In bear country, we are told, never eat food in your tent.

I no longer live in bear country but I may return in the future. If I eat food in my tent now, does that mean that, from a bear's point of view, it will smell of food even one or more years in the future? Or does never mean the less restrictive never while in bear country?

  • I did not know this was a thing :)
    – user2766
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 15:30
  • Perhaps I am taking never too literally?
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 15:50

3 Answers 3


I'm pretty sure bears can distinguish fresh food from year old residues. Otherwise nothing you own could ever go into bear country. Our clothes, cell phones, wallets etc have all been to so many more restaurants than your average bear, yet bears almost never take this stuff.

Additional evidence: finding old old french fries under the seat of my car after many trips to Yosemite.

Also, last time I checked, bears there still haven't realized they should break into RVs. So it seems they are a little picky about where they steal food.


If you've got bacon grease or donut glaze smeared on your tent floor, then you'd better wash it off before you head back to bear country. Otherwise, eating food in your tent now shouldn't affect it's flavor a year from now.

Remember that food in your tent will draw other creatures to investigate the scent - such as mice and ants. Mice will certainly exploit any hole or tear, although I've never experienced a mouse chewing a new hole into my tent.


We have over 40 years of experience in black bear country, zero in Grizzly country. The black bear's nose is exquisitely sensitive to food that is here. We have frequently eaten in our tent in bad weather (but never cooked food or stored food or spilled food in the tent), and the tent has not been subsequently attractive to bears. Not sure how much detail is appropriate, here. You want more detail, I have more detail.

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