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Anyone with experience in bear-populated areas, what's the best way to store food when your on the move with a car? Are some foods better than others? Wondering specifically about black bears in Northern California, but would things be different if you were in say Montana around the grizzlies?

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migrated from Nov 4 '13 at 11:18

This question came from our site for road warriors and seasoned travelers.

Since this question asks about food storage while traveling by car and this question asks about food storage while hiking, I think it deserves to stay open. – DudeOnRock Nov 4 '13 at 19:10
I agree with @DudeOnRock. There is a huge difference between travelling in a vehicle and hiking. Hence this cannot be marked as a duplicate. – Unsung Nov 5 '13 at 6:34

I caution against storing the food in your car. Bears have been known to do serious damage to a car trying to get in. Hence

  • Don't eat in the car - ever
  • Do not store food or other items that "smell" open in you car
  • While in transit, store items in sealed containers in your trunk
  • If you are in designated car camping spots, check to see if they have designated secure storage bins.
  • If there are no secure storage bins, use bear canisters
  • Don't just use bear bags, most western states require canisters
  • A bear can still roll your canister away so you make want to consider hanging it
  • Keep your camp to the triangle method if possible (some car camping sites are too small). See this answer -

I have never found any research recommending one food over another for bear territory. Bears are prone to investigate anything that might be food so it's unlikely you can avoid bears purely by food choice.

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The biggest thing that you didn't touch on is that in areas were bear/human interactions are common, they have come to associate certain objects with food, like coolers. Even an empty cooler in your car that is visible from the outside can be targeted by a bear. Keep your car tidy and store all containers in a secure bin, or just outside and open if they are empty. Also, most legal requirements for storage (at least in California bear areas) only apply for overnight storage in cars, but it would still be unwise to leave food in the car during the day, even if it isn't strictly forbidden – crasic Nov 6 '13 at 7:26
Everything about food also applies to other scented items such as toothpaste, sunscreen, and air fresheners. – Ben Crowell Nov 13 '13 at 16:58
You may want to consider hanging it is in direct contradiction to these answers. Do you simply disagree, or are the circumstances different? – gerrit Jun 8 '14 at 19:15
Remember 2 key things: 1) bears have one of the best senses of smell of all animals, at 2100 times better than humans on average! 2) because others have had food in cars and bears have broken in, they've associated cars with food... cars are like wrapped candies. This is what I learned from a former Yosemite park ranger: – james Apr 29 '15 at 23:02

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