Bearproof Coolers – Everything to know
You’ve likely seen claims from a few cooler companies that their products are “certified bearproof.” But, what does that certification really mean? What’s the process? Do they really have bears doing this job full time? These are all great questions that we’re going to get to answering further down in the article!
What Does it Mean to be Certified Bearproof
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) is a committee that was founded in 1983 and consists of representatives from the US Forest Service, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Geological Survey, as well as several state wildlife agencies. The IGBC carries out any testing of products and certify them as bearproof. The IGBC only grants their bear-resistant certification to products such as coolers that can withstand 60 minutes of abuse from a grizzly bear. Any products that the grizzly bears can puncture or burst open do not pass the test.
The IGBC works to ensure that grizzly bear populations recover to healthy levels in areas they have been diminishing in number. Thanks in part to the IGBC, grizzly bear populations have doubled in recovery areas since the grizzly was given protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. Some areas like in Yellowstone National Park has already exceeded the repopulation goal and has been removed from the endangered list.
How Does Bearproofing Coolers Protect Bears?
The behaviour of bears can be unpredictable, especially to people that aren’t used to interpreting their behaviour. So, when bears get to close to human populations, they are often euthanized as a way to protect human lives. By making food more easily available to bears – like an easily opened cooler while camping – they become more and more comfortable around humans which can lead to an increased number of bears being put down. Using a bearproof cooler will not only hopefully remove any smells that may attract them, and discourage any similar behaviour in the future. Plus, it protects your things.
How do They Test Bearproof Coolers?
At the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center near Yellowstone National Park, there are seven grizzly bears that are used to test the products. These fully grown adults range in size from 500lbs to more than 1000lbs and are essentially just given the products such coolers or trash cans that are filled with fish heads, elk bones, peanut butter or a combination of the three. It’s important to note that all coolers are often only certified as bearproof if they are double-padlocked, the same way they are tested. The bears will toss around, tear at and often just belly flop on them, using their bulk of fur and muscle to try and compress the coolers open. The bears often give up on trying to pry or tear through the thick cooler walls – on bearproof models – even before the 60 minutes is up. Those that the bears get access under 60 minutes don’t pass the test and don’t get the certification.
Here’s a great video of an IGBC “staff member” trying to break into a YETI cooler…
What are the Best Bearproof Coolers?
The IGBC has an entire list of their certified bear-resistant products publicly available. In general though, there are a few brands we recommend that hold the certification. Grizzly coolers, a hunting-oriented brand is one heavily recommended for hunters and fishers alike and with a name like Grizzly, you sure have to be grizzly proof. ORCA and YETI are two other great brands that both hold the certification, as well as Engels roto-molded coolers. If you want to learn more about the coolers we recommend click here to check out our best of list of 2020.
Hopefully you use bearproof products and practice proper bear etiquette and stay safe out in the wild!