The 10 Best Bear Sprays of 2023
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If you plan to spend time in the great outdoors, hiking, camping, rafting, or exploring in an area known to be bear habitat, it’s highly recommended to bring bear sprays – and have it readily accessible. Bear spray is highly effective at deterring bears, but it’s not like bug spray: don’t use it. Instead, when activated, it emits a strong, powerful stream of capsaicin (scorching pepper) that stings the bear’s face and lungs – but does not cause any lasting damage. It also works on moose, mountain lions, and other aggressive animals. Here are the best bear spray options to keep you safe.
1. Best Overall: Counter Assault
Like the best of seasoned rangers and hikers, Assault Counter is a reliable and effective bear spray that is reasonably priced. The 10.2-ounce spray can is more significant than some of the others, has a range of 12 to 32 feet, can empty in 9.2 seconds, and allows the user more control of the amount of spray. The spray includes a nylon sleeve and glow-in-the-dark feature, plus a safety cap in an accidental discharge. When released, the fountain is a stream of clouds, so be aware of “recoil” as it can irritate the user as well. Note that the spray is only effective for three to five years, but replacement before then is recommended.
2. Runner-up, Best Overall: Bear Frontiersman Aerosol
Manufactured by Saber, an established company that produces pepper spray for law enforcement, Frontiersman Spray Bear is a solid choice. The 7.9-ounce canister empties faster than most others, has a 30-foot range (although the 9.2-ounce has a 35-foot range), and is the maximum force allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The spray was field-tested in Alaska and Montana and effectively against black, brown, and polar bears. They can also glow in the dark so that you can locate them at night. The boat has a shelf life of three years and does not include a cover.
3. Best Value: UDAP Bear Sprays
Created by a survivor of a bear attack, the UDAP bear spray formula improved on existing products, making the spray an extremely hot, petroleum-based formula at an affordable price.
The 7.9-ounce canister has a 30-foot range of powerful mist that can be emptied in four seconds as it enters the bear’s eyes, mouth, and nose – stopping the attack. The bottle comes in bright safety orange, so it’s easy to spot and includes a camo hip holster that comfortably holds the container for easy transport on the go. Several Amazon shoppers reported using the spray successfully to prevent an aggravated bear.
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4. Best Rank: Sprays Attack Mace Mark bear survival
The brand name, Mace, is known for its powerful self-defense spray by several law enforcement officers, and the “Bear Attack Survival Spray” is another premium product. The nine-ounce canister empties in six seconds and can spray up to 35 feet of mist – keeping a safe distance between you and the attacking bear. The combination of quick spray and space can make all the difference in a crisis. A lightweight cover is provided for quick and easy access to the spray. Made in the USA, the spray is made from the highest concentration level of capsaicin (what stuns the bear) allowed by the EPA.
5. Best of All Bears: Alaska on Guard
Designed to work on all bear species, the Alaska Guard Spray is a popular choice, but it has a shorter range than other options. The nine-ounce bottle ranges from 15 to 20 feet (significantly less than the Mace or UDAP brand) but has been registered with the EPA as a repellent against all bears and is endorsed by the California Science and Technology Foundation. Alaska. It is non-flammable and contains no ozone-depleting chemicals. The container has a removable safety trigger in case of accidental use. Beware of storing this product indoors for long periods as some Amazon buyers have reported leakage under certain conditions.
6. Best MultiPack: Pepper Defense (Alaskan Guard) 4 Pack
If you’ll be spending a lot of time in the woods or would like to give bear spray as a gift to an outdoor enthusiast, the Alaska Guard multipack is a cost-effective option. The pack comes with four canisters containing nine ounces of the powerful spray, and all of them have a shelf life of four years. Entire canisters can empty in nine seconds, or you can fire short bursts to scare animals away. The kit also includes four metal holsters that can be attached to a belt clip that is well built and durable. Amazon shoppers like the easy-grip handle and found the multipack an excellent overall value.
7. Best Practice Spray: Practice Bear Frontiersman Sprays
Bear spray is only effective if you know how to use it, so frontiersman has also developed a practice spray. If an emergency arises, the outdoorsman would know what to do without hesitation. The spray is a water-based product and will not protect against an actual attack – but it will prepare you to stay calm and use the real product correctly. It’s also a great idea for camping families to practice (but it’s a single-use item). There is also a safety video online with step-by-step instructions on using the spray. Although helpful, the spray is a bit expensive, and some felt that two canisters should provide instead of just one.
The 10 Best Bear Sprays of 2022
What’s in Bear Spray?
We break down what’s in the can, plus how to use it effectively.
Shoot a can of bear spray, and you’ll unfurl a 25-foot long cloud of hot pepper that should stop a bear from attacking. The material is not lethal, but it will temporarily irritate a bear’s eyes and lungs enough that the animal will probably move on. Don’t spray it on your body like, say, Deep Woods Off. More on that in a moment.
Things work. Professors Tom Smith and Steve Herrero studied hundreds of bear attacks in Alaska and found that 93 percent of the time it was used, the bears ceased their aggression or activities such as scavenging. Bears injured only 2 percent of people who used bear spray, compared to 56 percent of people who tried to defend themselves with a gun.
The 10 Best Bear Sprays of 2022
So what’s in the can, and how does it work?
It starts with pepper, usually capsicum oleoresin, a wax-like extract from hot peppers. Most manufacturers, Smith says, use the same ingredients found in just about every non-boutique brand of spicy food, from Tabasco to Hormel chili. Undiluted, it ranks on the Scoville Heat Unit scale of 3.2 million to 3.6 million. As a reference, habanero peppers reach between 80,000 and 200,000. Because capsicum is so potent, the EPA, which regulates sprays, says bear spray can contain no more than 2 percent of the substance.
Because it is oil-based, the bell pepper is also sticky and tenacious. “If you dump it in a camp, the area is dead to the world for 24 hours,” says George Hyde, general manager of Counterstrike, the oldest manufacturer of bear spray. “Walk on the ground, and it’ll re-spray. Spray it on your tent or clothes, and you’ll probably never wear that stuff again.” Don’t think of it as the bear-repellent equivalent of DEET. “It happens every summer,” says Hyde.
Then there’s the carrier, which keeps the pepper in an evenly mixed liquid state, so you don’t have to shake the can before use. These vary by manufacturer and are usually trade secrets, but they make up 8.8 percent of the spray.
Lastly, there is the fuel. Almost all manufacturers use R134a, the same gas used as a propellant in asthma inhalers. When it comes out of the can, the chemical boils, atomizing the substances mixed with the fuel into a cloud. The bear spray is pressurized at 80 pounds per square inch, making it capable of shooting the mixture out of the nozzle at 75 miles per hour.
That fuel is why bear spray can have an expiration date of four years.
No matter how good the seal between the can and the plastic spout is, it can lose pressure over time. It’s also why bear spray can explode if left in a hot car. Hyde says someone left their can on the dashboard in one case. The windshield was left with an orange-rimmed hole six inches wide when it exploded. The lesson: If you leave your bear spray in the car, throw it away in a cooler. One without ice should keep the can below explosive temperatures around 180 degrees Fahrenheit for many cans. By contrast, the bear spray will work in sub-zero temperatures, says Smith.
So what happens when you pull the trigger, and these three ingredients hit the air? When the pepper hits the bear’s face, the animal’s eyes close, its lungs contract and its body begins to produce as much mucus as possible to expel the pepper. The bear is crying, gasping, and coughing. “The bear goes straight from flight to flight,” says Hyde. “In one account, the bear turned to flee the spray and crashed into a tree.”
Bear spray works just as well on other animals. “If it has eyes and lungs, people have sprayed it with bear spray,” says Hyde. The list includes mountain lions, dogs, wild pigs, and moose. Hyde reports more spray on moose, which can be pretty aggressive than bear. At least one case where Counter Assault was successfully used on a rattlesnake.
Of course, pepper spray is also used on people.
Counter Assault and its main competitor, UDAP, pepper spray for police and self-defense purposes. Police recently used it against protesters in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri. The difference between the products is the percentage of pepper. The FDA has ruled that pepper spray used on people can contain no more than 1.3 percent pepper mix. The spray pattern is also different: the police use a more concentrated spray pattern to get fewer people in.
There is some debate about how best to use pepper spray on bears. Some people say you have to be upwind of the bear for the rush to blow on the bear. Others suggest shooting low, even bouncing the spray off the ground to ensure you don’t hit the bear’s mucous membranes. Smith says those ideas are great in theory, but in practice, when faced with a charging bear, it’s best to go ahead and use the spray no matter the conditions. “If you get too cute with him, you could end up mutilated,” he says.
One big reason bear spray works as well as it does, according to Smith: It gives you a reason not to run. “If you turn around and run, you almost get attacked,” she says. Carried by a bear, it’s tough not to turn around and run. Focusing on using that can of bear spray is often enough to keep you on your toes, which usually deters the attack.”
How We Chose Our Selection Of Bear Sprays
There may be only a few products on this recommended guide, but you can rest assured that they are from reputable brands and have received lots of positive reviews from consumers. We have included a range of price points to recommend the best choice and best quality. Of course, they should all be easy to use with clear instructions that are simple enough to perform successfully in a crisis with dangerous animals.
Features To Look For In Bear Sprays
There are a couple of crucial things to look out for when buying a Bear Spray vaporizer, including its active ingredient content. We’ve listed some of the features that we think are most important to you below.
Range and Coverage – Perhaps the most crucial consideration when choosing a bear spray is understanding its effective range, distance, and coverage. The throw is measured in feet, and you’ll find lengths ranging from 15 to 40 feet, with most of them around 20 to 30 feet of rage. This final performance will, of course, also be affected by wind conditions, so be aware of this before spraying in the opposite direction from which the bear is heading towards you!
Duration and Capacity –
Bear spray canisters can fill with a potent active ingredient, but they can practically only hold a limited amount of liquid. The contents are dispersed under high pressure, which means the fluid runs out quickly. Most vaporizers offer a performance time of just 3-5 seconds, which may not seem like a lot, but it’s definitely enough to stop a bear firmly in its tracks while you make a measured retreat (no running if he pleases!) to safer ground.
Convenience – There’s no point in being weaponized and dangerous if it’s packed in the bottom of your backpack, so choosing a bear spray that also comes with its case is a wise choice. You need an issue positioned in an accessible location with versatile attachment options so you can wear it however it is most comfortable and convenient for you, and that needs to be easy to open and release an emergency too!
Efficacy and Formula – Most bear sprays are heavily biased towards a single active ingredient, a chili pepper derivative. Although this will temporarily debilitate a bear, it will not cause long-term distress or harm. The higher the concentration, the more acute the side effects, including pain, sneezing, watery eyes, and, of course, lots of grunting! The practical and recommended dose for bears is only 1-2%.
Bear Spray Tips –
Here are our top tips on using your bear spray effectively should the need ever arise. First, we strongly recommend taking it with you in a case or attached to your belt. If you find yourself in an area where you might startle a bear, you need to react quickly and have both hands free. Here are our top tips:
- Aim your spray can at the approaching bear, adjusting your angle according to the direction of the wind.
- Keep your arm stable and secure, and squeeze the trigger with your thumb.
- Aim slightly above the bear’s head to account for gravity.
- Don’t be tempted to spray the entire contents at once in a panic, as a reapplication may require.
- If the bear is still ahead, spray towards the face.
- Once the bear retreats, quickly but calmly leave the area and don’t run! If necessary, take refuge in a vehicle.
Bear Sprays – FAQs
How does bear spray work?
Bear spray is pressurized hot pepper that has been ground and then forced into a container. Sprayed in the air, if a bear enters the mist, it burns its eyes and nose, which acts as a deterrent. In most cases, a bear spray will be effective with a range of 18 to 30 feet, depending on the brand of spray you purchased.
Generally speaking, the most effective range will be half the maximum distance stated by the manufacturer, and let’s be honest, you really want to be as far away as possible, but in reality, this bear is getting closer and closer to you. And becomes reasonably personal! Hence why, you use the spray in the first place. Also, remember that adverse weather conditions like wind and rain can also affect the distance, so judge wisely and be careful.
The effectiveness of the sprays themselves varies, especially in the wild. Still, overall, when the instructions are followed correctly, the effectiveness of the sprays on bears has been documented and proven. Just having access to a bear spray will likely give you some peace of mind to make sure you have it nearby in case you need quick access to it and, more importantly, to make sure to know who to administer it! When a big bear approaches, it’s too late to take instructions and read how to use your vaporizer! Your bear spray is utterly useless if it’s attached to the bottom of your backpack to ensure you carry it in a case or attached to the
When should I spray?
In general, bears do their best to avoid humans, so you will be very unlucky if you encounter one. The best strategy you can employ to avoid bears is to make as much noise as possible, always try to camp in groups, and be alert and aware of signs of recent bear activity – tracks, knocked logs, dig, etc. In the rare event that you encounter an aggressive bear, that is when your spray will need.
There are a couple of things to consider when using a bear spray. Never spray it on or near your camping gear, backpacks, or tents, thinking it will be a deterrent in itself—quite the contrary. Once the volatile active ingredients in the spray have physically broken down, the remaining pepper residue could attract and encourage bears to enter the camp!
The most intense effects of a bear spray occur within 30 to 45 minutes of spraying. Bear spray should only be used as a last form of defense. As mentioned before, your best strategy is to avoid encounters, be alert for signs of recent activity, and when in doubt, make a lot of noise!
What is the shelf life of bear spray?
Bear spray in the wild has been proven to be more deterrent than firearms. Although there is much publicity about the potency of the sprays, not all manufacturers make such explicit claims about longevity and shelf life, so be sure to be vigilant and check the expiration date. Typically, the best before date will stamp on the bottom of the box, and it is expected to have a shelf life of 3-4 years. It’s not that the contents of the spray degrade and become ineffective, but rather that the product begins to lose its ability to spray effectively. Bear spray usually includes an active ingredient (such as a capsaicinoid) as well as a carrier (propylene glycol) and a physical propellant (nitrogen being a popular element). Over time and especially if the product remains unused, the pressure inside the cartridge decreases, which compromises the effectiveness of the spray and its autonomy.
What is the difference between bear spray and pepper spray?
A pepper spray is designed for civilian self-defense and contains the same chemical in chili peppers, known as oleoresin capsaicin. As everyone knows who inadvertently cut chili and then rubbed their eyes afterward, the boy makes it sting! Worse still, when used in a targeted spray, it can cause severe burning pain, swelling of the eyelids, temporary blindness, and difficulty breathing. The effects can last for over 20 minutes, and military and police use it worldwide to deter threatening behavior.
A bear spray is similar but not identical in that it delivers a significantly lower concentration of the active ingredient chili, resulting in a lower concentration of the active ingredient. For human use, a pepper spray may contain 10% and a higher concentration of capsicum oleoresin, whereas a bear spray will only have 1-2% of the same active. The goal is to push the bear back rather than hurt it.
Should I use all bear sprays at the same time?
Ideally, you should use just enough water to deter the bear from approaching closer to you and your camp, giving you plenty of time to make your escape. The goal is to spray slightly above the bears in front, as gravity will cause the spray to fall toward the eye area. Deploys in 2-3 seconds from an effective but safe distance. If the bear is still approaching, try again but aim more directly at the face.
Since you may encounter another bear, possibly even the same one, it’s best to have still some water spray in your tin can for any further close encounters. The most important thing if you’re in the bear territory is to make sure you always have your vaporizer handy.
Can bear spray permanently harm bears?
The bear spray will not cause permanent damage or injury. It just acts as a temporary, uncomfortable deterrent that gives you some breathing room to work on your own. It is designed to be a non-toxic, non-lethal way to fend off an attacking grizzly bear or black bear.
How is the neutering of a bear handled if it comes into contact with your skin?
Bear spray is powerful enough to cause severe discomfort but is unlikely to cause permanent damage. However, it could affect your eyes if accidentally released at close range. If it comes into contact with your skin, immediately flush the area with water and be prepared to feel uncomfortable for 15-60 minutes.
Can you use bear spray on dogs?
Although slightly stronger in formulation, bear sprays are also effective on dogs. However, they should not be considered an alternative if you only intend to use pepper spray as a deterrent against aggressive dogs.
What happens if you use bear spray on a dog?
According to Karen Worst, manager of the Shamrock Veterinary Clinic, pets sprayed with bear spray should have their eyes washed and be placed intravenously if they ingested any of the sprays. Although the spray is not fatal, it can cause drooling, hypersalivation, squinting, and pain for the animal.
Will bear spray harm dogs?
As long as the pepper spray is used for self-defense without the intention of harming the dog, you need not worry about facing animal cruelty charges.
Is it legal to spray a dog with pepper spray?
Is pepper spray legal in California? In California, it is legal to purchase or possess pepper spray containers that weigh 2.5 ounces or less. Pepper spray can use in self-defense against human attackers, most dogs, bears, mountain lions, and other wildlife.
Does bear spray work on pit bulls?
Bear Spray is a can of Whoop Ass on Pit Bulls!! I had just left my cat outside for a while when I noticed the neighbor’s pit bull running loose outside. …The bear spray stopped the attacking dog in its tracks! I won’t hesitate to use bear spray again if I need to. It works!
Is there a difference between dog spray and bear spray?
The dog spray is 22 grams, released in a thin stream of 10 seconds. Bear spray is more effective at deterring a charging bear because it is easier to hit. Dog spray is often used to protect your dog from an attacking dog or coyote. You don’t want to spray your dog; stop the aggressive dog.
What is the difference between pepper spray and bear spray?
Standard pepper sprays contain about 1 million SHUs, while bear sprays contain 3 million SHUs, making them three times more potent than self-defense products. Bear sprays are also pressurized to travel farther (30 to 35 feet) than smaller self-defense products.
Will pepper spray deter a pit bull?
As a side note, Pepper Spray is very effective against highly aggressive dog breeds like Pit Bulls.
How do you stop a dog when it is attacking?
If a scary dog approaches without a leash, do the following:
- Keep calm as much as you can.
- Use a firm voice.
- Stand up or stand tall.
- Stay quiet and don’t yell.
- Get on top of something.
- Give the dog something by throwing the food away from you.
- Back into a corner or against a wall so the dog can’t get behind you.
Does bear spray work on all animals?
Bear spray works just as well on other animals. “If it has eyes and lungs, people have sprayed it with bear spray,” says Hyde. The list includes mountain lions, dogs, wild boars, and moose. Hyde reports more spray being used on moose, which can be pretty aggressive, than on bears.
How is pepper spray for dogs made?
Mix water and cayenne pepper in a spray bottle. Use 1 part cayenne to 10 parts water as a ratio. It is not advisable to concentrate too much pepper in the water, as it can ruin the furniture or the garden and may not be healthy for the animal. Spray the solution on problem areas with a light mist.
What is a good dog repellant?
Natural homemade dog repellent
- Ají: This is one of the most common and effective repellents for dogs.
- Ammonia: Dogs don’t like the smell of ammonia.
- Vinegar – Vinegar is another strong-smelling scent that will be a repellant for dogs.
Do dog detergent sprays work?
A good dog repellent spray is an effective aid in correcting a dog’s destructive behavior or other behavioral problems. … For example, some dog sprays are designed to prevent dogs from chewing and repelling them, while others are designed to correct dogs during training.
Depending on where in the world you live and how remote the areas you venture into for your weekend camping or hiking trips, you may be unlucky enough to encounter a bear. Although it’s doubtful, they’ll attack because they don’t like us humans that much, especially if we’re particularly loud, the forearm is always better! Bear spray is a modern, safe, non-toxic deterrent that could provide much-needed protection to humans without physically harming the bear. Choosing the right bear spray is essential, and there are several important features, including range and formula effectiveness.
The 7 Best Bear Sprays of 2022