Bear-proof kayak camping requires special gear and a bit of extra effort, so plan ahead for bucket-list trips to bear territory. Bear resistant is a more accurate term than bear-proof, so keep in mind that only bear boxes and high-quality bear canisters are truly bear proof. The number one rule is to never keep food or scented toiletries in or near your tent because that attracts nibbly or bitey animals.
We’re packing for our next Apostle Islands kayak camping trip on islands with bears, and many Paddle KC members travel to areas with black bears, brown bears and grizzlies where scent-proof food and toiletry storage are important. If you kayak camp or backpack in areas with bears and other large predators, you’ll need to keep food and toiletries in campsite bear boxes, or in scent-proof bags or bear canisters, or in hanging bags. Even smaller animals like raccoons and rodents can and will chew through drybags, and will even chew through your tent to get to any scented items. It’s not fun to wake up with a hole in your tent and raccoons having a food fight on your sleeping bag with you in it! If you paddle a canoe, you have plenty of room for a food barrel, but in a kayak or paddleboard it’s harder to make the most of limited space.
To reduce chances of animals bothering our bags on nearby kayak camping trips (like the Ozarks or Kansas City area), we pack food in drybags or scent-proof options then put those inside the closed kayak hatches and then turn the kayak over. Hanging a bag is also an option. Areas with bears require additional safety measures. Check out this excellent article from REI on Food Storage And Handling for Campers and Backpackers for specific tips.
Following are a few examples of options for carrying food and toiletries safely. Before buying any bear-resistant or bear-proof kayak camping gear, measure your hatch openings and make sure you can get them inside your kayak. Hard-shelled canisters and fully-packed scent-proof bags can be bulky!
Bear-Proof Kayak Camping and SUP Camping Gear
- Rat Sack Rodent-proof Hanging Bear Bag
Ultralight bag made of a stainless steel mesh and hook and loop fastener makes it nearly impossible for rats, ravens, birds, rodents, squirrels, raccoons, oppossoms, mice, and other critters to chew through this bear sack. The kit includes scent-proof bags and hanging kit.
- Bear Safe Tall Food Storage Container
Tapered shape slides easily in and out of a backpack, or on a canoe or SUP. If you have large storage capacity and big hatch openings, this might also work in a kayak.
- Bear Vault Food Canister
Lightweight solo or weekend canister, approved by both the IGBC (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee) and the SIBBG (Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group). Some use the large size as a stool.
- Bear Bags
Tear-proof fabric bag to be used with scent-proof bags. Prevents bears and other critters from tearing into your storage bags. These are NOT scent-proof.
- Scent-proof Bags
Resealable, re-usable odor-blocking bags for food storage.
- Scent-proof Stand-Up Bags
Resealable, re-usable odor-blocking bags. The large size is great for packing individual meals, and the extra large size may hold all meals for a day, depending on the type of food you bring.
Additional bear-resistant food containers at REI,
UPCOMING PADDLING EVENTS
Paddle KC paddling club is ALL about showing up and sharing paddling experiences in the Kansas City area and other destinations. See our Resources for Paddlers for lots of useful information. Check out our calendar of paddling events for kayakers, paddleboarders and canoeists of all experience levels.