Bear bags are intended to protect your food on backpacking trips and to prevent bears from becoming accustomed to eating human food. “A fed bear is a dead bear”, as the saying goes, and no one wants to see a bear killed because someone was careless and didn’t hang their food in a bear bag or some other bear-proof container, like a bear canister, a Ursack, or a bear-proof cooler.
What should you put in a bear bag or bear-proof storage? Is it limited to food or are there other things that you should store as well? The answer is yes.
Here are the items, I’d recommended hanging in a bear bag or storing in an IGBC approved bear-resistant container.
- All of your food
- Olive or cooking oil
- Sun tan lotion
- Chapstick or lip balm
- Bug dope
- First-aid creams
- Scented tobacco
Here are some other items, you might consider storing at a distance from your tent even if they have no food value.There’s no point in encouraging a close inspection by an alpha predator at night.
- Pots, pans, and utensils
- Cooking grills
- Water bottles or hydration reservoirs that have had flavorings added to them
- Clothes that you have cooked in
Why take these precautions? Bears have an extremely good sense of smell that’s 100 times more sensitive than humans and 7 times more sensitive than a bloodhound’s. In other words, they can smell things that you’re not even aware have a smell.