Best Bear Sprays & Repellents Reviewed for Safety
Hiking is a wonderful sport and hobby. However, it can also be a dangerous experience if you are not prepared and careful. The chances of coming in contact with a bear differ depending on the region and terrain that you are hiking through. But, if you are wandering through the woods, your chances automatically increase. That is why it is always smart to take a page out of the good ol’ Boy Scout handbook and keep yourself well prepared for anything you might encounter while out in the woods.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
Large protection barrier
Chest or belt holster
Glow in the dark safety allows you to find it in the dark
2% CRC (capsaicinoids)
Heavy fog delivery
Field tested against Black, Brown, and Polar Bears
10 Best Bear Sprays
1. Frontiersman with Holster
Large protection barrier
Chest or belt holster
Glow in the dark safety allows you to find it in the dark
2% CRC (capsaicinoids)
Heavy fog delivery
Field tested against Black, Brown, and Polar Bears
Some say holster is flimsy
Large bottle can be bulky
This is the most powerful bear spray on our list and gives you maximum bear-stopping power. It sprays up to 35 feet and delivers the biggest spray barrier available. Frontiersman spray delivers a very large fog burst, covering more area and delivering the maximum amount of major capsaicinoids allowed by the EPA. This bear spray can be purchased with a chest or belt holster.
This bear spray can reach up to 35 feet, which is the industry’s maximum range, allowing you to protect yourself at a safer distance. It also delivers up to 52 grams of spray per second for more protection. This is the biggest barrier in the market today.
When you come into contact with a bear, you don’t have a lot of time to search around for bear spray. The Frontiersman Bear Spray system can be purchased with either a chest or belt holster for quick and easy access.
For what you get in this bottle of protection against bears, the cost is definitely worth it. It costs around the same as what you’d pay for competitors’ products.
2. 2 Oz. Counter Assault
Large volume of spray
Safety cap feature
Sturdy belt holster for easy access
Long spray time (9.2 seconds)
Can can break if dropped
This is the second largest can of bear spray on our list. The 10.2 oz. can is able to spray up to 9.2 seconds and can reach 12 to 32 feet. It contains the EPA maximum allowance for CPC’s at 2%. This spray comes with a sturdy belt holster for quick and easy access and has a safety cap.
10.2 ounces of bear spray is a lot of bear spray compared to some. It will empty in about 9.2 seconds if you press it continually but can last longer if you don’t want to use it all in one shot. With a reach of up to 32 feet, it’s a great tool to have on you when you are out hiking in bear country.
It wouldn’t be a great thing to accidentally discharge bear spray. For that reason, Counter Attack includes a safety cap to help prevent this. With this big can at your hip in the included holster, you might accidentally spray it if it weren’t for the safety cap.
This a little more expensive than some bear sprays on our list, but it is rated highly by users. It's a large can so for the amount you get and the safety you need, it’s still an excellent value.
3. Guard Alaska Bear 9 Oz.
Registered with EPA to repel all species of bear
15-20 foot reach
Belt holster for quick access
9 ounces of spray
Doesn’t reach as far as some other sprays
Some say safety is tricky to release
Guard Alaska Bear Pepper Spray is registered with the EPA to repel all species of bear and is a very powerful hot pepper spray. This spray does not contain any flammable or ozone-harming substances and is endorsed by the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation. Like other bear sprays, it includes a nylon belt holster so it can be accessed quickly if a bear encounter occurs and can reach up to 20 feet.
Alaska is known for its bear population and this one has been proven effective against every species of bear. It is registered with the EPA as so, meaning you can be sure it’ll help deter one of these large beasts no matter what kind it may be.
If you are an environmentalist, you can rest assured knowing that Guard Alaska’s bear spray does not contain any ozone depleting substances and has nothing flammable in it. It’s an excellent tool to have with you to scare away any bears you come across while not harming its habitat.
This 9 ounce can costs a little less than some of the previous sprays on our list. It’s an excellent choice for a reliable bear spray.
4. UDAP 18HP Super Magnum
Large volume of spray
Safety tips included
Belt holster included
Covers broad area
Cannot take on commercial airlines
Talk about a lot of bear spray! If you want to make sure you have enough of the stuff on your hip when you are out hiking, then this is the product for you. UDAP’s 18HP Super Magnum is the largest bear deterrent registered with the EPA. It is 2% CPC’s and has a high amount of spray volume that can reach the industry’s maximum of 35 feet.
Some bear sprays deliver a slower forming narrow fog of pepper spray, but the UDAP brand sprays a powerful high volume blast of highly concentrated spray and deploys a dense fog. This covers a broad area in a short period of time, giving you a better chance of deterring the bear for certain.
This product comes with a bonus 32-page bear safety tips booklet which is an excellent tool to have in addition to the spray. It’s best to be prepared before heading out into the wild and this booklet, combined with UDAP’s bear spray, could help you out immensely.
Not only is this the biggest can of bear spray on our list, but it also carries the biggest price tag. It’s pricier than any other but is well-known in bear country. Safety and price don’t really go hand in hand.
5. UDAP With Camo Hip Holster
Developed by bear attack survivor
Sprays up to 30 feet
Camouflage belt holster included
Proven to be effective in dozens of bear attacks
Some say holster doesn’t feel secure
Smaller amount of spray
Just like the prior bear spray on our list, this one is made by UDAP. It offers the same product, a super hot oil-based pepper spray, but in a smaller version. This spray can reach up to 30 feet and was developed by a bear-attack survivor. It has been tested to 0 degrees Fahrenheit and is equipped with a quick release safety cap. This spray also includes a nice looking camouflage hip holster.
While he was bow-hunting over a decade ago, Mark Matheny was attacked by none other than a giant grizzly bear and suffered a number of bite wounds to the head and neck. Mark says that his outcome could have been much worse if it hadn’t been for the burst of pepper spray he delivered which made the bear leave. Since then, Mark has dedicated himself to improving the product to ensure nobody else has to go through what he did.
Not everyone will need this feature, but it’s good to know that this bear spray can withstand very cold temperatures. You likely won’t be hiking when it’s below zero but if you are hiking in cold weather, you won’t have to worry about whether or not this spray will work.
Unlike the previous UDAP product on our list, this one ranks right up there with an average price for bear spray. It is a 7.9 ounce can and delivers an excellent effective dense fog. As it is developed by a bear attack survivor, it’s an excellent choice and value.
6. Ruger Tornado
9.2 seconds of continuous spray
9 ounces of product
Penetrates wet fur
Sprays up to 20 feet
No holster included
Doesn’t spray as far as some others
Like other bear sprays on our list, this one is developed to deter bears. Ruger is in the self-defense industry and develops many products for defending yourself in multiple situations. This bear spray will spray for up to 9.2 seconds and can reach up to 20 feet. This bear spray also penetrates wet fur.
Ruger has been in the pepper spray industry for some time and they have a variety of products designed to help people defend themselves in a multitude of dangerous situations. This pepper spray was designed with defending yourselves against wildlife in mind.
Although this is a 9-ounce can, similar to many other bear sprays, this spray is a little bit less expensive than other comparable options. It still sprays out a pepper spray fog but will be a little less harsh on your wallet.
While not by a ton, this is a little less pricey than some other similar sized bear sprays on our list. It is developed by a reputable company and is a pretty decent value.
7. Mace Brand
Reaches up to 30 feet
9 ounces gets you up to 5.4 seconds of continuous spray
Looped handle makes it easy to grab
Doesn’t come with a holster
Some say it empties too quickly
This powerful Magnum Fogger is EPA approved and will spray CPC’s up to 30 feet. It has a firing rate of 260 grams and will spray up to 5.4 seconds. It can be used multiple times if you only spray a little at a time. The fog will humanely help keep a bear or other attacking animals at bay. Obviously, Mace is a well-known name in the world of pepper spray.
In terms of any kind of pepper spray, Mace is a very well known brand. Although this Mace is not necessarily intended to carry to defend yourself against human attackers, it is still designed along the same lines. It is a 9-ounce can and sprays a very strong fog in the direction of the predator.
This spray delivers a very powerful blast and can stop a bear in its tracks up to 30 feet away. The powerful fog and 2% capsaicin will certainly help you if you are in a dangerous situation with a bear. Just be careful and cover your own mouth and eyes if possible, especially if you are downwind.
This bear spray will run you around the same as many on our list. As a trusted name in the pepper spray business, it’s a great value.
8. Fox Labs Law Enforcement
Pistol grip can
Can be used multiple times
Safety to inhibit accidental firing
Shoots a fog of spray
Not necessarily designed for defense against bears
Not a continuous spray, only short bursts
Now we get into pepper sprays that aren’t specifically designed to ward off bears and other wildlife. This is still large can (12 ounces) and contains pepper spray that can reach up to 19 feet. It is a fogger and contains 36 half-second bursts. It is a very powerful spray for self-defense and will work on bears, although it’s not necessarily designed for that exact purpose.
The design of this can is to be able to use it as if holding and firing a gun so you can quickly and easily point it toward an attacker to spray it. There is a safety you need to turn off first, but it is designed for easy use.
Most standard pepper sprays are between 1/2 million and 2 million Scoville heat units but this one ranks way above that at 5.3 million. That means your attacker will majorly feel the burn!
This is a pricier choice than some on our list. It is a very large quantity can and can be used multiple times because it only shoots in bursts. For what you get, it’s a good quality.
9. Fox Labs 5.3 SHU
Compact and portable
Delivers a fog up to 15 feet
8-10 half-second bursts
Flip-top cap to prevent accidental discharge
Does not spray continuous fog
Not designed to fight against bears specifically
While this is still a fogging pepper spray, it is not specifically designed for defense against bears. This pepper spray was developed to help you ward off attackers but can also be used against bears. It is a compact size and can shoot a cone fog up to 15 feet. This spray discharges 8-10 half-second bursts of spray.
This 4” high, 1.5-ounce unit is a great option to carry with you on hiking trips. It can easily fit in your pocket and can help ward off wildlife. However, because it is not specifically designed to fight off bears, we recommend this as a backup to a larger canister. It’s better safe than sorry!
The flip-top canister will help prevent accidental discharge, yet allows you to easily access the discharge button. This is a great feature to help avoid accidents with pepper spray.
For the amount that you get, it’s a little pricey, but it’s an excellent back up to your larger can of bear spray. We recommend purchasing a larger can from our list and perhaps a smaller for back up.
10. Sabre 3-in-1
Small and compact
Up to 35 shots
4 year shelf life
Not a fog so it’s not intended for far away bears; you must be close and accurate in aim
Some say it accidentally discharges easily
This is the only non-fogging pepper spray on our list. It isn’t designed to be used as bear spray but can be used if you need a compact option in addition to your larger canister. This reaches a maximum of 8 feet, so it doesn’t shoot very far compared to regular bear sprays, but it can help you if things get dicey. It does not deliver a fog, it delivers a stream, so we recommend it as back-up to a larger bear fogger.
If you decide to use this as a backup to your regular bear spray, you will like the clip on the side of the compact canister. You can clip it onto your belt, shirt, or pocket so you can access it easily.
Again, this does not spray a fog, rather it sprays a stream. This is more of a liquid/gel type formula and is designed to ward off an attacker who is very close. As stated above, we do not recommend this as your only defense, merely as a backup.
If you want to be extra-prepared, this can be purchased as a backup. It is very affordable and can be used in self-defense against people as well.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
In the event of a bear encounter, you want to make sure you have the necessary tools to protect yourself. When it comes to bear spray, the best defense is a large barrier. In other words, you want to be able to make a large fog between you and the predator. Regular pepper sprays used to protect yourself from human predators don't always give you a large barrier and they typically require you to be close to the bear. However, a good bear spray will deliver a thick fog of hot pepper spray. The bigger and thicker the fog, the better the barrier you create between you and the animal.
Something you want to consider is the kind of barrier your bear spray will deliver; a narrow stream or a wider cone. Obviously, the wider the better because it will cover more area and ensure that the bear will come into contact with the pepper spray. Most bear sprays deliver a cone, but some deliver a wider one than others.
You also want to consider the amount of spray that is delivered in each spray. This is typically measured in grams. The more grams yielded per spray equals a thicker fog. The best products will deliver a wide and thick fog to create an optimal barrier between you and the bear.
Ease of Use
Fumbling around in your bag for your bear spray would likely result in a not-so-happy outcome. This is why it’s wise to have a holster for your bear spray. Some of the sprays on our list come with a chest holster or, more commonly, a belt holster. This allows for quick and easy access to your tool against an unfriendly bear. Even if the bear spray you choose does not include a holster, you can purchase one separately, which would be a very smart decision.
If you want your bear spray even closer at hand you can carry it! Most of the bear sprays on our list offer some sort of safety latch to prohibit accidental discharge. Bear spray is some very powerful stuff. Although it’s not lethal, you do NOT want to discharge it by accident and breathe it in or get it on your skin. When choosing your spray, make sure you know how the safety latch releases so that you are able to activate your bear spray instantly without delay.
Sometimes bears seemingly come out of nowhere and you have no choice but to be up close and personal. Hopefully, you’ll be able to spot an oncoming bear in the distance because obviously, you want to be as far away as possible. In either instance, you want to be certain that your bear spray is going to allow you to protect yourself at a distance. The maximum distance in the bear spray industry is 35 feet. This may not seem like very much, but that’s equal to roughly 2 ⅓ car lengths.
Most bear sprays can reach at least 10 feet in length but obviously the further you can stand from the bear the better. Standard pepper sprays that spray in a fog may also reach around 10 feet but oily pepper sprays require close proximity which is why we don’t recommend using them as your only defense.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
While your natural instinct may be to scream and run, this isn’t the best defense against a bear considering that running is a reaction that will instinctually make bears want to chase you. Although it may be difficult to do so, the smart thing to do is to stand your ground and do your best to stay as calm and as still as possible, hopefully letting the bear run its course and leave. This will also give you the chance to grab your bear spray and aim it towards the bear.
The loud hissing sound and strong spray cloud are crafted to surprise the bear while the irritant in the spray will make the animal rub at its eyes and wheeze, ultimately distracting it so that you can get to safety. The irritant is similar to pepper spray, but keep in mind that they are two different products. Both sprays contain capsaicinoid, which is an active element in chili peppers. Bear spray contains a lower dosage, but it is still effective.
This element in the spray creates a burning sensation in any tissue in which it comes in contact. So, once you spray it, a bear is likely to back down and allow you to get away. Remember, your getaway should be slow, as not to alert the bear and queue them to chase after you. If you are able in this window, you may take on the “scary figure” by raising your arms, making yourself big and yelling to signify that you are the scary one and no longer the bear. This is a tactic that can be helpful, but the primary idea is for you to get out of the area and to safety away from the bear.
Yes, bear spray does irritate the bear’s senses for a time but does not permanently injure the bear. The point is to stall them from attacking to let you get away from them. There are a number of bear sprays out on the market. Some are specifically designed to spray at bears, while some are more compact in size and can be used for various types of self-defense. Of course, it would be wise to buy the one that is most suitable for your needs.
Other Factors to Consider
Obviously, the bigger the canister, the more spray you get. The more spray you get, the more defense you have. Handheld pepper spray will usually only deliver short bursts of spray which isn’t necessarily bad, but a large fog is a wiser choice as your first defense. Some sprays come in very large canisters so if you are more petite, these may be too bulky for you. However, many of the sprays come in 7-9 ounce canisters which is pretty doable for anybody.
Again, small handheld pepper spray is an okay option as your backup if the first fails, but we recommend a larger canister of bear spray so you are more protected against an unlikely bear encounter.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can I bring bear spray on an airplane in my luggage?
Unfortunately, you cannot bring bear spray on an airplane either in your carry-on or checked baggage. Bear spray is highly flammable and therefore, not allowed.
q: Do I have to use all of the bear spray at once?
No. You can press the spray once to deliver a short burst or hold it for a couple seconds. Many larger sized cans allow for a 5-9.2 second empty.
q: Will bear spray harm the bear permanently?
No. Bear spray is not lethal. It will cause an extreme burning sensation on any skin area that it touches and will also burn inside the nose and mouth if ingested. The burning sensation will eventually wear off and it won’t cause permanent damage.
q: Can I use bear spray on people?
Technically, you could. However, bear spray is extremely potent stuff and sprays up to 35 feet (depending on the spray). You wouldn’t want to be the subject of your own spray if you did use it in a confined space. Check the label to be aware of the distance it has the ability to reach.
q: How “hot” is bear spray?
Many of the bear sprays on our list have an active CPC amount of 2%, which is the industry maximum. CPC’s refer to capsaicin and capsaicinoids, the active ingredient in chili peppers. Bear sprays can also be measured in Scoville Heat Units. Scoville Heat Units (SHU) are calculated on the Scoville scale which measures the pungency of chili peppers. Standard US Grade pepper spray measures very high on the Scoville scale at between 2 and 5.3 million units. Compare this to a cayenne pepper, which registers at 30-50,000 units.
q: How do you treat bear spray if it gets on your skin?
It is best practice to make sure not to get the spray on your skin. If you can avoid this, do so. However, accidents happen. If the spray comes into contact with your skin, look to wash it off right away. One way is to use a dish soap with water solution. Another is to use cold milk and then apply vegetable or cooking oil to your skin as a lotion. These can help relieve the burn of the spray. However, as stated above, try to not come in contact with the spray and always wash it off right away.
q: Is bear spray the same as pepper spray?
They are similar, however not the same. Bear spray contains a much lower concentration of the active ingredients found in both sprays.