We don’t know about you, but when we pack food for our backcountry trip, we plan to eat it.
That plan can go downhill quickly when raccoons, squirrels, and bears dig into your trail mix, or rain soaks your backpack, ruining your soft sausage rolls.
Do you want to see a grumpy bear? A weekend without food will turn us into one in no time!
Instead, learn how to store food and dispose of leftovers so you don’t end up with soggy food or, worse, unexpected dinner guests.
How to pack your food
Your canoe or hiking route can greatly influence how you pack your food.
If you’re within walking distance of your car, you may choose to pack a cooler. If you’re hiking, a backpack will do. If you have a long haul ahead of you, a bear barrel with harness could be the answer.
Talk to your local supplier to choose the best storage container option for your trip.
The best ways to waterproof your food
With your container in tow, you’ll want to waterproof your interior food storage.
For obvious reasons, most kitchen utensils do not need waterproofing. However, foods like bread, granola, oatmeal, coffee, and more won’t last if rain clouds arrive.
Reusable plastic containers are a lightweight solution and keep food fresh and dry. You can also use zip-lock bags (this is where we also keep toilet paper).
Place your waterproofed food in the storage container of your choice and head to the park!
How to store your food at camp
The day has finally arrived and you have arrived at the designated place! If you’re like us, she scouted his site, set up his tent, and picked out the perfect tree to hang food on before getting ready to cook dinner.
Wait, what’s the perfect Tree to hang food? He:
- is at least 100 meters from your sleeping area
- has a branch that is at least 4 m from the ground
- allows you to hang your food and garbage at least 2m from the tree trunk
These measures prevent bears, raccoons and more from climbing the tree and accessing your food. Worse yet, if you leave it unattended on the ground or in a container that emits odors, you’ll likely end up with wildlife sniffing around, posing a danger to you and them.
Some Ontario park sites have metal lockers to store your food, but not all. Do your research before you go.
Once you’ve located the ideal tree, place all your food, trash, toothpaste, bug spray, sunscreen, deodorant, and any other hygiene products in your food storage container.
Tie it tightly with string and hang it from the branch. Bring your own rope and make sure it is at least 12m long. Some expert campers also bring a pulley with them to make lifting easier. Your food container should remain here throughout the trip when you are not using it.
Most importantly, do not leave your food unattended or bring food, trash or body care products into your store.
The safest way to dispose of your food
Without a doubt, the best method is to pack your leftovers with you. This applies to coffee grounds, bacon grease, apple cores, fish guts, and any other waste you produce on your trip.
Essentially, everything needs to be repackaged into its storage container, stored safely at camp, and taken with you when you leave.
What about burning and burial?
- Burying food scraps is not advisable because wildlife will dig them up.
- Burying garbage is considered garbage and is prohibited
- Burning paper items in the campfire is permitted.
- Avoid cans and glass containers as they are prohibited in many of our parks.
- Filter food scraps from dish water and bury gray water at least 20 cm deep and at least 30 m from the campsite and any water source.
We rely heavily on our visitors to clean up after themselves. If you find trash in the field, take it with you.
Now that you’ve defined your priorities and secured all those tasty snacks (food = life), you’re ready to make a meal plan.
For more rural resources, check out these blogs.