Matt Johnson

How to Keep Raccoons Away When Camping

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Jul 25, 2022Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Camping is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy nature. However, if you’re not careful, you may find yourself sharing your campsite with unwelcome guests – raccoons! This article will show you how to keep raccoons away when camping so that you can relax and enjoy your time in the great outdoors.

Will raccoons bother you in a tent?

For the most part, no. Raccoons are more interested in raiding your cooler or garbage for food than in bothering you while you’re trying to sleep. However, if a raccoon does decide to enter your tent, it can be a frightening and potentially dangerous experience.

There are a few things you can do to keep raccoons away from you while you’re camping, but we’ll dive into that shortly.

What to do if you hear an animal outside your tent?

You’re snug in your sleeping bag, just about to drift off to sleep, when you hear something outside your tent. It’s probably just the wind, but it could be an animal.

If it is an animal, you don’t want to confront it. That’s how you end up getting hurt. The best thing to do is make noise and try to scare it off.

If the animal is a raccoon, chances are it’s more scared of you than you are of it and will run away as soon as it hears you.

If the animal is something bigger, like a bear, you want to make sure it knows you’re there, so it doesn’t come any closer. Yelling and banging on pots and pans (or something similar) is usually enough to do the trick. You can also keep an air horn or bear horn with you for just such an occasion.

What to do if a raccoon is in your tent?

If you find a raccoon in your tent, the best thing to do is to calmly and quickly exit the tent. Do not try to confront or capture the animal. Raccoons can be aggressive, and you don’t want to get bitten or scratched.

Once you’re out of the tent, make noise and try to scare the raccoon away. If that doesn’t work, you can try throwing rocks or sticks in its direction, but be careful not to hit it. You don’t want to injure the animal; you simply want it to leave you alone.

The best ways to keep raccoons away when you’re camping.

So how do you prevent raccoons from bothering you in the first place? Here are a few tips we’ve come across during our adventures.

Store all food in sealed containers.

Let’s start by preventing the critters from getting to your food in the first place. Any time you’re camping or hiking in an area with animals, you want to ensure all your food is stored in sealed containers. If there’s nothing to attract them, they’re less likely to bother you.

This goes for any food, especially anything with a strong smell like garbage, fish, or meat. You also want to ensure you keep all food sealed up while cooking. That way, the scents won’t attract animals while you’re busy and not paying attention to your surroundings.

Properly dispose of all garbage.

Dispose of Trash in Proper Trash Bins or Receptacles
Disposing of trash in animal-resistant trash cans will not only keep raccoons away from your campsite but also other animals.

It’s not just food that will attract animals; it’s anything that smells like food. That includes garbage. Make sure you dispose of all your trash correctly. If there are no garbage cans, pack them out with you when you leave, but in the meantime, don’t keep them near your tent. This also includes food wrappers, which can have lingering smells that attract animals.

You also want to make sure you clean up any spills right away. Animals can smell even the smallest amount of food, so if you spill something, clean it up immediately. For example, if you’re grilling and spill some grease from the burgers, wipe it up right away, so the smell doesn’t attract animals. If you spill it on the ground, dig a hole and bury it.

Keep your campsite clean.

In general, you want to keep your campsite as clean as possible. That means no food left out, garbage, or dirty dishes. The cleaner your camp is, the less likely it is that animals will be attracted to it.

You also want to avoid leaving any food in your tent. Even if it’s sealed up, the smell can attract animals. It’s best to eat all your meals outside and then clean up everything before you go to bed.

Cleanliness is key to keeping animals away, so make sure you and your camping companions are all on board with keeping things clean.

Hang up dryer sheets around your campsite.

This trick works for all sorts of animals, not just raccoons. Dryer sheets have a strong scent that animals don’t like, so hanging them up around your campsite will help keep them away.

You can also put dryer sheets in your pockets or in your sleeping bag to help keep raccoons away from you while you’re sleeping.

I typically like to hang them on nearby trees since they’re easy to grab and put up quickly if you need to. Also, raccoons like to climb trees, so it’s an excellent way to keep them away from your campsite.

Sprinkle some strongly scented spices around.

A few jars of spices can go a long way in keeping raccoons away from your campsite. Raccoons don’t like strong smells, so anything with a potent scent will help keep them away.

Some good spices to use are cinnamon, cloves, and peppermint. There are others as well. If it’s strong and potent to you, it’s probably strong to a raccoon.

You can sprinkle them around the perimeter of your campsite or put them in small (opened) bags and hang them up.

Bring along an air horn or other loud noise-making device to scare away raccoons.

Something else the raccoons don’t like is loud noises. If you bring along an air horn or bear horn, you can use it to scare away any raccoon that comes too close to your campsite. Chances are, this will scare away any other creatures and other campers!

Loud music can also work, but be considerate of your fellow campers and only play it loudly if necessary. This is the last resort option since it can be disruptive to other campers.

Place a bright light near your campsite to keep raccoons away at night.

There are plenty of LED lights on the market that are bright enough to light up an entire campsite. These can be placed near your tent to help keep raccoons away at night. You can also get battery-operated lights that can be placed around your camp if you are boondocking or roughing it.

The light will make it harder for them to approach your campsite without being seen, and the brightness will also help scare them off. After all, they’re nocturnal animals and are used to being active in the dark.

A headlamp can also work in a pinch. Just point it in the direction of any approaching raccoon, and they should scurry off.

Camping can be a great way to get away from it all and enjoy nature, but if you’re not careful, you may find yourself sharing your campsite with raccoons. You can do a few things to prevent raccoons from being interested in your site, or you can do a few things to keep them away altogether. Whichever route you choose, follow these tips to keep raccoons away when camping.


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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