Hiking and camping is in my blood. After all, I am a gnome, and we gnomes LOVE spending time outdoors. There is nothing quite as rewarding as enjoying a meal cooked over a camp fire after an exhausting day of trekking and exploring! That being said, there is also nothing quite as saddening as waking up and finding that your food has been eaten by a bear during the night. Need to know how to avoid this tragedy? Two words: bear canister.
You may be surprised to hear that bears have a sense of smell 100x that of a dog’s. They will go to extraordinary measures to get food once the scent is locked in. Bears have been known to break out car windows to get food left in a vehicle, climb trees to it stored in bags, and sometimes even hurt themselves in the process. There is no getting between a bear and food, except a bear canister. In fact, many national parks such as Yosemite, have banned bear bagging (raising a bag of food in the air using a tree branch and rope) because it is seen as ineffective. The only approved method is bear canisters.
Bear canisters can be made from hard plastics, aluminum, and carbon fiber. They are extremely heavy duty so that bears cannot break into them. However, they are not air tight, so the smell of food can still get out of the canister. It is important to store the food canister 100 feet away from your campsite so if a bear does attempt to open it, they will not be disturbing you. Some people worry that the canisters will be a hassle to carry while they’re camping, but the extra 1.5-4lbs is definitely worth it. The canisters can also have a great carrying capacity. A 700in3 can hold up to a week worth of food for the average hiker.
Another important reason to use a bear canister is for the bear’s own protection. Once a bear tastes delicious human food, they always want more. They begin going to extreme measures to acquire the food and can become a threat to campers and hikers, at which point they need to be destroyed for the safety of the outdoorsmen and women. This is a terrible tragedy, yet completely avoidable. By protecting your food in a bear canister, these bears will not get their first taste of human food and will not need to behave aggressively to acquire more.
All in all, bear canisters are a necessity for safe camping. Be sure to protect your food, protect yourself, and protect the bears. Use a bear canister, and your outdoor adventure will be more safe and enjoyable! You can find bear canisters at the Outdoor Recreation Center Rental Shop! http://orc.wsu.edu/rental-shop/rental-guide.aspx