How to Bear Proof Your Cooler

How to Bear Proof Your Cooler

Let’s start with terminology.  Coolers that have passed the Interagency Grizzley Bear Committee (IGBC) testing protocol are defined as bear resistant.  They don’t use the phrase Bear Proof. 

First, we need to start with a cooler that has passed the IGBC bear resistant certification.  To check if your cooler has been certified you can review the official list on the IGBC website here:

You will then note next to each cooler there is red, all caps text stating “COOLERS REQUIRE USE OF BOLTS OR PADLOCKS TO BE BEAR-RESISTANT” (as of summer 2022 this now includes BearBolts)

Below are the approved options:

1.    BearBolts

A BearBolt is an innovative locking device that keeps your food safe from wildlife.  Weather you are using a cooler or hard sided pannier, BearBolts will provide the ultimate protection from wildlife and the easiest access for humans.  

Made from high quality Stainless steel BearBolts are designed to withstand the toughest conditions and is highly resistant to corrosion. 

It’s sturdy construction and secure locking mechanism make it the perfect choice looking to protect their meals from curious critters. 

BearBolts are designed with multiple grip lengths available in the one product allowing it to be used with many cooler makes and models.  Refer to the list maintained on the homepage for fitment.

2.    Padlocks

A pad lock, or a pair of pad locks depending on the cooler,  is an acceptable way to meet the regulations, however it is often difficult to find a padlock that works.

The shank must be thin enough to fit through the lock holes and long enough to close around the lid and base of the cooler.  When out browsing the hardware stores you may finds this is a rare bird indeed. 

Additionally The IGBC  testing protocol states that gaps of more than ¼ inch are not allowed, therefore a loose fitting lock is not allowed.  If the shank is too long it will not meet the intent.

3.    Bolt and Nut Method

This is the least expensive option and also the least convenient.  A trip to the hardware store should set you up with this one.  First measure the diameter of the lock holes and the length required.  Find mating washers, lock washers, and wing nuts. 

On many cooler models the wing nuts will not have enough room to rotate so take that into consideration as well. 

Hide your cooler from view

With all locking methods above, you still want to hide your cooler from plain sight.  Habituated bears have learned that coolers are an easy source of food. 


All three of the above methods are acceptable however you will find BearBolts to be the most convenient and most likely to be used appropriately. 


Tags:  Bear proof locks, Bear resistant coolers, are yeti coolers bear proof? , bear proof cooler locks

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