When in bear country…

Do you guys store your expensive fridges/batteries or yetis in bear boxes when you’re camping in bear country and are going to be out on the trail all day? Or do you leave them in your campers? I’d hate for a bear to wreck my truck trying to get in, but I’d also hate for a hooman to steal my fridge with food.

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Black bear country or Grizzly bear country?


If bear boxes available, I use them.

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In the past I‘ve used my Yeti with Padlocks in the Go Fast in Grizzly and Black Bear Country without incident.

I’ve got an ICECO running off a Goal Zero now and have used it once in Black Bear country without incident…I never thought about leaving them in a Bear Box though…some of those Bear Boxes are more rugged than the GFC….:man_shrugging:t4:

Following this thread to see what people are doing in bear country as well

Overnight in bear country I pull my fridge out and put it in a locker if available for sure.dont want the gfc opened like a lightweight tin can.

I know some people just put their food in the boxes in a small cooler overnight but the fridge has a smell as well.

If no bear boxes are available I will put it in my back seat in the hope of less odor transmission to the world

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I’ve been thinking about this issue since I got my GFC. Keeping food in the camper is just silly, IMO. Folks on this forum worry about security from humans. A hungry bear would break into the GFC in minutes if food smells were wafting out. From what I know, there are only two ways to limit the chances of having bears raid your food.

  1. If you want to eat fresh food and cook on a stove, have a bear resistant cooler to store your fresh food and leave all kitchen supplies including your stove with the cooler at least 100 yards from the camper. I have a lockable certified bear resistant otterbox cooler. Which means very little…

  2. Eat packaged backpacking style food and dispose of trash in fire or store in bear resistant container. Neither of those are 100% effective.

It seems to me that the only safe way to camp in bear country is to limit eating areas to far from the camper. I think my plan out in the sticks of Montana will be eating far from the GFC, eating backpacking style food, and disposing of trash in a fire. If I do need a cooler, I would be securing my cooler top door with locks and chaining it to a tree near my eating area about 100 yards from the camper. Sucks a little, but a bear encounter in the middle of the night in the middle nowhere would be worse. Especially if you’re sleeping with your food. I don’t live in Montana, but, I have a cabin in western Montana, and bears are ever-present. I love scoping out little creeks that look like they get less pressure. That puts me out there.

I’ll be following this thread for other info. I’m not any sort of outdoor specialist.



I think @GFC706 ‘s suggestions are probably best practice. However, I personally just lock dry food in the truck along with the cold foods in my iceco freezer here in MT. I feel it’s not the best but also not the worst solution. It is always best practice though to NEVER sleep with smelly foods/toothpaste in your tent. Tent canvas is FAR less superior in every way. I do recommend sleeping with some bear spray or a cordless hole puncher for worst case scenarios. Loud noises like banging pots and pans can scare them away depending on the situation.

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I camped outside of Glacier at the end of last Sept. I had a 4Runner at the time and my fridge and food stayed locked in there at night. One thing I did read is bears hate the smell of pine, so I read recommendations of using regular Pine-sol around camp. What I did for that was got some sponges and poured pine-sol on them and placed them around camp on a ziplock bag. When it was time to move camp, Id place them in a ziplock bag to use for the next spot. No bear encounters, and I was cooking Cajun food out there for dinner. Not sure if it’s what actually kept them away or not, but I’ll keep doing it!

Even a black bear will rip your door open for food no problem. A friend left a bag of candy in my back seat of a car when we went out on the trail and that was enough. Didn’t like Jr. Mints. They were spit out on the seat and floor and the rest of it was gone. I’m really concerned about food, cooking smells and the likes in grizzly territory. Some great ideas here.

Fall of 2014, Mammoth Lakes, CA. Black bears in the Eastern Sierras are no joke. Made quick work of the door on my 1987 Volvo 240. I was just thankful that it didn’t defecate in there. I know others that weren’t so lucky.


Good conversation here. Glad I asked.

I’ll be road tripping through the Eastern Sierra this summer and the thought just occurred to me. Backpacking has been easy enough, as food generally isn’t perishable and is easy to store away from camp at night.

This will be my first time in bear-frequented areas with a fridge and a pricey cooler. On some days I was planning to keep everything at camp while going off hiking for a full day. Definitely don’t want to come back to camp to a shredded camper. The only thing I can think to do is not buy food that needs to be refrigerated until after the days I have all day hikes planned.

Something doesn’t add up with this, considering bears live primarily in pine tree forested areas.

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Even if you store your food in a bear locker, it might be good to plan for wiping down the outside of your fridge with something that will remove the food residue and hide the smell, if it’s going to stay inside your vehicle. Being a fridge, it’s likely to have food smells on the outside just from normal handling, and the bear won’t know it’s empty until it’s already broken in.

That was my exact thought when I read about it

It depends on the type

A little known fact is that the main component of Pine SOL hasn’t always been the same. Its name might suggest that it is made from pine oil and it was true up until a few years ago. However, modern Pine SOL does not have pine oil in most cases. Pine oil is what causes the health issues and that is why it was discontinued. You can still get Pine SOL with pine oil in it but this is only available online and it is this Pine SOL that carries the highest possibility of adverse health effects. Regular Pine SOL these days uses glycolic acid as its main component which is relatively a lot safer. We will take a look at the specific risks both these carry.

Possible health risks of pine oil

Pine oil while being lethal to germs can be dangerous to humans as well if ingested in large quantities. Pine SOL that is advertised to have pine oil but available in stores uses pine oil only for fragrance and this is usually too little to cause any major issues. It can still induce vomiting and nausea in some cases.

The online variant contains 8.25% pine oil and this is a bit more dangerous. If this is accidentally ingested or somehow gets into your bloodstream then it can cause severe nausea, difficulty breathing, burning sensation in throat and eyes, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat. The best remedy is to seek emergency medical help after property washing any area that got splashed with this type of Pine SOL.

the bears know what is not good for them

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So I’m assuming that keeping your fridge plugged in in the back of the GFC isn’t a good idea? We’re heading out West to Bear country in July, and we will be camping. We’ve never camped in bear country before.

I’m sure people do it all the time. If you’re concerned about bears and you know that you’re going to leave the fridge in the GFC, maybe tone down the cooking a little. Don’t cook that curry recipe you’ve been wanting to try… Cook farther away from you camper. Don’t sleep in the clothes you cooked in. Leave trash and and stuff that may smell like food away from the camper. If there’s bear lockers, utilize those for sure.

And keep your bear spray accessible…

Spending almost all my summers in Montana, I’ve seen lots of bears. They get into things… I’ve only heard of one bear stalking a human, but that’s too many. I’ve seen many big black bears and a handful of grizzlies. I don’t want to meet any of them. Be sensible, go for the experience, not the gourmet camp cooking, and I’m sure you’ll be fine.



Thanks for the advice. My fridge does have a cover, but I’m not sure that would help. I leave the fridge plugged in 24/7. I suppose I could put it in the backseat of my vehicle.

I always sleep with my 10mm and have my truck keys near me. The car alarm blaring and lights flashing will most likely scare anything away that is close by…