When backpacking in Yellowstone, the above tips apply, as well as a few more. Below are the recommendations for backpacking in bear country:

  • 1. Use the bear box, or food pole at your backcountry campsite, if provided.
  • 2. If a bear box or food pole is not at your campsite, you must bring your own bear cannister.
  • 3. Store all items with a scent in the bear box, food pole, or bear canister: this includes clean or dirty dishes, cooking utensils, food, trash, toiletries, and stoves.
  • 4. Make sure you empty your pockets of wrappers and other trash: the last thing you want to do is forget about a granola bar wrapper and go to bed with it in your pocket.
  • 5. Set up your tent at least 100 yards from where you cooked, stored you food and cleaned your dishes.
  • 6. If you see a bear entering your camp, make noise to scare it off, and make sure that it doesn’t get any of your food.


Bear spray is a non-lethal spray that should be used to deter aggressive bears. It temporarily reduces the bears’ sense of smell and sight, and allows you to quickly leave the area. There is also proof that a bear who is strayed will be less likely to approach humans in the future, thus reducing the number of bears that are killed by people using self-defense.

Bear spray should be kept in a easy-to-access location, like a hip holster, or side-pocket of a backpack, that way you can use it on demand if needed. And when aiming, try to shoot it at the bear’s feet, because it creates a cone of spray. But don’t think too hard, if a bear is charging you, just spray in the space between you.

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