Camping with Bears: Best Bear Proof Cooler Revealed
Camping in bear country? You know what that means. Next to safety, you need the right food storage. We're counting down to the best bear proof cooler right now!
Do you have big plans to finally camp out in bear country this year? Well, you've got some research and shopping to do and the first item on the list needs to be a bear proof cooler.
As any die-hard camper knows, there is no fool-proof way to protect yourself from bears when you're camping. We know you're tough and you think you can ward them off yourself, but we're here to tell you that you can't.
You have to be prepared and purchase the right bear free supplies and set up your camp the right way. There's no way around it.
We know you're not actually scared of bears, but that doesn't mean you should send them an open invitation to your campsite. Don't be foolish.
Even if you don't end up in an epic fight with a grizzly bear like you've told your family you've done a million times, think about all that beer and food you're bringing. That stuff doesn't stand a chance if you don't have a bear proof cooler.
It doesn't make you any less of a hardcore camper to worry about bears and take precautions to keep them away from your campsite. You have to respect their place in the great outdoors so they'll respect yours as well.
There are plenty of reasons to purchase a bear proof cooler and take the right measures.
Bears Have Keen Sense Of Smell
Bears are very powerful creatures and part of what makes them so powerful in the wilderness is their acute sense of smell.
In fact, they are known to have the best sense of smell of any animal in the wilderness.
To give you an idea of how remarkable a bear's sense of smell is, consider the fact that a bloodhound dog has a sense of smell that is 300 times better than humans. Well, a bear's sense of smell is 7 times better than a bloodhound.
They smell everything — food, fear, other animals. Nothing gets past them.
Even though a bear has a smaller brain than a human, they have a much larger olfactory bulb. That's the area of the brain that's in charge of sensing smells.
That sense of smell means they're fierce predators and once they catch a whiff of something they'd like to eat or explore, they won't hesitate.
Bears run on instinct and they will approach your campsite if you attract them to it. Even a bear proof cooler that isn't stored properly could attract a bear.
What Attracts Bears To Campsites?
Anything that creates a smell can attract a bear to a campsite. Here are some particularly appetizing culprits for bears that will have them all over you and your campsite:
- Dogs - They startle bears and if you're camping in an area with a lot of bears, don't take them with you.
- Human waste - Don't relieve yourself anywhere near where you're sleeping. Bears smell it and follow it.
- Garbage - If you're bringing an RV or truck and you're sleeping in a tent, lock all your trash away in your vehicle where bears are less likely to smell and access it.
- Perfume and deodorant - These are just as attractive to bears as they are to humans. Anything that's scented will be considered an invitation so you may want to go a bit natural for a few days for safety reasons.
Even if you're miles away from where you think a bear might be, you have to be extremely careful. There's no way of knowing when you enter into bear country.
Food of any kind is an invitation for bears, and bears in the wild aren't the cute cartoon critters your kids love watching on TV. They're dangerous.
They'll be sure to want to get into your cooler if it's not a bear proof cooler.
How To Keep Bears Away From Where You Sleep
There's always a chance that you'll meet a bear in the wild if you're at a campsite in the wilderness. That's part of the fun, right?
The point is, of course, is to know that they're around, but keep them at a distance.
They can smell you, but you can't smell them. It's an unfair battle to fight, but there are some precautions you can take, even if you are using a bear proof cooler.
You're going to want to grill up hot dogs, fish, and chug a few beers and pops. It's part of the experience.
What you don't want to do is do it anywhere near where you plan to sleep.
Follow the "bear-muda triangle" strategy. Your tent should be in one area, your food storage should be in another area, and the third point is your cooking area.
You'll want to keep these areas at least 100 yards apart, maybe more. The idea is to keep anything that smells in the least away from you in case bears are attracted to it, even your bear proof cooler.
Distance is your friend if you want to know that bears will not be waking you up in the middle of the night.
Keep Your Food Storage Area Bear Free
The food storage area of your campsite should be well thought out. You can construct a bear hang using a bear bag and a few steps.
Of course, knowing a simple bear hang 100 yards away while you're sleeping may not be enough to let you rest peacefully. In addition, some bears can climb trees so it's not much of a safety net.
Here are some supplies that you can purchase and have on hand to keep your campsite protected from the invasion of bears:
- Bear Proof Cooler
- Bear pepper spray
- Odor proof garbage bags
- Bear tubes (small plastic storage for food)
- Electronic bear fence
Don't go cheap on any of these items — they could save your life. If you're going to cut out anything from this list, make it the electronic bear fence.
However, electronic bear fences are battery powered and very easy to set up, so if you're packing up the RV or a big truck and have space, why not purchase some extra security?
What you can't compromise on is your food storage. In fact, many parks have particular safety rules regarding this.
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Knows What's Best
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee works to keep grizzly bears protected as they are listed as a threatened species. They actually test products to ensure that bears can't get into them.
How do they test them? With actual grizzly bears at the Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana.
When a product has been approved of by IGBC, that means that the product has actually withstood a bear trying to get into it.
You can trust that when a product is approved of by IGBC, this bear proof cooler is capable of withstanding just about anything!
For added measure, contact the camp and park authorities to see what they recommend. There may be specific guidelines that you should be adhering to or at least some tips that they'd be happy to share.
They're just as interested as you are in keeping your campsite free from bears. You stay in your lane and they stay in theirs if you take the right measures.
Choose The Right Bear Proof Cooler
There are many bear proof coolers that are available on the market but not all of them are created equal. Remember — just because it's a sturdy cooler doesn't mean it's a bear proof cooler.
You have many items to choose from but you should focus on quality and not cut corners. We recommend the YETI Tundra 110 Cooler as the ultimate choice in bear proof coolers.
It was originally designed with rafters in mind so if rafting is part of your traditional camping experience, this one will definitely impress you.
It fits all major rafts snuggly, preventing tumbling or spilling while you're heading down the river.
It's constructed of the same material that's used to make whitewater kayaks — roto-molded polyethylene.
This bear proof cooler boasts a full two inches of insulation and a freezer-style gasket. That means far less ice fill ups.
It keeps your food and drinks extra fresh without making a mess or exposing them to the elements. In fact, it's dry ice compatible and UV-resistant.
Summer days won't cause this guy to break out in a sweat. It uses the remarkable No Sweat™ Design and has Proprietary Permafrost™ Insulation.
What makes it worth the investment is that it's IGCB approved!
When they tested it with live, hungry grizzly bears, the YETI Tundra 110 cooler withstood "smashing, prying, scratching, biting and tossing."
If you're looking for a smaller, more cost-efficient choice, the YETI Tundra 35 Cooler and YETI Tundra 65 Cooler are also great picks. They survived being mauled by grizzly bears too.
Other Critters Aren't Invited Either
If you can keep bears away, you can keep other critters away too. By bear-proofing your campsite, you're also keeping it safe from many other uninvited guests.
Of course, that doesn't mean uninvited guests that the people camping with you invited will stay away. Even the best bear proof cooler won't protect you from annoying Uncle Bob inviting himself along and drinking the last beer.
You can have a bear-free camping experience without sacrificing your traditional camping experience, whatever it entails.
Purchase high-quality YETI products for the ultimate camping experience for you and your fellow campers.