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:
Best Bear Bags for Camping - Overview
Here are the top 5 picks (keep scrolling for more details and picks 6-7).
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.
- Innovative Transparent Window Design: You will love the clear see-through window panel that allows you to see what gear is inside your dry bag without unpacking.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
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.