Bear spray is designed specifically for this eventuality. It effectively averts dangerous encounters with a wild bear, ensuring your safety. Recent studies showed that 98% of people carrying bear spray were able to avoid injury. And it’s as convenient as it is effective, being easy to pack, transport, and use. Here are some bear sprays we recommend you take with you on your next wilderness adventure.
Why buy bear spray?
Bear sprays provide you with protection when you’re out in bear country. If you ever run into an aggressive bear when camping, backpacking, or hiking, effectively deployed bear spray is one of the very best ways to deter them. It can prevent injuries or even death sustained from a bear attack. The good news is that bear spray is non-lethal to bears but still strong enough to convince them to leave you alone. And it doesn’t require special precision or accuracy to work; as long as you put up a large enough cloud of spray between you and a charging bear, it should do the trick. If there’s a chance of encountering a bear in the area where you plan to camp or hike, no matter how minuscule, bear spray is an absolute must-have for peace of mind.
Keep in mind that bear spray isn’t like insect repellent. Spraying it on yourself or your gear won’t keep bears away; it’s only effective when deployed in the direction of an aggressive bear. And bear spray has a shelf life, meaning it does expire after a time. Be sure to check the dates on the cans you own before going camping and buy a new supply if necessary.
What should you look for in bear spray?
There are many different products available on the market, but you should consider something that offers the following:
- Range: You need a bear spray that can extend far enough to be effective if you come across a territorial bear. The best bear sprays can reach a distance of around 30 feet and spray for around 6 to 8 seconds. The longer the range, the better since you reduce the risk of catching yourself by mistake or the wind blowing the spray back into your face. Anywhere between 25 to 35 feet is considered the ideal range; from that distance, it’ll hit the bear far away enough for it to change its course towards you.
- Concentration: The concentration of capsaicin in bear spray also plays a role in the severity of the repellent. Obviously, the more concentrated the spray, the more potent it’ll be. 2% is the highest concentration allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency, so look for a spray with that percentage or as close to it as possible. Don’t go under 0.8-1% concentration if you can help it, and opt for a brand that is EPA-certified.
- Quantity: Most bear sprays are sold in one or two cans at a time. If you’re going on a longer camping trip, camp frequently, or need to buy enough for the whole family to have their own can, there are larger quantities available, such as packs of three to five. And there are different-sized cans available, too. Look for cans of at least 7.9 ounces so that you have enough spray to face more than one bear attack if need be.
Do you need a holster or belt clip for your bear spray?
It’s highly recommended that you have one or the other. If a bear is charging at you (between 25 and 35 mph, faster than any human can run), you don’t want to be fumbling around in your pack for your bear spray. The faster you can deploy the spray, the better. A holster or belt clip will save you those precious seconds that can make a huge difference. Either of these tools will allow you to keep bear spray right on hand and draw it quickly if needed.
The good news is that many bear sprays include some sort of holster or belt clip with your purchase. Thus, the odds are good that you won’t have to spend extra money on one. And, as a bonus, you know the holster or belt clip will properly fit and hold whichever bear spray you buy.
Udap Bear Spray with Color Griz Guard Holster
Designed by a bear attack survivor, this bear spray is both extremely potent and has a long range for more effective deterrence.
Pros: This bear spray has both the ideal range (30 feet) and capsaicin concentration (2%) and comes with a few other handy accessories as well. Each can, whether you buy a single one or a two-pack, comes with a hip holster, so you don’t have to go out and buy one separately. And you have several different color options to choose from regarding the holster. You also receive a glow-in-the-dark safety clip and an instructional booklet that provides safety tips for surviving a bear encounter.
Cons: While there’s a lot to love about this bear spray, it does have a slightly higher price tag than many similar products. Though you do get several complimentary accessories for the extra cost, it might not be worth it if you already own a belt holster or clip for bear spray. And if you order the two-pack, they come with nylon cloth bag holders rather than quick draw hip holsters, which aren’t nearly as durable or effective.
Bottom Line: This bear spray not only checks the right boxes but comes with some bonus accessories and benefits that not every similar product provides. People who have never used bear spray before will appreciate the added components and the tips provided by the instructional booklet. But if you’re already on a bit of a budget crunch for your camping trip, you might want to opt for a slightly less expensive bear spray with equal range and potency.
Pepper Defense Guard Alaska Bear Spray Repellent
Two cans of bear spray and matching belt clip holsters to help ensure you don't run out of bear spray on long camping or backpacking trips.
Pros: Effective on multiple bear species, this bear spray is non-flammable, so you don’t have to worry if you accidentally leave it too close to the camp or cooking fire. It offers an impressive, higher-than-average continuous spray (9 seconds). And there are plenty of quantity options, whether a single can or as many as five at once. This makes it much easier to buy enough bear spray for the whole group or simply stock up for those who camp, hike, or backpack frequently, especially since each can contains 9 ounces of spray.
Cons: While it still falls within the recommended concentration range, this isn’t the most potent bear spray on the market. Its concentration comes in at only 1.34%. And at 15 to 20 feet, it doesn’t have an ideal spray range. While 20 feet should still be enough to deflect a charging bear, a longer spray range is generally considered safer.
Bottom Line: If you’re going camping or backpacking with your family or in another larger group, this bear spray is a great option for ensuring each person gets their own can. And each can comes with its own clip-on cloth holster. That said, if you plan on buying bear spray in a smaller quantity, you might want to spring for something that’s more potent with a longer range.
Griz Guard Bear Spray
This powerful bear spray has the strongest possible formula allowed by the EDA and comes with an easy-access, no-fuss guard holster.
Pros: This bear spray is both potent and long-reaching, offering the maximum possible concentration and a 30-foot range. Thus, it offers you the utmost safety on both counts. And it’s non-flammable for an extra safety precaution even when not in use. Not only does this bear spray come included with a guard holster, but the holster is designed to be extra convenient for users. Unlike some others, it can clip on almost anywhere you want to place it, no belt necessary. This, in turn, allows you to keep the bear spray in a spot that’s most convenient for you to access.
Cons: While this is a safe and effective bear spray on most levels, it has a shorter continuous spray than most. Its spray time only lasts about 4 seconds.
Bottom Line: There’s a lot to love about this bear spray. The spray range and potency are both within the ideal parameters, so it’s equal parts safe and effective for you to use. And it’s a great choice for someone who doesn’t typically wear a belt while hiking, thanks to the design of its included guard holster. As long as you don’t mind the shorter continuous spray time, it should suit your needs well. But most other bear sprays on the market will have a longer spray time, so you may feel more secure opting for one of those instead.
Mace Brand Maximum Strength Bear Spray
At a maximum range of 35 feet, this bear spray offers you optimal protection.
Pros: One of the biggest benefits of this bear spray is that the can is lightweight (less than half a pound) even when 100% full. It won’t weigh you down even after a long day of hiking. It’s got a great range of 35 feet, and the safety wedge on the top is bright orange. This not only prevents you from accidentally triggering the spray nozzle yourself but makes it extremely easy to spot. It’s priced slightly lower than many other similar products on the market, too.
Cons: This bear spray doesn’t come with its own holster, holder, or clip-on. If you want to attach it to your belt or hang it from a similar easy-to-access spot, you’ll have to buy your own holder separately, which will cost more money. Due to the contents that make up the spray, you’ll have to carefully consider where you store it. It can’t be stored in temperatures exceeding 120 or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Either temperature causes the spray to depressurize, which will decrease its range and effectiveness.
Bottom Line: If you already own a clip or holster, this bear spray and its slightly lower price tag will be great for you. This is especially true if you’re going on a long backpacking or camping trip that requires a lot of gear; the can is so lightweight that you’ll barely notice it’s there.
Personal Security Products Maximum Strength and Accurate Bear Spray
This is among the best all-around bear sprays that you can purchase at an affordable price.
Pros: The foggy power spray pattern of this product is designed to be accurate; while pinpoint accuracy is not the singular most important factor in picking a bear spray, many campers, hikers, and hunters find the enhanced accuracy of this bear spray reassuring. It’s also easy to use; all you have to do is flip up the safety guard and press down on the button on top of the lid. The continuous spray lasts for an impressive 9 seconds, higher than most bear sprays on the market, and this product is slightly less expensive than those other sprays to boot.
Cons: The biggest drawback to this bear spray is that it doesn’t have quite the range of some other comparable products. It sprays 20 feet, slightly below the recommended range for bear sprays. So while the concentration and spray time are good, the spray range is less than ideal; you might want to opt for something with a greater range. The can doesn’t come with a holster or clip, and it’s too big to fit into a regular pants pocket. The can’s design ensures it’s easy to carry in your hand. But if you anticipate rock climbing or another activity that requires the use of one or both hands during your outdoor adventure, a hands-free option with a holster or buying one separately for this product is the better way to go.
Bottom Line: This is another great bear spray for beginners, thanks to its noted accuracy, easy-to-locate safety guard, and simplicity of use. Some people prefer to carry their bear spray in their hand rather than attach it to their belt or stick it in their pocket, so they’re able to use it at an instance’s notice. This bear spray is ideal for just that, thanks to the can’s loop handle. The more budget-conscious campers and hikers will love it as well. But if you feel more secure with a product that has a longer spray range to as much distance as possible between you and an attacking bear, this probably isn’t the bear spray for you.
If you go camping, backpacking, or hiking in an area where there is even a remote possibility of running into a bear, bear spray is a must-have, not only for your safety but the safety of those with you. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use it—but it’s better to have bear spray on hand and not need it than be caught in a situation where you need it and didn’t bother to buy any.