you need to keep them with your other food storage. Burying them will not prevent bears from picking up the scent. 

It’s wise to purchase yourself some odor-proof bags which should seal the scent of your food items and any other heavily scented items. 

Protection From Bears 

Even with these steps, sometimes bears might still find your camp.

As a result, it’s always a good idea to have bear repellent spray, but you should not use this unless you absolutely have to. 

If a bear comes too close, remain calm and speak with a normal, non-panicked tone.

Always have a cell phone or other communication device with you too, as you may be able to contact a nearby ranger. 

The Bottom Line

Keeping bears away from camp is usually done through common sense solutions like those listed above.

Proper planning should keep you safe from bears, just remain calm. 

Tim Roth
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