Use Bear Spray Appropriately

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Getting charged by a bear is each hiker’s worst nightmare, an expertise that may vary from “simply” terrifying to life-changing to really lethal. So, everytime you’re heading into bear nation, it is best to carry and know how one can use bear spray appropriately.

Whereas there are a number of issues you possibly can, and may, do whereas recreating in bear nation, shock encounters are at all times potential. Within the unlucky occasion a bear does cost you, bear spray is your greatest means of getting out of the scenario alive and, hopefully, unscathed.

On this publish, I’ll speak about one of the best methods to hold bear spray and inform you how one can use bear spray appropriately. In spite of everything, merely shopping for or renting a canister of bear spray isn’t enough—in any respect. You actually do should know the way and when to make use of it.

First issues first, although…

What Is Bear Spray?

How to Use Bear Spray Correctly

This publish about how one can use bear spray incorporates affiliate hyperlinks. You’ll be able to learn extra about our Phrases of Use / Disclosure right here.


You in all probability know the aim of bear spray already, however in case you don’t, it’s fairly easy. Bear spray is confirmed to be a extremely efficient option to cease aggressive conduct in bears.

Bear spray is a non-lethal deterrent designed to cease aggressive conduct in bears. Its use can scale back human accidents brought on by bears and the variety of bears killed by folks in self-defense.

Nationwide Park Service


It’s vital, nonetheless, to not confuse bear spray with fundamental pepper spray. Pepper spray ought to by no means be used as an alternative choice to precise bear spray, for 2 causes. One, it’s actually unlawful to promote pepper spray to be used towards bears. Two, pepper sprays will not be monitored by the EPA and their components can differ wildly. Many aren’t even sturdy sufficient to discourage bears.


The energetic components of bear spray are Capsicum derivatives, together with Capsaicin and its associated Capsaicinoids. Sprayed right into a cloud, it is a non-lethal—crucial!—option to briefly scale back a bear’s potential to see, odor and breathe.

Merely put, bear spray causes irritation and irritation within the nostril, throat, mouth, eyes and lungs of a bear. This can severely inhibit its inhaling and exhaling potential, which, in observe, means the bear gained’t be capable of sustain a cost or assault.

Moreover, bear spray is, in reality, regulated by the EPA. Bear spray canisters should have clear labels indicating what they’re, the components they comprise, their supposed use, in addition to utilization data resembling spray distance and length.

The Be Bear Conscious Marketing campaign recommends getting bear spray that may spray 30 ft or extra and for no less than 7 seconds.

Black bear on Blacktail Plateau in Yellowstone National Park

Carry Bear Spray Correctly

Bear expenses and assaults may be so stunning and sudden that you simply gained’t have sufficient time to get your bear spray out of your backpack. Due to this fact, it is best to carry your bear spray in a spot that’s readily accessible. It actually shouldn’t take you greater than a second to seize it.

There are just a few alternative ways to hold bear spray whereas mountaineering. Most bear spray canisters which are bought on-line, in outside shops or nationwide park retailers include their very own belt holster.

This handy holster may be connected to your backpack’s shoulder or waist straps, or your belt. I’ve additionally seen folks carrying their bear spray holster round one among their legs with an elastic band. No matter works for you is ok, so long as you retain your spray inside straightforward attain.

Alternatively, you may as well purchase an precise bear spray holster belt, which you’ll connect round your waist. In the event you can attain it with out having to take off your backpack, you possibly can maintain your spray in a facet mesh pocket of your backpack, too.

I’m an enormous fan of the Counter Assault bear deterrent merchandise. Test them out by way of the next hyperlinks (to Amazon).

Caroline carrying bear spray in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Use Bear Spray Appropriately

When or for those who ought to use your bear spray is dependent upon the scenario you’re in. Let’s stroll by means of three completely different eventualities.

A Distant Bear Sighting

In the event you see a bear whereas mountaineering, however it’s distant and hasn’t seen you, slowly again away. Get out of there with out making a giant fuss or being overly loud.

A Shut Encounter

However, if the bear is shut and/or has seen you too, discuss to it in a gentle and calm voice. Make your self larger and, once more, slowly again away. Do NOT run.

Get your bear spray prepared, however don’t spray if the bear doesn’t truly strategy you. Keep in mind that bear spray is supposed to be used on truly charging or attacking bears. It doesn’t work preventively.

A Cost or Assault

The third state of affairs is by far essentially the most terrifying. If a bear does cost you—this normally occurs in case of a shock grizzly bear encounter, for those who encounter a sow with cubs, or a bear that’s defending a meals cache—seize your bear spray as shortly as you presumably can.

Bears can run as much as 30 miles per hour, which suggests they will get to you in simply a few seconds.

In sensible numbers, meaning a bear 60 ft away can attain you in simply 1.5 seconds. And naturally, the nearer the encounter, the much less time the animal wants. So, for those who encounter a bear solely 20 ft away, it may be on high of you in 0.5 seconds.

Once more, maintain your bear spray readily accessible!

Throughout a cost or assault, that is how one can use bear spray appropriately:

  1. Take away the security clip (which is a white or orange clip on Counter Assault bear sprays).
  2. Begin spraying when the charging bear is slightly below 60 ft away, relying on the kind of encounter. For shut encounters, spray instantly. (Most expenses happen when the bear is about 30 ft away.)
  3. Goal downward and, you probably have time, alter for potential wind course. Goal for a spot on the bottom about 30 ft in entrance of you. (The spray will float upward and create a cloud the bear should cross by means of.)
  4. Proceed spraying till the bear modifications its course.
  5. If the bear retains charging, spray straight into its face.
  6. (In the event you assume the bear will make contact, flip round and drop all the way down to the bottom. Lay in your abdomen, clasp your fingers collectively over your neck. Maintain holding the canister and spraying upward. Create a cloud of spray round you and the bear.)
  7. Go away the world as quickly because the bear is gone.
Grizzly bear close to Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Vital Ideas for Utilizing Bear Spray the Proper Method

Along with understanding when and how one can use bear spray appropriately, the Nationwide Park Service gives just a few different ideas associated to bear spray and security it is best to know.

  • As I stated above, get bear spray that may spray for no less than 7 seconds and 30 ft or extra.
  • Test its expiration date. Get a brand new canister if expired.
  • By no means use bear spray preventively such as you may insect repellent. Don’t spray bear spray on folks or gear. It does not work that means and its scent might even appeal to wild animals, together with bears.
  • Don’t retailer bear spray in your automobile or near warmth sources. The canister can explode if temperatures strategy 120°F or extra.
  • Guarantee your bear spray is EPA accepted.
  • Observe makes good. Purchase an inert canister of spray to observe with. Take away it out of your holster till it’s a reflex, take away the security clip, hearth the inert spray in several wind instructions. Get comfy utilizing bear spray.
  • As soon as once more, maintain your bear spray inside straightforward attain!

Bear Security within the Nationwide Parks

Now that you understand how to make use of bear spray the right means, let’s see what you are able to do to keep away from a bear encounter within the first place, and how one can act throughout an encounter.

I’d wish to confer with the next guides for extra data, which discuss respectively about black bear security and grizzly bear security.


Have You Ever Needed to Use Bear Spray Throughout a Nationwide Park Go to? Share Your Nationwide Parks Expertise Beneath!

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