Bear Canisters

Backpacker with bear can
A hiker packs his bear canister in the Olympic high country.

How to Pack a Bear Canister

Please do your part to protect yourself, park wildlife, and other visitors by properly securing your food.

In many areas, a bear canister is the only way to properly secure food.

Bear canisters are required in some areas of the park's wilderness backcountry.

Many people, after using a bear canister for the first time, never go back to hanging food because of the convenience and other benefits afforded by using bear canisters.


Allowed Food Storage Containers
Because Olympic does not have staff for testing, we adhere to Yosemite National Park's list of allowed food storage containers. Olympic National Park may change this list at any time to ensure the protection of wildlife and visitors.

Allowed Canisters

Allowed Panniers

  • DeCarteret Aluminum Stock Panniers
  • Berner Bear Box
  • Bear Country Camping Models SFO and HFO
  • Outfitters Supply TrailMax Bear Proof Pack Panniers

Steel salvage drums with a security lid may be used until panniers are purchased.

Not Permitted: Ursacks
Ursacks have not been allowed for use in Olympic National Park as a bear canister replacement even though some models were approved July 31st, 2014 for Grizzly Bears by the IGBC. They make a great addition to standard food hanging practices.


Packing a Bear Canister

With a little planning, it is amazing how much food you can fit into a bear canister. If you choose the right foods and repackage them, you can maximize space. It takes a little effort and time but the results are rewarding.

Remember: All food, garbage, and scented items must be stored in bear canisters including canned food, dehydrated food, toothpaste, sunscreen, wrappers, etc.

Choose the right foods
Choose foods that are compact, compressible and high in calories such as rice, tortillas, jerky, pastas, nuts, dried fruits, peanut butter, and nutritional bars.

Repackage your food
Take food out of its original package. This allows you to fit more food in your canisters and reduce garbage. Use resealable bags instead of bottles, jars and cans. Force air out of bags or packages. Cut out or save cooking instructions from boxes.

Plan your menu
Carefully account for every meal that you will be eating. By doing this, you will save weight and space. At home, lay all food out on a table and plan each meal, snacks, drinks and condiments. Pre-measure and pre-mix food when possible.

Benefits of Using a Canister

  • Less stress, and peace of mind that your food is safe from animals - and the elements
  • More time at camp to relax instead of the time-consuming difficulty of trying to find the right tree to hang food properly
  • Guaranteed food supply if bears or other animals visit your camp - no aborted trips because animals ate your food
  • More freedom and flexibility to camp in areas without bear wires
  • They make a nice stool to sit on
  • They keep some foods from getting crushed in your pack

Are you tired of spending time hanging your food or walking to and from bear wires? Try a bear canister. These containers are lightweight, cylindrical units specifically designed to be animal-proof.

Bear canisters are the best method for securing food, garbage and other scented items from bears and other wildlife. They are lightweight, fit in most backpacks and will also help keep food like crackers, bread and other fragile foods from getting crushed or broken.

Always carry a bear canister when camping in the subalpine zone above 4,500 ft. in elevation, or in other areas where trees are not large enough to hang your food.

The bear canisters for rent at Olympic National Park are: BearVault, Garcia Machine, Wild Ideas.

Where to Get Bear Canisters
During the summer, bear canisters are available at the following locations:

  • Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center (WIC) in Port Angeles: (360) 565-3100
  • Forks Recreation and Information Center: Call for hours (360) 374-7566
  • Wild Birds Unlimited (mile marker 276 Highway 101 east of Sequim): call for hours (360) 797-7100
  • South Shore Quinault Ranger Station: Call for hours (360) 288-2525

In winter, bear canisters are available at the park Visitor Center in Port Angeles (360) 565-3130 and at Wild Birds Unlimited on Highway 101 east of Sequim (360) 797-7100.

Last updated: June 27, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

600 E. Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362


(360) 565-3130

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