How To Keep Wild Animals Out Of Your Campsite

Last updated on August 26th, 2021 at 11:51 am. Originally published on September 18th, 2015

One of the number one rules when camping is to keep your site safe from animals. There are thousands of stories out there about campers attracting animals into their campsite with garbage and odors. From Boy Scout troops having a late night food fight and waking up to a surprise bear visit, to a tenting family finding their campsite was invaded by curious raccoons in the night, it’s important to remember that when we are camping in their territory, we must take precautions to avoid unwanted incidents.

How do you keep animals out of your campsite? Here are the top 5 rules you should always follow.

1. Animals use their nose to find your food. If they can’t smell it, they aren’t interested.

The best plan of attack is to keep a super clean camp. Pick up every little scrap of uneaten or dropped food. Pack all your leftovers in OPSaks. These bags prevent odors from escaping the container. If you are concerned about bears, consider using a bear canister. This strong plastic container cannot be pried open by an animal and keeps everything in its safe. Finally, be sure you always have clean hands.  our hands carry the scent of food all over the campsite. Wash them before touching your food containers.

2. Avoid lotions, deodorant or anything with a noticeable scent.

Food isn’t the only thing that draws wild animals. If you want to use lotions or other things that leave a scent, always use them before noon so the smell can evaporate before nightfall.  Keep everything in an odor proof bag far away from the food.

3. Animals are smart! If they see food they find food.

Once they discover food in a box or car, they start to look for other containers that are similar. This leads them to destroy things in hopes of finding food, even if the containers have nothing in them. The lesson? Do not store your food in tents where the animals may come after it. Do not leave backpacks or ice chests out in the open, and keep you garbage out of reach!

4. Bears can climb a 70 foot tree in 10 seconds!

So don’t be surprised if an animal climbs a tree for your hanging food. The key is separating the food from your campsite for safety. Some people actually take their food, put it in odor free containers and place it away from the campsite in the woods. This is a good option if everything is waterproof and odor proof.

5. Garbage is your number one concern!

Set up your campsite at least 200 feet away from where you plan to cook. Clean all food at least 200 feet away from camp as well.When you have to throw things away make sure the garbage is sealed in odor proof bags. Some areas allow you to burn food scraps, while other’s insist you carry all garbage out with you. Check which rules are enforced at your campsite. If you are staying in bear country be sure to follow the rules to the letter. Park Rangers know what they are doing, and they know how to save lives.

Here are some great campsite resources to keep your campsite wild animal free:



The BearVault: These revolutionary containers are Grizzly and Black Bear approved. They are lightweight, transparent and super rugged. They are made for backpackers so they are easy to take with you.

The UrSack S29: This all white rucksack is made from bullet proof material and is designed to keep bears from getting into your foot. It comes with a super strong tensile cord and will hold up to 650 cubic inches of the stuff. It is critter resistant.

The Outsak Spectrum: The Outsak Spectrum looks like a pencil sack from school, but is a rodent and animal proof. These sacks protect food from teeth and claws and you can organize your food by color so you don’t need to open the sack to know what you put in there (and avoid adding smell to your campsite). The OpSak is perfect for camping and is a bear proof, state of the art way to keep food safe. They feature a hermetic seal, which is an absolute airtight seal. They are recyclable, reusable and lightweight. Lok Sak also makes electronic, water safe bags perfect if you are concerned with rain. OpSaks comes in various sizes from 7 x 7, up to 28 x 20.

To avoid an animal attack in the woods be sure to follow a few additional safety rules. All wildlife can be dangerous and whether you are hiking, biking or floating down the river you should always take steps to safety.

  1. Always make noise while hiking. Sing, clap your hands or talk while you walk. Shout often and avoid thick brush.
  2. Do not approach or surprise wild animals.
  3. Do not get close to an animal carcass.
  4. Be careful to not startle a female bear with cubs.
  5. Do not hike off the trail or at night!
  6. Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  7. Watch for signs of tracks, droppings or scratches on trees. Scan ahead with binoculars.
  8. Always keep children close to you.
  9. Do not leave your backpack, your food or drink unattended.
  10. Pets can be dangerous and attract bears and cougars. It’s best to leave them at home when hiking in areas with wild animals.

Camping in the great outdoors is a fun way to pass the time. Following these suggestions will help you have a successful experience and keep you and your campsite safe. What other suggestions do you have? Please share them in the comment box below. Like these ideas? Please share this article with your friends by posting, pinning or tweeting to your social buddies! Thanks.

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