Some hikers have experienced raids by bears, who will often go to great lengths to access food. The bear canister is a lightweight solution to the problem: it is a special bear-resistant food canister which prevents bears from accessing the food supply. Bear canisters are widely used by hikers and campers in bear infested areas, some of which have seen a 60% drop in bear problems since the introduction of bear canisters.
Other methods of protecting food from bears such as counterbalancing bags of food from trees are time consuming and still vulnerable to determined bears. A bear canister is totally smooth, leaving no areas for a bear to get a grip. The lid is flush with the container, usually screwing on, and the bear canister is wide enough that a bear cannot fit its jaws around the canister. Bear canisters are usually tested with problem bears before they are approved to make sure that the canisters are truly impenetrable.
People on backpacking trips should be aware that some recreation areas require the use of a bear canister. Although this may seem irritating, it is for the protection of the hikers as well as the bears. Most recreation areas have food lockers at the trail head which can be used, and also offer bear canisters or bear boxes for rental to people who do not have them. Using a bear canister anywhere bears live is a good idea, even if it is not required.
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To use a bear canister properly, secure all scented items inside the bear canister. Make sure that there is room for garbage in the canister as well. Keep the bear canister locked unless you are actively making food, and store it at least 100 feet (30 meters) from your campsite. Should bears approach, allow them to investigate the bear canister and determine that they cannot extract food from it.
In areas where bears have become particularly adroit and aggressive, a bear canister is the only way to keep your food safe. By isolating all scented items in a bear canister, you will prevent bears from wreaking havoc at your campsite, and you will also ensure that you will not lose food to bears, which could potentially cut a backpacking trip short. Bears will also learn that they cannot get food from hikers, and will start to seek out natural food sources instead of posing a potential threat to humans.