Bear-proof canisters and containers are necessary for keeping bears away from your food, supplies, and trash when you’re in bear country. Having first-hand experience with a bear stealing my food, I can assure you that bear-proof containers are the only way to safely protect your snacks from a hungry bear. We have put together a list of the best bear-proof canisters, coolers, sacks, and other containers to help you find the best way to securely protect your precious cargo from those thieving bears!
We reviewed dozens of bear-proof containers and have identified the best for stopping curious cubs in their tracks. While looking over these bear-proof containers we considered features such as the quality of their locks and latches, their material composition, and their storage capacity in choosing our top picks. Then we compiled a list of many other great bear-proof canisters and containers to help you find the right one for your needs.
Once our research was said and done we chose the YETI Tundra Cooler as our overall top pick. It’s a dedicated outdoor cooler that was built to keep your food insulated and safe from the forces of mother nature, including the wildlife.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Bear-Proof Canisters and Containers
|Best Bear Proof Container Overall
|YETI Tundra Cooler
|Best Bear Proof Sack
|Best Budget Bear Proof Container
|Best Large Bear Proof Canister
|Bearicuda 30 Gallon Trash Can
|Best Bear Proof Backpacking Canister
|Frontiersman Bear Canister
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Best Bear-Proof Container Overall: YETI Tundra Cooler
YETI coolers have become synonymous with hunting, camping, and overlanding in the great outdoors. The YETI Tundra Cooler is a staple of the brand. This cooler showcases the over-engineered design of YETI products through the strength of its materials and the quality of its construction. With the Tundra Cooler, YETI set a new standard for outdoor coolers. The market is now flooded with imitations, but YETI remains the leader of the pack.
That’s because YETI puts three key factors before all else in the creation of their coolers: durability, extended ice retention, and weather resistance. Yes, this cooler will also prevent those pesky bears from accessing your food, but it’s also a well-made cooler that is convenient to use and practical. The 3 inches of PermaFrost Insulation inside the rotomolded FatWall design will keep ice in its solid form for days. The smartly-designed interlock lid system has been fitted with freezer gaskets to keep your liquids inside while keeping the weather out.
Molded recessed handles and polyester rope hauling handles make it easy to carry the cooler around. The heavy-duty T-Rex rubber latches keep the lid tightly secured, and they act as the first line of defense against bears. The bears will quickly realize that the FatWall construction is too tough to bite through, and the integrated padlock connections on the front-facing corners give you a way to unquestionably keep the cooler locked down so that they’ll never get in. These can also be used as tie-down slots to secure the cooler to a boat or to prevent a bear from easily carrying the cooler away from camp.
YETI Tundra Cooler Key Features:
- 35-gallon storage capacity
- 3″ of PermaFrost insulation
- Bear-resistant FatWall design, T-Rex latches, and padlock corners
- Five-year warranty
Best Bear-Proof Sack: Ursack Allmitey
If bulky, rigid bear canisters and containers are too unwieldy for you, then the Ursack Allmitey is the answer to all of your bear-proof food storage needs. While those sturdy canisters use their solid forms and thicks walls to keep bears out, the Ursack Allmitey instead uses a patent-pending laminated UHMWP and Kevlar fabric weave that is virtually puncture-proof. Not only will this material keep bears at bay, but it will also stop smaller critters like mice, raccoons, and martens from burrowing into your food supply.
The primary benefit of a sack-like this over a rigid container is that it is much more packable. The Ursack Allmitey is a solid choice for backpackers heading out into the wilderness because it can more easily fit inside of their backpack, or be tied to the outside, than could any solid canister. It’s also much easier to hang up in a tree when at camp, which is the safest way an individual can store their food outdoors no matter whether they’re miles-deep on a national forest trail or at a bear-prone state campground near the highway.
The 10.65-liter capacity is enough space to hold 5 days of food for an individual. A 6-foot high-tensile rope cord cinches the top and can be used to hang the bear bag at night. The fabric is water-resistant, and a reflector tag has been attached so that you can easily find your bag in the darkness with your headlamp.
Though the Allmitey is guaranteed to be bear-proof, and it is backed by a lifetime replacement warranty should a bear ever tear into it, Ursack recommends a smell-proof liner to help prevent bears from ever finding the sack in the first place. Read on to our budget pick to learn about our recommended smell-proof bag.
Ursack Allmitey Key Features:
- Laminated UHMWP and Kevlar fabric weave
- 10.65-liter storage capacity
- Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee certified container
- Lifetime warranty
Best Budget Bear-Proof Container: LOKSAK OPSAK
The LOKSAK OPSAK is the most recommended smell-proof bag for camping, bar none. Many other bear-proof products, like the aforementioned Ursack Allmitey, specifically recommend pairing their own bear-proof containers with these smell-proof bags to create the ultimate outdoor food protection kit. Though the LOKSAK OPSAK is not durable in the least, it is a solid prevention tool that will keep rodents and bears away from your camp by simply trapping all food aromas. Just don’t expect it alone to keep a bear out of your food if one does start poking around your supplies.
It’s a product that will give hunters, backpackers, and campers peace of mind while they rest at night. The hermetically sealed bags are completely air and watertight when used properly. The plastic can withstand temperatures up to 170-degrees Fahrenheit, is food safe, and can be cleaned with soapy water. You can actually use this bag to cook food if you wish, and there are several sizes to choose from. Aside from bear safety, these bags can also be used to protect items from water and dust, and it can also be used as an odor-eliminating waste bag.
Every bear-proof canister and container will be made better with the addition of a LOKSAK OPSAK. It can be used as a prevention tool on its own, but it is at its best as a bear-deterrent when used in conjunction with another bear-proof container.
LOKSAK OPSAK Key Features:
- Hermetically sealed to keep odor from escaping
- Leakproof and airtight enclosure
- Can be filled with boiling water to cook food
- Multiple sizes available
Best Large Bear-Proof Canister: Bearicuda 30 Gallon Can
Certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee and the Living with Wildlife Foundation, the Bearicuda 30 Gallon Can is a bear-proof canister you can count on. It is made of high-density polyethylene that is reinforced at the bottom, top, and sidewalls for maximum protection against bear claws and teeth. The screw-top lid is robust and features a gasket that makes the can airtight to prevent odors from attracting bears or any other wild critters in the first place.
The reason why this canister took our top spot for the category is because of its versatility. It works well as an at-home trash can, but its clean and simple design also makes it a great option for food storage while camping. The 30-gallon capacity provides plenty of space to store food and equipment. Optional sturdy metal handles can be purchased an installed on the trash can to make lifting and moving easier, but they are not included by default. This is because the handles make it easier for bears to lift and move the can as well. You’ll have to weigh the decision whether to include them or not.
As far as we’re concerned, you won’t find a more well-rounded large bear-proof canister. The only large storage container more bear-proof would be a solid metal bear box. This Bearicude 30 Gallon Can is nearly as capable of protecting your belongings from bear attacks, and it is much more affordable, portable, and versatile than any metal bear box could ever be.
Bearicuda 30 Gallon Can Key Features:
- 30-gallon storage capacity
- Screw-top airtight lid
- HDPE reinforced top, bottom, and sidewalls
- Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee and Living with Wildlife Foundation certified container
Best Bear-Proof Canister for Backpacking: Frontiersman Bear Canister
Backpackers must have a solution for bear-proofing their food and supplies whenever they head out into bear-infested woods. Bear cans like the Frontiersman Bear Canister can keep your food cache safe from bears and other critters during the night while you sleep, and they are required while backpacking in certain national parks. The Frontiersman Bear Canister is conveniently designed to fit inside a backpack and has ample storage space for several days worth of food.
The funnel-like shape of this bear can has a dual-purpose. First, it’s a great shape for carrying inside of your backpack as it leaves plenty of room around its base for supplies to surround it deep within your pack, and it opens wide at the top to balance itself within your gear as well as to provide you with easy access to the food within. Secondly, the shape is difficult for bears to carry away. It won’t stand or roll away easily, and it is always heavier at one end which will cause it to topple out of a bear’s thumbless grip.
A pro and con of this canister, depending on how you look at it, is the locking lid. This canister utilizes three thick screws to lock the lid in place. As a pro, this makes it virtually impossible for a bear to open, but, as a con, it can also be a bit of an inconvenience for you to regularly access. The screws twist easily enough, though, and any standard coin can be used in their slotted grooves to make the opening and closing processes go a little quicker. This bear can is approved by the US Forest Service in the national parks.
Frontiersman Bear Canister Key Features:
- 11.86-liter storage capacity
- Airtight seal prevents odors
- Industrial screw locking lid
- Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee and US Forest Service certified container
Who Should Buy A Bear-Proof Container
Bear-proof canisters are required in some state and national parks. You’ll most definitely need a bear-proof container in these areas, and it would be wise to use bear-proof storage whenever you are staying in bear territory. Hunters, campers, and backpackers should all have bear-proof containers and canisters at-the-ready for their trips into bear country.
Those with homes and vacation cabins in bear-riddled lands also need to have bear-proof containers, especially for their trash. If you suspect bear activity in your area, a trail camera can help you identify the bears around your property. You may also want to invest in a quality pair of binoculars in order to examine them clearly from a distance during the day.
Important Features to Consider
There are a few important considerations to think through before purchasing a bear-proof container.
- Your scenario. Will you be backpacking, camping, hunting, or are you looking for a bear-proof storage container for your home? The purpose of your need will determine what style of bear-proof container or canister you should shop for.
- Size. In any given scenario, the size of your bear-proof container will certainly be an important consideration. Anything food-related, including other scented-essentials like toothpaste, body lotion, and pet food, should be stored away inside of your bear-proof container when you sleep. How many people will you need to store food for? Will everybody have their own bear-proof container, or would you rather have one larger container for the entire group?
- Ground or hanging storage. There are two ways to store your food at camp, either on the ground or hanging in a tree. We further describe these methods below in the FAQ. If you want to hang your food, it’d be much easier to do with a sack than a rigid container. If you want to store your food on the ground, a rigid container will better withstand an aggressive bear and will be much more difficult for the bear to carry away than would be a sack.
- Material composition. Strength and durability are key in any truly bear-proof container. No manufacturer claims that their container or canister is totally 100% bear-proof. They’re all bear-resistant to varying degrees, and some of the less-durable options were designed to discourage bear presence by utilizing smell-proof technologies or were made with the intention of being strung up high and out of reach in a tree. Be sure to choose the type of container that is best for your situation. You can get away with bear-resistant sacks if you hang them properly, but ultra-strong bear canisters and coolers are recommended if you’re keeping your food on the ground.
- Locks and latches. Not all locks and latches are made equal. A bear-proof container must be difficult for a bear to open, and bears can be much smarter than they look. Twist-lock lids and recessed latches may be tricky for a bear to figure out, but they likely will get past those minor defenses with enough time. You’ll want a container with extremely secure locks like screwing deadbolts and padlocks for long-term bear-proof storage if you intend to leave your stuff behind at camp while you go off on an adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes a container bear-proof?
There are two important aspects that make a container bear-proof. First, the material needs to be tough enough to withstand the weight and strength of a bear. A bear will bite, sit on, throw, and claw at a container to get at the sweet-smelling treats within. Bear-proof containers must endure all of this for an extended period of time. Second, a bear-proof container needs a secure locking and/or latching mechanism that bears cannot easily figure out. Bears can be quite smart, and so the container must use padlocks, screw-top lids, deadbolts, and other secure locking methods that the bear cannot undo.
Are bear canisters smell proof?
Many bear-proof containers are not smell proof. Watertight coolers and containers with gaskets may be smell-proof, as are certain hermetically sealed smell-proof bags that have been designed specifically so, but most bear-proof containers are not fully smell-proof.
Where should I store my bear canister at camp?
Bear canisters should be stored at least 100 feet away from your sleeping location and should be positioned where they will not be easily knocked downhill or into water. If a bear is attracted to your bear container, it’s best that the bear stays away from your main camp. The bear will do whatever it can to try and break into the container, and so if your container is left on a hill or near a river you may lose it if the bear is extra aggressive with it.
If one is available, you should always utilize a grounded bear box. These are often located in national or state park campgrounds where bear activity is high. Your food will be extra-safe inside of a dedicated bear box.
Another option is to hang your food out of reach of a bear. This should also be done 100 feet or further away from your tent. Smell-proof bags are great to use if you decide to hang your food because it will help to keep rodents and other critters away as well.
Do I really need a bear canister?
If you are camping, hunting, backpacking, or if you live in an area where bears are prevalent, you need a bear canister. A bear canister will help to keep you, your food, and the bears safe from harm.
People often assume that bears cannot smell their food if it is kept in Ziploc containers, or that bears cannot get to their food if they keep it in their car, but both of these assumptions are wrong. Bears have an unbelievable sense of smell that is many, many times greater than our own. And bears can, indeed, break into a vehicle. You don’t want to wake up to a smashed window because you left your chips in the backseat of your SUV.
Other Bear-Proof Containers We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other bear-proof canisters and containers. Even though they didn’t make our five best bear-proof container list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for securing your food, valuables, or anything else from nosey bears. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.
- Bear-Proof Coolers
- Bear-Proof Backpacking Containers
- Large Bear-Proof Containers
- Budget Bear-Proof Containers
Able to retain ice for up to 14 days, the Canyon Coolers Outfitter Series is a serious cooler for long-term outdoor use. It features recessed cam latches and bulletproof hinges that bears just can’t get past.
- 55-quart cooler
- IGBC Grizzly Resistant Bear Certified
- Lifetime warranty
The Cascade Mountain Tech Cooler is an excellent travel cooler for any occasion. Its insulated walls are three inches thick, and it features tiedown slots that can secure your chilled belongings from bears and uninvited guests alike.
- 80-quart cooler
- Tiedown slots
- Durable nylon rope carry handles
The Lifetime High Performance Cooler performs admirably, especially at its fair price point. It has a watertight seal so that liquid will never spill out from the closed lid. This cooler has been tested and certified to keep a bear out for at least one hour of effort.
- 55-quart cooler
- Certified to withstand a bear for up to an hour
- Watertight seal
Made in the USA and loaded with extras like bottle openers at all four corners and tie-down slots, the Orion Heavy Duty Premium Cooler is perfect for everything from backyard barbecues to overnight canoeing trips.
- 25-quart cooler
- Certified by Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee
- Lifetime warranty
The Pure Outdoor Emperor Cooler takes the padlock approach to bear security. The rubbed latches are supported by steel reinforced padlock holes. Several larger sizes and multiple color options are available.
- 25-liter cooler with more sizes available
- Steel reinforced padlock holes
- Multiple colors to choose from
Featuring recessed latches and a hidden padlock plate, the Siberian Coolers Alpha Pro Series is certain to keep bears at bay. It also features a wire basket, a cutting board that doubles as a divider, and reversible feet so that you can give the cooler grip or enable it to slide easily.
- 45-quart cooler
- IGBC Certified Bear Resistant
- Lifetime warranty
Bear-Proof Backpacking Containers
The Ratsack Bear Bag is not, in and of itself, a bear-proof bag. It is, however, fully rodent-proof, and if you hang it from its drawcord loop high in a tree overnight as all bear bags should, no bear will be able to get at your food. Nor will any tricksy mice.
- 20, 30, and 41-liter sizes available
- Stainless steel mesh sack
- Largest size weighs 12.5 ounces
A complete bear bag hanging system, the Selkirk Designs Bear Bag is the perfect item for backpackers who are new to camping in bear territory. This kit has everything you need to protect your food from bears, including a handy instruction booklet.
- 9-liter rolltop dry bag
- 2 36-foot ropes and 2 carabiners
- A durable and stretchy stuff sack and instruction booklet
Many national parks and other outdoor areas require overnight backpackers to use certified bear canisters like the Udap No-Fed-Bear Canister when camping in the wilderness. It’ll be difficult for a bear to carry this off, and nigh impossible for one to get inside.
- 8″ diameter and 10″ height
- Weighs 2.4 pounds
- Security screws can be operated with a coin
The Ursack Bear Backpack is another bear-proof bag that utilizes Kevlar fabric that resists punctures by teeth and claws, among many other sharp objects. Critters both big and small will be unable to gnaw their way through this bag’s water-resistant, patent-pending laminated fabric.
- 10.65-liter capacity
- Weighs 13-ounces
- Lifetime warranty
Made for lightweight backpackers, the Ursak Major Black Bear Bag is lighter in weight and larger in size than the Allmitey. It isn’t water-resistant and won’t be quite as rodent proof as the Allmitey, but it is bear-proof and much more convenient to carry on longer backpacking trips.
- 10.65-liter capacity
- Weighs 7.5-ounces
- Lifetime warranty
Large Bear-Proof Containers
Use it is a bear-proof trash can or a large bear-proof camp caddy. Either way, the Bearicude Classic Cart is a large, rigid storage container with wheels for easy portability. It’s also been made to work with automated arm lifting neighborhood trash trucks.
- 32-gallon capacity
- Reinforced steel rim design
- Automated arm lift ready
The Bearicuda Stealth Trash Can is an absolute beast of a bear-proof container. Its lid features a plastic locking mechanism and has been designed so that rainwater should never make it inside of the container.
- 95-gallon capacity
- Plastic locking mechanism
- Five-year warranty
The Eagle Lab Pack was designed with the capability to store hazardous materials, but many customers have found that it also works well as a bear-proof container. The extra-thick plastic and screw top lid make it extremely difficult for a bear to access the supplies within.
- 20-gallon storage capacity
- Screw top lid
- Food-safe material
Another heavy-duty plastic container, the Eagle Pack Drum is much like the previously described container, but with more capacity and a taller shape. Customers have praised it as a bear-proof container for camping trips and as a bear-proof household trash can.
- 30-gallon capacity
- Screw top lid
- Weighs 12 pounds
Featuring a bear-proof locking latch, a steel-reinforced rim, and a double-walled lid, the Toter Bear-Tight Cart is a stout container that no bear should be able to penetrate. User reviews show images and tell stories of bears trying to get into this cart and failing.
- 96-gallon capacity
- Automated arm lift ready
- Three-year warranty
The TrailMax Pack Pannier is the perfect solution for those with pack animals who need bear-proof containers. It is curved to fit your animal comfortably. This pannier also accommodates screw-in legs that can turn it into a table or workspace.
- Meets USFS and Interagency Grizzly Requirements
- Can be used on pack-saddle or as a table in camp
- Screw-in legs available separately
Budget Bear-Proof Containers
One of the best ways to keep your food safe from bears at camp is to hang it high in a tree. The Feather River Bear Bag has everything you need to hang your backpack or food sack high and out of reach of the bears in your neck of the woods.
- 60-foot paraline cord
- Tested to hold up to 600 pounds
- Cordura stuff sack and carabiner included
The tri-layered Hunters Specialities Scent-A-Way Travel Bag is not bear-proof, but it will help to keep the bears away from you while you hunt or camp. It utilizes a smell-blocking foil technology that prevents bears from smelling your food or hunting equipment.
- Foil lined scent-proof nylon bag
- 4 feet wide by 3 feet tall
- Nylon handles and scent-proof zipper
The Reyleo Ice Chest is a great cooler for long weekend camping excursions, a day at the lake, and everything in between. It’s a sturdy bear-proof cooler with secure latches and a convenient carry handle. This chest will keep ice from melting for up to three days.
- 21-quart capacity
- Can support up to 700 pounds of weight
- Built-in bottle openers, cup holder, and fish ruler