Hiking may be a word that brings to mind images of picturesque woodland environments, or mountainous landscapes bursting with flora and fauna.
But did you know that the peaceful past time can also come with its fair share of dangers? Not only can hiking lead to broken ankles and bloody toenails, but it can also expose you to the wills of nature.
Making you combat not only the natural elements but also the various species of wildlife that traverse our beautiful planet.
Although seeing a passing deer or mountain lion can be an exhilarating and even awe-inspiring experience, that does not mean that the encounter cannot end in tragedy.
After all, these creatures are wild animals and they are often prone to attacking humans when they feel threatened or exposed.
One of the most dangerous animals that a hiker can encounter is a bear, and so it is wise to always be prepared when hitting the trails.
While bear attacks are considered very rare, they have been known to occur, especially if the bear is feeling cornered or is trying to protect its cubs.
So if you want to protect yourself against these vicious predators, then the best thing to do is purchase a can of bear spray. This non-lethal deterrent can be used to scare away attacking bears and is a key tool that every dedicated hiker should have in their arsenal.
Of course, there are hundreds of bear sprays currently available for online purchase and finding the perfect one can be a long and stressful process. That is why we have compiled together a selection of the five best bear sprays currently available on the market. We have also put together an informative buyer’s guide to help you in your search.
Best Bear Spray
For our top entry, we have chosen Counter Assault bear spray – an efficient and useful predator deterrent that can be easily deployed by hikers and campers alike.
Featuring an 8.1 oz bottle, this spray is larger than other brands on the market and features a spray distance of 32-feet. Promising 7 full seconds of spray time, Counter Assault bear spray is also considered the hottest formula allowed by the law and contains 2% capsaicin.
Counter Assault bear spray is distinguished from other deterrent brands by its ability to meet the EPA SNAP clean air act and can be used to protect humans from all 8 known species of bear. This particular spray comes complete with a useful nylon holster and features a glow-in-the-dark safety cap to avoid accidental discharge.
When the spray is released, it takes the form of a cloud-like stream, which can cause harmful blowback if not properly deployed. Counter Assault has a shelf life of 3-5 years and is only effective during that time. So it is recommended that you consistently replace the spray to ensure its efficiency.
What we like:
- Eco-Friendly: Counter Assault bear spray is distinguished from other deterrent brands by being an eco-friendly product that meets the requirements of the clean air act.
- Large Quantity: The bear spray comes inside an 8.1 oz bottle and features a larger quantity of deterrent spray than other available brands.
- Good Range: Counter Assault bear spray offers a spray distance of 32-feet and can ensure all-around protection from 8 species of bear.
- Useful Holster: The bear spray comes complete with a nylon holster that can be attached to your waist or backpack for easy access.
What we don’t like:
- Expensive Price: Unfortunately, Counter Assault can be very expensive to purchase and may not be available to hikers on a budget.
- 32-foot spray distance
- 8. 1 oz. bear spray with 7 seconds of spray time
- Hottest Formula allowed by law at 2% capsaicin & related capsaicinoids
- Only bear spray to meet EPA SNAP rule of the Clean Air Act
- Works on all 8-bear species to deter bears from attacking humans
For our next entry, we have chosen a bear spray produced by the Mace company, a leading manufacturer of self-defence solutions.
Considered another premium deterrent product, Mace maximum strength bear spray comes inside a 9 oz canister and features a spray distance of around 35-feet, which ensures a safe distance between you and the attacking bear.
Made in the USA, this bear spray is made using high levels of capsaicin concentrate and features a formula that has been approved by the EPA for human usage.
Mace maximum strength bear spray offers a power fogger spray pattern and the canister can be emptied in up to 6 seconds.
To deploy the spray, all you need to do is pull off the orange safety wedge and press down on the actuator button, which will release a steady stream of solution into the predator’s eyes and face.
The bear will suffer temporary blindness and a burning sensation once the spray has been released, which should allow you plenty of time to escape to safety.
This particular bear spray has a shelf life of 3 years and can only release the necessary pressure during this period of time. Expired canisters should be disposed of using local state and federal regulations.
What we like:
- EPA-Approved Formula: Mace maximum strength bear spray features an EPA-approved formula that contains capsaicin and natural ingredients such as hot peppers.
- Wide Range: The bear spray promises a spray distance of 35-feet, which ensures a safe distance between you and the animal.
- Easy To Use: Mace maximum strength bear spray can be easily used by removing the orange safety wedge and pressing the actuator button.
- High Concentration: The bear spray features a highly concentrated formula that ensures protection against predators.
What we don’t like:
- Six Seconds Of Spray: Unfortunately, the canister empties in 6 seconds, which may not provide enough protection or time to escape.
- EPA approved
- Empties in 6 seconds
- Power fogger
- Net Weight: 260g
- Formula: EPA-registered / for Bear defense
The next product on our list is Udap Griz Guard bear spray, a popular deterrent formula that has been designed by an actual bear attack survivor.
Made in the USA from high-quality ingredients, this spray is considered a leader in the bear repellent industry and promises to offer full protection from all 8 known species of bear, including the elusive polar bear.
Griz Guard bear spray provides outdoors enthusiasts with a reason not to run when confronted with an angry predator, as the spray releases a loud hissing noise that can startle any charging bear.
Udap Griz Guard bear spray distinguishes itself from other deterrent brands by its ability to release a powerful blast of high volume pepper spray, as opposed to the traditional slow-forming fog that other brands have become known for.
The bear spray also contains a natural red pepper extract, which has been proven to cause irritation and partial blindness when used to defend against an attacking bear. The spray can be easily accessed via the included holster, which can be attached to your waist or backpack.
So if you are interested in purchasing a bear spray that ensures your safety and well-being, this product is the one for you – as its inhalable spray particles help to produce a strong and protective barrier between yourself and potential danger.
What we like:
- Loud Hissing Noise: Udap Griz Guard bear spray is capable of producing a loud hissing noise when it is deployed, which can startle charging bears.
- 8 Species Protection: The bear spray is capable of providing protection against all 8 species of bear, including polar bears.
- High Volume Blast: Unlike other deterrent sprays, Griz Guard releases a powerful high volume blast of pepper spray, ensuring all-around protection.
- Inhalable Particle: The bear spray features inhalable spray particles, to help create a strong and protective barrier.
What we don’t like:
- Poor Holster Design: There have been numerous reports of the holster being difficult to reach and poorly designed.
- MADE IN THE USA AND DESIGNED BY AN ACTUAL BEAR ATTACK SURVIVOR - Mark Matheny survived an attack from a Grizzly and has made it his life's mission to keep people safe. Our product is Made in Montana (bear country), by American workers with American materials
- INDUSTRY LEADING BEAR DETERRENT SPRAY - UDAP is the industry leader in bear repellent spray and produces one off the most effect repellants on the market today - Trusted by outdoorsman and Park Rangers alike, It’s effective on all 8 major species of bears! EVEN POLAR BEARS
- THERE ARE THREE ADVANTAGES TO UDAPS BEAR SPRAY - 1) Bear Pepper Spray provides a person with a reason not to run. 2) The sudden and loud hissing of the spray and billowing cloud startles bears. 3) The red pepper extract is clearly a strong irritant, as observed with bears that have been sprayed
- UDAP’s UNIQUE FOG DEPLOYMENT SAVES HUMAN LIVES - Other brands spray slower forming narrow fog of bear pepper spray, ALL UDAP Pepper Power Bear Sprays deploy a high volume powerful blast of highly concentrated pepper spray in a dense fog – covering a broader area in a much shorter period of time
- WHY ARE UDAP FOGGER SPRAY MORE EFFECTIVE? When it comes to stopping power for BEARS, fogger sprays provide the best protection. The fogger's inhalable particle size makes it the best choice for creating a protection barrier
The next deterrent we have selected for our guide is Guard Alaska bear spray, the only bear repellent that is known to protect against all known species of the predatory animal.
Considered a popular product among hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike, this particular bear spray comes inside a 9 oz canister and features a spray distance of 15-20 feet, which is comparatively shorter than other bear spray brands.
The product is registered with the EPA as an all-species bear deterrent and has been publicly endorsed by the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation.
Guard Alaska bear spray is produced using 1.34% capsaicinoid total formula and does not contain any flammable or ozone-depleting chemicals. The spray uses a fogger delivery system to release the formula in the form of a large cloud, which is ensured to provide a protective barrier between yourself and the attacking bear.
The canister also features a removable safety trigger in case of accidental use and comes complete with a protective nylon holster that can be easily attached to your waist or backpack.
What we like:
- All Species Deterrent: Guard Alaska bear spray promises protection against all known species of bear and has been registered with the EPA as an all-species deterrent.
- Environmentally Friendly: The bear spray solution is not flammable and does not contain any ozone-depleting chemicals.
- Protective Nylon Holster: Guard Alaska bear spray comes complete with a protective nylon holster that can be attached to your person for easy access.
What we don’t like:
- Shorter Range: Unfortunately, this particular bear spray has a shorter range than other deterrent brands, which could result in some difficulty.
- Leaking Potential: There have been numerous reports that the canister is prone to leakage when left indoors for long periods.
- EFFECTIVE BEAR PROTECTION - Includes ONE (1) Guard Alaska 9 oz. bear repellent spray canister and ONE (1) Pepper Enforcement metal belt clip holster
- TESTED & PROVEN - Guard Alaska was intensively tested for six years in the Alaska wild, and it is the only bear repellent registered as effective against ALL bear species
- 9 SECOND CONTINUOUS SPRAY - Releases 9 ounces of bear protection in 9 seconds, or may be fired in bursts - Fogger delivery system sprays 15-20 feet quickly engulfing attacking bear for maximum effectiveness
- MAXIMUM STRENGTH - 1.34% total capsaicinoid formula, 9 ounce (255 Grams) UltraMag shotgun size canister, EZ Access Firemaster Actuator
- ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE - Does not contain flammable or ozone depleting substances - The Guard Alaska Bear Spray formula is scientifically proven superior, and endorsed by the Alaska Science & Technology Foundation - Be safe, protect yourself with Guard Alaska
For the final product on our list, we have chosen yet another Udap bear spray, which has improved on existing products by featuring a hot and oil-based formula that comes at a reasonable and affordable price.
The bear spray comes inside a 7.9 oz canister and features a spraying distance of 30 feet, with the formula being released as a powerful cloud that can empty the bottle in 4 seconds.
The spray canister also features an orange safety cap that is glow-in-the-dark, which makes it easier to spot when it has been dropped or misplaced.
Udap safety bear spray also comes complete with a camouflage hip holster, that can be handily attached to your waist or backpack for quick and easy access. The canister can sit snugly inside the holster for the duration of your trip, making it easier to transport while you are hiking on your chosen trail.
There have been several buyers of this product who have successfully used it to repel attacking bears and it is considered a highly recommended brand among outdoor enthusiasts.
So if you are keen on exploring the natural world and need a quick and effective way to protect yourself from an aggravated bear, then this particular deterrent spray should be the one inside your shopping cart.
What we like:
- Wide Range: Udap safety bear spray features a spray distance of 30 feet, which ensures all-around protection.
- Improved Product: The bear spray contains a peppery and oil-based formula that is considered an improvement over other bear spray products.
- Holstered Spray: Udap safety bear spray comes with a camouflage hip holster that is transportable and easy to wear.
- Affordable Price: The bear spray is a high-quality product available for an affordable price.
What we don’t like:
- Four Seconds Of Spray: Unfortunately, the canister can be emptied in 4 seconds, which may not provide sufficient time to escape.
- FREE 32 Page UDAP Bear Safety Tips booklet included!
- Glow in the Dark Safety Clip with chain attached
- Developed by a bear attack survivor
- Hottest bear spray available at 2% CRC
- 30 foot spray range
Best Bear Spray Buyer’s Guide
Purchasing an effective bear spray can be a complicated task, especially if you know very little about what a good-quality deterrent should offer. Although all bear sprays are made for the same function, this does not mean that they are all the same product and certain elements should always be considered before you buy one.
Down below, we have outlined some key points that should be kept in mind when purchasing a new canister of bear spray. By consulting these points, we hope you will be able to find the best bear spray for your requirements.
This refers to the distance that a bear deterrent can reach once it has been released from the canister, with the overall range often changing between the various brands.
If you are interested in purchasing a bear spray canister, then we recommend investing in a brand that promises a wide spray distance, as this will provide more protection between yourself and the attacking bear.
Although bear sprays with a shorter range can also provide effective protection, the lack of spray distance means that there is more opportunity for the bear to reach you before the spray has been fully released.
The product with the widest range on our list is the Mace maximum strength bear spray, which currently promises to reach a distance of 35 feet once it has been fully deployed.
The shortest is Guard Alaska bear spray, which only offers a maximum spray distance of 15-20 feet, which may not cover enough ground when you are being charged at by an aggressive bear.
Although we have mentioned shelf life only briefly in our product reviews, it is another element that should always be considered before purchasing a canister of bear spray.
Since bear deterrent is a product that you will probably never have to use, there’s a good chance that the canister will soon find itself stuck on a shelf in your garage, especially when you are not hiking or camping.
However, it is always important to make sure that your bear spray is in date before you take it out on the trails with you, for a can of expired bear spray is less likely to be effective in protecting you from a rampaging bear.
Most bear sprays will come with a shelf between 3-5 years, so if you notice that your bear spray has reached its expiration date, you will need to buy a new one to ensure your overall safety.
If you intend to buy a canister of bear spray, then we would recommend investing in a brand that comes with its holster. Since it is recommended that you keep your bear spray in an easily accessible area, holsters can be a quick and efficient way to ensure easy access.
Most bear sprays also come in large and bulky canisters, which can be heavy to carry without the proper equipment. So holsters should always be considered a priority when it comes to searching for a bear spray that meets your requirements, especially if you are a hiker who must be wary about the amount of weight being carried on your back.
Most of the best bear spray on the market will contain an ingredient called capsaicin, a chemical compound that is often found in chilli peppers. When you purchase a canister of bear spray, the can should list the concentration of the chemical in the formula, which will usually be between 1 and 2 per cent.
2 percent is considered the maximum legal amount that is allowable in a marketable bear spray and is the concentration you want when it comes to effectively repelling an aggressive or rampaging bear.
If you encounter a bear spray that exceeds this concentration, then it is not a legal product and should not be purchased, as it could create lasting harm to the animal.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Should You Use Bear Spray?
Although bear sprays have been designed for our protection, they should also be considered a last resort when dealing with a bear in the wild.
If you are concerned about encountering a bear, then you should practice bear avoidance techniques. Never go up to a bear if you see one on your trail, just keep a healthy distance and continue on your journey.
We would also not recommend deploying your bear spray until you have to, as injuring a calm bear with pepper spray can lead to other problems that are easily avoidable. Bear spray should only be used if the bear has reacted aggressively towards you.