Food Storage Tips for Campers and Backpackers

Eating food is inevitable in a backpacking or camping trip. It’s essential to survival and provides the fuel you need to tackle the day’s adventures. Yet it is easy to forget food is not only tasty to you but also wildlife. To keep wildlife from encroaching on your night outdoors, proper storage is necessary for all food and drinks, irrespective of packaging, as well as your toiletries, trash, and other scented items. Food must to be stored properly to avoid an unwelcome visit from animals, pests, and pathogens.

Animals are attracted to the scent of food far away than we can even perceive or imagine, and some are tipped off simply by seeing of a tent or backpack if they’ve gotten lucky before. To avoid an unwelcome encounter, food items must be stored well in a tightened container or bear-resistant containers. Preventing animals from eating human food is a duty of all campers and backpackers because it makes them more dependent on people. They may eventually be a nuisance as well a safety threat. In worst case scenarios, this can lead to an animal being put down. Keeping human food and other materials away from animals entails similar practice for both campers and backpackers.

Storing and Preserving Food

Bear Resistant Canister

Bear-resistant canisters are designed for backpackers to store food. A bear canister is efficient for storing your food. They are airtight, strong containers to protect your food from animals during your camping.

How to use bear resistant canister

Whatever goes into your mouth or body should be stored in the bear resistant container as a general rule. Make sure that all your food, cream, and scented material including insect repellent are packed and stored in the container.

After packing your materials in the container, make sure it is well tightened and locked. Keep the container away from your campsite, even in the morning and afternoon hours. Place it on flat ground or hang it on the branches of a tree.

Do not tie or hang anything to the container because it can also attract the bears and allow them to carry it away. You can also put a reflective tape on your canister to help you easily spot your canister day or night.

Placing material that emits a sound on the canister can serve as a signal notifying you of the presence of bear or other animals.


Food can be packed in a bag or container and hung on a tree. It is an effective way to keep your food away from many different species of animals, especially those that cannot fly or climb.

Tie one end the rope to your container and the other end to a heavy rock or piece of wood. Throw the rock over a branch of the tree that is tall, at least 15-20 feet high, and then raise your bag to a considerable height. Tie the rocky end of the rope to the tree. By doing so, you can keep your food safe, and access it whenever you need it.

Food Lockers

Food lockers; mostly metallic, are large bear-proof boxes in which you can store your food. Often, they are provided by campsites authority for use by backpackers or campers. Food lockers are not guaranteed. Since they are for public use, there is no assurance that there will be space available.


Coolers are important in keeping your food either refrigerated or warm. They are used to keep perishable foods, such as meat, cheese, eggs, milk, and fish, at a cold temperature so that they don’t spoil.

Packing your cooler efficiently and using it for appropriately is essential to keeping your food safe. Never leave your cooler open for too long to prevent the cool air from escaping. Additionally, you can have two to three small coolers to keep the food you will often need in one and the food that needs the most preserving in another.

Fluid Containers

Drinking waters are also consumables that need to be stored. Some pathogens thrive well inside naturally untreated water. I’s better to arrive in the back country with your own tap water or treated bottled water. However, if camping for a few days, you will likely not be able to bring all the water you’ll need. It’s therefore advised to boil naturally available water, such as from a spring or creek, before consuming.

The water container should also be air-tight every time the water is consumed to prevent microbes’ contamination. Water purification tablets and water filters are also good alternatives to boiling of water. Water purification tablets are useful in killing water-borne bacteria, microorganisms, some parasites, and viruses.

Food Handling

  • To keep odors away, food should be cooked, dishes and pots washed far away from the campsite. Avoid using scented cream, perfumes and scented soaps.
  • Bury food scraps away from your camp. Strain out any grease and put them in your trash. Disperse rinse water far away from campsite if you can’t wash away from it. You can also dispose over a rocky area if available.
  • Cut all your raw meats into small pieces at home and place in a tightened container or a zip-top bag.
  • Cut all your scented foods on a nylon or paper surface that can easily be disposed to minimize the scent.
  • Double bag raw meat and store away from other food in your cooler.
  • Pack your food inside water-tight bags so that the material does not get soaked by the melting of the ice.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling foods most especially when you just visited the toilet

Tips for storing food

  • Keep raw foods away from dry food.
  • Never bring raw meats unless you have provision for storing it.
  • Keep food and scented items away from your camp.
  • Keep your food in an air-tight container.
  • Store easily perishable foods such as raw meats in an ice-packed cooler.
  • Cook, warm, or smoke your food items away from your tent.
  • Keep foods and meats cold until use. Meat can also be smoked or dried well to store it for a longer time.
  • Pack meat/eggs in one container and dry food in another container to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Freeze all foods you want to preserve at home for it to stay cooler longer.

Food storage during camping or backpacking is in an important aspect to ensuring a successful trip. Imagine, if you became sick from improper hygiene and food handling during camping or you woke up one day to discover that all your food was gone. If backpacking, this could result in a life-threatening situation. Stay safe and sound by simply storing your supplies properly.

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