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The 5 Best Bear Sprays for Hiking & Camping [2024]

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Nick Ellis
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Nick Ellis

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Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to le...
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Bear sprays offer a safe and effective deterrent against bears in the wilds, and they are definitely considered a more desirable alternative to the use of a gun.

Easy to use, effective, and less likely to cause long-term damage to you or the bear, these sprays will have bears and other predators running for the hills, leaving you in peace.

Things To Consider With Bear Spray

As a deterrent to keep you and yours safe while you’re out in the wild, you really need to be sure that the bear spray you take with you is effective. Before you buy, consider the following:

Strength

Most of these bear sprays are made using natural capsicum pepper oils that are not harmful to humans.

For it to be truly effective against bears, it should have a minimum concentration of 0.857% capsaicin to ensure that it can inflame the eyes and the upper respiratory system of the bear enough to make it turn around and leave you in peace.

Spray

When your heart is pounding, and you are suddenly faced with a big bear, you want to know that you need only to touch the trigger of your bear spray for fast and effective protection. Most of our favorite spray brands come with fogger sprays that dispel lots of formula in a very short time span.

Bottom Line: The spray pattern should be in a cloud or a cone pattern in order to cover the greatest area, and it should have a range of 16 feet or more to keep you a safe distance away from the bear.

Type

“Pepper spray” is a broad description of a variety of different personal protection formulations. While you want to encourage the bear to leave you alone, you don’t want to seriously harm it.

Ideally, choose a spray that has been specifically formulated for use on bears or a personal defense product that contains less than 2% CRC (capsaicin and related capsaicinoids).

Size

You should always take bear spray with you — even out of season — for hunting, camping, fishing, and other outdoor adventures in areas where bears are known to live.

Given that a single spray can last for up to 8 seconds or longer, you may find that you get through the contents of your canister pretty quickly if you’re unlucky enough to have more than a single encounter.

With this in mind, take sprays that offer at least 225 grams or 7.9 ounces of net weight, and take not just 1 canister but 2, just to be safe!

Shelf Life

Bear spray has an expiration date. After it expires, its efficacy may be reduced, which could be potentially fatal should a bear make its move.

Most bear sprays promise a shelf life of around 4 years, while some can be used for as long as up to 5 years. As it’s always better to be safe than sorry, check the shelf life on your bear spray before you leave home with it.

Hot Tip: Make sure you’re prepared for the journey ahead with our guide to the best hiking and camping essentials to pack on your next trip.

The Best Bear Sprays for Hiking

1. 30-Foot Spray for Scary Bears

BEST OVERALL: Griz Guard Bear Spray
This option includes the strongest formula that still adheres to EPA guidelines. It features a practical holster, and it can be easily sprayed to create a 30-foot range of dense fog. A favorite among camping enthusiasts.

Griz Guard Bear Spray

This red-hot pepper spray has been formulated to deter bears using the power of oleoresin capsicum.

Highly irritating to prowling bears, this powerful bear spray can be rapidly deployed using the trigger and can spray up to 30 feet away from you.

With a Griz Guard holster included in the pack, you can reach for this spray quickly. Regularly used by campers, hikers, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts alike, this 225-gram bottle of bear spray dispels a shotgun blast pattern to deter predators like bears without causing them permanent harm.

What We Like

  • It has a very potent formulation.

What We Don’t Like

  • It has a very strong recoil.

2. Super-Fast Protection Against Bears

UPGRADE PICK: Udap Bear Spray
One of the most popular choices that is legal to purchase, this option releases a powerful fog. It was created with the experience of a bear attack survivor and features a practical holster for when you're out on the move.

Udap Bear Spray Safety Orange

Designed to let you disperse a vast amount of active ingredients in a small time span, this bear spray has a fogger action that disperses the maximum amount of particles in just a few seconds.

This bottle lets you spray with confidence from up to 30 feet away using a broad spray pattern, and the highly effective, pepper-based formulation will naturally deter approaching bears and send them on their way.

With a Griz Guard holster included in the pack, you can safely attach this 225-gram canister to your belt or waistband, allowing you to reach for it quickly if you happen to encounter a bear.

What We Like

  • The holster is perfect for quick protection.

What We Don’t Like

  • It feels a little big and heavy.

Hot Tip: Protect your campsite food from animals and bugs with our guide to the best camping storage and organizers.

3. High-Powered Bear Spray

DISCOUNT: 50%
Guard Alaska Maximum Strength Bear Spray
Developed by the Mace brand, this formula has a range of up to 20 feet and provides efficient coverage. It is created from hot peppers and adheres to EPA regulations. This option can be fully emptied in 9 seconds, so you should be prepared when using it.

Maximum Strength Bear Spray by Mace Brand

This fast-acting formulation uses naturally derived ingredients to help keep bears at bay out in the wild.

Designed to disperse the formula quickly using an advanced delivery system, this spray harnesses the awesome power of hot peppers to produce a formulation that’s harmless to humans but effective on bears and other predators.

With a power fogger that makes it easy to spray up to 20 feet in front of you, the spray pattern ensures thorough dispersal through the air. This is an excellent and reliable addition to your camping, hunting, and fishing trips.

What We Like

  • This is an effective deterrent with a reliable spray pattern.

What We Don’t Like

  • The included finger handle isn’t all that useful.

4. Spray From Any Angle for 360 Degrees of Protection

Vexor Pepper Spray
An option that can be deployed from any angle and can cover up to 20 feet. It is reliable, durable, and above all, non-toxic. Trusted by institutions everywhere, this can provide you with protection against people or animals.

Vexor Pepper Spray with Belt Clip

Compact and easy to carry with you, this formulation features innovative full-axis technology, which means you can spray it from any angle. This non-lethal formulation is popular with militaries that use it when on certain patrols or missions.

With an integrated belt clip, you can quickly attach and detach the canister for safe and easy use. This spray features a 4-year shelf life, making it a good choice for keeping close by in your SUV or RV to use while camping, hunting, or fishing, and the 20-foot fogger spray means you can keep yourselves safe from a distance.

What We Like

  • This is a super strong and tough formula.

What We Don’t Like

  • Its smaller canister size isn’t for everyone.

5. Best Shelf Life for Longer Use

Phoenix Tactical Pepper Gel
Endorsed by the U.S. military and national law enforcement, this non-toxic option can be used from any angle. The spray can cover up to 18 feet and includes UV dye for even better targeting.

Phoenix Tactical Pepper Gel

This pepper gel can be sprayed from any angle (even upside down), making it reliable and effective when you need it the most.

Available as a set of 2, 3, or even 4 canisters, the flip-top caps can be deployed quickly, and the unique formulation sends a powerful stream of deterrent as far as 18 meters (~60 feet) away from you.

With a built-in holster for faster access, you can attach the canister to your belt for quick access should you feel threatened, and with an industry-leading 5-year shelf life, these canisters would make an excellent addition to your hunting, fishing, or camping kit.

What We Like

  • It features a 360-degree spray.

What We Don’t Like

  • You may find each canister doesn’t last very long.

Final Thoughts

Stay safe in the wilderness by keeping your own personal canister of bear spray close at hand. These sprays are incredibly effective and easy to use, offering fast dispersal over a large area to ensure that bears and other predators leave you alone in the wild.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is bear spray legal to use on humans?

Bear spray is designated as a pesticide by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is only approved to be used on bears. Bear spray should not be used on humans or any other animals.

Does bear spray really work?

There are various studies out there that would suggest that bear spray really does work. One peer-reviewed study found that bear spray is 98% effective at preventing harm. Another study found bear spray to be 92% effective.

Can bear mace blind you?

Bear spray can cause temporary blindness. along with a host of other symptoms such as nausea and burning sensations.

Is bear spray stronger than mace?

Although self-defense mace (a.k.a. pepper spray) and bear spray contain the same active ingredient, bear spray has a lower concentration and should only be used on bears.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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