If you're heading into bear country, you need to make sure your food and smellables are stored safely. While bear bagging (hanging food and other scented items from a tree) can be effective, it’s often complicated to get right and is impossible in treeless areas. Bear canisters solve this issue, and are actually required for camping in some regions of the U.S., including the backcountry of Yosemite and Grand Teton National Parks.

Packing a bear canister sounds simple. Toss it all in and batten the hatches, right? Not quite. Fittings days’ worth of food and toiletries into a hard-sided canister requires some finesse. We compiled a list of tips so you can focus on hitting the trail—and the trail mix.