WHERE To Put Your Bear Canister For The NIGHT!

This is a topic that is very important when it comes to food storage while backpacking, especially in the backcountry! If you place your bear canister in the wrong place, it could create havoc on your trip. Which is obviously not something we want…


So… Where Is the Best Place to put your Bear Canister for the night?

You Should place your Bear Canister about 100 Feet Downwind from your camp for the night. Place the canister between some rocks, or tucked under a log. This will keep any wildlife that may find it from kicking around your canister during the night. 

Below we will go into greater detail on the topic. First I want to explain why you need to store your canister away from, and downwind of your camp.


Are Bear Canisters Odor Proof?

To begin I’d like to start by saying: Bear Canisters Are Not Odor Proof! For this reason, it is recommended you store your canister at least 100 feet downwind of your camp for the night. Treat your canister as if it is food. “Which it is” But, don’t act like bears and other wildlife won’t be able to smell the food you have inside. Cause odds are they can… 

A Great Way you could test your canister, to see if it is odor proof is to simply see if it is waterproof.

To test your canister to see if it is waterproof, simply do up your canister Completely. Then dunk it in a tub of water, if water seeps into the canister, then you know its not odor proof.

And if it’s not waterproof, it likely isn’t odor proof either…

If you do try this experiment do be careful. Some canisters have locking mechanisms that really shouldn’t be submerged. If water was to get trapped in there, it could corrode and cause problems with your canister.

To be honest, with some canisters it may not be a good idea to do this. So… Submerge at your own risk.


Reasons for storing your canister away from camp

Since most bear canisters are not odor proof. This makes your canister, and contents inside a target to any nearby wildlife that will likely get a whiff of it…

Because of this, I’m sure you can see why having a canister full of food next to, or inside of your tent with you can be a risk. It basically paints a target on your camp for all the wildlife in the area, especially bears.

Basically, what I am trying to say is, Treat your canister, like you would treat food.

  • Don’t Take it with you in your tent
  • Don’t leave it sitting outside your tent, or near your camp
  • Store it somewhere where animals are least likely to bother it
  • Keep it locked up, Out of reach from wildlife
  • Clean up any food / Scented items that fell on the ground
  • …..ETC…

The last thing you want as your laying there asleep in your tent is a hungry bear coming into your camp in search of your canister full or food, that got left sitting on the table, Just outside your tent…

Be safe, observant, and tedious with the food and other scented products you take with you on the trail. If you or a friend drops some food on the ground, pick it up. Don’t let it become a bigger problem you may have to deal with later.

Me personally, I’d prefer to dispose of food properly when spilled, rather than have to deal with a hungry bear coming around camp because of the few chips that had fallen on the ground just hours ago…

Take all the precautions you can, in order to prevent bear and other wildlife from pestering you for food.

On that same note, Did you know it can also be harmful to wildlife, bears especially if they get hold of your food? 

When a bear eats human food, it can throw off his/her natural food cravings and causes that bear to desire human food… The bear will then begin to crave human food more, and more the more they get it…

This then caused the bear to pester us hikers, backpackers, and campers… If this bear then gets bad enough He/she then can become dangerous to the point the forest service will be required to put down that bear and so on……

For this reason and many more, be sure you do all you can to keep your food and gear away from wildlife. Who knows the repercussions that can occur it wildlife gets hold of it…

Keep your Canister Closed

You must do your best to keep your bear canister closed. And Never leave your canister open, and unattended. Doing either of the two will pretty much defeat the purpose of having the canister.

If Your bear canister is left open, its as if all your food is sitting out, exposed for a bear or other to get into… Now, on that same note, it is likely yourself, or a friend / Family member will accidentally forget to close up the canister. If this occurs Simply, and Calmly Remind them, or yourself… To keep the canister closed when not in use.

If a friend or spouse accidentally leaves the lid of the bear canister off. Put it back on, and again, calmly remind them to make sure the canister is done up properly after they’ve got what you need out.


Where To Place Your Canister For The Night

Now, that you know why you should keep your canister away from camp during the night. Let us dig into the main topic of this article: “where you should place your canister during the night”. Like was said above, “store your canister 100 feet downwind of your camp”.

But also, be sure you place it somewhere, where if anything disturbs it, you don’t lose your food…

For instance, don’t place you canister near any cliffs, rivers, lakes, ponds… Basically, avoid placing it near anything that can carry it away. Because, there is that possibility of a bear, or other coming along, trying to open it. In the process kicks it into the nearby river…

If this occurs you obviously don’t want you canister getting kicked into a river, or off a cliff… Hence why you should avoid these areas!

By placing your canister away from any moving water, or other. You’re on the right track, now you should look for a tidy, cubby like place to tuck your canister into. Such as, between some large rocks. Or under a large root of a nearby tree…

By tucking your canister away tightly. If any bear comes along and finds it, the bear likely won’t be able to kick it around as easily as if your canister was sitting out in the middle of a field (Wide open flat)…

Truly the process of storing a canister for the night is simple. Just be sure to think about where you place it, and what is surrounding it.

Oh! And be sure the lid of your canister is done up Tightly, and correctly as well!


Where Should You Cook As Your Camping

When it comes to handling, cooking, and storing food as you camp. Here is an idea that is ideal to be used in order to keep bears, and other wildlife away from your camp as you sleep.

Basically, you will be Creating a Large (Imaginary) Triangle that’s estimated to span over 300 Feet in diameter. You will be using one of each corner for each of the below tasks.

  • Cooking
  • Sleeping
  • Storing


At one point on this Imaginary triangle, you will be Cooking, and eat those cooked meals. The reasons why you should cook and eat away from where you plan to sleep, and store food is because, When you cook in an area, the likely hood of spills is quite high. and obviously, you don’t want to be spilling food next to where you will be sleeping

Hence the reasoning behind Cooking, and eating those cooked meals at 1 corner of this imaginary triangle.

Also, when you cook food, the smell of it can often times linger in the air for a period of time. Which will attract nearby wildlife…

Oh, when selecting which out of the 3 corners is best for cooking, Select the corner that is downwind from your camp. For Example: If the wind is blowing from South to North, place your cooking site toward the North corner of your triangle. This way the wind will blow the smell away from you, rather then back through your camp.


This is probably quite obvious but it needs to be here.

The 2nd corner of this imaginary 300 foot (Diameter) Triangle should be where you Sleep. It’s best if you can avoid having food near here.


3rd and final corner, you will you storing your food for the night.

You Shouldn’t store your food / Canister with you near you camp where you will be sleeping, and you shouldn’t store it near where you cooked because. Well, Odds are high that animals will be attracted to the area.

whether it be from any spills that may have happened, and the possibility of the smell lingering in the area for a period of time…

So because of the reasons listed above, you should have a separate food storage location for your bear canister. By storing your canister away from where you cooked, it lessens the possibility of a bear bothering it.

Also, like was said above “Store your food downwind of your sleeping site.

Check the diagram below: 



I understand if you question the “300FT Triangle” Idea, I mean it is a large area and can be quite spread out. But truly this is probably the safest way you could organize your camp. Think about it, if you store your food 100 Feet one way, and you cook 100 Feet away from your food storage, and away from where you will be sleeping.

The likeliness of a bear or other wildlife pestering you as you sleep will be lessened that much more!

Now, obviously if your camping in a crowded area where there are a lot of other campers around, this technique will be tough to accomplish. Rather this should be used if your out in the backcountry, quite secluded from other groups.

Works well for Backcountry Backpacking trips!


I hope you were able to gain some value from this! Happy camping!



Hi, My name is Colt And I Enjoy the Outdoors. I may not look it, as I am often seen as the only guy wearing Jeans Hiking on a hot summer day. But I can honestly say there is no place I like to be more than out in the Backcountry exploring the landscape around! Learn more about me on the About Page

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