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The 5 Best Bear Sprays for 2024

Bear spray is one of those things that you never want to use, but having it makes you feel a little safer when you’re out on the trails. If you come across a bear, especially a brown bear or grizzly, in the wild, there are certain behaviors to watch for that can help you avoid bear attacks.

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Even when you learn and heed these warning behaviors, carrying bear spray is an important safety net, and can even be a crucial last resort. If you’re in need of a refill on your bear deterrent spray, or in the market to purchase your first canister, here are the best bear sprays on the market right now.

Counter Assault bear spray is the most trusted brand on the market to date, for its spray duration and distance.

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The Most Trusted – Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray

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Image by Counter Assault

Counter Assault is probably the most well-known bear spray that can be used on any bear species. The Counter Assault bear spray can shoot up to 40 feet in front of you for a spray duration of eight seconds, making it the furthest-reaching bear spray on the market.

This bear spray contains 2% capsaicin, the red pepper-derived active ingredient that not only causes eye irritation and makes it effective, but also prevents the spray from freezing. The spray time lasts for eight seconds and has a four-year shelf life that will keep you protected.

The Counter Assault bear spray meets EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) requirements and every can is leak tested during manufacturing. Counter Assault can be used on any species of bear.

Although most people report not having to use their Counter Assault bear spray, reviewers generally say they like to have it, especially those who live in or spend a lot of time in bear country.

County Assault bear spray comes in two sizes, 10.2 fl. oz., and 8.1 fl. oz. Reviewers state that the Counter Assault bear spray is easy to use and will make a great addition to your outdoor gear.

Note that the bear spray holster is sold separately.

Best for First-Time Buyers – SABRE Frontiersman Bear Spray

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Image by SABRE

With a spray distance of 35 feet, the SABRE Frontiersman bear spray is a great option, giving you more time to react. Made to provide easy access when a bear is charging at you, SABRE Frontiersman’s bear sprays are E.P.A. and Health Canada-approved.

Similar to the Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray, SABRE Frontiersman features 2% capsaicin. SABRE Frontiersman bear spray has a shelf life of three years. The SABRE company cares about your safety and just a few years back they did a voluntary recall on some of their canisters to ensure consumer safety.

One reviewer told the unfortunate story of spraying himself in the eyes during an accidental discharge and said it was stronger than he could have imagined, leaving him confident that if he had to use it on a bear, that it would run away quickly.

Most of the purchases of this bear spray are for preventative measures and made by people living in bear country. Make sure to check out the practice spray that Frontiersman makes as well.

The SABRE Frontiersman bear spray canister makes a hissing sound as the bear spray is released, which helps deter bears even before the spray can hit them, helping prevent a bear attack.

The Best for Gifting – UDAP Pepper Power Bear Spray, Two-Pack

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Image by UDAP

What’s better than one canister of bear spray? Two canisters of bear spray.

The UDAP bear spray was designed by a grizzly bear attack survivor. Unlike other bear sprays, the UDAP bear spray deploys a highly concentrated pepper spray fog that will spook and disorient the bear as it comes toward you.

Between the highly concentrated red pepper extract and the hissing sound of the bottle spraying, this bear spray will help protect you out in the wild. All bear sprays by UDAP have a shelf life of three years. Make sure that your bear spray is within its use date and dispose of the canister properly when it has expired.

How to use the UDAP Pepper Power Bear Spray:

If you come across a bear in the woods and you are worried it is going to attack, stay calm.

Silently remove the bear spray from the top of the holster if they are standing.

If the bear is low to the ground, remove the bear spray downwards, to protect yourself from bears that are in “attack mode.”

You can also use the bear spray and keep it in the holster and spray in the direction of the bear.

Not only does the UDAP bear spray come in a two-pack, but it also comes with a belt holster making the bear spray canister easy to access when you’re in the outdoors.

A reviewer purchased this bear spray before a trip to Glacier National Park in Montana and a park ranger said that bear spray is a must have, and that it’s proven to be more effective than guns, as guns can aggravate grizzly bears.

Best for Bears or Other Large Animals – Mace Brand Bear Spray Holster

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Image by Mace

The Mace Guard Alaska bear spray may not have the furthest spray distance, but it is still a reliable option for when you’re out hiking and possibly come across a bear.

Though the can has a maximum range of 20 feet, the Mace Brand bear spray has a spray duration of nine seconds. Mace is known for making pepper spray, and their bear spray works in a similar fashion.

When the Mace bear deterrent spray hits the bear’s face, it results in temporary sight loss, nose irritation, and a burning sensation within the lungs. The Mace bear spray is EPA-registered and makes for excellent defense from bear encounters.

Mace Brand Bear Sprays are made with a bear-safe formula that uses a natural ingredient derived from hot peppers, similar to that of pepper sprays.

Customers noted that although you can buy canisters of bear spray at National Parks, purchasing it beforehand is less expensive. Others note that they feel comfortable walking with bear spray in areas where other large mammals roam.

Consumers note that this bear spray is powerful. One reviewer noted that it took the paint off of their car when the spray went off. Even though vert few people say that they’ve had to use their bear spray, they feel more comfortable traveling through bear country when they have it.

Best for Stopping Aggressive Bears – UDAP Griz Guard Bear Pepper Spray Self-Defense Deterrent

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Image by UDAP

President of UDAP bear spray Mark Matheny survived a grizzly bear attack. Ever since then, he has been working to protect others in the outdoors by making bear deterrent spray that will help protect you out in bear country, and all over the world.

This bear deterrent spray canister comes with a holster and has a maximum spray distance of 35 feet. The UDAP Griz Guard bear spray is made with larger-sized droplets creating a wall of fog to stop a charging bear.

Unlike other bear sprays, the UDAP Griz Guard Bear Pepper Spray is an excellent bear deterrent spray, due to its high-volume, powerful fog. Droplets from different bear sprays are smaller, creating a narrower spray space.

One specific reviewer said that they had been having issues with bears on their ranch coming to where they bottle honey. Because of this, they bought bear spray which kept them protected while they were working.

Others noted that they purchased the bear spray for safety on the trails in case of a bear encounter. Candace noted that the bear deterrent spray could possibly accidentally discharge if the safety lock comes undone, so be mindful of that when exploring.

Best Tips for Buying Bear Deterrent Spray

When you’re in the market for a new canister of bear spray, there are a few things to keep in mind. Bear spray is similar to pepper spray, but it features a much higher concentration of active ingredients. This higher concentration means it is more powerful and reaches further in the event of an aggressive bear.

However, this also means that it is more dangerous, so handle with care and learn how to transport and deploy it safely. When you go to purchase bear spray, make sure the canister clearly states “bear spray” or “bear deterrent” spray.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the best bear spray contains 1-2% capsaicin, the highly potent active ingredient. Even though there haven’t been any reported human deaths from bear spray, it is a dangerous product and you should still treat it like a firearm. Look for bear spray with at least a 25-foot spray range.

To keep the canister from exploding, keep bear spray out of extreme heat (120 degrees Fahrenheit or more) or cold temperatures (-7 degrees Fahrenheit or less). Bear spray does not work the same way as an insect repellent.

Do not pre-spray yourself or gear with bear deterrent spray before heading out on adventures.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bear Spray

How can I prevent bear attacks?

Think of bear spray as a preventative measure: it is there as a last resort, but there are other precautions you can take. Just because you have it, doesn’t mean you can forget the safety guidelines of being outside.

Remain aware of your surroundings and practice leave no trace practices whenever you’re outdoors.

How can I keep bears away from camp?

Camping is a great way to connect with nature, but you’re also spending time in the habitat of not only bears but many different animals. Prepare food at least 100 feet away from where you’ll be sleeping, and keep anything with a scent (like food and toothpaste) in a bear-proof container when not in use.

When do I use my bear spray?

Bear deterrent spray should only be used as a last resort. Only use bear spray if a bear is charging at you or showing signs of aggression toward you.

If this is happening, hold the bear spray firmly out in front of you, remove the safety cap, press the trigger, and direct the spray at the bear. Continue to spray until the bear diverts its attention.

How does bear deterrent spray work?

Bear spray deterrent spray works in two different ways. The sound of the spray releasing often stresses out the animal, making it less likely to attack.

If the bear doesn’t get scared off by that, the actual spray will irritate their eyes and nose, leading them to turn away. Bear deterrent spray can be used on any bear species this way.

Do I need to aim?

Unlike a firearm, bear spray does not need to be aimed toward the target, just in the general direction. The spray creates a cloud that will reach the vicinity of the bear, scaring it off.

Though the majority of bear encounters do not happen in windy areas (bears do not like windy areas, as it prevents their ability to smell), it is important to note that bear spray is made to saturate the area.

Is bear spray the same as pepper spray?

Yes and no. The active ingredient is the same in both bear and pepper spray but it is illegal to use bear spray on humans due to the volume of the ingredient. It has a longer range than pepper spray and is designed to deter bears, rather than scare off a human.

Can bear spray be used on other animals?

Though it is called bear spray, bear deterrent spray can be used on other mammals if needed out in the wild. You can use bear deterrent spray on animals such as elk, moose, cougars, and, of course, bears.

How do I dispose of my empty or old canisters?

You should not hold onto expired bear spray canisters, as the bear deterrent spray is no longer effective. If you have an expired can of bear spray, contact your local waste management center.

Bear spray cannot be thrown out as it is considered to be toxic waste. If you happen to be in the Greater Yellowstone National Park or Glacier National Park areas and you need to dispose of a canister of bear spray, you can bring it to either of these parks as a part of their recycling program.

Can I travel with bear deterrent spray?

You cannot get on a plane with a canister of bear deterrent spray. It cannot go into a checked bag or a carry-on. Bear spray is considered to be potentially dangerous due to its active ingredients. You can bring bear spray in the car with you when you are traveling.

The Best Bear Sprays: Conclusion

Thanks for checking out our list of the best bear sprays.

While any of our picks are sure to have you covered in the unlikely event of a bear encounter in the wild, you can’t go wrong with our pick for the most trusted bear spray, Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray. With its range of up to 40 feet, you can keep your new furry friend at a safe distance and be sure he won’t come back.

Please consult our buyer’s guide and FAQ for more information about how to pick the best bear spray for your needs. And please read and obey the safety information provided with your new can of spray – this stuff was made to fend off bears, after all.

Here’s hoping you’ll never have to use it!

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