Ask Kristin

Can I Keep My Backpack in My Tent?

You can safely bring 100 packs in the tent with you, but what I think you're really asking about is food...

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Is it okay to keep your backpack in your tent at night? There seems to be
two opposing camps (no pun intended, or maybe it was)on this issue.

Submitted by – Glen


Dear Glenn,

You can safely bring 100 packs in the tent with you, but what I think you’re really asking about is food.

The short answer to that one is no, not a good idea. In bear country you want to keep your food safely hung out of reach (Watch our Video Tutorial) or stored in a bear canister (Watch our Video Tutorial) a good distance from your tent. Black bears and grizzlies have incredible noses and can sniff out little tubes of toothpaste or the dregs of your gorp bag. To sleep well in bear country, keep all smelly stuff out of your tent. Period.

But it’s more often the tiny little buggers you have to worry about, not the big ones.

Once, while camped in Glacier NP, I had diligently and painstakingly hung my food bag between two towering trees. I proceeded to spend the next two hours throwing rocks at a greedy little field mouse who ran along the rope and kept dropping right into my suspended food bag.

Eventually, I nailed him square in the head, and got a good night’s sleep (I swear to God! I have witnesses!) For this reason, when I’m not worried about bears, I often bring my food (and pack) inside the tent with me, if there’s room. I’ve seen the damage that hungry little rodents can do to shiny new backpacks that get left outside with food in them, and it ain’t pretty. If it’s in the tent with me, I can defend myself and my food.

PS—Rodents have also been known to chew up nylon just for the delicious flavor of dried sweat. Moral: Wash your pack with soap and water (and rinse it really well) once a year to wipe the slate clean.