The 7 Best Bear Sprays of 2022 to Keep You Safe

We like Counter Assault Bear Spray for staying safe in the wilderness

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Best Bear Sprays

Tripsavvy / Chloe Jeong

TripSavvy's Pick

For all-around best-in-class performance and a reasonable price, we like the Counter Assault Bear Spray (view at Amazon) the best. And for the best budget-minded option, we chose UDAP Bear Spray (view at Amazon).

Seeing a bear in the wild can be exhilarating. But that same exciting wildness can cause problems when people get too close to bears. While it's important to note that bear attacks are extremely rare, they do happen, and a handful of people in North America die each year from bear attacks.

Jamin Grigg, a wildlife biologist with Colorado Parks & Wildlife, says your best protection is to be wise around bears (and any wildlife): "Most bears aren't aggressive towards people, but you can avoid potential conflicts by keeping your eyes and ears open and staying far away from bears when you do see them." If you run into problems with a bear, one of the simplest ways to defuse the situation is with bear spray, a non-lethal deterrent that outperforms firearms when preventing injuries.

Getting the best bear spray isn't relatively as straightforward as you might think—you need to consider the concentration of spray, weight, size, and shelf life. Luckily, we're here to help. Because of its effectiveness, reliability, and relative affordability, we like the Counter Assault bear spray (view at Amazon) best. Read on to find our other top picks for best bear sprays.

The Rundown

Best Overall: Counter Assault at Amazon

"A reliable and effective bear spray that’s reasonably priced."

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Sabre Frontiersman Bear Spray at Amazon

"Field-tested in Alaska and Montana, this spray works with many bear species."

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 Multi-Pack: Guard Alaska Bear Spray 5-pack at Amazon

"You can fire short bursts to scare the animals off."

Best on All Bears: Guard Alaska Bear Spray at Amazon

"Registered with the EPA as a repellant against all bears."

Best Practice Spray: Sabre Frontiersman Practice Bear Spray at Amazon

"A bit pricey, but a good way to practice before being in the backcountry."

Best Overall: Counter Assault

10.2 oz. Counter Assault Bear Deterrent
Courtesy of Amazon
What We Like
  • Good range

  • Belt holster

  • Eco-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

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 others, has a range of up to 40 feet, can empty in eight seconds, and allows the user more control of the spray amount. The spray includes a nylon holster, a glow-in-the-dark feature, and 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 also irritate the user. Remember that the spray is only effective for three to five years, but replacing it before then is recommended.

Suppose that's not enough to convince you. In that case, 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.

Size: 10.12 x 4.87 x 2.5 inches | Volume: 8.1 ounces

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Sabre Frontiersman Bear Spray

Sabre Frontiersman Bear Spray
Walmart photo.
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Maximum strength

  • Glows in the dark

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller capacity

  • No holster

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 the Environmental Protection Agency allows. 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 that you can locate it at night. The canister has a three-year shelf life ​and does not include a holster.

Size: 11.26 x 6.06 x 2.83 inches | Weight: 1.08 pounds | Volume: 7.9 ounces

Best Value: UDAP Bear Spray

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Holstered

  • Safety book included

What We Don't Like
  • Only four seconds of spray

Created by a bear attack survivor, 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 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 using the spray successfully to ward off an aggravated bear.

Size: 2 x 2 x 8.5 inches | Weight: 13.6 ounces | Volume: 7.9 ounces

Best Range: Mace Brand Bear Attack Survival Spray

Mace Brand Bear Attack Survival Spray

 Courtesy of Dick's Sporting Goods

What We Like
  • Good range

  • Holstered

  • High concentration

What We Don't Like
  • Only six seconds of spray

The brand name, Mace, is known for its powerful self-defense spray used by many law enforcement officers, and the “Bear Attack Survival Spray” is yet another premium product. The 9-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. An included lightweight holster provides quick, easy access to the spray. Made in the U.S., the spray has the highest capsaicin concentration (what stuns the bear) allowed by the EPA.

Size: 12.50 x 5.75 x 2.75 inches | Volume: 9 ounces

Best Multi-Pack: Guard Alaska Bear Spray 5-pack

Multi-pack bear spray
What We Like
  • Good value

  • Longer shelf life

  • Eco-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Heavier than others

  • Shorter range

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 multipack is a cost-effective option. The package comes with five canisters containing 9 ounces of the powerful spray, and they all have a shelf life of four years. The entire canisters can be emptied in seven seconds, or you can fire short bursts to scare the animals off. The kit also includes holsters that can attach to a belt clip that is well-constructed and durable. Reviewers liked the easy-grip handle and felt the multipack was an excellent overall value.


Size:
14 x 6 x 5 inches | Weight: 1 pound each | Volume: 9 ounces

Best on All Bears: Guard Alaska Bear Spray

What We Like
  • Designed for all bear species

  • Affordable

  • Belt holster

What We Don't Like
  • Shorter range

  • Potential to leak

Designed to work on all bear species, the Guard Alaska spray is a popular choice but has a shorter range than some other options. The 9-ounce bottle has a 15 to 20-foot range (significantly less than Mace brand or UDAP) but is registered with the EPA as a repellent 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, as some customers reported leaking in certain conditions. 

Size: 14 x 6 x 5 inches | Weight: 1 pound | Volume: 9 ounces

Best Practice Spray: Sabre Frontiersman Practice Bear Spray

What We Like
  • Enables preparedness

  • Free training video

What We Don't Like
  • Single-use

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 actual 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 using the spray. Although helpful, the spray is a tad expensive, and some felt that two canisters should be provided instead of just one.

Size: 8 x 2.1 x 2 inches | Weight: 9.59 ounces | Volume: 7.9 ounces

What to Look for in a Bear Spray

Shelf Life

Since bear spray is a product you hope you never have to use, there’s a good chance it will mostly sit on a shelf when you’re not actively carrying it. You need to make sure your bear spray is still viable before heading out into the field, and thus the value of a bear spray for most people comes down to how long it lasts. 

Weight and Size

Since carrying your bear spray readily accessible somewhere like a holster or pouch is recommended, you’ll want a spray that you can store close at hand. Many bear sprays are large aerosol cans, so make sure you have a holster or pouch that can accommodate whatever size can you purchase. Weight is another factor to keep in mind. While most cans weigh less than a pound, it’s something to consider if you’re counting grams when laying out your pack for a multi-day hike.

Concentration

Most bear sprays list the concentration of capsaicin in their spray, which will be between 1 and 2 percent. Two percent is the maximum allowable and is what you want for your bear spray to be maximally effective.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • When should someone use bear spray?

    First, practice bear avoidance. No picture is worth a bear attack, and your best bet for staying free from bear attacks is to keep a healthy distance between you and the bear. It’s important to remember that bears are typically not aggressive toward humans, and spraying a bear unprovoked may cause problems where there were none. Bear spray should be reserved for when a bear is acting aggressively towards you.

  • How do you use bear spray?

    Bear spray isn’t a gun and is not meant to be aimed and fired. Instead, focus on putting up a cloud of spray between you and an aggressive bear. You’ll need to account for the wind lest you spray yourself. See the National Park Service website for more detail and step-by-step instructions.

  • What is bear spray made of?

    Most bear sprays’ active ingredient is capsaicin—the chemical that makes hot peppers hot. It’s also the active ingredient in pepper spray, which is essentially what bear spray is. There are also carrier liquids and propellants that aren’t active ingredients but help force the capsaicin out of the canister and help it form a cloud between you and the bear.

  • Can you take bear spray on a plane?

    TSA is pretty clear on this one: no. Luckily, there aren’t many scenarios where you would need to fly with bear spray. Most places that have heavy bear populations will have plenty of bear spray for you to buy when you arrive.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Amber Nolan has more than a decade of experience researching, testing, and writing about products. She's written for TripSavvy for more than five years. She spent hours researching the best bear sprays based on customer reviews and interviewed different outdoor experts to narrow down the best bear sprays currently available.

Article Sources
TripSavvy uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Bear Spray vs Bullets. Which Offers Better Protection? U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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