Bear resistant food containers for car camping?

Posted by: Samoset

Bear resistant food containers for car camping? - 08/08/15 11:25 PM

Hello everyone,

long time no see. I had a question that isn't related to backpacking, but I'm sure there is a knowledgable member of this forum that can point me in the right direction.

I'm looking for certified bear resistant food containers for car camping . Something to hold all my staples "Not my cold foods". Bread, chips, spices, honey sugar, tooth paste, deoderent . I'm sure you get my point.

I'm going to get a certified cooler such as a yeti or an engel, but I'm sure there has got to be a cheaper option for our non perishables.

I ran a few searches and most every thing that pops up is either backpacking bear canisters or coolers that run 500 plus bucks for the size id like. 80-120qt

Weight is a factor to. I understand the thing has got to be able to keep bears out but a 200# steel locker is obviously not what I'm looking for. I'd just by a second certified Cooler.

Witch at there cost I'd rather not have to do.

Thanks for any comments or suggestions!
Posted by: aimless

Re: Bear resistant food containers for car camping? - 08/08/15 11:55 PM

Bearproof is a difficult standard to meet. You might look at government surplus ammo cans, but they would be steel, heavy, surprisingly expensive, and probably not nearly large enough.

May I suggest that your vehicle is probably sufficiently bearproof and storing your non-perishables in a non-certified container inside your vehicle would probably be both cheap and effective. Very few bears have learned how to open car doors or windows and the only ones I have heard of live in CA, not GA.
Posted by: Samoset

Re: Bear resistant food containers for car camping? - 08/09/15 12:03 AM

In the past we have used the vehicle, biggest issue being wife wants to drive in to town for some reason and I have two boys at camp to feed and all the bread and such is in the car,

Also vehicles tend to act like ovens in the sun. When I can put a tote in the shade under a canopy .

The vehicle might be a place that we end up in the event of suspicious bear activity and I'd rather not have the food in there with us.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Bear resistant food containers for car camping? - 08/09/15 11:03 AM

They might not be available in your area, but here in the west, especially in the northern Rockies, there are lots of bear resistant panniers made for horse packing. These are boxes that are hung from the packsaddle, one on each side of the horse. Check the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee list of certified bear-resistant products. Go down past the backpacking containers to "Panniers and Boxes" and "Coolers and Dry Boxes."

I suspect you really don't need to keep all the food at the campsite when the car is away, just enough for the day's lunch. In fact, I'd think a Bear Vault (relatively inexpensive) would be more than sufficient for this purpose. Just make the day's lunch at breakfast time, stick it in the Bear Vault and keep it in the shade. If you really need to keep the lunch cool, put a wet towel over the Bear Vault for evaporative cooling. You may have to re-wet the towel mid-morning.

I've had a block of ice in a cheap cooler in a closed car parked in the hot sun (90* temps) last for four days--in fact there was a lot of ice still left when I got home, probably enough for another two days. The food stayed nice and cold. The car will smell of food anyway, even if the food isn't inside. Unless you're going to Yosemite, where bears do break into cars, you may be over-thinking the issue. Of course, in the California parks, the car-camping campgrounds have bear boxes, so even there you need a bear-resistant container only for backpacking.
Posted by: Samoset

Re: Bear resistant food containers for car camping? - 08/09/15 12:39 PM


National parks like Yosemite and others are finally in reach of our places to go to lists. As our boys are getting old enough to to truly appreciate and remember such trips. And our skills at setting up camp and breaking down camp as a family are getting stronger every trip.

I don't really want to rely on storing the food in the car. I'm a chef by trade and truly enjoy doing some really nice meals at camp and in and out of the car annoyes me at best.

I have been looking threw the above mentioned lists.

I may end up getting a 5x8 cargo trailer and locking it up tight while not cooking and it could hold all of my smelly cooking equipment as well.

But for now I'd like to have at least one decent container to keep the critters at bay while at camp.

Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Bear resistant food containers for car camping? - 08/09/15 05:14 PM

If you go to Yosemite, they require you to use their bear boxes, including while you've parked during the day. At least you don't have to pay for them, just keep unloading and loading the car (which, of course, gets old very fast!). At the entrance station they had on display a car which a bear had ripped open as though it were a tin can--those bears must have extra tough claws to rip metal like that. I'm just glad those bears don't live up here in the Pacific NW! (Ours are quite shy, for the most part.)

I hope that list helps you find what you're looking for!
Posted by: Hadarig

Re: Bear resistant food containers for car camping? - 11/22/18 04:57 AM

I know it's an old thread, but maybe it will be a timely resurrection for someone.
If you want cool bear container you need look long and hard at the ULA Catalyst. It will hold more than you want to carry. It collapses down to hold whatever load you need to carry. Very well made. Very good load transfer to the hips. Relatively inexpensive. Made in the USA.
Hint: One outside pocket holds an MSR HUBBA HUBBA NX 2 person tent. The other side pocket holds a full Nalgene 3 quart soft canteen and an MSR Waterworks filter. Both pockets weren’t full. A bear can fits in the top horizontally.
Or consider the Osprey Volt 75.
It's one of their ""no frills"" pack. Doesn't have as many bells and whistles as other Osprey packs (and only comes in one size). As such, it's one of their cheaper packs, and only weights a hint over 4lbs.
I purchased the Osprey Volt 75 for a JMT thru hike... needed something I could carry a 20lbs bear canister (Bearikade Expedition loaded with 10 days of supplies).
The few negative reviews the pack seems to get has to do with fit (after all, this is a one-size-fits-most). I found it to be comfortable, and had it loaded with as much as 55lbs during my JMT hike.
Compare that to the Osprey Aether AG 70 or Osprey Xenith 75 that can weight 5 to 5-1/2 pounds for the same volume.
Hope, I help.
Posted by: JustWalking

Re: Bear resistant food containers for car camping? - 11/23/18 01:33 PM

The ULA Catalyst is a pack, not a bear container. Two very different things.
Posted by: aimless

Re: Bear resistant food containers for car camping? - 11/23/18 02:03 PM

Hard to imagine using a ULA Catalyst for car camping, either.