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Are Pop Up Campers Safe From Bears

Enjoying the outdoors comes with certain annoyances: insects, dirt, weather.

Sometimes, these annoyances cross the boundaries, becoming less “annoying” than they are dangerous. 

In such instances, people find themselves asking, “are pop-up campers safe from bears?”

 While soft-sided pop-up campers offer no more protection than a tent, a hard-sided camper is far more likely to prevent a bear’s entry. Either way, bears are unlikely to attack a pop-up as long as campers take precautions to hide their scent.

To be sure, bears are dangerous, unpredictable animals, but they aren’t a reason to avoid all camping in your pop-up. 

With the proper knowledge and a few tools, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to fully enjoy your trip, anxiety-free! 

Are Pop-Up Campers Allowed in Bear Country?

Before beginning your boondocking journey, you’ll want to be sure that you won’t be turned away.

Pop-up campers are generally allowed in every park where regular tent camping would be permitted.

Still, in some cases, parks might not permit a trailer without hard sides in areas where bear sightings are prevalent. 

One such area is Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most talked-about camping locations in the country, but you may be prevented from visiting certain parts of the park in your pop-up during certain times of the year.

Yellowstone covers a tremendous amount of property, spanning 3,471 square miles. 

Within that range are dozens of smaller park areas explicitly designated for camping.

When rangers spot frequent grizzly bear activity in an area, they’ll restrict that site to only campers with the protection of a hard-sided trailer. 

Usually, these restrictions are lifted after a few days, but in some cases, campers might be held off for far longer.

Regardless of these banned areas, campers should still be able to find some other area within Yellowstone’s vast borders to make their own for the duration of a trip. 

Check out: 21 RV Camping Tips for Beginners

Has There Ever Been a Recorded Attack on a Pop-Up Camper?

Bear attacks are sporadic, with less than 200 having been recorded in all of North America. However, they do happen.

Bears attack pop-up campers with the same frequency they would attack a tent or any other human campsite. 

The internet is littered with videos and written accounts of people describing their fear as bears sniffed or pawed around their grounds.

While bear attacks may not be typical, their deadly, brutal nature makes them jaw-droppingly terrifying to imagine. 

If a bear does decide to attack your camper, a soft-sided pop-up or tent won’t pose enough of a challenge even to slow down the assault.  

How to Guard Against a Bear Wanting to Attack

Luckily, bears typically only attack during certain times of the year when other food sources are more difficult to come by.

There are a few steps you can take to ward off even hungry bears.

The best way to guard yourself against a bear attack is to make yourself an undesirable target. 

Don’t place yourself in the bear’s natural territory, avoid leaving behind human waste, and be prepared for the worst if you were to spot a bear.

Avoid an Encounter

Bears are, above all, wild animals. 

As such, it is impossible to predict their behavior with perfect accuracy. 

The best way to avoid a bear attack is to avoid bears whenever possible.

Pay attention to the signs around you. 

Do you see signs that large animals have left a massive trail? 

Is there bear scat?

Have park rangers posted warnings of bear sightings in this area? 

If so, it might be time to make camp elsewhere.

Stay in Groups

This is good advice for any hiking trip but especially one in bear country. 

Whenever you’re hiking, make sure to stay within your group. 

There is safety in numbers, and a bear is less likely to consider you prey if they see that you’re walking with a large group.

Fear of bears shouldn’t mean never spending time in the great outdoors; it should just mean spending that time as safely as possible.

Don’t Leave a Trail

When hiking or camping in bear country, take every precaution to avoid leaving a trail of food or other waste. 

While bears are not typically animals that exhibit stalking behavior, hunger and food shortage can drive them to such lengths.  

In fact, while most people consider grizzly attacks to be the most deadly and terrifying, black bears are actually responsible for the majority of attacks on humans.

Black bears are far more likely to follow humans looking for sources of food, so your best preventative measure is to make yourself hard to follow.

Separate Yourself from Food

When you go camping, try not to leave food directly within your campground. 

Instead, pack away food and extra supplies in bear-proof containers and leave them at least 100 feet away from your campground.

Try to avoid strongly scented foods. 

Instead, turn to compact, portable foods such as tortillas, jerky, nuts, berries, and other snacks.

What to Do if a Bear Were to Attack?

If a bear were to attack, you should stay calm, make yourself as large as possible, and move away slowly and sideways. 

Maintain eyes on the bear at all times, avoid tripping, and don’t make any quick, sudden movements.

When traveling, keep bear spray on your at all times.

In this instance, the best move is to hold your ground.

Though they look cumbersome, a bear can run as fast as a racehorse.

The chances of escaping are slim. 

Instead, you should confront the bear by showing that you are not easily killed prey. 


There’s no getting around it: the idea of a bear attack is terrifying. 

It should be! While bear attacks are fairly uncommon, when they do happen, they have a high mortality rate.

A soft-sided pop-up camper would do nothing to stop a bear, but there are other steps you can take to avoid a tragedy. 

Pay attention to your surroundings, don’t keep highly scented food around your campground, and don’t place yourself in harm’s way.