Make sure you equip yourself with the best bear spray so you and loved ones can go camping and hiking without becoming a bear’s next meal!
Unlike Canadians, bears aren’t going to be as friendly. For that reason, we use a lot of clever methods to keep us from being a grizzly bear’s main course when out in the wilderness.
You may have heard of “bear hang” and “bear float” before. This involves tying up your food supplies and placing them in a tree or on a kayak around 100-meters away while you sleep, respectively. By doing this, any midnight-lurking bears will sniff out your supplies rather than you. But, there’s an even more effective way of keeping the bears at bay.
Bear sprays are an exceptional way to keep bears away during outdoor adventures such as hiking and camping. Before purpose-specific bear sprays were invented around 40 years ago, we relied on pepper sprays. These weren’t always effective and it took a bright American kid to formulate the solution as part of their thesis at The University of Montana.
Researchers have even found bear spray to be over 90% effective in deterring bears from causing unsuspecting wanders serious injury and potential death - this is even considerably more effective than taking on a bear with a gun.
However, like all products you can get quality bear spray and bear spray that isn't even as strong as your grandpa’s feet. When it comes to protective items it’s always worth doing the extra research to prevent you becoming one of those walking chicken drumsticks in the eyes of a bear – so we’re glad you’re here!
Below we have five of the best bear sprays proven to be effective at keeping you safe. Take a look at what’s on offer so you can start hiking without knocking knee caps.
The Top Bear Sprays Compared
See how the most popular brands compare in the table before we discuss the performance of each in more detail.
Our Top Pick
Frontiersman Bear Spray
- 35 feet range
- Max strength allowed
- Rapid dispersion rate
- Belt or chest holster
Udap Bear Deterrent
- 30 feet range
- Belt holster
- Max strength
Mace Max Strength Defense Spray
- 35 feet range
- Max strength
- Only weighs 260g
Guard Alaska Bear Repellent
- Belt holster
- Only 255 grams
- Long range spray
Counter Assault Bear Deterrent
- 32 feet range
- Belt holster
- Safety cap
Bear Spray Reviews
Here we go into more detail and discuss the performance and features of each spray. Find out which one is right for you.
1. Frontiersman Bear Spray *OUR TOP PICK*
The first bear deterrent spray we have in store for you is this quality product that comes with a holder. You can choose between a chest holder or a belt holder for personal convenience. The holder allows you quick access to the spray rather than having to dig it out of your bag when a bear is just seconds away. The holders don’t use Velcro straps because the sound of Velcro can alert the bear to your whereabouts and decrease your safety.
The chest holder may come in exceptionally useful for people wanting a bear spray when they go jogging through the woods. These 9.2-ounce cans are quite large and would not be ideal next to running limbs and wouldn’t fit in shorts pockets – nor would they be very safe there. Instead, a chest holder would be ideal. It’s not just for joggers though. You can use it as a hiker, or if you’re a mountain biker you could add it to the water bottle holder on your bike’s frame.
But, does it work? It sure does. This spray includes a formula boasting two percent of major capsaicinoids. This is the maximum strength allowed by law and enough to deter bears effectively. Sometime bear sprays boast maximum strength, but poor quality control means you don’t always get as strong a substance that you pay for. That won't happen here as their formula was tested in labs at the University of Utah and proved the strength of the substance is highly consistent.
The spray will work against brown, black and polar bears by delivering a fog-like spray up to an impressive range of 35 feet. Around 52 grams of the spray is released each second to give you efficient protection. One of its other cool features is that part of the can will glow in the dark. This means if you suddenly find that your bear float hasn’t worked in the middle of the night, you can equip yourself quickly without having to sleep with a flashlight under your pillow.
We understand you haven’t had a chance to see the other four bear sprays coming your way below, but we think it’s still important to do a somewhat-premature comparison so you make the best decision for you. A lot of the best bear sprays come with some sort of quick-access holster but this one is unique because it provides you with a chest-holder option. This one also has an unbeatable range and a not-co-common glow in the dark feature for overnight security. Honestly, we might have peaked too early!
When it comes to price it’s as equally impressive. Many of the sprays here are around the same price so we have to take a much more detailed look at their features and the amount of formula you get for your money. We can't fault this one on either account. You get a quality product and the standard amount of spray for a really good price – excellent bear deterrent and excellent value for money!
Our Final Verdict: This may be the best bear pepper spray on the market right now and we’re struggling to find any negatives about it at all! We particularly like that clever glow in the dark feature.
2. Udap Bear Spray
This Udap bear spray also comes with a quick-access holster which you can get in a choice of colors. Bears aren’t color blind so you may want to look for a more camouflaging color – but we’ll leave that decision to you. This is a bear spray amazon exclusive because the accompanying holster is only sold on Amazon; if you want this convenient accessory you'll have to shop through them. You can buy these sprays in double packs, so you and your partner don’t have to stick to each other like glue throughout your trip. Buying a pack of two also saves you a small amount of cash.
The spray will work on all types of bears and has even been reported to work against mountain lions, so you'll always be protected against big cats and even bigger bears. Alike the first bear spray, it’s formula also includes the legal limit of two percent of capsaicinoids. Its ultimate strength is complemented by a fogger release system that'll reach bears up to 30-feet away.
This insurance-policy-in-a-can comes in a smaller container of just 7.9 ounces. This may make the spray more appealing to those that need to pack light on mountaineering trips or joggers who want to run while carrying the spray in their hand.
The Udap bear spray matches up well against other quality sprays. It boasts the maximum legal limit of capsaicinoids, meaning it keeps up with three of the other four bear sprays to make our list. It’s also an above-average performer in terms of spraying range. Reaching bears 30-feet away is around the benchmark for the better bear sprays and surpasses the performance of slightly lesser products not to pass our red tape.
Where this bear spray will divide opinion is on its size. It weighs just 7.9 ounces and is the lightest product in the smallest canister. It’s around the same price as the rest so you do get less for your money. This isn't going to win over a lot of buyers unless you're specifically looking for a more compact bear spray to keep you safe for things like running.
Our Final Verdict: This spray has a lot to offer in terms of its strength and range. It may deter people as well as bears considering its size, but all in all, it’s worthy of a place on our list.
3. Mace Brand Maximum-Strength Bear Defense Spray
This product made by Ohio-based Mace is one of the best bear mace sprays you'll find to combat bear attacks. It’s of an identical can size to the first spray we took a look at, weighing in at 9.2 ounces. However, unlike the first bear spray on our featured list, this one doesn’t come with a holder. Instead they’ve designed the can with a finger loop so it comfortably rests on your finger as you walk. There’s no more-accessible bear spray than one that’s already in your hand, right? Is this the most convenient and best bear spray for hiking? Maybe!
If you don’t want to carry it all the time then Mace have added a safety clip for it to clip to your clothes or a belt. Just make sure there’s no risk of setting it off accidentally. The specifications of this bear spray are outstanding. It has the maximum strength regulated by law by containing two percent of capsaicinoids. We’ve mentioned this key ingredient a few times now – and if you haven’t guessed we’re going to mention it again – so you should know what it is. Capsaicinoids are a natural substance extracted from very hot peppers. Now you know to never offer a bear a hot curry or Mexican food!
The outstanding performance of this spray is seen in its whopping 35-feet spraying range which will arrive in a fogger motion to improve accuracy. If you spot the bear late and are already on the menu then don’t panic too much because this can will empty its deterring contents in just six seconds. As well as being effective against bears this spray can also protect you from wild and dangerous dogs, but please check your local laws regarding using it against other animals.
So, how does this bear repellent size up against the other bear sprays being featured? Taking that question literally, the spray is the identical size as three of the other cans on our list – you've already seen a smaller option but there’s a bigger one coming. It equals most of the other sprays in terms of strength and shares the highest podium place for the spray that has the best range. The holster options aren’t as lucrative as the frontiersman bear spray option and it doesn’t have the cool glow in the dark feature, but it’s still one of the best bear sprays you'll find at a slightly below-average price.
Our Final Verdict: This is an exceptional bear spray that will easily eat up a chunk of the market. It’s powerful with a decent range so there’s not much to complain about.
Recommended Reading: Don't miss our latest guide to the top performing tactical pens!
4. Guard Alaska Bear Spray Repellent
The penultimate product on our shortlist for the best bear spray for grizzlies is this EPA approved bear spray. It has been made by the guys and gals over at Pepper Defence and they deserve the column space because it’s an awesome product.
The nine-ounce container comes with a holster that attaches to your belt via a metal clip. Again, these are another company who’ve avoided Velcro for the aforementioned reasons. It will repel all bear types and has been tested extensively. A bunch of hikers were given the task of using the spray for six years in the Alaskan wilderness. We just hope they didn’t use the same bear pepper spray for all that time because this product will expire after four years.
This Pepper Defence product doesn’t make use of their legal limit of capsaicinoids and only adds 1.34 percent into their formula. But, their formula is environmentally friendly because it doesn’t contain any substances that pose a threat to the Ozone layer. On top of that their product isn't flammable so accidents around the camp fire aren’t going to end in disaster. The spray, alike the others, has a fogger delivery to cloud the bear in repellent rather than requiring impeccable accuracy. Those ice-hockey nets are small in Canada and the US but not everyone can be that accurate.
The spray can reach bears between 15 and 20 feet away and the content will empty in nine seconds. This is good news if you unexpectedly encounter a bear at a close distance, but the contents can also be released intermittently if the situation requires.
If we compare this EPA approved bear spray against the other four sprays it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Their extensive testing in nature rather than a lab gives you a lot of confidence and it appears to be much more environmentally friendly than the others. Yet, it falls short of the other four in two important areas.
They’ve left us puzzled to why they didn’t top up their formula with the strongest possible contents of capsaicinoids. Maybe because the spray has already proved its effectiveness? The second aspect not delivering is its relatively short firing range of just 20 feet. Due to these shortcomings combined with it being set around the same price as the others, we don’t believe it’s the best value for money.
Our Final Verdict: This is a fantastic option from what’s available overall, but in terms of its competition here it doesn’t live up to standards when considering its formula strength and firing range.
5. Counter Assault Bear Deterrent
The last bear repellent spray featured here is by no means the least effective, the smallest or the least powerful. In actual fact, it could rival the previous four on all of these things. Counter Assault have manufactured an incredible formula in an ultra-safe canister.
The spray comes in a 10.2-ounce container and is claimed to spray between 12 and 32 feet. We’re not so impressed with these measurements. Not because a 32-feet range isn't impressive – it is - but because the margin is a too vague and not what you want when faced with a life-threatening situation. How will you know when you’re at the right distance to let loose of your bear spray when the range margin can differ between 20 feet? If it doesn’t reach far enough, you could be out of repellent and not out of the bear’s radar.
Don’t swipe left on this bear spray just yet. It has a lot of good things going for it. If it didn’t you wouldn’t be reading about it here. We only sought the best bear sprays to make sure you keep your family safe. The can will empty its substance in just over nine seconds so if you do win the distance lottery you know you’ve got enough time to deliver the deterring blow.
The can has been innovatively designed with a safety clip to avoid accidentally spraying your partner in the face on what was supposed to be a romantic log-cabin getaway in nature. It comes with a nylon holster and a belt loop for easy and quick access – also avoiding the tearing sound of velcro. The substance reaches the maximum strength allowed by law at two percent of capsaicinoids. Did it make up for its inaccurate spraying range? We more than think so!
This is the biggest can of bear spray on our list and one of the biggest portable cans you'll find anywhere else. It’s slightly more expensive than the others but it works out around the same price per an ounce compared with the other cans. For that reason, we can't call it better value for money, only more convenient to some. This will of course be less convenient for people with limited space in their camping arsenal. It has a lot of features to rival the others, including its strength and its added safety feature. Yet, the vagueness of its firing range has deterred us a bit - like a bear facing its formula.
Our Final Verdict: Anyone owning this spray can feel confident they can deter a bear due to its formidable strength. This is one of the safest sprays you'll find when not in use, but its vague firing range has us slightly worried.
So, What Is The Best Bear Spray?
There’s no denying that these products are some of the best bear sprays on the market. Most of their formulas are the strongest possible within the law and offer some convenient and safety-enhancing features.
But, what is the best bear spray out of them all? After comparing them, we feel like the best bear spray is the frontiersman bear spray. This spray is not only unbeatably strong, its accompanying holders offer phenomenal options to keep the spray close by and easy to access at all times. We understand the other sprays also offered holders but the choice between a chest holder and a waist holder will appeal to a wider audience. When you add their glow-in-the-dark canister to the mix it makes for an unbeatable bear spray – especially since this glow-in-the-dark feature isn't so common.
A lot of these bear sprays are around the same price. When it comes to protecting you and your family from life-threatening situations they’re all value for money, but which is the best value for money? The one product we can rule out as being the best value for money is the Guard Alaska Bear Spray Repellent. This spray isn't as strong as the others and hasn’t got the same firing range as the others, despite being priced similarly.
The Udap Bear Spray also doesn’t make the cut in terms of value for money when compared with the others. We have come to this conclusion by considering that it’s just above the average price range but isn't the best spray we've featured and it’s a smaller canister. We’re not saying it’s bad value for money, we’re just saying it’s not the best.
The cheapest two sprays by a few dollars are the frontiersman bear spray and the Mace Brand Maximum-Strength Bear Defense Spray. These are the two sprays that give the best value for money. They both have formidable firing ranges and exceptional reach. Marrying these facts with their slightly cheaper price tag is a good enough reason to label them as being the best value. As we've already declared the frontiersman bear spray as the best spray, it goes hand-in-hand that this spray is even slightly better value for money than Mace’s bear spray.
If you’re about to be a first-time buyer of bear spray there are a few things you need to get your head around before choosing a product. To help you out, we’ve put together a handy guide of things you should consider and some top tips on how to use your bear spray.
What To Consider Before Buying Bear Spray
Buying bear spray can be a little exciting. The thought of coming up against one of these giant and dangerous creatures may fill you with terror, but it may also have you dreaming up the cool story of how you escaped. You may not be exactly like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, but it might still get you a free round of beers.
The first thing to consider is the strength of the spray. As you already know by now, bear spray can only contain two percent of capsaicinoids and is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. You should always try and get a spray with the full legal limit to give you maximum protection. Less powerful sprays can also be a great option if they’ve been evidenced to be effective. We’d suggest never choosing a spray below one percent.
You also need to consider the firing range of the spray. There’s no point getting a strong spray if you have to get within a couple of feet of the bear for it to be effective. The longer the range the less nerve racking it’s going to be when using it. You also need to consider how you'll store the bear spray. You want to have quick access to it without it getting in the way or placed in a position that could accidentally go off. Take the time to consider the types of holders and how they attach to you or your clothing before making your choice.
A final consideration that you may not have thought of is where you will use the spray. We don’t mean where in the wilderness. We mean in which country. If you're buying a bear spray for an abroad adventure then take the time to research your airline. Many airlines prohibit taking bear sprays on board due to being seen as a dangerous item. It would be a shame if you spent your hard-earned cash only to find out the spray has to stay in your New York apartment drawers ready for a zombie apocalypse.
Never choose a pepper spray over a purpose-specific bare spray. These were the go-to option in the past and aren’t going to protect you as well as a bare spray will. Never mind the fact that carrying pepper spray in a lot of places could get you in significant trouble with the law – it’s even considered a weapon in Canada. It’s also much more humane to use bare spray than pepper spray. Be deterring but don’t be cruel!
How To Use Bear Spray
Now you’ve carefully considered and chosen your bear spray, you'll need to know how to use one. Some bear sprays may differ and it’s always best to follow manufacturer guidelines. The first thing you need to do before all else, is to check the expiry date on the can. These sprays can be significantly less effective once expired.
Unlike what some people assume, bear spray isn't mosquito repellent. If you think that, you’re in for a nasty shock. It’s used to be sprayed at bears not on yourself. Also, don’t spray it around your camping spot. The contents of bear sprays actually attracts bears!
If you spot a bear that hasn’t spotted you don’t go charging at it with your spray. This isn't an occasion for heroics. Just back away slowly until you’re out of sight. If the bear does see you but isn't reacting then get your spray ready in case of an attack. If you’re in a group, it’s best to stand together so you appear larger to the bear. Some people even recommend softly speaking to the bear in these circumstances.
If a bear comes toward you then you should make more noise by stomping feet and shouting. If this doesn’t deter the bear it’s time to use your spray. Remember, the spray is your last resort when you feel like you’re in serious danger.
To use the spray, remove the spray from your holster and take off the safety mechanism. Using one hand, press down on the can with your thumb. Some sprays do allow you to fire from the holster at your hip. Aim below the bear’s respiratory system and eyes. These sprays fire in a fogging motion which means you don’t have to be overly accurate. At first, spray for a couple of seconds to see how the bear reacts and then use all the can if needed.
Consider the wind direction and wind strength when you spray. If you cloud yourself in your own spray at this point you may as well have brought dessert too. Fortunately, this is unlikely because these sprays eject from the can at high speeds. You may have to accept that some of it may get on you in strong face-on winds. If you do get it on yourself take out any contact lenses and move away from the area as soon as possible.
Sometimes the noise of the can will scare the bear off even if the spray doesn’t. When using your spray you will have to judge the distance. The closer you’re to the bear the more effective, but you don’t want to get too close. If the bear is charging at you the spray lingers so you should act rather than waiting for the bear to get within range – bring bear spray but not a tape measure!
After spraying a bear, it will usually leave you alone for 20 to 30 minutes. This is the time to pack up and get out of the area. Don’t think the bear won't come back, it might! Report any incidents to the relevant authorities and go home and hug your loved ones.
Thanks for joining today’s buyer guide and we hope you now feel knowledgeable about bear spray and what to look out for when buying these products. Get your paws on a spray soon, before a bear gets his on you!