Pest-Free Camping

Pest Free Camping

Best Bear Canisters And Bear Bags

Bear canisters come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I’ve stuck to the bear canisters that are approved by the National Park Service. There are many knock-offs of brand name canisters, but often those are not approved and if you get caught with one, you will pay a fine. If you’d like to check the latest approvals on bear canisters, check out this website.

Garcia Backpackers’ Cache

The Backpackers’ Cache weighs just under 3 lbs. It has 615 cubic inches of space and can fit a small stove and food. It uses a plastic liner to contain the smell of food. It opens with a coin or a screwdriver. It is heavy duty so it’s strong enough to sit on and will last through all your camping and backpacking adventures. Add self-adhesive velcro to keep a coin attached to the lid.

At this size, you can expect to have it fit 2 people’s food for about 4-5 days. It will depend on what types of food you bring.  The Garcia has a thicker shell and is approved in some areas that the Bear Vault isn’t approved for use in. The thicker walls don’t break or tear if a bear attacks the canister.

Bear Vault

Bear Vault comes in two sizes. It is clear so you can easily see what’s stored. Bear vaults have lighter, thinner walls than the Garcia. They are also approved for use in the National Parks. (But it’s not approved for use in the Adirondack Mountains). That means that the Bear Vault can hold 700 cubic inches for just under 3 lbs of weight.

The Bear Vault is more difficult for a single person to open as it has tabs that have to be pushed in when the lid is turned. Colder weather makes the tabs stiffer as well. Many users have commented that it takes a bit of time to get used to opening the canister. But, it doesn’t take any coins to open. The opening is larger than most other bear canisters and the Bear Vault does better protecting the contents from rain. It also does a better job of containing smells than the Backpackers’ Cache .


The Bearikade is the lightest bear canister available. It’s also one of the most expensive. The Bearikade Weekender holds 650 cubic inches of food, but only weighs 31 ounces. It holds enough food for 2 people for 3-4 days.  For backpackers, weight is everything and the Bearikade definitely weighs enough less that it makes a difference on long trips. The Bearikade can also function as a seat.


The Ursack is a bear bag that is made to resist tears and keep food safe. It hasn’t yet been approved in as many parks as a replacement for bear canisters. But, it was certified in 2014 by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Community as an effective bear-resistant product.  It weighs less than 8 ounces and holds 650 cubic inches of food.

The biggest benefit of the Ursack is that is is so lightweight. It is also flexible, which means that it’s easier to pack and carry in a backpack. The biggest con to the Ursack is that it isn’t hard-sided so soft food can be crushed to smithereens if a bear does go after your food.


Rope For Bear Bags

This rope is lightweight, durable, and long enough to hang a good bear bag.  You will also need some good carabiners.  These ones don’t break the first day like the ones I bought at a local hardware store.

Best Camouflage Tents

Blue and green tents avoid attracting bears and other animals while camping. Just like people, wildlife has learned that bright colors often mean humans.  I have a Coleman tent that I love.  I have found that the number of people-sized for the tents allow for zero luggage or extra space.  If the tent says 3/4 people, it’s probably a comfortable 2-3 person tent.  This NTK tent has a diagram that shows how the 8-9 people fit inside the tent. (It’s a few feet bigger than my Coleman. Here’s the link for the 5/6 person tent.

NTK is a brand I haven’t tried yet, but am planning to once my current Coleman wears out. They have great reviews and offer lots of tents in camo or muted blues and greens.

Mosquito netting is a must for any tent. You will also want to have a waterproof tent. Even on the sunniest of weeks, the outdoors often bestows a little rain shower.

Feature Image Credit: -ted Flickr