If you camp in bear county, chances are you’re familiar with the bear canister – a hard sided container used by campers and backpackers to protect food. In some parks, including Yosemite National Park, bear canisters are required. Bear canisters are becoming more important as bears have begun to live in closer proximity to humans. The typical bear canister weighs between 2 and 4 lbs. and can store up to a week’s worth of food for the average hiker or camper. Bears cans can be made of polycarbonate, ABS, carbon fiber, or aluminum. Bear can makers often test their products with bears in zoos.
A less effective alternative to the bear can is the “bear bag,” where the camper will place food in a bag, tie a rope to one end, and hoist the bag into a tree. Some parks provide steel boxes that campers can use as an alternative to using bear canisters.
Bear canisters aren’t 100% effective, though. In one case, a bear in the Adirondacks region of New York State figured out how to open several kinds of approved bear cans.