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The Absolute Best Food Storage for Camping


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Ever since humans first learned to cook with fire, we have been on a continual search for ways to preserve food. Thanks to the advent of the modern home (and kitchen), keeping your food in safe and sanitary conditions is easier than ever -- at least when you're inside. But what about when you're venturing into the great outdoors? Camping provides us with ample opportunities to connect to nature, but if you don't want to forage for your food, then you need a quality system for cooking -- and you'll also need it for storage. Food storage for camping is an essential part of your outdoor food prep, and you'll need all the right tools to ensure safety and prevent spoilage.

With the cost of food going up, there is no room to waste meals, and this is especially true if you find yourself on a weekend (or weeklong) trip with no grocery store in sight. When camping, you need food storage that will keep your grub from getting ruined -- and prevent the chance of animals or insects getting in. After those two important points, there are other attributes to consider, such as the weight and space that your containers take up. No matter if you are car camping, backpacking, or roaming through the backcountry, the size of your food storage containers is an important factor to consider. Here are our picks for any camping trip below:

1. Food Storage for Camping in the Backcountry

REI

BearVault Journey Bear Canister - REI, $87.95

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These days, many camping sites -- especially those in National Parks -- feature bear-proof boxes. These safe containers provide a place to store your food while also reducing the risk of animal encounters. However, these units don't exist within the backcountry, so if you're headed off the beaten path, a bear canister is imperative to your personal safety.

The BearVault camping food storage container has a near industry-best volume of 11.5 liters. Despite the capacity, it takes up only 8.7 x 12.7-in. of space and weighs just 2.5 pounds. The design is wide and slippery, so even if an animal gets its paws on this container, it won't be able to hold on. You, however, will have an easy time digging through this canister. Finding what you need in the backcountry has never been easier, thanks to an extra-wide lid and a transparent, polycarbonate body. The wide mouth is intuitive to re-seal and even wide enough to double as a camping stool. The one downside? BearVault advises that you never hang this unit, so it is a ground-bound canister, which almost guarantees that something will come sniffing.

REI

Ursack Major Bear Sack, 10 Liters - REI, $99.95

If you're uncomfortable leaving your camping food storage in a place where an animal is likely to test its merits, a bear sack is likely a good option for you. This design is intended to be hung high and away from your camp, but if the idea of dangling your food in a bag sounds risky, we understand. In the case of the Ursack Major, you don't need to worry. In 2014, this product passed what is known as the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) test. As such, it is officially considered bear-proof. Made from Spectra material, this rip-proof bag comes in at a featherweight 7.6-ounces and fits 10.7-liters (650 cubic inches) of volume. Included with the bag is a six-foot long, 2,500 pound tensile-strength cord for suspending the bag out of reach of bears.

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As convenient as this bag is, it's important to note that Ursack recommends purchasing an aluminum liner and odor-proof liner along with it, which signals that while of a high-quality, this bag is not fool-proof.

Amazon

Lifetime 65-Quart Hard Performance Cooler - Amazon, $187.99

This 65-Quart Hard-Sided Cooler has one essential feature: It's bear-resistant (and certified by the IGBC) and can hold a bear off for up to an hour without it breaking in. It has ice retention up to eight days, has an easy pour spout for drainage, and is made with heavy-duty nylon rope handles for easy transport. It can fit up to the end 75 cans, and has legs to keep it elevated.

2. Food Storage for Camping in the Car

Amazon

Plano Storage Trunk with Wheels - Amazon, $19.99

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If you find yourself taking a drive for a trip where the space of a car, camper, or RV can be utilized, a storage locker like this one from Plano is an absolute necessity. The 56-quart capacity is large enough to house dry goods and nest your camping cooler -- if you're someone who prefers to compartmentalize, that is. The reinforced lid makes the entire container strong and stackable, plus pad-lockable handles will help keep out smaller animals like raccoons (or kids who should be eating their dinner before dessert). 

Amazon

BLUE GINKGO Nesting Silicone Containers, Set of 3 - Amazon, $29.99

On a macroscopic level, a trunk can hold all your goods in one place. But, it wouldn't be safe to leave most of your food sliding around openly on the bottom of the barrel. For that, you'll need individual containers for meals and ingredients, and these Blue Gingko silicone containers will do the trick. The hardshell bodies allow for easy organization inside a cooler or traveling chest, but just because they're made of sturdy material doesn't mean that the set will take up a lot of space. The three containers come in a range of sizes, which makes them ultra-nestable. However, the storage-friendly nature isn't the only convenience here; These containers are freezer-safe, heat-resistant up to 428 degrees , and dishwasher-safe (so you can clean when you get home instead of in the outdoors). Blue Gingko has made its containers free from BPA, PVC, Latex, and Phthalates, so they're as food-safe as they are easy to use.

3. Food Storage for Camping Anywhere 

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Vremi Silicone Food Storage Containers, Set of 4 - Amazon, $19.97

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On the road or in the backcountry, Vremi's food containers are perfect for camping as they minimize space while maximizing your storage capabilities. The food-safe silicone can collapse to one-third of its original size. Despite the soft sides, air-proof ultra-lock lids make these receptacles safe for dry or wet foods. And, if you find yourself moving between multiple campsites or parks along one trip, you can stop for a hot leftover lunch at a gas station, as the non-toxic material is microwave-safe. 

Amazon

Qinline Reusable Food Storage Bags, Set of 10 - Amazon, $13.48

We go camping to enjoy time in the natural world. That said, reducing waste is a value that aligns with our love of the outdoors; It doesn't make a lot of sense to rely heavily on single-use plastic bags, which end up in landfills or the ocean. Instead, reusable food storage bags offer a prime alternative for camping food storage. The set of 10 from Qinline comes in a range of sizes (two gallon-sized, four sandwich-sized, and four snack-sized bags) made from food-grade PEVA material. A double closure seal traps in your food and keeps out pesky insects. Qinline estimates that these durable, rip-resistant bags save up to 350+ disposable containers. Unfortunately, they're hand wash only, but the potential to add zero-waste containers to your camping equipment is still a huge upside. 

Don't Forget These Must-Haves

Amazon

Ice Lock Reusable Ice Pack for Cooler, Set of 2 - Amazon, $21.99

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What's worse than coming back from a hike, hankering for a meal or a cold drink, and digging in your cooler to find that all your food has become waterlogged and soggy? Ice Lock reusable cooler packs solve this problem. Three layers of ultra-thick nylon protection hold five-pounds of ice inside the bags, keeping your food cold but dry. When the cubes finally do melt, a convenient pour-spout allows you to use the water for drinking or washing before you recharge the bags. The heavy-duty seal mechanism is a game-changer when it comes to storing food while camping. That being said, you'll also need a cooler -- check out one of our favorites here

REI

Bee's Wrap Honeycomb Print Wrap, Set of 3 - REI, $18.00

Along with replacing your disposable bags, consider Bee's Wrap as a substitute for plastic cling wrap. Made of organic cotton, jojoba oil, tree resin, and beeswax, the cover wraps are perfect for cheese, bread, fruits, veggies, or anything else that needs simple storage. When you return from camping, you can hand wash your new food covers with cold water and use them again, saving money and the planet in the process. Bee's Wrap range in size, with the largest piece coming in at over a foot wide. 

REI

Coghlan's 12-Egg Holder - REI, $5.75

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Fortunately, you don't need to crack a few eggs to have a successful meal while camping. At least not when it comes to storing your ingredients. If you're traveling with a cooler (and craving a fried egg with your morning coffee), this simple food holder from Coghlan's will make life a lot easier. The molded handle makes for easy carrying, and a tight-lock lid holds everything in place, just as your outdoor omelet will bring your camping breakfast together.

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