Whether you plan on a day hike, an overnight camping experience or days in a wilderness area, food is a part of your outdoor experience. Food safety should be part of your planning. You don’t want wildlife getting your food, and you don’t want foodborne illness getting you.
- Plan your meals before you leave for your trip. Don’t forget nutrition-packed foods that help provide the energy you need for hikes, biking and other strenuous activities
- Pack food in tight, waterproof bags or containers.
- Keep food in an insulated cooler with ice. If you trip is over several days and you will not have access to replenish the ice, plan for meals that do not need refrigeration.
- Separate raw foods from cooked foods.
- Cook food properly.
- Chill/store leftover food immediately.
- Practice personal hygiene. Wash your hands before handling food.
Keeping food safe from wildlife, especially bears
Never leave food unattended, even for a short hike or a swim. You can store your food in:
- A hard-sider camper or motor home, vehicle trunk or cab, or enclosed horse trailer. However, bears have been known to break windows and mangled vehicles just to get to food they smell.
- Suspended 10 feet up and 4 feet out from a vertical support, such as a tree. This is sometimes difficult to do depending on the amount of food.
- Store your food, even snacks, in an approved bear-resistant container. Most coolers and plastic storage boxes are easy for bears to break into. Some campgrounds offer large storage boxes. Call to see if they are available and how much they will store.
- Learn more about bears by checking our bear page
These are only the basic rules. Here's more resources:
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service “Food Safety While Hiking, Camping & Boating”
- Centers for Disease Control and Presentation "Camping, Hiking and Travel"
Remember: You are responsible for your own safety and for the safety of those around you.