June 22, 2021
Immersing yourself in the great outdoors for a few days is a great way to refill your energy stores and reset your mind. Make sure your next camping trip goes off without a hitch by following these helpful tips to keep your food items safe and fresh during your adventure.
Camping means you basically become an overnight guest of the animals who call your campground home. As such, it’s important you do everything you can to leave the wildlife undisturbed while you’re in nature and after you leave.
The unfamiliar smells of human food can be highly intriguing to wild animals, which means snacking on corn nuts as you relax in your tent just before bed could invite unwelcomed visitors to your front door. Critters like mice, rats, racoons, and even bears have no trouble gnawing through a tent to gain access to your treats.
Do everyone a favor and keep food items out of your tent.
(A side note: if you are in bear country, you should keep anything with a strong odor far away from your tent. This includes lotions, soaps, deodorant, and toothpaste.)
According to the US National Parks Service, you should try to prepare your food in a place that is 100 yards from your campsite to keep the smell of food away from your tent.
During the day, make sure any perishable food is kept in a cooler that stays out of direct sunlight. Non-perishables and dry goods can be kept in a clear plastic tub with a lid.
At night, you may want to further secure your cooler and bins by storing them inside your car if it is nearby. If the car isn’t an option, you may want to consider hanging food from trees in bags or canisters to keep it away from nocturnal creatures (again, this is especially important if you are camping in bear country).
Foods like eggs, raw meats and milk will spoil if the temperature in your ice chest reaches 40°F or higher. Placing a thermometer inside your cooler will help ensure your food stays cool and fresh.
Help your chest stay cooler longer by icing it down and getting it cold before adding food items. Double bag any raw meats for added safety and layer foods in the ice chest in the order you will need them, with the foods you’ll eat on the first night at the top and the foods for your last night on the very bottom.
Be a good guest while you are outdoors. Never leave food unattended, even while you’re in camp. Eat when you’re hungry then put everything away.
Even small crumbs can attract bothersome ants and flies, so keep camp clean before, during, and after meals.
Most importantly, at the end of each day you should haul your daily trash accumulation away from your camp. It should go into campground dumpsters if they are available, or up in a tree away from your camp if you are staying in the backcountry.
As responsible campers, it is up to us to make sure we keep ourselves safe from hungry animals and the animals safe from the smores and other foods we bring with us that aren’t fit for animal consumption.
Here’s to getting outdoors and eating well!
Wide Open Eats
National Parks Service
January 11, 2022
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