Although useless for kayaks, this would fit a canoe.
Anyone every consider using a 5-gal paint bucket to store their food from mice and raccoons?

Obviously a bear would easily open it but what about raccoons?

Just be sure to tie it down. Ask “the Bob” about the big raccoon that tried to abscond with a very large and heavy cooler, after failing to get it open.

Camped at Manatee State Park, Florida I heard a commotion outside the truck camper one night. I looked outside and there were the neighbors shinning a light on a raccoon dragging my dog’s five gallon bucket of food, grooming tools, etc complete with secured lid. It was halfway to the woods. I guess he couldn’t get the lid off so he was taking it back to the shop in the woods for some tools. :smile:

We have used five gallon buckets. The problem is raccoons WILL chew on the lid edge… For that reason we prefer a hard sided York box or the blue barrels with lid ring ( and cotter pin to thwart those masked robbers). They dont seem to get a good hold on the edge while hanging on. They can stand hind feet on the ground and chew on a Gamma lid of a five gallon bucket…

The scourge of the Everglades. but has been decimated by the new scourge of python

At home we came home to the sight of a raccoon dragging a 25 lb bag of dog food across the lawn… He must have thought he hit the lottery! ( we left the garage side door open by accident)

One of my most vivid memories of growing up in Florida & family camping was of a raccoon incident. The raccoon was being a pest and my dad finally got so mad that he chucked a hammer at it. Grazed the critter’s head and made it back off a few feet. Then it turned around, came back, picked up the hammer, and ran into the underbrush with it. We never found the hammer.

My sister still lives in Florida. They have to secure their garbage can lids & tie the can to something sturdy to prevent the raccoons from getting into the cans and/or dragging them into the swamp behind their house. I would imagine that a raccoon would have no problem dragging away a 5 gallon bucket if it wasn’t tied to something. They might even be able to figure out a gamma lid given a little time to work on it???

There aren’t a lot of raccoons in Utah, but I have had one run-in with one while camping. During the night it pushed a fully loaded cooler off the picnic table, there-by popping open the lid (cheap cooler). It feasted on the contents & then started attacking my tent. I thought it was just a wind storm shaking the tent in the middle of the night. In the morning I found the cooler and saw muddy paw prints all over my tent, with one small chew hole. It was spring, and I was the only one in the camp area. It was a walk-in site and my car was in the parking lot about a quarter mile away. When I went to my car, it was also covered in muddy foot prints.

True story:

We were doing a couple of overnights/gravel bar camping in southeaster Missouri.
My wife & I were both paddling 14 foot solo canoes, and were traveling heavy. Part of our load was a large, aluminum Coleman cooler with frosty adult beverages. sodas, fresh meat fruit & vegetables .
I know the cooler weighed more than 25 lbs because it weighed 5 pounds & I had put two 10 lb blocks of ice in it. I guesstimate total weight at 40 pounds minimum.

We had a lovely dinner that night, and enjoyed a couple of the frosty beverages, with rib eyes, fresh salad, fresh bread & a bottle of wine.
Spent some time around the campfire, and finally crashed at around 10 pm., as did the couple who were our travel companions. By 10:15 I was asleep. At about 10:30 my buddy s hollered at me, “Bob, you’ve got a visitor, and it’s dragging your cooler into the woods”.
Say what?

I grab a big Mag light I have in the tent, unzip the tent door, and crawl halfway out of the test. I can hear something heavy being dragged over gravel. Shine my Mag light in direction of commotion. Big coon, both front paws on cooler handle, standing on his back legs, hauling on the cooler. Really putting his back into it! Cooler weighs probably twice the coon’s weight. My buddy & his wife are laughing their asses off, and enjoying the show. I get completely out of the tent. Coon keeps pulling cooler until I start heaving mini boulders.
I get back in tent; in 30 minutes I’m blowing zzzzzzs. Then my buddy hollers, “Your buddy’s back”. And he is; once again dragging my cooler towards the woods.

I get up, get out of tent, and chunk mini boulders again; coon leaves again. I run an NRS strap through cooler handle & attach the cooler to a thwart in my canoe. Turn canoe over on top of cooler.

The coon could not open the cooler because I had an NRS strap thru the cooler’s handles, and running 360 degrees around the cooler. Lid was so tightly strapped down you couldn’t get it to open a quarter of an inch/.

Coon did come back later, but I just rolled over & went to sleep.
Figured I’d get back up if I heard the cooler," and the canoe" being dragged across gravel bar.
I was going to take Mr. Ruger along with me if I had to get up the 3 rd time.
It was after midnight, and I was getting a little peevish.

The longest pull the coon made with the cooler was over 15 feet.
Try pulling a flat bottomed, piece of dead weight, that is twice your body weight, for 15 feet…


Here they’re the harbingers of spring. This little guy climbed up a snowdrift to peek through a patio door, probably looking for a handout.

They are cute, especially when they are little. But man are they trouble makers. Smart, strong, and persistent…good combo for survival (except for pythons) but a real PITA for campers & paddlers :smile:

These are powerful, and very solid, animals. I kicked one once and damn near broke my foot. It was like kicking a (lightly) padded football goalpost. Didn’t hurt the thing a bit, but it did run away, so I didn’t have to deal with the business end of the beastie.

I haven’t seen them open a VW Beetle (1960’s model) like bears have done, but they can do a lot of damage with teeth and claws and they don’t give up.


You say they are solid animals. And how. I’ve been lucky or alert enough to have hit hardly any animals in my life while driving, but I know two things. I squarely hit a cottontail rabbit at 40 mph in a tiny 1980 Subaru and couldn’t even feel it. Those animals fall apart at the slightest trauma, and a car tire will obliterate them. But when I hit a decent-sized raccoon at 55 mph with a half-ton International Travelall, it was like hitting something a whole lot bigger. My gosh, what a bang and a jolt that was. I don’t know if it hit the front suspension or the tire, but the impact was terrible. Raccoons really are solid.

TheBob’s raccoon must have had a cousin on Farm Island (Moosehead Lake). That pest raided us four night’s in a row. We are pretty good at camp hygiene, so the son of a gun wasn’t getting more than a few crumbs for his troubles. He’d make a ruckus in the kitchen area and wake up one of us, and we’d start yelling for TK, the teenager camped next to the kitchen, to go run him off. After 3 nights, TK had enough of this and made an effort to really bolt down the kitchen area.

We’d determined the raccoon had a particular infatuation with a wooden crate housing food. It was a box about 16"x16" and two feet long, one of several food containers. We theorize that somebody maybe cleaned a fish on this box or something, because the coon badly wanted it above all else. TK bound this box with rope and then wedged it under the end of a heavy picnic table–we picked up the table and left one end of it on top of this box.

Sometime around midnight, we hear raccoon ruckus. A couple of us start yelling at TK, who yells back he isn’t getting up because there is nothing the raccoon can get. Ultimately, I got up. The coon is nowhere to be seen. Neither is the wood box. I surveyed the area and followed a scraping noise up the path leading to the latrine, and there was the box, and it was moving. Then the very large raccoon stood up on his hind legs and stared back into my flashlight beam. I swear, he gave me a look of defiance, like “yeah, I’ve got your box, whadda you gonna do about it?”

Well, it was a Maine Island, plenty of rocks around, so I toss a softball-sized rock towards the raccoon. The raccoon ducked his shoulder and glared at me, like, “is that all you got? This box is so mine.” I picked a slightly larger rock, lobbed it, and it landed close enough to the thieving procyonid that he took a couple steps back, stared at me in disgust, and then waddled off without our box.

TK awoke the next day in a foul mood and declared war on the raccoon. He and his sister spent hours combing the area, screaming and poking sticks in every hole and hollow log they thought might be big enough for fat boy coon. TK wanted to keep the raccoon from sleeping. That night was our fifth and final night on Farm Island, and it was the only night the raccoon left us alone.


They are also highly skilled acrobats.

We had corn on the cob one night while gravel bar camping.
There was never any doubt; we would carry out the cobs and husks.
So, we put the trash in a net, river bag. Tied about 50 feet of para cord on one end of the net bag; put a rock on the loose end of the para cord & flung it up & over a tree limb that was about 25 feet high. Bag with corn cobs & husks ended up hanging about 17 feet below the limb, in open space.

An hour after we hung the bag we heard a commotion up in the tree.
Big Mag light revealed a coon, “upside down”," hanging from his rear paws", “on the parachute cord”.
With his front paws & teeth it was tearing open the net bag.
A barrage of rocks finally got the coon to leave the bag. He moved to the tree trunk to watch what followed.

Put corn cobs & husks inside cooler. Wrapped, and locked down NRS straps
around the cooler. Used another NRS strap to tie cooler to a canoe. He came over & tested it, but finally gave up & sought easier pickings.

I blame the coon traffic on the slobs who trash the gravel bars.
The coons make a circuit of the “good spots” nightly. Learned behavior.
Occasionally you have a brave or dumb one. Had one saunter into our camp & sit down slightly behind 2 of us at a campfire. Either of us could have reached out & touched it. We were in the middle of a meal…

I was a little apprehensive. Thought he might reach over & slap me; grab my hot dog, and haul ass. I beat him to the punch; whacked him with a 4 foot length of sycamore limb I was using to stir the fire.

He was pissed off; but he didn’t come back.


Couple years ago on Squaw Lake, I went to bed early leaving Maria & Gregg to stay up. Then Maria went to bed and Gregg put her dry-bag into his tent. Overnight that raccoon unzipped the tent and dragged her dry-bag out, chewed a hole through then dumped the rest into the lake.
Lasty year Robert took his dog, Jack, who chased the raccoon to his nest under a nearby palm-tree and sat in that lake all night guarding the raccoon next. They left us alone after that.
Last weekend, we found that nest gone, cut away by the campground and settled in about 500’ down the pennennsula. Shawna left some trail mix in her PFD and found that the raccoon who had moved next door to our new site had dragged her PDF to the water, unzipped the pocket with her trail mix and eaten it all.

So raccoons can work zippers.

I tried the paint can over the weekend but had my food double bagged inside to reduce odor and placed it with my ice chest in the supply tent. No problems at all though the picnic table was covered in footprints. I am guessing that they learned what to look for and ignored the rest of the camp.

Just one comment about odor. you can quadruple bag your food with drybags or zipplocks but the odor will still be there. If you want to stop odor from your food use LOKSAK OPSAK Odor-Proof Barrier Bags. they work. I tested mine with candy bars leaving them around the campsite and not one thing touched the candy bars inside these odor bags. I triple bagged with double lock freezer zip lock bags with peanuts then put that inside one of the odor bags. Let sit over night and opened the odor bags to get a very STRONG whiff of peanut smell. Clearly even triple bagging with those zip locks that have 2 zips didnt stop the odor but the odor bag easily did.

It’s interesting that during dc9mm’s test, varmints didn’t chew into his “odor-proof” ziplock bags, But I wouldn’t rely on them. Critters like bears, chipmunks, raccoons, and ravens learn what food packages and containers look like, and are likely to rip into those kinds of packages and containers regardless of whether they smell food. And if you handle food and then handle the “odor proof” ziplock bags, the outside of the bags will smell like food, To protect food from critters, you either need to store it in hard-sided containers or soft-sided bags which they can’t chew or tear their way into, or hang it out of their reach.

I haven’t had a bear, raccoon, or other critter run away with a critter-proof container, but can certainly imagine it happening. Has anybody had a critter run away with a critter-proof container? Ursacks and other bear-proof bags include a Spectra cord so you can tie the bag to a tree. It would be easy for the manufacturers of bear proof containers to include an attachment point so you could tie the container to a tree, but I haven’t seen bear proof containers with such an attachment point. Perhaps the attachment point provides something on which a bear can get leverage, and makes it easier for a bear to break into the container?

In our arrogance, we often underestimate the intelligence of animals. I long ago predicted that shark feeding trips were training sharks to associate people and food. My logic based on the fact that feeding large land predators turned out to be a very bad thing. The response I received was that sharks (and all fish) were too stupid to make that abstraction. Sometimes, people just don’t want to hear the obvious.

Bears, in particular, seem to be very cognizant of what food looks like. Other animals, with different sensory apparatus, perhaps less so. Bears, though they have lousy distance vision, are quite near-sighted and things close to them are easily recognized. They may not be elephants, but they don’t seem to forget that ice chests, though they have a crunchy exterior, are quite soft and chewy in the middle.


“Critters like bears, chipmunks, raccoons, and ravens learn what food packages and containers look like, and are likely to rip into those kinds of packages and containers regardless of whether they smell food”<<

My Min-Pin has learned that food comes in zip-lock baggies.,
When I quit teaching, I packed all my tarot cards and book into zip-lock bags until I could sell them and when I got home, my dog had torn most open looking for the food that he was certain was there.

How about this thought?
Fill large tea bags with activated charcoal from the pet store and store these with the food to absorb odor???

rjd9999: Bears are indeed pretty smart. The story told by long-time Boundary Waters travelers is that bears have now learned that the ends of portage trails are great places to find unattended packs. More interesting and clever than that, is that they have learned that when visiting campsites, chewing through one of those long, skinny objects that angles up into a tree (a rope) causes large bags of goodies to fall from the sky!

Bears are amazing animals. Being akin to hogs, they are no slouches in the brain department. Powerful, resourceful, and surprisingly quick from a standing start to 25+ MPH, yet I see people consistently getting closer to take photos, or hand-feeding them from cars. Barry Lopez writes that, “if you see a polar bear, you’re too close,” and I generally apply that statement to all bears. While black bears will run most of the time, when they don’t, you are in a very bad place. I’ve seen what a 10-lb housecat can do to the muscles, tendons, and bones of human hand and you really do not want to see what kind of damage a larger animal can do.

And I have no doubt that if you can dream up a portable method of protecting your food, bears, raccoons, and coyotes/wolves will eventually figure out how to defeat it.


I also wonder about the way people take chances with bears, and I like that quote about polar bears!

Still, bears are no more closely related to hogs than humans are to bears, so I’m not sure where that line of reasoning comes from, though it is true that predators are generally rated to be more intelligent than non-predators. Interestingly, some people who know bears well seem to think black bears are very intelligent, but grizzlies, not so much, but I have no idea if that’s true. Grizzlies do learn to have favorite spots and methods for catching salmon, and mothers pass that knowledge on to their cubs, so there’s learning involved there.

Coyotes and wolves would be easily thwarted by even the simplest food containers, as they simply don’t have any natural instinct toward real dexterity with their feet or jaws. How hard is it to find a container that a smart dog will never have a prayer of getting open? Not hard. Think about the fact that many dogs frequently want nothing more than to get through a door, yet very few dogs ever succeed in learning how to turn a round doorknob (talking about dogs big enough to get on their hind legs and reach the doorknob, of course), and even the simplest food-protection containers require far more dexterity than any door. Also, to my knowledge, wolves have no history in this country of habitually stealing the food of people in the outdoors, and for coyotes, that behavior is primarily seen in urban settings, usually just with unlatched trash cans. I wonder how many people have ever had their camp supplies raided by coyotes?