I’m an outdoor enthusiast, and more often than not, my adventures take me into bear country. In such environments, I like to make sure that I have some protection against bears – specifically, bear spray.
In this post, I review three of the best bear sprays for camping, hiking, backpacking, and any other adventure you might take in bear country. I also provide tips to help you choose the best bear spray and give you three easy steps for using it in an emergency.
Best Bear Sprays Reviewed in this Post
First, we have SABRE Frontiersman Bear Spray. The spray is effective when it comes to stopping bears because it is backed by an in-house HPLC lab for maximum strength. That aside, the canister weighs 7.9 ounces, which is the recommended item weight.
Moreover, the spray provides you with adequate protection at a safe distance of 30 feet. It also discharged the spray at 35 miles per hour.
But that’s not the only good news. This bear spray releases a heavy fog of 45 grams or 1.58 ounces per 1-second burst. And if you ask me, that’s quite impressive when it comes to protecting you from a charging bear.
Additionally, this bear spray comes with 1.1% capsaicin, plus, 0.9% related capsaicinoids. It has also been rigorously tested in the lab and the field to make sure that it works effectively. The best part, it is EPA-approved and environment friendly.
- This is an environment-friendly bear spray
- It is non-flammable
- Deploys heavy fog within one second
- It comes with holster options
- The plastic top breaks easily
- It is mainly effective for training
How Fast do bears run?
In general, black bears and grizzlies can reach a top speed of 30 to 35 mph, and they can sustain a speed of 25 to 28 mph for over 2 miles. To put this in perspective, humans have never been observed running faster than 28 mph, and while horses can sprint much faster, they will slow from fatigue at a quarter mile. So, if you happen to encounter a bear, don’t run! Instead, check out the video below for what to do if you encounter a bear.
Next up, I came across Udap Bear Spray. It might be an effective bear deterrent when you’re adventuring in bear country. Particularly, I was impressed that this bear spray includes the recommended percentage of capsaicin that can help repel bears.
The spray is also developed by a bear attack survivor. Therefore, you can rely on it as an effective tool. The spray is also allowed by law. So, you will not have to worry about certifications or it failing you in the field.
And the best part? Well, this bear spray comes with an Exclusive Griz Guard Holster. That way, you will manage to access it quickly in case of a bear attack. What’s more, this bear spray is made by a trusted manufacturer.
It is also built to discharge the spray in a short amount of time, making it effective when you come across an agitated bear. The product is also quite potent.
- This is a potent bear spray
- It comes with a quality Griz Guard holster
- Designed with a simple trigger for quick use when a bear attacks
- It has a recoil that may be problematic for first-timers
- Has a relatively short-range
Lastly, we have the Counter Assault Bear Repellant Spray. This bear spray is quite effective in deterring aggressive bears and will prove its worth in your adventures. I liked that this is a large canister with a net weight of 10.2 ounces or 290 grams. As such, you can use it to effectively deter bears because your can won’t run dry before delivering the expected deterrence.
Better yet, it has a high concentration of capsaicin, standing at 2%. Moreover, it has an impressive range of up to 32 feet, which is much more than what you’ll find from most bear sprays. And the good news is that this bear spray is effective against all 8 species of bear.
The spray also has a great shelf life of up to 4 years, and it delivers up to 7 seconds of continuous spray. Moreover, it meets all EPA requirements for Significant New Alternative Policy (S.N.A.P.) certification. So, you can be confident when using it against a bear. To ensure you never find yourself scrambling everywhere for it, it also comes with a tactical belt holster for faster access.
- It has a high capsaicin concentration of 2%
- Has an impressive spray range
- It comes with a tactical belt holster
- Meets the EPA requirements for S.N.A.P. certification
- Has a 4-year shelf life
- A bit pricey
- The can gets easily punctured
As you can see, the bear sprays I’ve covered in this post all work effectively when it comes to deterring agitated bears. However, I choose the Counter Assault Bear Repellant Spray as the best bear spray.
The Counter Assault spray has a higher capsaicin concentration as compared to the other two. What’s more, it meets the EPA requirements for S.N.A.P certification, which makes it very reliable along the bear trails. Besides, it has a 4-year shelf-life, and it has a great range of 32 feet. You can also spray it continuously for 7 seconds.
Things to Consider Before Buying Bear Spray
By now, you can tell that bear spray is a great deterrent to agitated bears. Consequently, I would recommend that you carry a canister of the best bear spray whenever you go adventuring in bear country.
However, I would suggest you exercise a lot of caution before selecting your bear spray. Why’s that? Well, there are plenty of bear sprays on the market, and each is made uniquely. Ordinarily, you want to make sure that you only settle for the best.
Here are the most important things to consider when buying bear spray.
- Container size – First, you need to consider the size of the container. It’s recommended you get a spray that is at least 7.9 ounces or 225 grams in weight.
- Strength – You must also consider the effectiveness of the spray in deterring agitated bears. An ideal bear spray should have a minimum concentration of 0.857% capsaicin.
- Length of spray – When you’re spraying the product towards an agitated bear, your spray should last for a specific period. Mainly, the recommended length of the spray should be about 8 seconds.
- Range – Besides the duration, an ideal bear spray should have a particular range. The best product should have a range of about 16 feet or 5 meters.
- Type of sprayer – When I say the type of sprayer, I mean the spray pattern. A good bear spray should have a loud or cone pattern.
- Shelf life – Like most products, the shelf life of the bear spray you wish to get matters a lot. I would recommend that you settle for a product that has a shelf life of 4 years from the time of purchase.
- Certification – When buying chemical products like bear spray, certification is quite important. You want to get a product that is proven to work effectively. As a result, I would suggest you purchase bear spray that’s manufactured by a reputable company.
- Cost – Most importantly, you have to consider the price of the bear spray you wish to purchase. Why? You will find a variety of bear sprays out there, and they differ in pricing. So, you need to conduct adequate research to get a product that falls within your budget range.
How to Use Bear Spray
Now you see, bear spray is meant to be used in a specific way. You cannot just spray it anyhow. Instead, you are required to follow a specific series of steps. You have to learn to use your canister correctly so that you can use it to deter an agitated bear successfully.
With that said, here are the steps that you should follow.
Step I: Pull out the canister and remove the safety clip
The first step to using your bear spray is removing it from your holster. Next, you are required to put your fingers in the canister’s loop and the thumb on the top-mounted trigger. After buying your spray, you will notice that the canister has a safety clip, which is meant to prevent the spray from discharging accidentally. Make sure to remove it.
Step II: Aim the spray in the direction of the bear
After removing the safety clip, you must ensure that you’ve held the can firmly. Preferably, with both hands. Next, point the canister towards the direction that the agitated bear is coming from. When aiming, make sure to position the can at approximately 30 degrees.
The goal is to make sure the agitated bear goes through the mist before it reaches you. Also, make sure to account for the direction of the wind.
Step III: Spray in spurts of 1-2 seconds
You must ensure to spray the deterrent in spurts of 1 to 2 seconds while aiming towards the direction of the bear. While at it, make sure to move backward slowly and don’t stop spraying until the agitated grizzly changes direction.
Sometimes, however, you may come across an overly agitated animal that won’t change direction instantly. In such a situation, you should spray the bear directly in the face until it stops attacking you. Remember, a canister is meant to last for about 8 seconds. So, you should be conservative and only spray when it is necessary.
Mamas and Their Cubs
American Black Bear sows (females) will breed during the summer and give birth during January or February, having litters of about 2 to 3 cubs. Pregnant mothers will interrupt their hibernation in order to give birth, but even so, sows with newborns are typically the last to leave their dens, following lone boars, sows, and sows with older cubs. The cubs will stay with their mother until they are about 18 months old.
Tips When Using Bear Spray
Bear in mind that bear spray is a weapon. It discharges the contents within under a lot of pressure. As a result, you have to be very careful when using it to make sure that you don’t harm your eyes. With that said, here are the most effective tips on how to use bear spray.
- First, you need to practice how to use bear spray before you head out to bear country. By doing so, you will manage to use it properly and effectively when you come across an agitated bear.
- Next, carry your spray in an accessible position. I highly advise against storing it in your backpack or on your bike. Instead, you should store it in a holster to allow you to access it faster in the face of danger.
- When you go hiking, make sure that you remove any device that locks the safety in place. However, you should not remove the safety clip. You should only remove the clip when you want to spray an aggressive bear.
- You must make sure that the bear spray you get is EPA-approved. Note that personal defense products will not work as bear deterrents effectively.
- Do not use your canister like an insect repellant. It will not work when you apply it on surfaces or people. It is only meant to be used directly on the bear.
Don’t forget the bear canister!
Whether you are hiking, camping, or backpacking in bear country, be sure to store your food and other fragrant items away from the campsite. Use a bear container or bear bag to protect your food and suspend it in the air. This is also a great idea for avoiding encounters with hungry raccoons!
Here are two of the best bear canisters that we recommend: