Bear-Resistant Canisters

a black, cylindrical bear canister with a clear plastic liner and some food packets inside

The use of bear-resistant canisters for storage of food, garbage and other scented items was initiated in Glacier Bay National Park in 1991 for the safety and convenience of campers and kayakers. Since that time, the frequency of incidents where bears have damaged property or obtained food has remarkably decreased. Help keep Glacier Bay bears wild by knowing park regulations and practicing proper food storage.

Proper Use of Bear-Resistant Food Canisters

By law, all food, garbage, and other scented items (including toiletries, bottled drinks, and canned food) must be properly stored. Food must be stored at least 100 ft from camp, placed either in an approved bear-resistant food canister, or hung at least 10 feet off the ground, 4 feet horizontally, on a line or branch that cannot support a bear's weight. Because many areas of Glacier Bay do not have trees large enough to meet requirements for hanging, use of a bear-resistant food canister is highly recommended.

Canisters should be stored at least 100 yards downwind of the campsite by wedging between rocks or alder branches well above the high tide line. Canisters should also be stored away from obvious bear trails or travel routes. Give some thought to where a canister might roll if a bear does locate it.

Park-Provided Canisters

The National Park Service loans, free of charge, bear-resistant food canisters to registered backcountry users. Canisters will be issued with your permit from the Visitor Information Station (near the public dock in Bartlett Cove). Canisters are designed to fit into a backpack or the hatch of a kayak, and campers may borrow as many as they need.

Canister Specs:

  • manufacturer/model: Garcia, Backpacker's Cache 812
  • material: PVC (hard plastic)
  • dimensions: 8 in. diameter x 12 in. tall (20.3 cm x 30.5 cm)
  • weight: 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg)
  • volume: 560 cubic inches
  • capacity: approx. 6 days of food for one person
  • max. diameter of opening: 5.5 in. (14 cm)

Canisters are not completely watertight or odor-proof, so a clear plastic liner is given with each can. Canisters should not be used to stabilize cooking stoves, as the heat may melt or warp the canister lids. These canisters are easily opened (by humans) with the use of a coin or a washer.

Use of Personal Canisters

To be used in the Glacier Bay backcountry, personal bear-resistant food canisters must be on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee's certified products list.

Last updated: September 7, 2019

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Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
PO Box 140

Gustavus, AK 99826


907 697-2230

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