The 6 Best Bear Sprays

Updated May 23, 2018 by Vann Vicente

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We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If you're tramping all over their territory, it seems only fair to protect yourself from bears in a humane manner. A powerful and effective spray, like the ones on this list, will keep you safe while hiking or camping by giving any predators a potent dose of hot pepper. It's enough to prevent an attack without risking permanent injury to the animal. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best bear spray on Amazon.

6. Dragon Fire Repellent

If you want a lot of power in a compact package, then the Dragon Fire Repellent weighs only half an ounce and can stop an animal from over 10 feet away. With its handy keychain attachment, you can take it with you wherever you go without clutching it in your hands.
  • great value for money
  • sprays consistently
  • switch is too easy to twist
Brand Dragonfire
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Guard Alaska

Guard Alaska is an ultra-hot pepper spray that can take the wind out of even an angry grizzly's sails. It's environmentally-friendly, so you don't have to worry about harming the ozone layer, though some users have said that it doesn't go very far.
  • light and easy to carry
  • good for preventing dog attacks too
  • safety lock is hard to release
Model BR-9
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Mace Brand

This can of Mace Brand comes from one of the most trusted names in the self-defense industry, and uses an EPA-approved formula that will deter a bear without causing any lasting damage. It's very large as well, so you don't have to worry about running out.
  • spreads to cover a wide area
  • great for home defense too
  • does not leak on your hand
Brand Mace
Model M80346
Weight 12.8 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Counter Assault

With a range of over 30 feet, Counter Assault has one of the longest spray distances of any deterrent on the market. Also, it has the hottest formula allowed by the EPA, and its glow-in-the-dark safety tie means you'll always be able to find it when you need it.
  • can be operated with a single thumb
  • sturdy nylon holster included
  • bright red can for easy visibility
Brand Counter Assault
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Frontiersman Maximum Strength

If you're heading deep into backwoods bear country, then a potent can of Frontiersman Maximum Strength could be your best friend. Its 3-year shelf life from the date of manufacture ensures that it stays effective for a long time.
  • glow-in-the-dark safety clip
  • disables bears without injuring them
  • guarantees heavy fog delivery
Model FBAD-04
Weight 14.4 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. UDAP Safety

Even for the novice outdoorsman, the UDAP Safety is an incredibly easy model to use -- just remove the orange safety clip, point towards the bear, and press down. Its wide coverage area ensures that the fog won't miss your target.
  • sturdy belt holster
  • also effective on mountain lions
  • disperses particles very quickly
Brand Udap
Model pending
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Safely Coexisting With Wild Bears

The best way to survive an encounter with a bear is to never encounter a bear in the first place.

You don't have to avoid the wilderness to avoid a bear encounter, you simply have to take measures to stay safe when you're out in the field. It might seem ironic, but best way to stay safe from a bear (or other animal) attack is to make certain that any nearby bears know exactly where you are. Making lots of noise while you hike or make camp alerts wild bears to your presence and will most often send them scurrying in the other direction -- wild animals intuitively know that any creature willing to brazenly make noise is not one to be trifled with. Carry on loud conversations with your hiking partners, sing or talk to yourself if alone, or even consider strapping bells to your pack.

Once you have made camp, it's imperative that you separate your food from your person. There's a good reason canisters exist, and it's not for novelty value that experienced outdoorsman advise suspending your food up to fifteen feet off the ground and as much as two hundred feet away from your tent each night. Bears will smell your food, and they will investigate, especially once you have bedded down and are quiet for the night.

Of course not all bear encounters happen in the deep woods; in fact, bears are seen more and more often in neighborhoods these days as humans continue to build homes in areas encroaching on wilderness areas, and as we damage and deplete the forests the bears traditionally use as hunting and foraging grounds.

If you live in an area in close proximity to bear populations, make sure to never leave out trash cans filled with food. Put out food waste only shortly before it will be taken away by garbage collectors, and periodically clean out trash cans that might have scraps or dipping of edible materials left in them. You can also take steps to make your property inhospitable to bears, installing devices such as remotely triggered lights, sprinklers, and noise machines.

And remember that if you do see a bear, whether in the wild or in your neighborhood, the best thing to do is to let it walk away without any escalation of a confrontation. If you do encounter a bear that seems agitated and ready to attack, a can of bear spray is a nonlethal and reliable way to ward off the animal and keep yourself safe.

Choosing And Using Bear Spray

Any decent can of bear spray should be able to scare off a bear if you use it properly. That said, there are several reasons you might want to consider a top of the line option, and there are other circumstances under which a more moderately priced option is perfectly suitable.

If you are a hiker, camper, or mountaineer who may well one day come into close contact with a large, angry bear while you are miles away from help and with no reliable shelter into which you can retreat, using a can of bear spray may very well be a life and death situation. In this case, you will be pleased you went ahead and spent the fifty-plus dollars on a great can of bear spray. In this price range, you get sprays with at least a two percent capsaicin concentration, which is a blisteringly irritating, intense formula that will almost surely divert an animal.

Many of the pricier cans of bear spray also offer two other factors that will be greatly appreciated when you are in the wild: range and spray duration. When your bear spray can hit a "target" more than two dozen feet away and can spray continually for multiple seconds, you increase your chance of turning a bear away before it even charges near you, keeping both you and the animal safer.

If you are looking for a can of bear spray to keep in home that you will use need to scare a bear off your property, a smaller can with less range and a smaller price tag is likely fine. If a bear is near your home, all you need to do is get a decent dose of bear spray near the animal from the safety of your cracked door or window and then retreat inside your residence; the animal will likely then leave without further incident, even if it was not directly struck in the face.

A Few Words About American Bears

Excluding Alaska and its mighty Polar Bears, there are only two species of bears to be found in the United States. The first, and the more ferocious, is the Grizzly Bear. These animals can reach 800 pounds, can stand nine and a half feet high on their back legs, and are fierce hunters that are properly feared. A grizzly will attack if provoked, and can easily kill a human being.

The other species is the inaccurately named Black Bear -- indeed black bears can be gray, brown, or even largely white in color. These bears are seldom larger than 400 pounds in weight and are generally shy and retiring when spotted in the wild by humans (or rather when they spot or hear a human).

However even with one rather small, rather demure bear species and another quite large, quite frightening species of bear living in America, fatal bear attacks are fabulously rare in the United States. The past five years have seen fewer than fifteen deaths caused by a bear attack in this country, and many of those attacks could easily have been avoided had the unfortunate victim used greater caution.

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Last updated on May 23, 2018 by Vann Vicente

Vann Vicente is an undergraduate Economics student and writer who lives somewhere in the Eastern Hemisphere. He spends about half of his time watching films and is still smiling about Moonlight's incredible Best Picture victory.

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