What Makes a Cooler Bear Proof? [Must Be A Certified One] (2023)

Camping in a bear-prone country is quite challenging as it requires a great amount of awareness and precautionary measures.

When you are camping out in the wild, you would obviously need food. You can’t walk into a local store to pick up groceries to cook food or order a box of pizza right there just like your place.

The most convenient solution for you would be to get a cooler to store your food items and drinks. But the problem is, wild animals like bears can get into your camping place anytime to break into your cooler in search of food.

This is why you need to get yourself a bear-proof cooler. You might wonder what makes a cooler bear-proof. Well, keep on reading to find out.

What Exactly Is A Bear-Proof Cooler?

What Makes a Cooler Bear Proof? [Must Be A Certified One] (1)

Before we start learning what makes a cooler bear-proof, let us first talk about what it is since a lot of people have never heard of it before.

If you go out looking for it, you can find a ton of companies selling coolers or just different food storage containers in general.

Unlike your traditional coolers or containers to store food in, bear-proof containers allow you to protect your food.

(Video) See how products are tested by bears to become certified 'bear-resistant'

It might sound a bit silly at first, but if you think of yourself in a wild camping area, there is always a chance to encounter wild animals, could be big or small. It could even be as dangerous as a bear.

To protect yourself from animals that can find their way to your camping area because of the smell of your food or to protect your food from being taken by wild animals, you need the best bear-proof cooler.

Generally, most bear-proof food containers and coolers protect themselves against wild animals like bears or foxes by having a lock on them. It might not sound like much, but many animals can quickly get your traditional coolers and food containers opened.

With bear-proof coolers and food containers, you can only get inside them by using a key or a coin to open the lock.

Many coolers and food containers now use types of flattened locks or T locks on them. These locks are supposed to keep out bears and any other wild animals out of your food storage.

If you are unsure of a cooler, you should check for an IGBC certification.

If the cooler is IGBC certified, then it is not just claiming to be bear-proof, it actually is, and you can trust them.

What Makes A Cooler Bear-Proof?

There are many companies and manufacturers out there who claim that their coolers and food containers are bear-proof.

(Video) YETI vs. Grizzly Bear | YETI Coolers

Now, this is something that needs to be taken into consideration since bears and many other wild animals, in general, are known to be tricky and really big and powerful in many cases.

As we have mentioned earlier, bear-proof coolers that actually provide you with resistance against bears and other wild animals come with an IGBC certification.

If you wonder what IGBC is or what it stands for, then for your kind information it means Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.

The IGBC is an organization that is focused on protecting viable populations of grizzly bears and their habitats.

To provide bears with a safe and healthy lifestyle suitable for them, this organization also works with many different National Park Services and US Forest Services.

The IGBC also encourages people who like to go hiking and camping to not carry food that is likely to draw the attention of bears.

Carrying food that does not appeal to the taste of bears and other wild animals can be a safe bet for you to not encounter them when you are camping out in the wild.

You still have the option of carrying your favorite food. As long as you put them in something that is bear-proof, you should be good to go.

(Video) Companies pay to have bears test durability of product

The main idea behind a bear-resistant cooler is that they allow you to store your food safely instead of in a traditional food container or high up on a tree so other wild animals can’t get to it.

Any cooler or food container that ensures the safety of your food from wild animals such as bears, and can stand up to the hunger of a persistent grizzly bear, is given an IGBC certification.

You can be sure that a cooler is bear-proof if it has an authentic IGBC certificate.

Visual Inspection Of IGBC

In order to check whether a company is offering bear-proof containers or not, IGBC has its own testing methods.

The inspection system is discussed in brief below:

  • Testing personnel of IGBC will place some bear attractants inside the containers first.
  • Then they will try to ensure that containers are locked and latched properly.
  • After that, they place these coolers in front of different types and sizes of bears to check whether they try to break into the coolers or not.
  • The contact time will be monitored for up to 60 minutes to ensure there is no smell coming out of the coolers to attract the bears.
  • If a container gets breached or any part of it gets torn out, then IGBC doesn’t allow it to claim bear-proof, even if it can lock the smell inside.
  • After all these inspections, if a cooler remain as it is and bears don’t find any smell of attractant and don’t even try to break into it, then IGBC gives their certification to it.

Do You Really Need Locks Or Are Latches Enough?

If a company makes food containers or coolers, they would obviously want you to be their customer.While most companies know this, they do not advertise that bear-proof ice cheast, most of the time, need you to have a dual locking system that works along with the locks on the container itself.

This is why you will sometimes see some coolers and food containers designed with holes that make their way from the lid down to the base, such as the coolers from Yeti.

Some coolers come with a locking mechanism that works by pushing and pulling the lid. This is not the best and efficient thing to do since they can be easily opened.

(Video) Cascade Mountain Tech Super Cooler Bear-Resistant Certification

You should consider locking them up with a padlock if you want your food to be safe.

What Should You Look For In A Bear-Proof Cooler?

When you are out getting a cooler for your camping trips, the first thing you should check is if they are IGBC certified.

Many coolers claim that they are bear-proof and havelocks on them. However, they don’t have any evidence to show that the locks can keep bears out of your cooler.

Look for a cooler or a food container that has a hefty and chunky construction. Make sure it has a locking mechanism capable of keeping the weight of a hungry grizzly bear and its jaws out of your cooler.

A heavy and strongly built cooler that is IGBC certified will definitely do the work.

Final Words

If you are outgoing and adventurous, chances are high that you like going on hikes or even camping trips.

This can, of course, be a ton of fun if you are with a group of friends or your family. Some people even like going camping just by themselves because they love the alone time they have.

For such cases, buying a cooler and knowing what makes a cooler bear-proof will keep your food safe from the hands of dangerous wild animals such as bears.

(Video) Are Yeti Coolers Bear Proof? Plus How Are They Tested

Have a safe camping trip!


What is a bear certified cooler? ›

A bear-proof cooler should: Have a rotomolded construction since best rotomolded coolers are extremely durable and virtually indestructible. Be lockable with padlocks. No matter whether certified or not (more on certifications below), coolers are truly bear-proof only when used with locks on each side of the lid.

Are YETI coolers bear certified? ›

Bear tested, YETI approved. Keep your goods safe and grizzlies out. YETI Tundra® Hard Coolers meet the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) standards for bear-resistant containers when used with extra-long shank Master Lock® Padlocks.

Are RTIC coolers bear certified? ›

RTIC bills its cooler as bear-resistant, but it isn't certified bear-resistant by the IGBC as of this writing. Still, the RTIC barely flinched at our durability tests.

What is considered a bear proof container? ›

Aluminum Boxes and Panniers. Heavy gauge aluminum is an excellent material for bear-resistant boxes and panniers. Boxes should meet USFS criteria for bear-proof containers, which include: "(a) resist a direct force of 200-pounds; and (b) contain no cracks, external hinges, gaps, etc.

What makes something bear proof? ›

Bear-resistant containers are defined as securable container constructed of a solid, non-pliable material capable of withstanding a minimum of 300 foot-pounds of energy.

Which bear canisters are approved? ›

IGBC & SIBBG Approved

The NO-FED Bear is a pretty bomb-proof canister that is approved in all areas requiring bear canisters in the US. But, like the Garcia above, it's heavy for its capacity, and the BV450 would be a lighter option if you aren't backpacking in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness Area.

Who is better YETI or RTIC? ›

Among the two brands, RTIC has a longer ice life compared to Yeti. Their large sizes, plastic construction, and thicker walls make them better at retaining ice. Yeti have better quality coolers, although with shorter ice life and smaller sizes. Some coolers claim to have an ice life of 8 days, others even more.

Is YETI and RTIC the same company? ›

Funny enough, they are both owned by an entrepreneurial set of brothers—just not the same ones. RTIC is owned by twins John and Jim Jacobsen while Yeti was founded by brothers Roy and Ryan Seiders.

Are cabelas coolers bear proof? ›

A freezer-grade gasket in the lid creates an airtight seal to help lock in cold temperatures even longer: This Cabela's cooler holds ice up to 12 days. Its bear-resistant design incorporates molded padlock tabs into the rugged resin shell, letting you securely lock contents inside the cooler.

Are Orca coolers certified bear proof? ›

Whether we're fishing on the Tennessee river, hunting in mountains of Montana, hiking in the hills of Colorado, or relaxing on the beach in Costa Rica, ORCA's Bear Proof coolers have withstood whatever we have thrown at them, and we guarantee the same for our customers.

Do bears recognize coolers? ›

Don't leave anything that a bear might associate with food in view, such as coolers or grocery bags, even if there is no food in them. A bear may recognize them as objects that usually have food and be willing to break into your vehicle in hopes of getting a reward.

Are grizzly coolers bear proof? ›

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) is considered the gold standard for certification of bear-resistant coolers, such as Grizzly Coolers. Products that passed the rigorous IGBC testing protocol and were approved as bear-resistant meet IGBC certified bear-resistant design and structural standards.


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