There are two primary concerns when it comes to storing food while camping. First, it’s important to prevent your food from becoming contaminated for your health and safety. The second concern is that it could draw bears into your camp or other predators. Even rodents can gnaw into your supplies and ruin them. At a minimum, you’ll lose your food supply and in a worst case scenario, you could be injured or killed by a wild, hungry marauding animal. The following tips will hep you to safely store your food the right way while camping.
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Store food in tight odor proof containers
This is the cardinal rule for food storage. Perishable goods must be kept in a cooler, preferably one that locks tightly. Store the ice chest in your vehicle and keep it away from your tent or the main camping area. For your safety, make sure that all items are stored in airtight containers that seal to keep perishables from leaking. For example, bacon, hamburger and hot dogs should be placed in plastic containers, then set in the cooler to keep the odors they give off at a minimum. Even if you can’t smell them, a predator probably can.
Clean the camp site after every meal
Leaving any food items open in camp is an invitation for hungry animals to get a free meal. Their sense of smell is so acute that they often catch the scent of food from long distances and they will travel to find a good dinner. When you’re through eating, get rid of the evidence and don’t leave food items out on the camp table, even if they’re non-perishable.
Never store food in your tent
Food should be kept in a vehicle or a location away from your tent and main activity area. A bear could smell your midnight snack and decide to come right into the tent and join you. It’s not worth taking the risk, especially when you’re camping in an area that is a known hangout for bears.
Consider a metal food locker
Metal food lockers are designed specifically for use in areas with high bear populations. Bears have been known to tear through boxes and even damage coolers to get to the food that is stored inside them. They are large and powerful creatures, but it’s hard for them to do much damage to a metal box that is made with them in mind.
Store all food items away from the latrine
Whether you dig a latrine or use a portable camp toilet, it’s vital that you keep all food items a safe distance away. This goes for the cooking and meal preparation area as well. Many cases of illness have been reported because of improper hygiene and food storage that is near a bathroom. Keep your food items safe from contamination. Make sure that you wash your hands before handling the food inside of a cooler. Germs can quickly transfer from unwashed hands into the water from melted ice in a cooler. This can contaminate everything that is inside and make everyone who eats the food very ill.
Store your cooler in a shaded place
Some coolers are built tough to withstand hot temperatures, but they all have their limitations. Place your camping cooler in a shaded area, preferably a place with a cool breeze. If you store it in a vehicle, crack a window so there is ventilation and some air flow. This can help extend the life of the ice inside and keep your perishables at acceptable temperatures to avoid spoilage. Eggs, cheese, milk and raw meat should be kept at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler to be safe.
Pack your cooler properly
Before you leave on your trip, chill the items that are perishable. Meats may be frozen and packed into the bottom of the chest to keep the inside cooler for longer. Put the things you’ll be using last on the bottom, and the food items you plan to consume first towards the top. This makes it easier to take the items that you’ll need out of the cooler more quickly so you can close the lid and preserve the ice inside for longer. Also, portable cooler with wheels may come handy while camping, as it’s much easier to move around from your campsite.
All it takes is a little planning in advance to make your camping trip a raging success. Proper food storage can keep the bears away while keeping your food fresh and healthy. You can avoid the big problems that can arise because of poor food storage habits in just a few short steps.