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Top 6 Best Bear Sprays (**2020 Review**)

What do you do if a bear is charging at you, and you are unarmed?

 A grizzly bear can reach speeds of 30mph (and other bear species can move even faster) so running is not an option!

Other than shooting a gun, there are specific bear sprays to help deter a bear just long enough to keep so you can escape safely.

Best Bear Sprays

It’s a camping and hiking accessory you hope you never have to use, but one you never want to be without. If you don’t want to be the main course for a hungry bear, keep on reading and we’ll lay out the best bear sprays for you.

In this Pest Strategies product review you can expect to learn:

  • What are bear sprays?
  • How do bear sprays work?
  • Are bear sprays effective?
  • How do you use a bear spray?
  • And our overall #1 pick for best bear spray.

If you're heading out into the woods sooner rather than later, click here to jump straight to our top choice for best bear spray.

ImageProduct
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Counter Assault Bear Repellent Spray
  • Hottest capsaicin formula allowed by law
  • Made in the USA
  • Meets all EPA SNAP requirements
  • Hottest capsaicin formula allowed by law
  • Made in the USA
  • Meets all EPA SNAP requirements
View on Amazon
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Guard Alaska Bear Spray with Nylon Holster
  • 1.34% total capsaicinoid formula
  • Tested in Alaska
  • EPA registered
  • 1.34% total capsaicinoid formula
  • Tested in Alaska
  • EPA registered
View on Amazon
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SABRE Frontiersman Bear Spray
  • 2.0% Capsaicin
  • 30-foot range
  • Fast spray duration of 3.9 seconds
  • 2.0% Capsaicin
  • 30-foot range
  • Fast spray duration of 3.9 seconds
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Udap Bear Spray in Safety Orange
  • Maximum strength allowed by law
  • 13.4 -ounce can
  • 30-foot range
  • Maximum strength allowed by law
  • 13.4 -ounce can
  • 30-foot range
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Mace Brand Bear Attack Survival Kits
  • Made in the USA
  • Strongest Capsaicin formula allowed by law
  • 35-foot range
  • Made in the USA
  • Strongest Capsaicin formula allowed by law
  • 35-foot range
View on Amazon
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Griz Guard Bear Spray
  • Made in the USA
  • Strongest capsaicin formula allowed by law
  • 30-foot range
  • Made in the USA
  • Strongest capsaicin formula allowed by law
  • 30-foot range
View on Amazon

Our Overall #1 Rated Pick

(updated as of 04/13/2020)

  • Hottest capsaicin formula allowed by law
  • Made in the USA
  • Meets all EPA SNAP requirements

Developed by a bear attack survivor, Counter Assault is an industry leader in bear repellent sprays. It uses the “hottest” capsaicin formula allowed by law. It’s effective against all the bear species and has a maximum range of up to 40 feet.

You get seven full seconds of continuous spray when you trigger. It’s made in Missoula, Montana in the United States. It also meets all the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) from the EPA for ozone-depleting substances so you won’t harm the environment when you use it.

It has a glow-in-the-dark safety wedge and a nylon holster that can be worn as a chest holster, belt holster, or hip holster for easy access whichever way is best for you. This bear spray works!

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Top 6 Best Bear Sprays

  1. Counter Assault Bear Repellent Spray
  2. Guard Alaska Bear Spray with Nylon Holster
  3. SABRE Frontiersman Bear Spray
  4. Udap Bear Spray in Safety Orange
  5. Mace Brand Bear Attack Survival Kits
  6. Griz Guard Bear Spray

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What Are Bear Sprays?

Bear spray is a non-lethal method of discouraging a bear from attacking people. They come in canisters filled with compressed gas. The gas accelerates the active ingredient when the trigger is pressed, creating a heavy fog to cover the bear’s face.

The semi-wide angle ensures the bear will be hit in the eyes, nose, and mouth. The canisters are typically worn in a can-shaped holster worn on the chest, hip, or belt like a gunslinger in an old Western.

Check out the video below for more information on the best bear sprays on the market:

How Do Bear Sprays Work?

Bear sprays are regulated by the EPA which requires that the concentration of capsaicin and related capsaicinoid ingredients in the spray has to fall between 1-2%. Capsaicin is the chemical in chili peppers that make them hot.

When bears get a face full of Capsaicin and Related Capsaicinoids (CRC), it temporarily produces a severe burning sensation that disables the bear’s ability to see and smell.

The combination of pain and temporary partial blindness and deafness disorients the bear. This is a different kind of pain sensation that bears aren’t accustomed to. Instead of becoming enraged, it confuses and scares them.

Additionally, the EPA has created the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) to identify and substitute propellants for aerosols that won’t deplete the ozone. Several bear spray manufacturers have begun adopting and incorporating those standards.

Bear Attack Spray Facts

How Do You Find The Best Bear Spray?

All bear sprays must be registered with the EPA. They must meet certain requirements or have an authorized exemption. There are no exceptions.

  • Bear sprays must have an active ingredient that is clearly displayed on the label. It must be 1% to 2% Capsaicin and related Capsaicinoids. This is the active ingredient that affects a bear's eyes, nose, mouth, throat, and lungs.

  • Bear sprays must have a minimum of a six-second spray duration. This is to compensate for wind speed and direction as well as the bear’s movements.

  • Bear sprays should have a minimum range of 25 feet.

  • Bear sprays should have a minimum amount of content equal to 7.6 ounces or 215 grams.

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Are Bear Sprays Effective?

Researchers at Brigham Young University investigated bear spray incidents in Alaska, home to more than 100,000 bears, over a period of 20 years and found they halted aggressive bears in 92% of the cases surveyed.

Of the people involved in those incidents, only three were injured and none of them required hospitalization.

Most sprays are effective against all eight species of bears: Giant Panda, Spectacled Bear (also known as the Andean Bear), Sloth Bear, Sun Bear, American Black Bears, Asiatic Black Bear, Polar Bears, Grizzly Bear (also known as the Brown Bear).

By way of contrast, the BYU researchers found that guns were effective in only 67% of the cases where firearms were used, and on average, it took four shots to stop the bear using modern weapons.

Lewis & Clark reported in 1805, in Yellowstone, that it took 10 shots to kill a 600-pound grizzly that attacked their expedition. In 2010, in Denali National Park, hikers defended themselves with a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol and it took nine shots to stop a bear.

On a personal note, a doctor once told me he’d only seen two people in his career who would have been better off if they’d died, and one of them had been torn up by a bear.

So yes, bear sprays can be an effective at protecting you and your family from bear attacks. Bring bear spray with you anytime you venture into the backcountry, especially in national parks where guns are prohibited. That protection is essential.

Warning

Do not leave bear spray canisters in direct sunlight. They can explode from the heat!

How To Use A Bear Spray

Bear sprays have safety clips on top of them as well as a holster that has to be opened before you can use it. Bears can move incredibly fast so you need to practice drawing the can from the holster, flipping the safety clip out of the way, and pulling the trigger.

A charging bear can cover 40-50 yards (half a football field) in a matter of seconds. The best bear spray in the world is useless if you can’t get it ready to fire in time.

Once the spray is ready, aim it slightly down and upwind. A bear’s head is closer to the ground than yours and even a slight wind can blow the spray aside before it has a chance to do its work. You need to compensate for both.

One note of caution: bear spray canisters can explode from the heat if you leave them on the dashboard of your car.

Are Bear Sprays Safe Around My Pets And Children?

No. However, given a choice between spraying the bear and risking some blowback on your family or becoming a hot lunch for said bear, take the chance and use the bear spray regardless of where your kids are at the time.

Once the bear is gone, if you or your family has inhaled any of the fumes or gotten them in their eyes, head for the nearest doctor as soon as possible.

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Best Bear Sprays Reviewed

  • Hottest capsaicin formula allowed by law
  • Made in the USA
  • Meets all EPA SNAP requirements

Counter Assault is an industry leader in bear repellent sprays. It uses the “hottest” capsaicin formula allowed by law. It’s effective against all the bear species and has a maximum range of up to 40 feet. In the face of a charging bear, every foot counts!

You get seven full seconds of continuous spray when you trigger and has a four-year shelf life when it’s not being used from one season to the next.

It also meets all the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) from the EPA for ozone-depleting substances so you won’t harm the environment when you use it. It’s made in the USA in Montana in the middle of bear country.

It has a glow-in-the-dark safety wedge and a nylon holster that can be worn as a chest holster or a hip holster for easy access whichever way is best for you.

Pros

  • 7 seconds of continuous spray
  • 40-foot range
  • A glow-in-the-dark safety tie
  • Effective bear deterrent

Cons

  • The holster requires the use of two hands
  • 1.34% total capsaicinoid formula
  • Tested in Alaska
  • EPA registered

This bear spray has been tested in the wilds of Alaska for six years. It uses a 1.34% total capsaicinoid formula in a slimline 9.5-inch tall can. It has a four-year shelf life and a 15-20 range for bear encounters, not quite as much as some other bear deterrent sprays.

It includes a nylon holster for easy access and creates a heavy fog to engulf a bear’s entire face within nine seconds. This pepper spray creates a burning sensation in the eyes and nose to deter bears and other wild animals.

Moreover, this bear spray is not flammable like so many are. Guard Alaska is ideal for campers and hikers. It’s effective on all bear species.

Pros

  • Four-year shelf life
  • 15-20 foot range
  • Includes a nylon holster
  • Creates a huge cloud in only nine seconds

Cons

  • The can may leak occasionally
  • 2.0% Capsaicin
  • 30-foot range
  • Fast spray duration of 3.9 seconds

This bear spray from Sabre contains 1.1% Capsaicin and 0.9% major capsaicinoids derived from Oleoresin Capsicum, for a total of 2.0% Capsaicin, the maximum strength allowed by law. It comes with an included nylon holster.

It has a 30-foot range and a glow-in-the-dark safety clip to prevent accidental discharges and find it quickly when you need it. This will give you peace of mind when you’re backpacking or just enjoying the nearest national park.

This bear spray works by incapacitating any bear’s ability to see and smell, causing a burning sensation that stops them in their tracks. The spray duration for this canister is 3.9 seconds, creating a heavy fog faster than most other sprays.

Pros

  • Comes with a holster
  • Glow-in-the-dark safety cap
  • Three-year shelf life

Cons

  • The holster frays easily
  • Maximum strength allowed by law
  • 13.4 -ounce can
  • 30-foot range

This bear spray from Udap is great for bear defense because it comes with the strongest active ingredient allowed by law, 2% CRC. It’s a large 13.4-ounce can with a 30-foot range that creates a dense fog in just seven seconds, long enough to deter an attacking bear.

You can also use bear spray for self-defense against other wild animals too.

The plastic belt clip, available in several eye-catching colors, contrasts with the orange spray can so you can find it quickly even in low light conditions. Notably, it comes with a 32-page book on bear safety when you’re in the backcountry and tips on using it.

Pros

  • Creates a heavy fog
  • Spray duration is seven seconds
  • Bright colors make it easy to locate in low light conditions

Cons

  • Some people don’t like the way the trigger is designed
  • Made in the USA
  • Strongest Capsaicin formula allowed by law
  • 35-foot range

This 9-ounce spray canister contains 260 grams of the strongest Capsaicin formula allowed by law, and it can be sprayed in a heavy fog up to a range of 35 feet in roughly 6 seconds. It comes with a handy holster with a Velcro closure.

Mace has is made in the USA in Cleveland, OH and has a 3-year shelf life. Despite the heavy formula, it won’t cause any permanent harm to bears or damage in the environment in any way.

It offers you protection against all known bear species when you’re camping or hiking in bear country.

Pros

  • The spray duration is six seconds
  • Creates a heavy fog
  • Good safety clip

Cons

  • Requires better aim than most
  • Made in the USA
  • Strongest Capsaicin formula allowed by law
  • 30-foot range

This comes in a 9-ounce canister with 225 grams of the strongest 2.0% capsaicin pepper formula allowed by the EPA. It creates a 30-foot fog in a shotgun blast pattern for maximum effectiveness. It’s made in the USA.

It comes with a 3-4 year shelf life and a plastic clip that doesn’t require you to wear a belt. It’s lightweight and easy access make it ideal for day hikes, camping, and picnicking in national parks and bear country.

The all-black color of the canister and the plastic clip-on holster make it difficult to see at night or in the twilight.

Pros

  • 3-4 year shelf life
  • Clip holder doesn’t require a belt
  • Uses shotgun blast pattern to ensure hitting your target

Cons

  • All-black color is hard to see in low light conditions

Counter Assault uses the “hottest” capsaicin pepper formula allowed by law. It’s effective against all the bear species and has a maximum range of up to 40 feet.

It’s an excellent deterrent spray and effective bear repellent!

You get seven full seconds of continuous spray when you trigger. It has a glow-in-the-dark safety wedge and a nylon holster that can be worn as a chest holster or a hip holster for easy access whichever way is best for you.

  • Hottest capsaicin formula allowed by law
  • Made in the USA
  • Meets all EPA SNAP requirements

Developed by a bear attack survivor, Counter Assault is an industry leader in bear repellent sprays, so you know you can trust it. If you're planning to head out to the wilderness, don't leave home without it: grab a can today!

Final Thoughts On Bear Sprays

Bear spray is a must-have item for anyone who intends to spend time in the wilderness. Bears are notorious for being fearless around people. Combine that with their speed, size, and power, and encountering a bear in the woods becomes fraught with danger.

A good bear spray can mean the difference between a nasty trip to the hospital or an exciting adventure story to tell your friends. Choose wisely, grasshopper.

Bear Related Products & Uncommon Pest Guides:

Curious about other bear related products? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.

What do you do if a bear is charging at you, and you are unarmed? A grizzly bear can reach speeds[...]

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