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Spotting a bear in the wild is one of the many rewarding things you can do while hiking in the mountainous areas. But, these animals can ambush you if they feel threatened. Bears can be aggressive if they have cubs or are seriously foraging for food.
The worst thing about bears is that they are unpredictable and it would be best if you are equipped with a bear spray all the time, especially when planning for bear hunting or an encounter with bears.
Commonly known as bear mace, the spray and acts as a fast and effective deterrent to keep off bears. Here are some of the best bear sprays.
Udap Bear Spray Safety Orange with Color-Griz Guard Holster
This product is one of the best bear sprays out there for a few good reasons. The Udap Bear Spray boasts a remarkable capacity which leaves no chances for the bear to overpower your trick. It is designed to disperse a great amount of concentration within a short time.
This spray offers an amazing range of 30 feet, giving you enough distance to deter the charging bear without putting yourself to risk. It operates at one-second bursts so that you can utilize the volume to the maximum. Besides, each of the bursts will travel through the air at a whopping speed of roughly 35 miles per hour. This speed and concentration are enough to stop the bear dead in its tracks.
Also, this bear repellent can create enough clouds that can deter a 600-pound bear. It boasts EPA certification and therefore it is safe to use anywhere in North America. This bear spray is probably one of the hottest thanks to its 2 percent CRC concentration. One of the exciting features is the glow in the dark safety loop, which allows fast unleashing in case the bear attacks you at night.
- Excellent burst speed
- Great firing range
- Maximum allowable concentration
- Approved quality standards
- Can empty very fast if you haven’t sprayed with it before
Pepper Power Bear Deterrent Pepper Spray
How strong the formula is and the effective range is what makes a great bear spray. The Pepper Power bear spray has all it takes to be ranked as one of the best. The ability to cover a great distance and wide area makes it an ideal choice for many hiking enthusiasts.
The Pepper Power Bear Deterrent Pepper Spray features 2 percent CRC formula, making it one of the strongest bear sprays you can find on the market. It has a safety wedge innovatively designed to prevent accidental release. Also, it offers three-second continuous spraying making it more functional than other competitive sprays.
Featuring 7.9 ounces capacity and approximately 32 feet as the effective range, this spray is undoubtedly one of the best bear sprays. This bear repellent meets the EPA regulatory standards and is also ideal for deterring all the eight types of bears prevalent in North America.
Its formula is potent as it incorporates the most substantial dose of 2.0 % capsaicinoid products. Although there has never been any documented case of a bear spray used against polar bears, this spray has been scientifically proven to be powerful enough to deter them.
- Incredible range
- Awesome volume
- A versatile spray formula
- Meets the EPA standards
- A bit pricier than its competitors
UDAP 18HP Super Magnum Bear Spray 13.4 Ounces
This product is still another great innovation from ADAP. It boasts 2 percent CRC which makes it one of the top-ranking bear sprays on the market. With 35 foot range, the UDAP 18HP Super Magnum Bear Spray is unbeatable in terms of effectiveness in deterring bears.
It also offers amazing fog properties making it one of the best for moist weather performance. The most effective range during the damp weather would be 15 to 20 feet. Besides, this formula is as powerful as it can legally get thanks to the 2.0% of capsaicin concentration.
The 13.4 ounces capacity makes this spray convenient to carry around. It can fit in various aftermarket holsters, but it comes with its specially made holster for the best results. All in all, this is a great bear spray which creates a powerful fog that can deter any bear.
- Decent range
- Relative good capacity
- Versatile holster
- Lightweight and compact
- Performance can be affected by strong wind
Bear Spray vs. Gun/ Bullets: Which one is Better for Self Defense?
A bear can weigh between 600 to 1000 pounds; if this gigantic creature grabs you, there are minimal chances of survival. As a person who totes a gun while hiking or hunting game in the backcountry, you might be so fast to use a gun to stop a charging bear. The truth is that you might not be so accurate to hit the vital organs.
Besides, if an elk can run up to 100 yards with a double lung shot wound, think of a bear. For you to kill a near with a bullet, you will have to possess exceptional accuracy, which is quite unachievable, especially if you are in panic facing the grizzly monster. The best way to deter a bear is to use a pepper spray designed for that job.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service publication about bullets versus bear sprays has shown that half of all people who attempt to deter a charging bear using a rifle end up with fatal injuries. The majority of those who use pepper spray escape without injuries in most cases. Hence, the best option is to have a bear spray ready in a holster because a gun cannot compare to a bear spray.
Besides, if you are not looking to kill the bear, a spray would be a good option since it causes them no harm.
A Buyer’s Guide for the Best Bear Sprays
While bears are not known for their aggression, they are still among the unpredictable animals out there. When they are scouting with their cubs finding food, these animals can perceive you to be a threat and attack you.
However, bear sprays give you an upper hand at defending yourself against aggressive bears. These sprays basically feature ground hot pepper stored in a pressurized container and combined with other relevant gasses and compounds. This creates a powerful mist that can reach up to 40 feet even though this distance may vary with the canister type.
When sprayed, the bear gets covered in a hot spray mix resulting in severe irritation in the nose and eyes which deters the bear from pushing further. The effectiveness of sprays may vary from brand to brand.
Here is what you have to look out for when buying bear sprays.
Spray Time and Distance
Probably these are the most important things to consider when buying a bear spray. The use of weak and ineffective bear spray has been linked to cases whereby an angry bear keeps on charging. A good spray can mean the difference between life and death when you’re out there in the woods.
Depending on the canister, the effective distance can range from 10 to 50 feet. But, it would help if you started spraying when the bear is about 60 feet from you. Another crucial factor to consider is the spray power. This is dependent on the concentration and speed of the sprayer.
The power of a sprayer determines whether you’ll effectively deter a bear if you’re in a windy environment. The spray duration refers to the time taken for the canister to empty and is also very crucial. The longer the duration of spray, the higher the chances of successfully deterring a charging bear.
The Portability of the Canister
The weight and size of the canister can also affect your survivability. Most hunters will go for the biggest sized can, not minding the weight, in the thought that it contains more content. Well, this is somehow true, but it would be best if you opted for something lightweight as well to ensure it is easy to carry around.
So typically you’ll be looking for the largest canister which would be easy and comfortable to carry and hold. The bigger the canister, the longer the distance it can cover, and the safer you will be.
The mix of compounds and their concentrations will also determine its effectiveness. It would be great to check the capsaicin concentration since that is the active ingredient. On the canister, you’ll see it marked as CRC concentration in percentages. EPA recommends 2 percent as the minimal concentration of this active chemical. Thus, you need to pick the spray that possesses the maximum concentration as this would work best.
Ease and Comfort of Use
When a bear attacks you, time won’t be sufficient for complex opening techniques. The spray canister should be easy to unleash, remove the safety loop, and press the trigger. Compact canisters are pretty easy to remove and use, but they have limited capability, especially in windy conditions. As a thumb rule, you shouldn’t carry the spray canisters in a hunting backpack. It should be with you probably in your pant pockets.
Again, you can keep the canisters near your chest. So the canister holster should have several attachment points for this to work. It should offer good holding power and be easy to remove in case of danger.
Differences between Regular Pepper and Bear Sprays
There isn’t much difference between bear deterrents and pepper sprays. Well, basing it on the canister mechanism, effective range, and volume. Also, the two feature the same active ingredient which is oleoresin capsicum. But, based on performance, bear sprays are stronger and produce a large mist enough to block bears’ aggressiveness.
Pepper sprays, on the other hand, are usually designed for self-defense though some can offer a wide range of uses. Most pepper sprays offer a narrower effective range compared to bear sprays. Since pepper spray is a targeted stream that is developed to incapacitate humans from seeing or breathing well it is effective on humans, while the latter is ineffective.
Interestingly, pepper sprays offer about 10 percent of the active ingredient while the maximum concentration for this ingredient in bear sprays is usually 2 percent. Thus, bear sprays aren’t as effective as the pepper sprays. But, bear sprays are specially formulated to work in windy and moist conditions, unlike most pepper sprays.
How to Use a Bear Spray
Deterring a charging bear doesn’t require a set of skills. You need to follow a simple, straightforward procedure.
Remove the Safety Loop
Most canisters will feature a safety clip that counters accidental sprays when you’re hiking. You need to grab the top-mounted trigger and remove the loop-shaped lock.
The spraying procedure isn’t complicated, but it’s crucial if it is done correctly. When you see a bear coming your way, grab the canister and hold it with both hands and spray directly towards it and a bit downwards to block its trajectory.
Note; you should always spray at 30 degrees downwards, and this creates a mist of irritating chemical which the animal has to go through.
You can choose to keep spraying until you empty the canister. However, it is recommendable to spray in short bursts of one to two seconds. This will ensure you maximize the effectiveness of the concentration coming out.
Remember to spray as you move backward.
If the bear gets too persistent and close to you, you should make a single burst aiming at its face. The important thing here is to recall the volume of your canister and the duration so that you don’t get caught unaware.
Essential Tips for Proper Use of Bear Sprays
Use the Bear Sprays Only When There is a Need
When the bear is approximately 40 or 50 feet away from you and isn’t showing signs of leaving, stay calm, and make sure the spray is within arm’s reach. If it starts coming towards you, remove the safety lock, and be ready to use. Some bears are not aggressive, and you should take your time to determine the correct action to take.
It would really help if you also tried to avoid bears by all means necessary.
Which is the Best Direction to Spray Bear Sprays?
It would be best if you never sprayed downwind. This will only result in the mist coming back to you. Hence, it would help if you positioned yourself so that the spray mist goes towards the bear.
The other important thing is to handle the pressurized can with utmost care. Ensure the spray is tightly locked or has a safety loop at all times unless you spot a bear. It would help if you didn’t leave it in closed spaces such as in your car.
Remember to check its expiry date before getting into the woods. An expired one might have little or no effectiveness, therefore putting you in danger.
Don’t Test Your Spray While in the Woods
You should never make it a habit of testing the bear sprays. Besides, creating strong bear spray scents can lure bears rather than deterring them.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Effective Are Bear Sprays
The use of bear sprays has shown significant results to counteract possible encounters with bears. Researches conducted by various experts have also concluded that bear sprays boast about 90 percent effectiveness and about 10 percent only result in minor injuries.
Well, the probable reason for not hitting 100 percent efficiency could be due to weather effects. For instance, very moist or windy weather can reduce the effectiveness and accuracy as you target the bear’s face. The most effective alternative method would be to stop the bear with a powerful rifle. But, it may not be allowed or ethical, and therefore, bear sprays remain to be the ultimate method.
Are the Bear Sprays Harmful?
Bear sprays work by irritating the mucous membranes in the eyes and nose, leaving the animal in pain. This will make the bear run away, giving you time to escape. The good thing is that the pain will go away after two hours without causing any damage to the eyes or nose. Hence, bear sprays are only meant to deter the animal without causing significant animal cruelty.
Can You Use Bear Sprays On Humans
You can feel the effect of bear sprays, though not very severe. Unlike pepper sprays, the bear sprays contain lower levels of oleoresin capsicum. Therefore, they may not be effective on humans like they can be on bears. Some people can tolerate their effect but some can’t because it is a product specially formulated for the bear’s eyes and not otherwise.
When hunting in an area with bears, you are likely to encounter them. Bears are no match to bear sprays, and you can consider yourself safe if you have the best bear spray.
Bears are not vicious unless they are provoked, but when you’re in the center of their territory, that’s enough provocation already. Hence, you need to be always equipped with an effective bear spray.
Remember, weather conditions can limit the effectiveness of your bear spray. You have to spray in the right direction and angle to deter the bear
A good bear spray is lightweight and offers a good range, a minimum of 10-15 feet such that you do not have to be in close contact with the bear.
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36 years old, been hunting and fishing my entire life – love the outdoors, family, and all kinds of hunting and fishing! I have spent thousands of hours hunting hogs and training hunting dogs, but I’m always learning new stuff and really happy to be sharing them with you! hit me up with an email in the contact form if you have any questions.