Best Bear Bags for Camping in 2021: Keep Your Food Safe

Best Bear Bags for Camping in 2021: Keep Your Food Safe

Table of Contents

    Camping is one of the greatest pastimes in human history. The world is so full of untapped space and wide-open areas of freedom, solitude, and relaxation. Getting back in touch with nature is an amazing opportunity, but depending on where you’re ending up, you may have to take some precautions to keep your things, the wildlife, and the people around you safe. Bears love an easy source of food, and it’s paramount that you pack your stuff in a container that’s either difficult for them to access or invisible to their noses. We’re going to review some of the best bear bags and containers out there to keep your food and your trips safe and drama free.

    In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:

    Overview
    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack, One Size
    Title
    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack
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    Overview
    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack, One Size
    Title
    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack
    Price
    Price not available
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    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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    Best Bear Bags for Camping - Overview

    Here are the top 5 picks (keep scrolling for more details and picks 6-7).

    Overview
    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack, One Size
    Counter Assault Bear Keg
    Granite Gear Air Zipsack Ultralight Zippered Pouch - 12L
    LOKSAK - OPSAK Reusable Storage Bags - 12"x20", 2 Pack
    Title
    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack
    Counter Assault Bear Keg
    Granite Gear Air Zipsack Ultralight Zippered Pouch
    LOKSAK - OPSAK Storage Bag, Re-Sealable and Odorless Protection from Water
    Price
    Price not available
    Price not available
    $23.95
    $13.19
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    Overview
    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack, One Size
    Title
    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack
    Price
    Price not available
    Rating
    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    Details
    Overview
    Counter Assault Bear Keg
    Title
    Counter Assault Bear Keg
    Price
    Price not available
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    Overview
    Granite Gear Air Zipsack Ultralight Zippered Pouch - 12L
    Title
    Granite Gear Air Zipsack Ultralight Zippered Pouch
    Price
    $23.95
    Rating
    ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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    Overview
    LOKSAK - OPSAK Reusable Storage Bags - 12"x20", 2 Pack
    Title
    LOKSAK - OPSAK Storage Bag, Re-Sealable and Odorless Protection from Water
    Price
    $13.19
    Rating
    ⭐⭐⭐⭐
    Details

    1. Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack

    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack, One Size
    • Fully Waterproof Coated Fabric And Seams

    This bear bag is simple and reliable. You’re not going to have to fuss with any weird one-time features that get in between you and your food. A good bear bag is going to keep your provisions safe, hang patiently in between meals, and obediently keep itself away from the roaming whims of the bears you’re trying to keep your food from. 

    The Osprey UltraLight is a light bag that packs away easily, and they’re surprisingly sturdy. The UltraLight bear bag is made from siliconized ripstop nylon, and they come in a wide variety of colors. If you’re not partial to the high-visibility orange, you can choose from any of their high-visibility colors or opt for the dark grey to keep things in the shadows.

    These sacks keep your provisions dry, you can rest easy knowing that getting caught in the rain or carving a path through the water won’t leave you with soggy carbs. The roll tops on these bags are a clever solution to a problem that often plagues dry bags. Just roll your bag down to keep your food and sundries as airtight as possible. These dry sacks are rectangular in build, the nylon is coated to keep moisture out, and all of the seams are reinforced to ensure the shape of the bag and the weatherproofing is substantial.

    Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

    PROS

    • Weatherproof nylon and sturdy construction means that you’ll have an easy time packing and unpacking this bag no matter how dire the weather outdoors becomes
    • You’ll never lose track of them with the vibrant colors they have available

    CONS

    • The seams are reinforced, but they can become a point of failure after a few years of regular use

    2. KastKing Dry Bags

    KastKing leans more into the waterproof aspects of these bags than their ability to act as a perfect bear bag. If you’re looking for something durable that’s going to keep your items safe once you’ve hung from the trees around you, then this line of bags is an excellent contender. These bags are large and spacious, and they include a window that allows you to root through your bag without having to totally unload the contents of your dry bag.

    These dry bags from KastKings feature a double overlap roll top to give your things a watertight seal that won’t fail you even when your bag takes a tumble. These bags are designed for folks taking part in water sports like kayaking, so you know that they’ll be able to handle a little bit of rain or anything else you end up accidentally subjecting them to.

    Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

    PROS

    • The window in the bag is great for retrieving items without having to undo your careful packing job
    • The size and shape of the bags make them excellent options for a wide array of outdoor activities from hiking to fishing to camping. 

    CONS

    • A savvy bear that’s been accustomed to the things camper often carry may recognize them through your bag’s window and find more motivation to break in

    3. Counter Assault Bear Keg

    Counter Assault Bear Keg
    • Bear resistant food container, made from an extremely durable and highly visible proprietary polymer blend

    The Counter Assault Bear Keg is more of a small barrel than a proper bag, but this gives you more convenient options than dangling your bag several feet from the ground. They’re sturdy and opaque, they’re spacious and intuitive, and using them doesn’t require any throwing, tying, or searching for a suitable tree.

    These bear kegs solve a lot of bear problems by creating a container that’s just incredible for them to break into. This bear keg meets all of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Recommendations for Bear Deterrents, and if you’re going to be camping in certain American or Canadian National Parks, then you’re going to need something exactly like this keg.

    It holds nearly a week of food, and if you pack it just right you could probably squeeze an extra day or so out of your provisions.

    Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

    PROS

    • There’s a carry pack you can pair with this bear keg
    • It’s incredibly difficult for wildlife to get inside of, leading them to give up on your food quickly
    • If you’re looking for something National Park compliant, then this clears up a lot of headaches

    CONS

    • There’s no real way to secure this keg to a tree or post 
    • The carry pack isn’t included with the keg
    • Pretty bulky

    4. Granite Gear Air Zipsack Ultralight Zippered Pouch

    Granite Gear Air Zipsack Ultralight Zippered Pouch - 12L
    • See-thru Sil-Nylon fabric allows you to see what's inside.

    These bags are designed more like duffle bags than other bear bags. The zipper spanning the length of the bag along with the translucent siliconized nylon make these easy to get in and out of when it’s time to take your bear bags down for a meal. The haul loops make them perfect for hanging when you set up camp, and they’re easy to carry when you’re heading to your site, back home, or to and from the area you’ve erected your bear-safe setup.

    These zippered pouches come in a wide variety of sizes, making them a great option no matter how large or small your needs and camping party is. Granite Gear calls these their “bathtub designs.” The key to their bathtub design bags is the location of their seams. When you set them down on the ground to access your contents, you’re not going to be running the risk of getting the interior damp, because they’re designed to keep the weak points of the bag off of the ground.

    Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

    PROS

    • These bags are incredibly easy to access. If you’ve packed a lot of food, you’re not going to spend a lot of time rooting through them like you would with vertically oriented bags

    CONS

    • These bags use zippers rather than the roll top designs, which compromises their waterproofing in the long run 

    5. LOKSAK - OPSAK Storage Bag, Re-Sealable and Odorless Protection from Water

    LOKSAK - OPSAK Reusable Storage Bags - 12"x20", 2 Pack
    • CAMPING MUST - Food and hygiene items attract bears and critters, odor-proof your campsite with OPSAK. This outdoor essential can be filled with boiling water to cook food, with soapy water for...

    These storage bags aren’t like other bear bags. Their solution is to go for the stealth route. The bags are resealable zip-lock style bags that block odors from getting out and water from getting in. They’re simple and easy to pack into your already existing camp loadout, and you’re not going to have to go so far out of your way to bear-proof your campsite. 

    If you pack all of your things into these odorless bags before heading out on your trip, then you’re not going to have to worry about keen noses sniffing around your things and uprooting your campsite in search of a meal. They’re also a great way to supplement your other bear bags. 

    You can use these to turn any bag you already own into a waterproof container by enclosing all of your items inside of these storage bags, or you can fortify your already waterproof bags the same way. These bags are a great alternative to going way out of your way to get another fancy bag to bring along with a bag you think is perfectly serviceable.

    Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

    PROS

    • A great way to waterproof your things without having to transfer your supplies into a new bag
    • Great for waterproofing your inedible supplies

    CONS

    • Because they’re a series of small plastic bags, you can’t just throw all of your things inside and call it a day

    6. Skog Å Kust LiteSåk 2.0 Waterproof Ultralight Dry Bags

    Skog Å Kust LiteSåk 2.0 Waterproof Ultralight Dry Bag | 5L Blue
    • LiteSåk 2.0 utilizes a silicone-coated nylon that is 3 times stronger and more durable than our previous version, yet still weighs a couple ounces and folds down to just a few inches. Perfect for...

    These bags are everything you’d want from a dry bag. They’re light, simple, and sturdy. You’re going to be getting a large cylindrical bag that’s capable of carrying a ton of your supplies without burdening you with an awkward pack weighing you down. They’re also great for attaching to your existing packs. The loops on these packs are strong enough to attach with a carabiner and keep things rolling.

    They’re incredibly light, weighing in at just a few ounces, and they’re built to roll down into a compact shape, making them an excellent choice for people trying to keep the weight of their packs down while going on longer trips or just for someone looking to try their hand at the challenge of ultralight backpacking

    They’re waterproof, and the rolltop designs just make that waterproof nylon even more effective with a simple and easy flick of the wrist. There are no zippers here waiting to fail or strings that need to be tied, just a sturdy clip and the rolled-down top of your bag.

    Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

    PROS

    • A great lightweight option for lightweight backpackers
    • Reliable waterproofing

    CONS

    • The simplicity of the bag drastically restricts your options when it comes to backing

    7. Backpacker's Cache - Bear Proof Container

    This 2-pound container is another excellent choice for folks that aren’t willing to deal with hanging a bear bag from the trees. It’s a compact choice that keeps your food inside and keeps bears out. It’s a simple keg-shaped storage device that keeps your provisions safe, dry, and difficult for animals to access. The lids make a tight seal that you’re probably going to need a flat-headed tool to pop open. 

    These containers are perfect for people making their way into bear county. They’re a little bit bulky, and if you’re going on a long trek, be prepared to deal with that. The trade-off is well worth it, though. You’re going to be keeping your food safe and tidy and the peace of mind you’re going to get from these containers is massive.

    They also make for a great seat. If you’re grappling with making room in your loadout, then leave the camp chair at home. These containers have to be sturdy and stable to keep wildlife out, and that stability translates to coincidentally becoming the perfect place to kick back and relax.

    Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com.

    PROS

    • Makes for a great seat while camping
    • Keeps out everything from squirrels and rats to bears 
    • Carries about three days of food

    CONS

    • A little bit too good at keeping animals out, sometimes prying open the lid is a pain in the butt
    • A bulky add-on to your overall pack weight

    Watch Out For Bears

    We should all understand why it’s important to take precautions against attracting bears to your campsite. Even if the bears themselves don’t end up posing a threat to yourself and your campmates, you’re going to be encouraging bad habits for the wildlife and totally ruining your campsites in the long run.

    Leaving food out to tempt the wildlife on a regular basis is going to cause them to start grazing near campsites. You’re going to be disrupting diets and shaking up ecosystems. Animals are going to become more and more brazen, and it’s going to become more and more difficult to keep food away from them in the future.  Just start with good habits and you’re going to have a much less frustrating time in the long run.

    Hanging a Bear Bag

    When you’re bringing along a bear bag, it’s not enough to just throw all of your food in there and call it a day. You’re going to have to hang your bags a decent distance from the ground and sufficiently far from the trunk of the tree to keep bears out. A bear bag is about making your food as hard to access by a bear as possible. Hanging a bear bag is simple. You just need to set up your rope, rise it up and secure it so it doesn’t fall once you’ve left it overnight.

    •  Start by finding a suitable tree. This is going to be the hardest part of hanging a bear bag. You’re going to want to find a tree that’s a decent distance from the campsite, with branches that are about 15 to 20 feet off of the ground, and you want the branch to be thick enough to bear the weight of your bag and  it needs to be about five or six feet from the trunk
    • Get your rope and throw bag ready
    • Fill your throw bag with some rocks or anything heavy you’re not going to mind tossing into the air
    • Tie your rope to a carabiner, clip it onto your throw bag and toss it over the branch
    • Swap your bear bag for the throw bag with the carabiner. Make sure your carabiner is closed so your rope doesn’t get snagged, trapping your foot 15 feet in the air
    • Tie a twig or a small bar onto the other side of your rope and lower your bag until the carabiner stops against it, suspending your bag in the air away from the branch, away from the tree, and away from the ground

    We recommend getting some practice setting this up before you have to try it in the wilderness. If you’re going to be hiking or backpacking, you’re not going to have the mental capacity or patience to learn a new skill before you get the opportunity to go to bed. You’re going to thank yourself if you’ve got the motion under your belt 

    Winner

    Overview
    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack, One Size
    Title
    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack
    Price
    Price not available
    Rating
    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    Details
    Overview
    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack, One Size
    Title
    Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack
    Price
    Price not available
    Rating
    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    Details

    Simple is best in a lot of situations. This applies to all of the most important things in life, and that goes double for bear bags. You want something that won’t fail you while you’re out in the wilderness when you need it, and you don’t want to have to fumble with it when you’re trying to get set up at the end of the day. It’s a simple bag with simple functionality that you’re going to be eternally grateful for. This bear bag from Osprey is an all-around winner.

    You’re getting something that will keep your things packed away tightly without becoming an obstacle in the way of you and your food. The roll-top of this bag is a clever solution to waterproof storage. The colors of this bag are bright and vibrant, the bags themselves are incredibly sturdy and reliable, and they’re great at staying out of your way until you need them. If you’re looking for a bag that’s going to serve you well without becoming a difficult obstacle, then you’re going to want to reach for the Osprey dry bag. It’s the perfect bag for camping and hiking, and you’re not going to regret it.

    Bonus tip: Hanging a bear bag isn’t hard, but it’s tricky to describe through text. If you’re a visual learner, then this video breaks down bear bag hanging to a precise science.

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    Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.

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