How Do You Store Food At Night When Camping?
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How Do You Store Food At Night When Camping? (Helpful Tips!)

Camping is all about efficient storage so that you make the most out of your little space. Camping’s no fun if all you do is worry about how you store your food at night. Therefore, I’ve put up a quick guide that’ll help you learn the ins and outs of how to store your meals when on a long camping trip.

To store your food at night when camping, you can use a cooler for cold foods. For dry foods, use either a bear bag (strong waterproof storage bag), canister (airtight container), or hang your food up high on a tree out of animals’ reach. When camping, store your food away from your campsite and ensure that all the trash is disposed of properly.

In this article, I’m going to go over exactly how I store food in my camping endeavors alongside some tips and tricks to help you get started.

Storing Your Food At Night – General Tips

Storing Your Food At Night - General Tips

Before I get started with individual food items, there are some tips that you should definitely familiarize yourself with. These apply to every food item and are meant to be used as general guidelines.

  • Never Leave Food Unattended: Be it in your tent or right close by, keeping food close can lead to smaller animals like squirrels clenching your food away in the night and when the sun’s up.
  • Strong Smelling Food Should Be Discarded: Foods with strong smell or trash can attract wild animals that use smell to hunt down their prey. Therefore, dispose of all your food items properly as soon as you are done with them. Make sure to not leave any trash behind.
  • Keep A Reserve: Whether you go camping for a single day or a week, calculate your rations according to the campers you have with you and pack up for a few more days. This helps ensure that you are able to survive bad weather if it ends up coming.
  • Maintain Cleanliness: While camping, fecal and oral transmissions are a primary cause of digestive sickness. Therefore, remember to wash your hands appropriately before you handle food.
  • Keep Your Food Away: Unless and until you have to eat inside your tent because of the weather, you should have your food 300-400 feet from your campsite. And, discard your food in the same place rather than bringing leftovers to the tent.

Equipment For Storing Your Food At Night While Camping

I’ve gone camping at various sites. Some are safer than others. For instance, sites closer to cities will probably not have the danger of wild animals rummaging around in the middle of the night. But, before you make that assumption; make sure to check with your local park ranger and take note of the guidelines.

Otherwise, you might just be issued a hefty fine for not having appropriate equipment when out camping. If you just want to take a quick gander at what’s appropriate for which kinds of food, here’s a quick table to help you get started:

Cold FoodsCooler
Dry FoodsBear Bags / Bear Canisters / Hanging Your Food
DrinksBear Bags / Cooler


The cooler is your best friend when you go out camping. It keeps your drinks cool, your meats refrigerated, and is vacuum-sealed so no scent leaks through. Any heavy-duty cooler should do just fine given that it is sturdy and spacious enough for your edibles.

The cooler is your best friend when you go out camping.

I’d personally recommend keeping raw meats and packed food in different coolers in order to avoid the risk of cross-contamination. However, keeping your meats in a separate plastic Ziploc bag should also do the trick.

When camping, don’t just rely on your senses to gauge the cooler’s temperature. Instead, bring a thermometer along to maintain sub-zero temperatures. Otherwise, your food, especially your meats might end up going stale.

Trust me, I’ve had some really good breakfasts with eggs and some of my favorite meats with the help of a cooler.

Bear bags

Even if there isn’t a fear of bears lurking around, they still are an excellent way to store food simply because of their build quality and ease of use. I’ve kept most of my dry food items like biscuits, protein bars, and candy (yes, I bring candy to camping trips) in bear bags.

While I’ve not had any experience of a bear rustling around my bags just yet, if you purchase a bear bag that has passed the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee test, you should be good to go. You can either take a look at the list of approved products or, you can opt for my personal favorite bear bag instead.

Bear canisters

Once again, while bear canisters are excellent for when you are in trouble of your food being gnawed on, canisters also serve a secondary purpose. They’re great for organizing and storing your food in smaller spaces. For instance, you can store both dry and wet food in separate canisters right in your backpack.

On the contrary, though, they’re quite heavy to carry around and you can opt for less bulky containers if you aren’t worried about bears. But, they still are a great choice for when you want to store your food at night when camping simply because of their ease of use and flexibility.

Did I mention that they also act as great seats for when you are tired on a camping trail?

Hanging your food when camping

This’ll definitely appeal to the wild ones amongst you. While this requires a bit of trouble, especially when trying to find a tree high enough to hang food on; it does have its merits. You can rest easy knowing that your food can’t be reached.

Hanging Your Food When Camping
Photo by Darwin onthetrail.

However, it definitely is cumbersome to hang your food repeatedly throughout the day. So, I wholeheartedly do not recommend it for snacking. To hang your food, all you’ll need is a utility cord (or strong rope) and a tree that’s able to hold your food up at about 12-20 feet.

I’ve hung my food almost every time I go out camping and I’ve grown to enjoy it quite a lot. Plus, it’s much cheaper than opting for bear canisters and requires a much lighter load.  Moreover, you can also store all your spices in a bag and then hang them for future use.


Storing your food at night when camping can be quite hectic if you aren’t sure of what you are doing and don’t want to accidentally attract a wild animal. Thankfully, with these tips, you’ll be able to have a restful slumber knowing all your food is secure and fresh for the next day. Happy camping!


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