bear box

What Is a Bear Box?

By Heather

The first time we camped in bear country, I read about how the use of bear boxes is mandatory. Somehow, my mind went immediately to the conclusion that I had to purchase and bring my own bear box.

If you ever do this, though, the only thing you’ll find are little bear-proof containers. And you’ll wonder how your food is going to fit into one of them, or how you’ll afford enough of them to hold all of the food you want to bring.

Hello, genius here, reporting for duty.

Here’s the deal: In bear country, bear boxes are at your campsite, all ready to go!

They have handles that bears just can’t figure out (bears tend to be crafty and smart, doncha know).

They’re deep and large enough to hold just about everything you bring (except probably your cooler). If you’re staying in a place where visits tend to be longer than just a couple of nights (such as Yosemite), the bear boxes are even bigger and will definitely hold your coolers and bins.

But in the places we camp, it’s more frequently been this:

bear box rear view

How to use a bear box

At Table Mountain, bear activity is possible but not super likely. People tend to use their bear boxes here as a place to organize their stuff instead of a place to protect their stuff from bears.

In other places, however, bear activity is practically a given. In these places, your bear box should always be closed when you’re not using it or within arm’s length of it. In a lot of those places, it’s absolutely mandatory and you’ll get a visit from a ranger if you’re not using it.

Anything that has a strong fragrance should be kept in the bear box, including:

  • All food and beverages
  • Your cooler, if it fits
  • Any clothes you wore while cooking food
  • All toiletries, including toothpaste, lotion, etc.
  • Your dog’s food and treats

“But wait,” you say. “Can’t I just put things in my car and lock it? I mean, a bear won’t be able to get in there, right?”

That’s what the owner of this car probably thought: