Smokey the Bear may have been the beloved face of fire awareness, but you wouldn’t want to invite him to dinner. Bears are troublesome dinner guests and in many wilderness areas, bear-proof coolers are now required for storing food you want to keep cold while camping.
Bear-proof containers are an important tool in preventing human-bear conflicts. By keeping food and garbage securely stored, bear-proof containers help to reduce the chances of bears becoming attracted to human settlements.
In addition, these containers can also help to keep bears safe by preventing them from getting into hazardous materials such as chemicals or medicines. While bear-proof containers are not a perfect solution, they can go a long way towards making bear-human interactions more safe and peaceful.
Fortunately, in recent years several companies have released bear-resistant coolers designed to thwart bears that try to pry them open. Below we list several good options.
Pelican Elite Coolers
Pelican’s top-of-the-line series of coolers, the Elite Cooler models are designed for hardcore outdoors enthusiasts who need a highly durable cooler that will reliably keep its contents cool for long periods of time.
The Elite series coolers are certified as bear resistant by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
If you are looking for a recommendation on a size, we like the 45 quart Elite cooler as a mid-range size that will work for most people.
Yeti Tundra Coolers
Yeti was one of the first manufacturers of truely rugged coolers for use in the outdoors. There Tundra line of cooler is known for keeping food cold on long camping trips.
The Yeti Tundra cooler are certified as bear resistant by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, when used with extra-long shank Master Lock Padlocks.
Bear Resistant Cooler Certification Process
In the United States, the primary certification for bear resistant products is issued by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee through a cooperative effort among IGBC, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the US Forest Service, the Living with Wildlife Foundation, and the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.
Here’s a video showing the Pelican coolers being tested for bear resistance:
Coolers are tested for bear resistance through a partnership with the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, which conducts the live testing with grizzly bears in West Yellowstone, Montana, and the Wildlife Management Institute, which provides financial and administrative support.
IGBC certification does NOT guarantee that a product is BEAR-PROOF; nor does certification by the IGBC guarantee that a product will never be breached by bears or that small amounts of the contents of the containers won’t be able to leak or spill out. It is important that the coolers be used properly and that campers take care to reduce the likelihood of bear encounters.
If you are looking for easy-to-use locks for your cooler, check out BearBolts, which don’t require a key or combination.