It’s a beautiful day, and you are hiking down a scenic trail. Or, maybe you are stealthily moving through the woods as you are stalking game on your hunt. *crackle*. You turn around and see a startled bear [or: mountain lion, elk, coyote] no more than 40 or 50 feet away. As the confused, and intimated predator begins to charge, you pull out your trusty bear spray, completely overwhelming and disarming the bear’s senses, allowing you to escape without a scratch.

This is a scenario that is extremely more common than you might think.

A pleasurable hike, or exciting hunting trip, can turn from serene to pure horror without a moment’s notice. It can also turn into a life or death situation if you are not prepared. Bear spray is proven to be one of the best self-defense and non-lethal weapons that you can have at your disposal to deter a vicious bear attack. This is why I am so passionate about why ALL hunters and hikers should carry bear spray, especially if you are entering bear country. Isn’t your life worth 40 or 50 dollars?

In a rush for time? Click here to find out what our #1 pick is for the BEST bear spray!

Rank on ListImageNamePriceCheck Price and Reviews
#5UDAP 12HP Bear Spray (7.9 oz)$
#4Frontiersman Bear Spray 7.9 oz$
#3Counter Assault Bear Deterrent (10.2 oz)$
#2UDAP 18HP Super Magnum Bear Spray (13.4 Ounces)$$
#1 **EDITOR'S CHOICE** Frontiersman Bear Spray (9.2 oz)$$

In this buyer guide, I will look to help break down not only what are the best bear sprays available today, but what makes a quality bear spray, what you should look for and really, why it could help save your life.


UDAP 12HP Bear Spray (7.9 oz)

For our full review of the UDAP Bear Spray, please continue down the list.


  • Equipped with 2% CRC (max legally allowed in any bear spray)
  • Reaches a 30 foot range
  • Constructed with a glow-in-the-dark safety clip (night-time visibility)
  • Canister is filled with 7.9 ounces of spray
  • Includes a 32 page booklet on bear safety tips

Although the UDAP 12HP bear spray clocks in at #5 on our list, it does not mean that this is not an effective bear deterrent. On the contrary, it is one of the best available.

Everyone will have different needs, and so your usage of bear spray might be different than our own. The prime difference between this model, and our higher ranked UDAP bear spray is that this comes in a smaller concentration (7.9 ounces). The sheer effectiveness is the same with ingredients of 2% CRC (ordinary pepper spray will feel like a small nuisance in comparison).

This bear spray will help to deter any wild animal from charging at you and entering this fog of spray. It is only #5 on our list because this model only offers a range of 30 feet. While that still is a serviceable range (and larger than most sprays provide), with the tenseness of a bear encounter, every foot counts (adding precious seconds).

In a vacuum, this is a bear spray that can save your life. In comparison to UDAP’s larger canister, and several alternative brands, there are options that offer more bang for your buck.


  • Economical price
  • Lightweight
  • Night time visibility with the glow in the dark safety
  • Strong spray with 2% CRC


  • One of the smaller sized cans on this list at only 7.9 ounces
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon


Frontiersman Bear Spray 7.9 oz

Sabre is one of the most trusted brands of bear spray. So for good reason, you will notice they are on our list twice.


  • Range of 30 feet / 9 meters
  • Disperses at a rate of 45 grams per second
  • Made with 2% capsaicinoids
  • Contains 7.9 ounces of spray
  • Includes chest or belt holster

For our full review, please continue down the list. But, we are including this model on our top 5 list because not everyone will need the larger-sized canister (which also offers a wider reach) from Sabre.

The Frontiersman is one powerful bear spray. It is made with the max-allowed 2% capsaicinoids which will help to halt any bear in its tracks, and has a good radius of 30 feet to help you keep your distance.

This bear spray is not only effective, but inexpensive as well. The one thing to keep in consideration is the size of the spray that you are looking for. Are you hiking solo? Or, are you with a group of hunters/hikers who all have their own spray?


  • Very effective
  • Good Range
  • Inexpensive


  • Canister size is on the smaller end


If you’re faced with an angry bear, Frontiersman bear spray is one of the best options available.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon


Counter Assault Bear Deterrent (10.2 oz)

When you mention bear deterrent to any experienced hikers, hunters, or even park rangers and guides, the first brand most will think of is Counter Assault.


  • Range of 32 feet
  • Duration of about 9.2 seconds of spray
  • Includes 10.2 ounces of spray
  • Constructed with 2% capsaicin, max strength allowed
  • Equipped with a glow in the dark safety to ensure visibility at night
  • Paired with a nylon holster and belt loop

There is good reason why Counter Assault is one of the most respected brands when it comes to bear spray. Their product is a mix between being extremely reliable, incredibly effective, and an economical option.

Those are three very important characteristics when it comes to something such as bear spray. (1) Reliability is of the upmost importance. If the canister does not work as intended, the person using the spray can be put into a very dire circumstance. Bear spray is not a weapon that cannot malfunction as it can have grave consequences. So, reliability is of the upmost importance for this type of product.

(2) Effective. Counter Assault has concocted a bear spray that is more reliable for most people than a firearm will be. The spray can cover a long range of 32 feet in distance, and issues about 9.2 seconds of spray with 10.2 ounces of bear spray. Counter Assault has constructed it with 2% capsaicin, which is the max concentration allowed by the EPA. Not only is it powerful stuff, but it is easy to use, and wins points with us because of its easy access on your belt and glow in the dark safety.

(3) Economical option. You won’t have to break the bank to buy a reliable spray.


  • Very powerful
  • Extremely reasonable pricing
  • Sufficient content size
  • Glow-in-the-dark safety


  • Large canister


Even if you’ll never have to use it (hopefully), it is always best to be prepared. Carrying this spray will give you peace of mind and a sense of security knowing that if you do ever need it, it will deter just about any large mammal from attacking. This is a very potent and strong spray. Use with caution and careful aim.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon


UDAP 18HP Super Magnum Bear Spray (13.4 Ounces)

UDAP is a well trusted and respected brand when it comes to bear spray.


  • Constructed with long-distance range of 35 feet
  • Industrial strength bear spray with 2% CRC perfect for bears or mountain lions
  • Large container of 13.4 ounces of spray
  • Provides 7 seconds of spray length
  • Packaged with a basic holster
  • Includes 32 page UDAP bear safety tips booklet

This bear repellent is made with the maximum, 2% CRC composition that is legally allowed for max-strength. This is the largest canister on this list with 13.4 ounces, just under a pound of spray. The UDAP Super Mangum Bear Spray shoots in a concentrated dense fog as opposed to just a fog of spray. As a result, it has the ability to not only go further in distance, but it deploys in a way to cover broader areas quicker, where seconds are precious between life and death.

Ultimately, this spray is a great extra-line of defense to protect you in the outdoors. It simply does what it is supposed to do: deter bears, and vicious wild animals. It is so strong that it will even work on wild hostile dogs if you want to carry it with you while hiking or taking walks. This spray comes with a holster for convenient access.


With only a second’s notice, I would trust this bear spray more than a firearm as it would be much quicker to grab, shot and spray, without any worry of being pin-point precise. This spray goes not only everywhere, but extended range as well.

The one downside is that it is a large canister. SO, if you only want a small bottle to equip yourself with, alternative options are available.


  • Reaches 35 feet for long-distance spray range
  • Constructed with 2% CRC
  • Includes a very nice bear safety booklet
  • Largest content-size on this list (13.9 ounces)


  • Large bottle
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon


Frontiersman Bear Spray (9.2 oz)

Without a doubt, this Frontiersman Bear Spray (9.2 oz) by Sabre tops our list as one of the best, most effective bear sprays that you can buy. And, considering how effective and strong it is, the price truly is a steal for the type of value and safety it can bring you while on the trails, or while hunting.


  • Includes bear spray canister
  • Equipped with belt or chest holster depending on your preference
  • Tested and guaranteed performance by their in-house lab
  • Created with incredible strength
  • Reaches 35 feet in distance
  • Filled with 9.2 ounces of spray
  • Constructed with a glow-in-the-dark safety so it is always visible
  • Field-tested by Elmendorf Air Base and Brown Bear Resources
  • High emission system releases at 1.84 ounces per second 

If you were to come face-to-face with a bear, self-preservation is a quick thought. To increase your own chance of survival and minimizing chance for any harm, the further distance that you can keep from the bear, the better. What I really like about this model of the Frontiersman Bear Spray is its extended range. It can reach up to 35 feet and shoots in bursts of about 5 seconds. In terms of bear spray, that is some of the longest distance available of any brand.

Even 35 feet might not sound like a lot as a bear is charging at you at 40MPH, but that only helps to put into perspective the strength of this spray. The further away the spray can reach, the quicker it can deter a bear from advancing onwards into your immediate vicinity.

Not only did Frontiersman equip this spray with a great radius, but, it’s incredibly powerful as well. Its ingredients include 2% capsaicinoids, which means that this bear spray is one of the strongest sprays on the market. This is the type of spray that will not only stop almost any type of bear, but serve effectively against other wildlife such as a coyote or mountain lion racing at you.

Now, bear spray is only effective if it’s readily available if you are ever in a sudden situation that you encounter a charging bear. It can easily holster on your belt or chest, depending on your preference so it’s always within arm’s reach.

This is not a product that you want to ever use, but if the time ever arises, you want the best available, and Sabre has built a strong brand for being very reliable.


  • Large radius to reach up to 35 feet away
  • Includes 2% capsaicinoids for max strength
  • Economically priced
  • Factory tested before shipped
  • Decent size canister (9.2 ounces)
  • Less expensive than buying in-store or at a camp-site.


  • While 9.2 ounces is enough for a few sprays, it may not be enough for you for multiple trips and expeditions. The alternative is a bear spray that has a larger content size (such as 13 ounces).


While not the cheapest bear spray on this list, I would say that there is little argument that is isn’t one of the best. If you have ran out of bear spray, or not sure which brand to go with, this would be our editor’s recommendation because of its range, strength, price point and accessibility.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Buyer’s Guide – Bear Spray Could Just Save Your Life

First and foremost. IF you can avoid an encounter with ol’ Smokey the Bear, the better off you will be. Of course, that is not always possible considering how unpredictable wild life and Mother Nature can be. So, if you can’t help that situation from unfolding, then you need to at least respect nature and be prepared for all situations.

Whether that is preparing for bears, mountain lions, elk, coyotes or any other large animal that could potentially be a threat to your own well-being.

What’s You Best Self-Defense Tool in Bear County?

What’s your most effective option? It’s indisputably bear spray. It’s your last line of defense. Bear spray is essentially industrial strength mace, which is a quick self-defense tool when you have a split-second should you startle a bear and want to stop a defensive charge.

Look, we are hunters and can be the first to admit that a rifle is not the only that you need while hunting or hiking in the outdoors. If you miss your shot or aren’t able to react swiftly enough, a rifle is not always the best tool in a bear encounter. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bear spray offers humans the best protection.

Nothing is perfect, but it gives you the best chance for survival as compared to having nothing but a knife or a horn.

What the Experts Say

You’ll often hear experts advise that in bear country, you need to warn bears of your presence. This is not always possible. Sometimes you can’t help but have to be quiet and stealthy if you are hunting game. Warning bears of your presence also alerts every deer near-by of your existence as well, defeating the entire purpose of hunting game.

This creates a dilemma because now you have the opportunity of not only sneaking up on a buck, but also a grizzly.

Obviously, you should try to not plan encounters with bears. In situations when you can make yourself heard, the better. Avoid having scented food on you.

I Wasn’t Always a Believer

I can admit that I was not always a believer of bear spray. But it works. And as experts claim, it is significantly more effective than almost any other tool for fending off bears as self-defense (including a gun). But. Bear spray is by no means expensive, and after hearing horror stories that others have endured, I have decided to always carry bear spray. It surprises me how many would rather find the cheapest cans possible, or forgo spray all together, when it is a nominal price to ‘bear’.

When I first was recommended bear spray, and started diving in, I was surprised to find how effective it is in deterring aggressive bear attacks. When you think of a spray, you might think of bug spray to repel pesky insects, or even pepper spray which causes temporary burning in humans. Bear spray is that but massively amplified.

How Does It Work Exactly?

Bear spray is similar to pepper spray, but stronger. When pressing the clip, the canister sprays atomized capsaicin from the aerosol can. In doing so, it radiates a strong cloud of chemicals (similar to ingredients of spicy peppers), which completely disorients a bear’s senses (ability to smell, breathe, and hear) from pursuing you. Depending on the bear spray that you have, they can reach different distances.

What does it do to a bear?

“Completely disorients a bear’s senses”. What does that mean?

  • It cases a bear’s nose, eyes and lungs to experience temporary blindness, while also inhibiting the bear’s ability to breathe easily.
  • Similar to the effects that pepper spray has on humans. Disrupts the bear’s path, allowing you to escape and de-escalate the situation.
  • This type of spray has the most immediate effect on a bear as it disturbs their visibility. If they can’t see or smell you, they can’t give chase.

I’m a Hunter. Why Can’t I Just Use My Rifle?

The common “gun vs bear spray” argument.

If you have ever seen the movie The Revenant, then you have visually witnessed why a rifle isn’t always effective against a bear, even from an experienced hunter. You have to not only be a ‘good shot’, but able to do so under even the tensest of situations. If a bear is charging at you, and you are wielding your rifle, you would need to not only remain calm, but ensure that each bullet is not wasted or misfired.

Bears can be extremely aggressive, particularly if protecting their cubs. Even if a bear is shot, it doesn’t mean it will stop in its tracks and retreat. If it’s a non-fatal shot, you might only enrage the bear more.

  • Unlike with a rifle, bear spray is a self-defense weapon that anyone can use, not just skilled hunters with nerves of steel
  • Rifles can injure bears, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the bullet will be fatal. To stop a bear in its tracks, the shot should be fatal. Bear spray completely impairs the bear’s visibility.
  • Gun usage results in permanent damage and possibly fatal results for bears. Bear spray is a non-lethal alternative, and also proven to be more effective.
  • Lower caliber guns are not guaranteed to fend off a raging bear like bear mace

Ingredients – What’s In It?

Bear spray is very similar pepper spray. However, it differs in its potency and strength. The reason for this difference: bear spray uses capsaicin as one of its primary ingredients. Bear spray is created with a higher concentration of capsaicin based agents. This is important since it magnifies the spray’s effect on a bear’s senses compared to that of a humans’.

What Makes The Best Bear Spray?

There are several important things that you need to look for in bear spray: its ingredients, its range, spray duration, container size, and its expiration date.

  • To be effective in the wilderness, bear spray needs to pack a punch. It should have a concentration of about 2% capsaicin.
  • Range: About 30 feet. You want to be able to spray with enough distance before the bear is in your immediate vicinity and with-in arms reach. This will allow you more time to escape. The longer the range, the better with something like bear spray. The largest cloud of capsaicin you can create, the larger range you will be able to reach, and the safer you will be.
  • Duration: Some aerosol cans have different burst speeds and interval. Ideally, you want one that offers a longer continuous spray – such as five – seven seconds.
  • Container Size: You want at least 7.9 ounces (225 gram) to ensure that it has enough contents to make an effective spray. This ensures you have enough with-in the canister to be effective, and not just become a slight nuisance to the attacking bear. You also need to have enough in case of a second charge.
  • Back-up: In case one doesn’t work, or runs out, it can be life-saving to have two, or have multiple people in your hiking or hunting group to each have one.
  • Expiration: Bear spray will have an expiration date of 3 to 4 years after purchasing. Ensure that your bear spray is not expired, or expiring too soon.

Three Biggest Mistakes People Make with Bear Spray

  • (1) Their spray is not easily accessible on their person
  • (2) Misfire outside of the bear’s facial region
  • (3) Freezing in the moment and waiting too long to spray the bear

How Do You Use Bear Spray?

Having the proper gear is only half the battle. If you don’t know how to properly use your bear spray, it’s the equivalent of not having it.

The first thing that you will want to do is familiarize yourself with how to use the bear spray. Some companies even sell practice bear spray for this reason. You will want to practice removing the safety to make sure you know how to properly wield it.

If you do come face-to-face with a bear, you want to spray it when the bear is about 25 – 30 feet away or closer. The wider distance, the better. The spray can take a few seconds to take effect and register in the bear’s respiratory system.

Be mindful of any wind, and adjust as needed. If it is a heavily windy day and being blown away, aim at the bear’s head and nose so it makes a more immediate impact. Some will recommend aiming low just so that you don’t spray over the bear’s head.

When spraying, the goal is to create a wall around you to deter the bear from attacking. To do so, you may need to spray for at least 5 or 6 seconds to create a large enough cloud. If there are multiple bears, you will need more spray.

The one thing to keep in mind. Try to be conscious of how much you are using. If you need more in case there is a second charge, you don’t want to empty your only can. After spraying, leave the area as quickly as possible, and be alert for second charges.

Factor in Accessibility

Bear spray is only going to be useful for you IF it is accessible to you in the heat of the moment. If it is off of your person and sitting in your bag when a bear suddenly approaches, you shave off critical seconds that you have to react.

It is recommended to have your bear mace attached to your backpack strap or even holstered on your belt or chest. Something as small as clipping your bear spray to you can be life-saving.

Until you are in the moment, it is hard to understand the stakes and tenseness of the situation. Not only having bear spray, but having it readily near-by and within arm’s reach could save your life.


Bear spray isn’t cheap, but at the same time, it’s also not expensive. My recommendation is to find a spray that is about 9 – 13 ounces, and to even arm yourself with two.

Of all the type of hiking and hunting gear that is out there, few are as essential as bear spray. While most are nice-to-have, and add to convenience, this is a ‘bear’ essential.

Is your life worth 40 or 50 dollars? I personally wouldn’t venture into bear country without it. Especially not in 2019.

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