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I like camping. I like camping so much that I once walked from Mexico to Canada living out of a backpack, in the woods, for 5 months. One of my absolute favorite things to eat in the wilderness is Tillamook Cheese. Cheese provides the perfect nutrients to fuel a hard-working outdoorsman. One ounce of Tillamook Cheese boasts 110 calories and 7 grams of protein, meaning it keeps you satisfied and strong while hiking, climbing, paddling, etc. The slow-burning fat calories (this is good fat) in Tillamook Cheese mean that if I eat some before sleeping out under the stars, I stay warmer at night.  No joke.

You know who else likes to eat cheese in the woods? Bears. Here in Oregon my main concern is keeping my Tillamook out of reach of black bears, but if you’re roughing it in Montana, Canada or Alaska you better keep your stash away from those pesky grizzlies as well. This is easier than you might think, but before you reach for a rope to hang your cheese from a tree with, consider this: a grizzly bear can be up to 11 feet tall, can climb trees and can snap tree branches like tiny tooth-picks. Get the point? “Bear bagging”, or hanging your food from a tree limb is entirely ineffective.  Instead, there are three easy ways to keep your food safe from bears that have always worked for me:

1. Use the bear boxes at established campgrounds and never leave food in your car. Almost all established campgrounds in bear country have big steel boxes with bearproof opening mechanisms for you to store your food in. Always use these boxes to store all of your food and any kitchenware that might smell like food. Never keep food in your car, because your car is as easy for a bear to peel open as a can of sardines.

2. While backpacking, don’t sleep where you eat. If you’re out backpacking and covering some miles before you hunker down for the night, cook and eat your dinner a couple miles before you camp. This will keep any lingering food smells far from you while you sleep. If you don’t cook where you sleep, you’re probably safer keeping your Tillamook in your tent than hanging it from a tree.

3. Use a Bear Can. If you’re still concerned about bears finding your secret campsite, you can use a bear canister. Bear cans are basically the portable version of a campground’s bear box, so you can carry your Tillamook in it while you’re backpacking. The can is very difficult for bears to open (though there is apparently a single bear in upstate New York who has figured them out) and is made of a hard plastic that suppresses food smells.

Post by guest blogger, Brett Cassidy

P.S. If all else fails, your best bet is to eat (and enjoy) your cheese as fast as possible:

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