How to Set Up a Bear Bag

Help keep your food and campsite safe with these outdoor Pro Tips on using bear bags.

Campsites can house a variety of scents. The smoky smell of a roaring campfire. The trace of morning dew as you wake. The tantalizing aroma of a freshly made breakfast. While these all sound – and smell – enjoyable to a happy camper, scents from food and toiletries can be inviting to others, too.

Keeping your scented items stored properly can help limit animal interactions at your campsite. This can help keep you and the animals safe and out of harm’s way. It’s important to follow this practice, especially when camping in bear country. An efficient and simple camping food storage option is a bear bag. DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate Jenna Denaro has a few key tips to help you set up this valuable camp accessory.


“The main purpose of the bear bag is to put anything with a scent, from toiletries to food, away from the campsite so you do not attract any animals with the scent,” Denaro says.

Keeping your scented items away from your campsite can help create a sense of safety for you and the animals. Isolating these supplies away from camp can lessen the chances of animal interaction. It can also help keep animals from developing a habit of foraging through campsites for a meal.

For good measure, Denaro recommends setting up your bear bag at least 100 yards away from your established campsite.


Hanging a bear bag is a simple process that can be accomplished in a few easy steps with a handful of gear. You’ll need:

  • A sturdy branch
  • Plenty of rope
  • Your bear bag

First, look for a branch that you can hoist your bear bag over. Try and find one that’s at least 12 feet off the ground and a few feet away from the tree’s trunk. This can help limit a bear’s ability to reach or climb to your food. Once you’ve found the perfect limb, gather your rope. Be sure to double your limb height for the appropriate rope length. “If your branch is, say, 20 feet high, you’re going to want to find rope that’s at least 40 feet long,” Denaro says.

Next, tie a rock to one end of your rope and toss it overtop your branch. Hold on to the other rope end so it doesn’t travel over as well. Let the rock settle on the other side, then untie and attach your bear bag. If you don’t have a rock, Denaro suggests placing something with a little weight to it inside your bear bag and tossing that over instead.

Once you attach the bear bag to the rope, go ahead and fill it with all your scented items. When full, close the bear bag and use the opposite end of the rope to hoist it in the air. Anchor your bear bag by tying your rope off to a neighboring tree.

Hanging a bear bag can be a great way to practice bear safety when camping and adventuring. Use these Pro Tips to help everyone on two – and four – feet enjoy the outdoors in peace.