Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products and services; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Best Overall: Counter Assault at Amazon
"A reliable and effective bear spray that’s reasonably priced."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Frontiersman Bear Spray at Amazon
"The maximum strength allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency."
Best Value: UDAP Bear Spray at Amazon
"Can empty out in four seconds as it enters the bear’s eyes, mouth, and nose."
Best Range: Mace Brand Bear Attack Survival Spray at Amazon
"Empties in six seconds and can spray up to 35 feet of fog."
Best on All Bears: Guard Alaska at Amazon
"Registered with the EPA as a repellant against all bears."
Best MultiPack: Pepper Defense (Guard Alaska) 4 Pack at Amazon
"You can fire short bursts to scare the animals off."
Best Practice Spray: Frontiersman Practice Bear Spray at Amazon
"It will prepare you to stay calm and use the real product correctly."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Counter Assault
As a top choice of park rangers and experienced hikers, Counter Assault is a reliable and effective bear spray that’s reasonably priced. The 10.2-ounce can of spray is larger than some of the others, has a range of up to 40 feet, can empty in 8 seconds, and allows the user more control of the spray amount. The spray includes a nylon holster and a glow-in-the-dark feature, plus a safety cap in case of accidental discharge. When released, the spray is a cloud-like stream so be mindful of “blowback,” as it can cause irritation to the user as well. Keep in mind that the spray is only effective for three to five years, but replacing it before then is recommended.
If that's not enough to convince you, Counter Assault is the only bear deterrent pepper spray that meets the Significant New Alternative Policy (S.N.A.P) requirements of the Clean Air Act regarding ozone-depleting substances.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Sabre Frontiersman Bear Spray
Manufactured by Sabre, an established company that produces pepper spray for law enforcement, Frontiersman Bear Spray is a solid option. The 7.9-ounce canister empties faster than most others, has a range of 30 feet (although the 9.2-ounce one has a 35-foot range) and is the maximum strength allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The spray was field tested in Alaska and Montana and has been proven effective against black, brown and polar bears. The can also glows in the dark, so you can locate it at night. The canister has a three-year shelf life and does not include a holster.
Best Value: UDAP Bear Spray
Created by a survivor of a bear attack, the UDAP bear spray formula improved on existing products, so the spray is an extremely hot, oil-based formula at a budget-friendly price.
The 7.9-ounce canister has a range of 30 feet of powerful fog that can empty out in four seconds as it enters the bear’s eyes, mouth, and nose – stopping the attack. The bottle comes in bright safety orange so it’s easy to spot, and includes a camouflage hip holster that snuggly holds the canister for easy transport on the trail. Several buyers reported that they used the spray successfully to ward off an aggravated bear.
Best Range: Mace Brand Bear Attack Survival Spray
The brand name, Mace, is known for its powerful self-defense spray used by a number of law enforcement officers, and the “Bear Attack Survival Spray” is yet another premium product. The nine-ounce canister empties in six seconds and can spray up to 35 feet of fog – keeping a safer distance between you and the attacking bear. The combination of quick spray and distance can make all the difference in a crisis situation. A lightweight holster is provided for quick, easy access to the spray. Made in the U.S.A., the spray is made from the highest level of capsaicin concentration (what stuns the bear) allowed by the EPA.
Best Practice Spray: Sabre Frontiersman Practice Bear Spray
Bear Spray is only effective if you know how to use it, so Frontiersman also developed a practice spray so if an emergency does arise, outdoorsman would know what to do without hesitation. The spray is a water-based product and will not protect against an actual attack – but it will prepare you to stay calm and use the real product correctly. It is also a great idea for camping families to practice (but it is a single-use item). There’s also a free safety online video with step by step directions on how to use the spray. Although useful, the spray is a tad expensive and some felt that two canisters should be provided instead of just one.
Best Multi-Pack: Guard Alaska 4-Pack Bear Repellent
If you’re spending a lot of time in the woods or would like to give bear spray as a gift to an outdoor enthusiast, the Guard Alaska multi-pack is a cost-effective option. The package comes with four canisters containing nine ounces of the powerful spray and they all have a shelf life of four years. The entire canisters can be emptied in nine seconds, or you can fire short bursts to scare the animals off. The kit also includes four metal holsters that can attach to a belt clip that is well-constructed and durable. Reviewers liked the easy-grip handle and felt that the multipack was a good overall value.
Best on All Bears: Guard Alaska Bear Spray
Designed to work on all species of bear, the Guard Alaska spray is a popular choice but has a shorter range than some of the other options. The nine-ounce bottle has a 15 to 20-foot range (significantly less than Mace brand or UDAP), but is registered with the EPA as a repellant against all bears, and is endorsed by the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation. It is not flammable and does not contain ozone-depleting chemicals. The canister has a removable safety trigger in case of accidental use. Be cautious with storing this product indoors for long periods of time, as some customers reported leaking in certain conditions.