- EPA-certified, 2% concentration
- 40-foot spray range
- 8.1 oz canister with 7-second spray duration
- Comes with a belt pouch
- Effective against various threats, including bears and aggressive dogs
- Capsaicinoid based, 2% concentration
- Spray range of up to 30 feet
- 7.9 oz canister with up to 5-second spray rate
- Available with a belt holster or chest strap system
- Option to order an inert tester unit for practice
- 2% capsaicin spray, suitable against all bear species
- 7.9 oz canister with up to 30-foot spray range
- Griz Guard plastic holster included
- Plastic safety guard to prevent accidental discharge
- Registered with the EPA
Any hiker can tell you the joy that comes from embracing nature on a long hike. Many can also tell you the terror that is a charging bear suddenly coming at you. Wherever you’re hiking, an aggressive bear can be a serious threat. Bear sprays offer a non-lethal repellent option that is highly effective and safe to use. Today we’ll be reviewing several different bear repellent to try and find the best bear spray on the market.
- 1 Best Bear Sprays
- 2 Best Bear Spray Comparison Table
- 3 Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Bear Spray
- 4 Top Bear Sprays Video
- 5 FAQ: Best Bear Spray
- 6 Final Thoughts
Best Bear Sprays
Bear spray is one of the best options available to a hiker for dealing with bears and other aggressive wildlife. Study after study has shown that bear spray is the most effective form of deterrent, surpassing even powerful firearms.
It makes sense when you think about it. If you shoot at a charging bear and miss, or even just wound it, you’ve got an angry and frightened animal fighting for its life. One that happens to weigh hundreds of pounds and have claws capable of ripping through just about anything.
Bear spray tells a bear that you aren’t tasty and that coming forward is going to be a lot more trouble than it’s worth.
There are only a few real differences between most of the commercial bear repellents on the market. We picked several different varieties from noted manufacturers to help you pick out the best bear spray available.
- Counter Assault
Buy from AmazonRead Our Review
- Sabre Frontiersman
Buy from AmazonRead Our Review
- Udap Bear Spray
Buy from AmazonRead Our Review
- Guard Alaska Bear Spray
Buy from AmazonRead Our Review
- Mace Bear Pepper Spray
Buy from AmazonRead Our Review
- Tornado Bear Repellent
Buy from AmazonRead Our Review
Counter Assault – Our Overall Pick
Having an adventurous spirit, I often find myself immersed in the vastness of nature, hiking through rugged terrains or camping under starlit skies. Yet, with the allure of the wild comes an invisible tag of danger, predominantly from wildlife encounters. After thorough research and comparisons, I decided to give Counter Assault a try, a decision I now regard as sterling!
Counter Assault is an EPA-certified bear deterrent spray, boasting a 2% concentration, the highest legally allowed. I was impressed by the fact that it offers an expansive 40-foot spray range. My purchase came with an 8.1 oz canister, providing a solid 7-second spray duration, a feature I find reassuring especially when every second counts in a wild encounter.
I procured this gem from Pepper Spray Pros. The transaction was smooth, and the product arrived promptly, accompanied by the correct holster. While I haven’t had to employ it against a bear yet, I’ve felt a renewed sense of safety during my solitary hikes. The thought of having a spray capable of deterring a grizzly surely infuses a dose of courage against potential dog threats as well.
The original holster was a bit snug for my taste, making quick access slightly cumbersome. However, a little DIY stitching job led me to create a canvas holster, solving the issue effortlessly. Now, I can swiftly draw the canister whenever needed, without fearing an accidental discharge thanks to the safety protector strip.
I did have a practice session in my backyard, familiarizing myself with the safety mechanism and spray action. It’s essential, as you don’t want to fumble when it really matters. Although it took me a bit to get comfortable with the safety removal, I now handle it like a pro.
On a separate note, storage requires some consideration due to its explosive nature under heat. I now store mine in a cool, enclosed space away from any heat sources to ensure safety.
One fine morning, while enjoying a cup of coffee on my back deck, a juvenile black bear decided to pay a visit. Though I was indoors, knowing I had Counter Assault by my side gave me the confidence to shoo it away. A small spray sent the bear scurrying, proving the efficacy of this product even in a partially successful hit.
A word of caution, be mindful of the wind direction while using it. A small mishap left a bit on my arm, and the burning sensation was a stark reminder of its potency. Wearing long clothing can provide an added layer of protection.
Despite the slightly higher price point, the peace of mind and the sense of security it offers make Counter Assault a worthy investment for any outdoor enthusiast like me. It’s now a permanent resident in my outdoor gear collection, accompanying me on every escapade into the wilderness.
- EPA-certified with a 2% concentration, the highest legally allowable, offering a powerful deterrent against wildlife.
- Expansive 40-foot spray range providing a safe distance between you and a potential threat.
- The 8.1 oz canister has a 7-second spray duration, which could be crucial in emergency situations.
- Comes with a belt pouch that can be adapted for use in a chest harness style rig, adding to the accessibility.
- Effective against various threats, not limited to bears but also aggressive dogs.
- The product has shown effectiveness even with a partially successful hit, as experienced with the juvenile bear.
- Provides a sense of safety and peace of mind while outdoors, essential for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Priced on the higher end of the market, which might deter budget-conscious buyers.
- The original holster may be snug, making quick access a bit challenging.
- Requires careful storage to avoid exposure to heat and potential explosion.
- Attention to wind direction is crucial to avoid self-contamination; a small misstep could lead to an uncomfortable burning sensation.
- The dispersal of the spray might require you to be relatively closer to the threat than desired, as mentioned in the feedback regarding the wish for a longer spray before dispersal.
Sabre Frontiersman Bear Spray
The Sabre Frontiersman is a capsaicinoid based bear spray. It’s designed to provide the longest effective range possible and is available in several different size canisters.
It has a spray range of up to 30 feet for the 7.9 oz canister. That gives you substantial range to scare off a bear before it reaches you. It has a sustained spray rate of up to 5 seconds.
Sabre Frontiersman has a 2% capsaicinoid concentration. It’s available with a belt holster or chest strap system to make it easy to access when needed.
One thing we really like about the Frontiersman is the ability to order an inert tester unit. This allows you to practice using your bear spray without risk of accidentally discharging it.
If you’re looking for a powerful bear repellent with a very long range the Sabre Frontiersman is a great option.
Udap Bear Spray
Udap Bear Spray is a 2% capsaicin spray intended for use against all species of bears. It comes in a 7.9 oz canister with an included Griz Guard plastic holster.
It’s designed to produce a protective fog at a range of up to 30 feet. The Griz Guard holster includes a clip system designed to attach to your pants or a backpack strap. This allows you to carry it just about anywhere.
It uses a plastic safety guard that prevents accidental discharge but slides off quickly in an emergency. This allows you to quickly unholster your bear spray, disable the lock and begin spraying.
Udap is one of the most trusted names in bear sprays. It’s widely available and registered with the EPA. It isn’t the cheapest or longest range bear repellent but it still gives you good value for your money.
Guard Alaska Bear Spray
Guard Alaska Bear Spray was developed with Alaskan brown bears in mind. It uses the strongest legally allowable capsaicin concentration to provide an effective repellent.
It comes in a 9 oz canister and includes a black nylon holster. It has a spray range of up to 20 feet and is designed to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. The Guard Alaska uses a blaze orange plastic safety cap that’s standard across most bear sprays.
Overall the Guard Alaska is a reasonably priced and effective bear repellent. It doesn’t have the range of some similarly priced bear sprays but it’s not a bad choice to carry.
Mace Bear Pepper Spray
Mace is one of the biggest names in non-lethal self-defense products. Their popular Mace brand pepper spray is carried by millions of defense minded individuals and law enforcement officers everyday. They offer a 2% capsaicin concentration bear spray with a fogger type spray pattern.
It’s effective at up to 35 feet and offers a 6 second spray time. This gives you a good standoff distance and enough firepower to repel aggressive wildlife.
It uses a blaze orange safety cap that slips off rapidly for quick deployment. It doesn’t come with a holster, but does fit in most standard bear spray holster systems.
Mace Bear Spray is powerful, effective, and has a very nice spray distance. It’s priced competitively with other options and comes from a well known manufacturer.
Tornado Bear Repellent
Tornado Bear Repellent is a fogger type bear spray with a capsaicin concentration of 1.34%. This makes it slightly less powerful than some other bear sprays but is made up for by other features.
It comes in a 9 oz spray bottle and has an effective range of 20 feet. It offers a 9 second spray time, one of the best available. This gives you potentially enough spray to fend off more than one bear on a long duration hike.
When it comes right down to it 1.34% is plenty painful to scare off an aggressive animal.
If you’re looking for a bear spray with a long spray time, the Tornado Bear Repellent is a great option.
Best Bear Spray Comparison Table
Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Bear Spray
When you’re comparing different bear sprays there are two major factors to look at, plus a couple of others to consider. Carry options and range are without a doubt the most important factors.
This affects how easily you can access your bear repellent and how far away you can repel a charging bear. Other important factors include price, capsaicin concentration, spray time and expiration date.
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Before reading our best bear spray buyer’s guide we think you’d also like our best bear canister guide.
Thankfully bear spray isn’t unreasonably expensive. You can get a standard 8-10 oz canister for around $30 to $50 depending on the manufacturer. This is comparable to a tank of gas to get out to your hike and not at all a bad deal for a season of hiking.
If you’re shopping with a group of other hikers you can sometimes find a good deal on bulk packs of spray as well.
Holsters and Positioning
Even the best bear spray is completely useless if it’s packed away when you need it. Check and see what kind of carry options your chosen bear repellent offers and consider how you plan to carry it.
Like any self-defense tool it’s only going to help if you can get to it when you count. The best places to attach a quick-release bear spray holster are to your belt, onto the chest straps of your pack or suspended from your pant leg.
We personally prefer options that attach to your body rather than your bag. This makes it a lot more likely you’ll have it within easy reach even when you set down your bag to take a breather.
Once you know where you plan to carry your bear spray, check and see what options the holster has. It needs to hold the bear repellent securely in place yet still allow you to release it rapidly in an emergency.
The range of their spray is one of the biggest factors when comparing different bear sprays. In the past 20 feet was considered the norm, but new propellants and packaging systems have allowed sprays to reach ranges of up to 40 feet.
Spray range and an easy-access holster are by far the two most important factors to consider, but they aren’t the only ones.
Active Ingredients and Concentrations
Just about every commercial bear spray relies on capsaicin and related capsaicinoids as the active ingredient. This is the same active ingredient commonly used in self-defense products like pepper spray. One thing to keep in mind though is the concentration of the active ingredient.
Contrary to popular belief bear spray isn’t some incredibly powerful version of pepper spray. By U.S. law it can have a capsaicin concentration of no more than 2%.
In contrast, most self-defense sprays have anywhere from 10% up to a 30% concentration.
This comes down to the different goals of each product. Bear spray is intended to irritate a wild animal and encourage it to back off. High concentration capsaicin could cause long-term damage to a bears eyes and sinuses.
Pepper spray is designed to incapacitate a human attacker and render them unable to hurt you for up to 20 minutes. It’s expected that they’ll seek out medical attention or at least flush the pepper spray from their eyes.
Find us a bear that knows how to properly rinse pepper spray from their eyes.
Given the large size of bear spray canisters many people are shocked to learn how little usage you actually get from a can. You’ll get about three to five seconds of spray time from a standard size can of bear mace.
This is plenty to scare off a bear that’s within dangerous range of you. Just make sure you immediately replace your bear spray if you have to use it.
Just about every type of grizzly bear, black bear, brown bear, or polar bear repellent is going to have some kind of safety cap or clip. This prevents you from accidentally triggering the spray if you fall or when rummaging through a bag.
Look for safety options that are secure but easy to remove when you need to. If possible you should try and practice engaging and disengaging the safety mechanism with an inert spray bottle or trainer bottle. Many larger outdoor stores will have one available.
The last thing you need is a bear spray so securely packed that you can’t use it when it counts.
Bear spray is a perishable item. The vast majority of bear sprays have a shelf life of around three to four years. Make sure and check the printed expiration date on any spray you’re considering.
This is a very real expiration date. Bear repellent starts to lose its effectiveness after expiring. Smaller cans will lose effectiveness more rapidly than larger ones, but both should be replaced as soon as they expire.
Top Bear Sprays Video
FAQ: Best Bear Spray
When it comes to camping in bear country, ensuring your safety is of utmost importance. One essential tool that can provide an extra layer of protection is bear spray. However, we understand that you may have some questions and concerns regarding its usage, effectiveness, and other related aspects. In this FAQ section, we aim to address the most common queries about bear spray to help you make informed decisions and enhance your camping experience.
From understanding what bear spray is and how it works to knowing its effectiveness against different bear species, we’ll provide you with the essential information you need. We’ll also clarify the differences between bear spray and regular pepper spray, guide you on the proper usage techniques, and answer questions about storage, expiration dates, and legal considerations.
Remember, while bear spray is a valuable tool, it is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of its usage and limitations. Being prepared and educated about bear encounters is equally important. So, let’s delve into the frequently asked questions about bear spray and equip ourselves with the knowledge needed to stay safe and confident while enjoying the great outdoors.
What is bear spray?
Bear spray is a type of pepper spray that is specifically formulated to deter bears and other wildlife in case of an encounter. It typically contains a concentrated amount of capsaicin, a chemical derived from chili peppers, which causes temporary irritation and discomfort to the eyes, nose, and respiratory system of animals.
How does bear spray work?
Bear spray works by emitting a high-pressure cloud of capsaicin that creates a barrier between you and an aggressive bear. When sprayed, it causes temporary inflammation of the bear’s eyes, nose, and throat, resulting in pain and disorientation. This gives you time to retreat to a safe distance.
Is bear spray effective against all bear species?
Bear spray is generally effective against all bear species, including black bears, grizzly bears, and polar bears. However, it is important to note that its effectiveness may vary depending on the concentration of capsaicin and the distance between you and the bear.
Can I use regular pepper spray as a substitute for bear spray?
While regular pepper spray may contain capsaicin, it is not recommended as a substitute for bear spray. Bear spray is specifically formulated to have a higher concentration of capsaicin and a wider spray pattern, making it more effective in deterring bears. Using regular pepper spray may not have the same level of effectiveness or range.
How should I use bear spray effectively?
When using bear spray, it is important to follow these guidelines for effective use:
- Hold the canister with two hands and remove the safety clip.
- Aim slightly downward and spray in short bursts to create a cloud in front of the bear.
- Make sure the wind is at your back to prevent the spray from blowing back towards you.
- If the bear continues to approach, continue spraying until it retreats.
- Remember that bear spray is a deterrent, not a guarantee, so it is crucial to have a plan and be prepared to use other safety measures.
How far can bear spray reach?
Most bear sprays have a range of around 25 to 35 feet (7.6 to 10.7 meters). It is essential to check the specific range mentioned on the product label. The distance will vary depending on factors such as wind conditions, canister design, and altitude.
How long does bear spray remain effective?
Bear spray typically has a shelf life of around three to four years. However, it is crucial to check the expiration date mentioned on the canister. Over time, the potency of the capsaicin may diminish, reducing its effectiveness. It is recommended to replace bear spray once it reaches its expiration date.
Can I bring bear spray on an airplane?
Bear spray is generally not allowed in carry-on luggage or checked baggage on commercial airlines due to its pressurized container. However, specific regulations may vary, so it is essential to check with the airline and transportation security authorities beforehand.
How should I store bear spray?
To ensure the longevity and effectiveness of bear spray, it should be stored in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. It is advisable to keep it in a location easily accessible during outdoor activities, such as in a backpack or a dedicated holster.
Is bear spray legal to use?
Bear spray is legal to use in most wilderness areas where bears are prevalent, as it is considered a non-lethal form of self-defense. However, it is essential to check local regulations and laws regarding the use of bear spray in specific areas, especially in national parks or other protected regions.
Remember, while bear spray can be an effective tool in bear encounters, it is crucial to be knowledgeable about bear behavior, practice proper wilderness etiquette, and take necessary precautions to minimize the risk of bear encounters in the first place.
When looking at different bear sprays you’d be forgiven for getting a little confused.
It’s a heavily commoditized market with only a few noticeable differences between different brands. For us though, the Counter Assault was undeniably the best bear spray available.
It offers the best combination of range, spray time and effectiveness. Not only does it outrange its competitors, it also gives you more spray.