This is a gear review about the best bear bags for hiking, backpacking, and camping in 2023.
If you are going backpacking, camping, or hiking in bear country you need to take extra precautions when it comes to your food supply and storage. A good bear bag should be part of your backpacking and camping gear to prevent bears from entering your campsite and stealing your food.
All you have to do is hang the bear bag from a tree, and your personal items and food are safe from those bears. Yet it can be difficult to know what kind of bear bag to get as there are so many on the market.
How We Tested
All the Bear Bags in this review have been extensively evaluated and researched by the expert author who has many years of experience in Thru-Hiking, Backpacking, and Hiking. Some of the Bear Bags were purchased by the author for this review. They have been rigorously tested by the author who spent hundreds of nights camping in Bear Country in the USA and Canada. The research, testing, and experience of the author have combined to come up with the best bear bags for 2023. Read the Review Policy for further details.
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Best Bear Bags For Backpacking 2023
The Bear Bags For Camping in 2023 are:
- Best Overall: Ursack Major
- Best Odorproof Bag: Loksak Opsak
- Best Ultralight Bear Bag: Zpacks Big Food Bag
- Best Lightweight Bear Bag: Zpacks Nylopro Odor Barrier Bags
- Best Budget Bear Bag: Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Dry Sack
Best Bear Bags For Backpacking – Overall
Weight: 7.6 oz / 215 grams
> Capacity – The Ursack Major can hold enough food for one person for up to 5 days.
> Lightweight – When not in use, this bag is lightweight
> Durable – A special and tighter weave has been created so that the bag is tear-proof by a bear.
> Absorbs Rain – This bag isn’t waterproof and can absorb water when wet making it heavier
The Ursack Major is a bear-resistant food storage bag that features a tear-resistant rip-stop fabric weave that helps keep your food much more protected.
The bear-resistant bags can hold around 5 days’ worth of food for one person and weighs 7.6 ounces which is quite a bit lighter than bear canisters.
It can also protect your food from other small mammals as well, this is due to the Spectra and Kevlar fibers. If hiking the Appalachian Trail this will also work well to stop those pesky mice and rats at the shelters. All you need to do is pull the drawstring closure closed and tie it to a tree trunk with a special knot and it is bearproof.
An odor barrier bag is suggested to be brought alongside this bag. To add even more protection to your food from bears.
The cord that you use to tie the bag up, I found to be extremely durable and strong, so will last a long time before it begins to fray and breaks. And they are certified as bear-proof by the interagency grizzly bear committee which tests if a bear bag and bear canister can withstand a bear trying to get your food. It comes in sizes from 10L to 30L, I like the 15L the best.
Overall, these bags are a great bear resistant bag for backpackers wanting a bear-resistant bear bag and a great alternative to a heavier bear canister.
Best Odor Proof Bear Bag
> Leak Proof – You don’t have to worry about any of your food leaking out of these bags.
> These bags come in various sizes and all fit easily in your backpack for easy traveling.
> The Zip Lock seal can break easily so the bag doesn’t last that long. I was usually able to get about 14-21 days of use out of each bag on average.
The Loksak Opsak is a different kind of bear bag. These bags are a good idea when camping in bear country. It is made of thick plastic that helps to keep the odors in and keep all the elements out. While these bags are not bear proof they have a strong seal that keeps the odors out and your worries about attracting bears are decreased.
I used these bags on several thru-hiking trips in multiple states in the USA. I liked how resealable these bags were and how easily I could fit them in my backpack. These bags are incredibly lightweight. I also liked to use them with other types of bear bags to hang them from trees when needed.
You can purchase these bear bags in various sizes so that you will be able to find a bag that suits your needs. I prefer the bigger sized bags.
The only thing I don’t like about these is the zip lock style seal is not as durable as I would like and it tends to break after about 2-3 weeks of use. This is OK for most hikers but thru-hikers will not like this lack of durability. They come in 2 sizes and I prefer the larger size the best.
Overall, these make an addition to your bear safety routine. They work well inside bear canisters or or with one of the other bear bags in this review to hang from a tree in Bear Country.
Best Ultralight Bear Bag for Food
> Wide Opening – The wide opening on this bag makes it easy to place and remove things.
> Capacity for 5 to a 6-day backpacking trip.
> Not odor-proof
> You need rope to hang the bag from a tree.
The Zpacks Big Food Bag is made from durable Dyneema Composite fabric, which is known to be one of the lightest materials being used in the backpacking and camping industry at the moment. These bags are not bear-proof but make a great stuff sack for food when in the backcountry. Just add some rope and sling it from a tree using whatever hanging system you prefer.
I found that the material on these bags is quite strong and the light weight of these bags will make them best suited to ultralight thru-hikers or those wanting the most weight saving possible. They are also waterproof and serve as a dry bag
However, these bags can still be hung easily from tree branches at night to keep for added protection from animals and bears. I found you can fill this bag with enough food for 5 to 6 days.
The natural rectangular shape of this bag fits easily into any backpack, and the wide opening makes it straightforward to find what you want quickly.
Overall, these are one of the best bear bags for ultralight hikers. Just add food and some rope for your bear hang method to hang a bag from a tree branch out of reach of bears. These are a favorite among thru-hikers.
Best Lightweight Odor Proof Bear Bag
> Odorless – This bag will eliminate the odor that comes from your bag.
> Lightweight – Making it easy to carry when on the move.
> Durable – The material on this bag may look flimsy, yet it is a lot tougher than you realize.
> Similar to the Locksac, the seal on this bag could be a bit stronger.
The Zpacks Nylopro Odor Barrier Bags are the perfect solution when you want a bag that is odor-proof and waterproof. I found this product to be lightweight and easy to carry and best used when you put the bag inside another storage bag.
It is chemical, grease, thermal, and oil resistant. The material is twice as strong but 50% thinner than typical polyethylene bags.
This product should be used in conjunction inside a bear canister or inside another bear bag or dry bag. This product will remove odors, which means you won’t be attracting bears or creatures to your campsite.
Overall, this is a good odor-proof bear bag that is best used inside a bear canister or bear-proof bag. I love the lightweight.
Best Budget Bear Bag For Hiking
> Waterproof – This bag will keep your contents safe and dry.
> Transparent – You can easily see inside the bag, due to the semi-transparent material.
> Capacity – These bags can come in various capacities, but they can all hold a lot of items easily.
> You need to bring rope to hang it from a tree.
I have used the Sea To Summit Ultra-SIL Dry Sack on several thru-hikes and it is one of my go-to dry bags for lightweight hiking. It is a waterproof bag and lightweight but not as light as the Zpacks dry bag. It is made with double-stitched and reinforced seams so that you can rely upon this bag to keep your belongings and food safe. I like to use it in conjunction with an odor-proof bear bag.
You can see inside the bag, due to the nearly transparent material. This makes it easy to locate a particular item, without having to empty the contents of the bag fully.
Sea To Summit is a really reliable brand, which is why I love to use their products. This dry sack will keep your items safe from bears and the buckle that is used to seal the bag is easy to replace if something does happen.
Overall, this has been my go-to bear bag for thru-hiking and bike touring for years. They are lightweight, reliable, and reasonably priced. Best suited for backpacking and lightweight hikers wanting a reliable bag that comes in many sizes to suit how much food you want to carry. They are one of the best bear bags for those on a budget.
Bear Bag Comparison Table
|Ursack Major 10L||7.6 oz||10.7L, 15L, 30L||Yes||No|
|Loksak Opsak||0.8 oz||Medium, Large||No||Yes|
|Zpacks Big Food Bag 14L||3.4 oz||10.7L, 14L||No||No|
|Zpacks Nylopro Odor Barrier Bags Large||0.67 oz||4 sizes from small to pack liner size||No||Yes|
|Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Dry Sack 20L||3.2 oz||3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 35L||No||No|
Bear Bags Buyers Guide
What Type Of Bag Is Best?
There are three main types of bags; Food Storage Bags, Waterproof Bags, and Bear Proof Bags. All types of bags have pros and cons. So, before selecting one, make sure you consider the factors below.
Bear Proof Bags
Bearproof bags are made from strong bear-proof material similar to the material used in bulletproof vests. These bear bags offer a level of bear resistance and are approved by the interagency grizzly bear committee and will be almost as bear-proof as bear canisters.
These are the best bear-resistant bags for grizzly bears and black bears and should be used in places with bear activity. They are lighter than most bear canisters and you don’t need to bother hanging them.
Just be aware that they will not be approved for use in Yosemite National Park which requires you to use one of the best bear canisters only in the backcountry but they are approved in many National Parks.
Odor Proof Food Storage Bags
These bags are designed to store food. They are usually made of plastic and are a very durable thin fabric. Oftentimes, these bags are also designed to be resealable. If you plan on storing food in your bag, then this type of bag is ideal. It does a good job in keeping your pack weight down and keep the smell of your human food inside the bags.
While these bags are smell resistant you should be aware that bears have such a good sense of smell that they will still smell human food inside these bags anyway. The smell is not as strong as if your food was only stored in a stuff sack so it is still a good idea.
These bags are waterproof but best used inside a dry bag or bear proof bag.
These dry bags are designed to protect your belongings from rain or snow. They are often made from nylon and are extremely durable. Many people including myself use these bags to store their food. Also, they are typically are also used as stuff sacks to store things like backpacks, tents, etc.
They are usually nothing more than a dry bag or stuff sack but can work well as a bear bag for the storage of food. While they are not bear-resistant they can keep your food supply safe when you use a bear hang method to hang a bear bag from a tree. You need to ensure you properly hang the food storage bag to prevent bears from getting your food.
If you want to use this type of bag to protect your belongings, then you need to make sure that it is waterproof. Otherwise, you could end up buying multiple bags. Just be sure your bear hangs are extremely difficult for the bear to get at the food.
You need to think about how long your trip is going to be. This will affect the size of the bear bag that you will need. Most backpackers want a bag big enough to hold 3-5 days food.
If you are going to use it just to store food in, then you need to consider how many days worth of food you need to be able to store in your bear bag.
The price of bear bags varies greatly. Some are more expensive than others. The quality of the materials that go into making each bag also alters its cost.
In order to get the most bang for your buck, you need to do some research on different brands. Once you know which brand you prefer, then you can shop around for the lowest prices.
When looking at bear bags, you have to think about how strong they are. Also, you need to consider their durability. You need to be aware if your bear resistant bag will hold up against a bear attack.
Not many manufacturers will say their product is bear proof, yet there are some that will say that the materials used can’t be impacted by a bear clawing at it. You need to be aware of this.
So, now you know what type of bag is right for you. Make sure you take the time to look at all the options available to you. It’s important to choose the right bag for your needs.
Hang Or Not To Hang
This can vary depending on the type of bag that you buy. Some bags can be hung from trees, while others can’t. You don’t have to hang your bear bag from a tree, yet some people feel safer.
So if you want this option, you need to make sure that the bag you are purchasing can do this, as not all bear bags can.
Also, consider if your bag is odorless or not. If your bag is odorless you still have to hang it even though the bear should not be able to smell the contents.
However, if it isn’t odorless, then hanging the bag up on a tree will keep it safer and unreachable to bears if they can smell it.
The Bear Bags For Camping in 2023 are:
- Ursack Major
- Loksak Opsak
- Zpacks Big Food Bag
- Zpacks Nylopro Odor Barrier Bags
- Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Dry Sack
Frequently Asked Questions
Where To Hang Your Bear Bag?
Bears are known for being great climbers. Yet, it is a rule of thumb that if you are to hang your food, you should hang it 200 feet from your camp.
It should be 15+ feet above the ground and 10 feet away from the tree. You also want to hang it down wind of your camp, so that the smell is traveling away from you, to keep you extra safe.
Do You Have To Hang A Bear Bag?
As mentioned above, you don’t have to hang your bear bag. However, we would recommend it, as hanging your bag will make it more difficult for the bear or any other animals to reach it.
Although not all bear bags are designed to be hung, so you need to be aware of this when purchasing your bear bag.
Why Should You Keep Bears From Your Food?
Generally, bears like to avoid people, but in some areas, they have no fear. Bears could be aggressive or unpredictable and if you allow them to eat your food, then they will hang around for an easy meal.
This food may not be suitable for the bear and the bear could begin to cause danger to humans.
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BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process
The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs BikeHikeSafari.com.
BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.
The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.
BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.