How to Protect Your Food From Animals when Camping

Earlier, I discussed techniques for obtaining food in the wild. The problem then, of course, is that if you’re living in a tent, there are no sturdy cupboards1 or refrigerator to store the food in, and the wilderness is full of animals and potheads who might want to steal your food and eat it. Animals have little regard for private property and will gladly eat whatever looks tasty, with no consideration for the amount of work it took you to extort it from another camper.

Hanging sack labeled "Mice"

Tall animals dislike mice.

Most animals who might steal your food are unable to climb trees or untie knots. Potheads also have trouble with knots. Therefore, you can protect your stash from them by putting it up in a suitably high tree, with a rope over the limb to let you lower it to the ground.

You do, however, need to consider that some animals — such as monkeys — can climb trees, and some — like elephants and giraffes — are tall enough to reach the bag anyway. That’s why you should write “MICE” on the bag in large, easy to read letters2. None of the animals who can reach your bag consider mice food or have any other interest in mice, so they won’t mess with it.

You may think about writing something else even less food-like, say, “Stained Berets” on the bag. Resist the temptation to get fancy. First, most animals’ language skills are pretty rudimentary, and they may not be able to read longer words (especially if they are foreign). Second, you would have to print smaller. Elephants, who are often nearsighted, may pull down your bag just so they can read it, and probably wouldn’t hang it up again. Third, monkeys may not like berets as food, but they’re playful and may want to wear the berets, not caring whether they’re stained.

  1. “Cupboard” is an unusual word; it’s the only one I can think of that contains “pb” except for made-up compound words like lapbin or Bill-the-Cat onomatopoiea like pbpbt.
  2. Some people think elephants are afraid of mice. Science has shown that this is not the case. But they do not like to eat mice. That’s all we need here.