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How To Not Get Attacked By A Bear When Camping

PublishedSeptember 11, 2020

Brown bear in Grand Tetons

This angry bear charged me right after I took this photo. Hehe. Kidding. OF COURSE IT DIDN'T! Also, I was in a vehicle. With a zoom lens. 

Like, OMG. This one is so easy.

Clearly, you're here to learn how to avoid being attacked by a bear while camping.

You're about to read the big secret that will keep you alive.

And Here It Is:


(LOL!  No, I'm serious.)

The secret is to just do it. You're not going to be attacked by a bear in your camper.

You're not even going to be attacked by a bear outside of your camper. Probably not on a trail, either.

Dry Camping McCall Idaho

No bears in sight. Never at any of my campsites.

How do we know this?


Let's have a look at the odds.

Bear Attack Fatalities

According to Petpedia.co, your risk of being attacked by a bear is slim to none.

The chance you will ever be attacked by a bear is approximately one in 2.1 million, according to the National Park Service.

Petpedia says that the 2.1 factoid is according to the National Park Service, which I cannot find where they say it online.  But I'm going to believe it due to the other similar factoids found online.

So one in 2.1 million doesn't put your mind to rest?

Ok then- to put it into perspective, your chances of being killed by a bee are greater. You're more likely to fall and hit your head and die. You can EASILY die in a car wreck or a wreck towing your trailer. Your chances of dying from COVID are much greater.

For even more perspective, there's this. I have lived on public lands since May of 2015.

How many bears have I seen? Under 10. And I LIVE IN THEIR HABITAT!

Never has one been near my travel trailer. I've only seen them out on a remote trail or on a drive.

Anyway, there are MANY other ways you are much more likely to die.

Let's look at some bear attack facts:

  • Yellowstone National Park says the chances of dying in a pool of boiling water are greater than being killed by a bear in the park.
  • Yellowstone is huge and has MANY bears, yet these statistics show that your chances of being killed by one are, well, you're gonna die of natural causes before you are killed by a bear.
  • Your chances of being killed in the lower 48 are even less than getting killed in North America. Here is a nice list if you want to peruse who has been VERY unfortunate with bears in the past. Knock yourself out- go ahead and scare yourself with it, despite the facts.
  • Let's put it into even more perspective. This article by Outsideonline shows what kills people the most in the outdoors. It sure isn't bears. Your biggest 'concerns' should be drowning or being hit by a car.

Let's look at some other common things people are afraid of when camping. (This section is just to support a point.)

Stories From Our Hundreds Of RVing Friends Who Have Been Attacked By Bears:


Stories From Friends Who Have Feared For Their Lives While Camping:


Well, we had one incident. But it wasn't from animals. It was from humans.

Stories From Friends Who Could Have Died While Camping:


Welllllllll, MAYBE one? It's our own story. Had Marshall been camping alone, this could have become life threatening. But it had NOTHING to do with a bear.

Just more proof bears are pretty much the last thing you need to worry about when camping.

You Need To Hear This Story Before You Go Boondocking All Alone

Stories From Friends Who Have Needed Their Gun While Camping:


Sorry if this burst your love of being afraid of bears or other animals. Because that is precisely what this article should have done.

Kelly running scared Quartzsite

Nope. Nothing to fear. No bears around. (And no, this wasn't in bear country, lol!)

Hopefully it showed you that though some of our fears may feel righteous, when you look at facts, you should see how ridiculous your fears are.

Take advantage of man's spectacular ability to keep records and track statistics such as bear attacks to quell your fear.

A bear attack is not going to happen, especially not if you take just the simplest of precautions:

How To Stay Safe In Bear Country

  • Wear a bear bell or make noise when on a hike
  • Bring your bear spray and KEEP IT WITHIN IMMEDIATE REACH, not in your backpack
  • Hike in large groups. Make sure you can run faster than the slowest person (heh)
  • DON'T leave food out around your campsite!
  • If in tent or soft-sided camper, put food up in trees, in your vehicle, or in provided bear-proof storage for it
  • Keep pet dogs leashed
  • Here is an even more comprehensive list of things to do and not to do if you encounter a bear


If you read this whole thing and you are still afraid of bears, godspeed to you.

You simply WANT to be afraid of them, or have an unnatural fear of them. Maybe a therapist is in order.

Family around camp table

If you read this and are no longer concerned about a bear killing you, congratulations! Your thoughts are now correct. 

You've got your head on your shoulders.

If you let unwarranted fears control your life, camping probably isn't for you. There are going to be unknowns, problems to solve, and wild animals in the vicinity.

If you don't worry about them and don't try to attract them, they will do their best to stay away from you and all humans. (This is why you should NEVER feed wild animals.)

Get out there, use your head, and enjoy all of the benefits that nature provides!

Kelly Headshot

He-llllo. I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, I converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking for pretty much all of it. Boondocking is a GREAT way to live, but it's not easy. Anyway, I'm passionate about animals, can't stand campgrounds, I hardly ever cook, and I love a good dance party. Currently, I can be found plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!) at my beautiful new 'ranch' named 'Hotel Kellyfornia', in Southern Arizona. 

Other Articles You Should Read

  • Over the years I have seen plenty of bears in the Sierra Nevada mountains but the sightings have always been near human food sources such as Lake Tahoe, Markleeville CA and the valley campgrounds at Yosemite. I have section backpacked from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite via the Tahoe Rim Trail, PCT and the Tahoe Yosemite Trail. I have never seen a bear on the trail or in camp. I have seen a lot of fresh bear scat on the trail but not the bear that left it. Bears are not interested in people. They are interested in human food. We always hang our food or use a bear canister when backpacking.

    • Hi Tony,

      Very true- bears are not interested in us. Most interactions happen around food, or when a human accidentally stumbles upon a mama and her cubs.

      Then there’s the one-off sneak up onto a bear in the wild. It doesn’t happen often. But it has happened. Still, such a rare event. People still have the fear. I guess it’s a lot like sharks. Attacks are rare, but people sure don’t seem to think they will be lucky when it comes to getting into an ocean.

      Glad to hear you have done your share of hiking! That’s some beautiful country. I still haven’t seen it with my own eyes. Maybe this spring or fall…

  • Besides all the things you mentioned, you failed to mention either a laser sighted 357 mag or a 44 mag with a laser sight is far preferable to all your mentionables.

    • Having spent a lot of time fishing in the Kenai peninsula in Alaska and seen hundreds of bears up close I have listed to countless bear stories some of which were true, and listed to the recommendations of the fishing guides and park rangers on what is the most effective bear deterrent, they all had a different favorite.
      A flare fired in front of the bear in the water.
      A loud horn, hand held like you see on a boat.
      Bear Spray.
      They all agreed on the least effective, never ever fire a large caliber handgun at a bear because that is a guarantee they will kill you.

      • Hi Andy,

        Good to hear what the rangers have been saying. One has to be carrying a MASSIVE weapon (likely, most are not) in order to kill a bear, IF they get their aim perfect on the first try while freaking out and high on adrenaline (and probably shaking from it). 😬

        I’m going to start asking rangers this question as well, when I get the chance. They are a superb tool- being out there and living the outdoor recreation life.

        Thank you for your input! Never heard this before, or I have forgotten. Good for our readers to know.

    • Oh wow, that’s crazy! We were reading your mind. : D Curious- have you ever heard that bear bells may actually attract bears?

  • Good advice, but the bear bells are questionable. Two park rangers (one in Alaska) have now advised us the bells actually make bears curious and want to investigate. Talking loud, singing, noise are all much better deterrents.

    • Wow, interesting! I have never heard that. Best to err on the cautious side with that. Curious- has anyone else reading this heard this about using bells?

  • In my 56 years of camping, mostly in a tent or just under the stars, I’ve never been scared of bears or other critters. Using ones head is the best way of staying safe, food items should always be located away from your sleeping area and in a bear safe container. Make noise, critters don’t take kindly to being surprised and don’t care for noisy humans. Close up selfies with critters for Instagram and Facebook post are not a wise idea…. In conclusion… don’t poke the bear and you’ll have an enjoyable experience ????????????????????

    • EXACTLY THIS. Use your head. Yes, bears are out there. No, they don’t want to get you. They DO want your food if you’re foolish enough to leave it out. Simply don’t do that and you don’t have a problem. If you DO get attacked by a bear, you should also play the lottery. ‘Cause you just hit massive odds! Thanks for the comment, Kirk!

      • Not life threatening but in Oct of 17 tent camping in the back country of Big Bend with two friends we had two of three tents destroyed. We had gone into the lodge to watch the World Series and got back to find the destruction. No food in camp so it was just territorial. Saw Mama and three little ones the next morning. Keeps us aware they are around.

        • So they were jerk bears? LOL! Totally kidding. You were obviously in their territory. Glad to hear nobody was hurt! Can you imagine being in that third tent that DIDN’T get torn up while it was happening? Man, that would have been scary! Thank you for sharing.

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