Imagine enjoying a perfect bonfire in the middle of lush woods and having an encounter with an unwanted visitor – a bear! Camping in the wild is undoubtedly an enriching experience for the outdoorsy souls, but nature can be as intimidating as it is relaxing and it’s best to be well-prepared to steer clear of the hungry grizzlies.
Luckily, there are several incredible bear sprays available in the market ensuring that you and the bear would enjoy the outdoors separately. Having an effective bear spray by your camping bed would make the experience far less worrisome.
Whether you are a seasoned camper or a new explorer of the wild, this guide lists 5 best bear sprays in 2020 for you to choose from. Our best bear spray buying guide is meant to help you invest in the best spray and answers all the queries that you may have.
How To Choose A Bear Spray – Buying Guide
It is easy to get lost in the chaos of every bear repellent spray claiming to be the best. Choosing one can be confusing, and even after you make a purchase, you may still have a nagging feeling that maybe you could have chosen better. Especially since this is a matter of safety, being picky can be life-saving. Let us take some burden off your shoulders and present to you our tried-and-tested buying guide. In this guide, we have pinpointed the features you should be looking for when you go bear spray shopping.
Range and Coverage
The whole point of using a bear spray is to keep the gigantic creatures as far as possible. Hence, the more the range the merrier! As a minimum, look for products that can guarantee a range of at least 16 feet, which is the minimum range recommended for these products. If the deterrent you’re considering has less than 16 feet range on the label, move on to the next option. The best bear sprays offer a range of 25-30 feet. However, bear in mind (pun intended) that the actual reach of the pepper fog may be less depending on factors like wind speed and direction, your hands’ strength, your familiarity with this kind of spray device, etc. But, it’s good since you will be spraying when the animal charges at you or is pretty close. Spraying closer would keep the fog more concentrated around you, thus more effective.
Size and Capacity
Running out of the spray while having an encounter with the bear can be catastrophic. Look for a product with a larger quantity of pepper spray. If there’s a bigger quantity in the spray container you can still be sure that it will do its job even if you ‘waste’ a second or two. Most bear sprays have a capacity of at least 7.9 ounces of spray, which is the amount of active product needed for deterring a large animal. The size of the canister is usually as large as the total contents of spray formula within tends to be. While one would wish for a smaller can for easy of traveling, it is important to have enough product for warding off a bear.
In the case of the best formulas (such as the ones reviewed above), this standard size amounts to around 9.9 per 2.5 per 5.8 inches, just to give you an estimate of the size you can expect. Such a can would allow you to spray for 6 and 9 seconds continuously, which is enough to stop a bear that is charging towards you, even if you waste 1-2 seconds with a bad initial aim.
Some of the top-rated bear mace options offer larger amounts (such as 10.2 ounces), which can give you an extra second or two of spraying. Whether you spray it all at once or in short bursts directed at the animal approaching you, these almost 8 ounces of spray are calculated to be enough to get yourself out of the tight spot. The animal will either leave or be incapacitated long enough for you to make your escape.
Concentration and Effectiveness
The strength of the bear mace spray you will be using depends upon the concentration of the active ingredients (the actual pepper components). The concentration varies between 1% and 2% (this 2% being the maximum allowed concentration according to the law). The best formulas, which are considered to be quite strong, have a concentration of capsaicin-derived substances of at least 1.3%. As long as you see that on the label as a minimum, you can rest assured that your chosen repellent is a strong one.
Ease of Use
Surely one would want a bear spray that is easy to use, but it’s important to ensure that there is a safety system in-store so that the canister of bear mace doesn’t accidentally discharge. Therefore, top-rated sprays have a mechanism that achieves a balance between ease of use and safety. Go for a spray can that is specially designed with an easy grip and handle. You never know how you may become a tad panicky in the face of an actual bear, and your dexterity with the can may be affected by your emotions. If the spray container has a grip handle that follows the shape of your fingers you will find it more natural to maneuver it.
A high-quality bear repellent would come with a holster, which is extremely handy. It allows you to reach your spray can instantly, without having to rummage through the backpack. Moreover, look for an environment-friendly formula with the most impact.
Q: What is a bear spray and how does it work?
A bear spray is a bear deterrent formula contained in a spray can or bottle that can be intended to help you escape a bear that charges or comes too close to you when you are out in the wild. It contains highly concentrated amounts of capsaicin - the substance that makes hot peppers spicy, which acts as a powerful irritant and mild paralytic agent for large animals like bears. The contents of the can, when sprayed in the direction of the bear, will leave it incapacitated and buy you some time to save yourself.
Q: How to use bear spray?
Bear sprays formulas are generally easy enough to use once you get the hang of it. For most bear spray brands, the mechanism is activated by tugging, flipping, or removing a safety clip. After that, point the spray directly towards the animal’s face and eyes if it is already too close (less than 15 feet), or aim the spray can downward and ahead of the bear (the middle of the path between you), keep spraying short puffs. Make it so the bear has to pass directly through the pepper fog if they want to get closer to you. Keep the spraying button pressed to discharge the bear repellent substance. You can choose to do it in shorter bursts if you prefer, or if you’re worried you will exhaust the entire contents of the can too fast by spraying continuously.
Q: When to use a bear spray?
You should only use bear sprays when a bear is closer than 40 feet from you and shows signs of aggression. If the bear is 40 feet away, resist the urge of using the spray at such a high distance. It won’t work. Remember that bear sprays are not meant to scare away bears in your vicinity, but to deter bears that are coming to attack you. Spraying it in their general direction from a distance will not affect them and may even attract them closer. You can only start using the spray when the bear is 30 feet away from you.
Q: How effective is it in deterring bears?
The best bear repellents are officially recognized (by government guidelines and regulations) to be the most effective way of protecting yourself against a bear. They are even more effective than firearms: according to a study, firearms can protect you from getting attacked during a bear encounter only in 50% of cases, while a bear mace spray is effective in over 90-92% of cases. As a bonus, unlike firearms or other weapons, bear sprays cause no actual permanent damage to the animal.
Q: What is the difference between a bear spray and a pepper spray?
A bear spray formula is similar to a pepper spray used in self-defense but much stronger, fit to deter an animal of a much larger size and ferocity than a human attacker. A regular pepper spray delivers a strong punch meant to temporarily stun and cripple a human attacker until their target can get away or call in the authorities. On the other hand, a bear deterrent spray is intended for a large and aggressive animal that needs to be deterred immediately. A pepper spray would be ineffective if used against a bear, while a bear deterrent would be too much if used against a human (and could cause permanent, serious damage). Therefore, you could say that the only difference between pepper spray and bear spray is the scale and intensity of the formula.
Q: Is bear spray illegal?
No, bear sprays are NOT illegal. They are FDA approved, so you can make sure that they’re both effective and safe to use. Still, you should keep in mind that some natural parks and reservations are allowed to restrict and forbid the use of bear mace spray. Some areas have protected or endangered species living within their perimeter and if visitors use sprays in their proximity it could be harmful to the animals. Also, note that you are not allowed to carry bear mace spray by plane.
Q: How to carry it?
While hiking and camping, the bear pepper spray container needs to be carried at hand, in a specialized holster on your belt. In this way, should the need arise, you can react fast and use it before the animal can hurt you or anyone else in your party. A fast react time is essential, so keeping it in your hiking backpack or the car trunk while away from it will not do. Until you get to the hiking or camping area, it can be kept in the luggage or the car trunk. As long as the safety lid or clip is not pulled, there is no risk for the liquid to get discharged. Still, as a precaution measure, it’s best if you wrap up the container in a paper box or bubble wrap, just to make sure traveling and bumpy roads don’t cause any damage to it.
Q: Can bear spray hurt the animal badly?
No, bear spray only hurts the animal in terms of irritation and mild paralysis, but the effects are temporary. Sure, it’s uncomfortable and it does cause the animal a certain amount of suffering, but there’s no permanent damage involved. Once you have got enough time to escape, the bear should be able to get back up and feel comfortable again in a relatively short time, it can take a few hours for the irritation caused by the pepper spray to completely wear off.
Q: What to do if the spray gets on your skin?
To treat the affected area, you can first soak a tissue in milk and lay it gently on the skin that got exposed to the pepper spray. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes and the milk should take some of the stings away. Next, wash the area with a grease-removing product like dishwasher liquid and water and the pepper oil will be removed from the skin. You can expect to experience increased skin sensitivity and tingling on that spot for a few days.
Globo Surf Overview
Having the best bear mace spray formula with you during an encounter with an angry beast could be a lifesaver! Not only will this repellant turn out to be more effective than firearms against a bear attack, but it’s also a more humane solution for protecting yourself in the wild. Now that you have gone across our top 6 best bear spray reviews and our comprehensive buying guide, we hope you are ready to invest a little before going on your next hiking, fishing, or camping trip.
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Have you ever used a bear mace spray? Did you find it difficult? Also, were you ever faced with an angry bear in the wild? Let us know in the comment section below! We’re excited to hear from camping enthusiasts of the Globo Surf community, especially if they have stories the rest of us could learn from.