How to Put Food in a Tree When Tent Camping

How to Put Food in a Tree When Tent CampingHanging food supplies in a tree is a method to keep bears, raccoons and other animals from rummaging through, eating and otherwise destroying items while on a camping trip. Hanging your food in a tree is not foolproof though. Animals often can get your food down faster than you can. However, hanging food in a tree disrupts the odor from the food, provides an added measure of protection and keeps most of the animals at bay.


Difficulty: Moderate

Single Food Bag

Things You’ll Need:
  • 40 to 60 feet of rope
  • Small stuff sack or sock
  • Carabiners
  • Food containers
Step 1
Find a suitable tree with a branch 15 feet or higher off of the ground that is strong enough to support the weight of the food bag, but not strong enough for a bear cub to walk on. The branch should be long enough that the bag can be placed at least 5 feet from the tree. A branch 4 to 5 inches in diameter at the base and only 1-inch where the bag will hang is suitable. Look for a branch that does not have a lot of smaller branches that will interfere with your food-bag system.
Step 2
Fill the small stuff sack with rocks or sand for throwing weight and tie it off to one of the pieces of rope. Throw the rope over the branch near where it's approximately 1 inch in diameter. Retrieve the small stuff sack.
Step 3
Tie the food bag to one end of the rope. Hoist the food bag into the air by pulling on the other end of the rope. The bag must be a minimum of 12 to 15 feet in the air. Tie off the rope to a nearby tree or other suitable object.

Multiple Food Bags on One Rope

Step 1
Hang the rope in the tree and tie the first food bag to the end.
Step 2
Tie overhand loops in the rope above the first food bag. Use these loops to hang additional bags using carabiners tied to other food bags. Do not exceed more than 20 pounds total weight on a branch with a 1 inch diameter.
Step 3
Hoist the bags into the air and tie off the rope to a nearby tree or other suitable object. Ensure that the lowest food sack is 12 to 15 feet off the ground.

Counterbalance Method

Step 1
Hang the rope in the tree using the stuff sack and rocks. Pull the stuff sack down and untie it, so you have both ends of the rope.
Step 2
Place the food into two containers, distributing their weight equally. You should not have more than 10 pounds in each container, for a total of 20 pounds of weight on the branch.
Step 3
Tie one food container to one end of the rope. Tie an overhand loop just above the food container large enough to use to recover the container later with a hook or stick.
Step 4
Hoist the food sack as far into the tree as possible by pulling on the free end of the rope. While holding it in place by standing on the rope, tie the other food sack as high up on the rope as possible. Tie an overhand loop near the food sack for recovery purposes. Put any excess rope into the food container or coil and tie it to the food sack so it does not hang loosely.
Step 5
Push the second sack up, using a stick if necessary, into position. The food sacks should be even and balanced across the branch, 12 to 15 feet high.

Tips & Warnings

Bears that live near people and campgrounds are very smart. Ropes tied off to trees, poles, or other objects will be tested by the bears. Bears will climb a pole and hit a tied off rope to see what the food bag does. If it moves, the bear will work on the rope until he can free it.

Article Written By Eric Duncan

Eric Duncan is a military veteran and a professional in the safety, travel and aviation industries. Duncan has been writing since 2002 for magazines, newspapers, local business literature and on such websites as He has earned his Bachelor of Science in professional aeronautics and his Master of Business Administration.

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