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Does bear spray work with black bears and what brand?
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C. M.
(cmanco) - F

Locale: Mid-atlantic
Does bear spray work with black bears and what brand? on 02/20/2009 20:46:21 MST Print View

I've been reading a lot about protection from black bears and how they hardly ever attack humans, but I still want to have a way to defend myself in the rare scenario that I run into an aggressive black bear. I read on a most on here that black bears are not affected by bear spray; however, this could not be confirmed by anyone. Does anyone know it does? Also, what brand is the best?

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Bear spray on 02/20/2009 20:54:16 MST Print View

There are some that will disagree with me but the statistics support bear spray as a very effective deterrent.
After much research and comparisons, I recommend Counter Assault.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Does bear spray work with black bears and what brand?" on 02/20/2009 21:02:49 MST Print View

Clay, the best protection is a good dog. I have had a run in with a pizzed off black bear I can tell you it scared the hell out of me. I was wearing snow shoes and it was not a good situation. As far as mace goes I doubt you will have time to draw it as most black bears will run if you startle them from a distance the real danger is if you accidentally stumble up on them. I have studied self defense for years and we did a drill where we would get maced then attacked. While mace sucks I can tell you that even with a full blast to the face it only made me more aware of the situation and highly pizzed off. If you really want to pizz off a bear then mace him but dont think it will protect you. I always laugh when I see guys on the trail with mace. A bear bell is much more effective. Beware many people here will give you good advise but many will quote crap they have read on the internet that is totally bogus. Bears are typically far more afraid of you than you are of them. As far as you go a good bit of fear keeps it real. Ali

Tim Marshall
(MarshLaw303) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: "Does bear spray work with black bears and what brand?" on 02/20/2009 21:12:55 MST Print View

A dog is bear bait not deterrent. Seriously, i have heard stories of hikers injured as a bear chased down their dogs. I have used posturing and rocks to chase bears off in the past. In fact i have even chased after one and that sure gave it a start. However, this may not be the best answer all of the time. Don't think of climbing a tree either as the one i chased ran up a tree faster than anything i have ever seen.

I have carried the spray and the only thing that ever got hit was me.


Thomas Conly
(conly) - F

Locale: Lots of canoeing and snow
Bear Spray and Black Bears on 02/20/2009 21:58:22 MST Print View

I work in an outdoors store where we sell bear spray and yes, it does work on black bears. It is concentrated pepper spray that will work on anything that breathes air basically. In fact, because black bears are generally smaller than grizzlies it works better on them.
As far as brand, I'm not really sure. The stuff we sell is 1% capsaicin so look for that. As for using a dog, the stats I've seen at work suggest that a dog is just as likely to see a bear, make it mad, then run back to you for protection with bear in tow.
One other thing to note is that the mace that would be used on humans is NOT the same thing as bear spray. Mace is (I think) .25% capsaicin and the cans hold much much less than bear spray. Bear spray is under so much pressure that the recoil when fired is similar to a handgun. It's enough to drop a charging grizzly to it's knees so it can't get back up. Bear spray is strong enough that it can actually be lethal to anyone with a respiratory issue like asthma.
Generally there are two sizes you can get. I really recommend the bigger size. We don't even sell the smaller size because if you don't get a good clean shot we don't feel the small can will be effective.
Don't use bear bells. Again, the stats are iffy but there's no real evidence that they deter bears but there is some speculation that they attract cougars. The bells are also too quiet to be heard. I've walked up to people before and didn't even realize they had a bear bell until I had already seen them anyway. It's much safer to yell out "hey bear bear" regularly. Human voices are the only distinctly human sound we make and it's the only real way to let a bear know who you are.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Does bear spray work with black bears and what brand?" on 02/20/2009 22:05:37 MST Print View

I dont have any stories or statistics just real experience. Either way I wouldnt worry too much about bears. DO what makes you feel safe. I always wear my seatbelt when I fly and I have life jackets on my boat. Ali

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Here we go again............. on 02/20/2009 22:09:33 MST Print View

Statistically, dogs present more of a problem than a help.
They will bring a bear back to their owner....
Please, do intelligent research. See what bear EXPERTS use for deterrents.
Most of what you get here will be anecdotal information and much of it sadly bogus.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Re: "Does bear spray work with black bears and what brand?" on 02/20/2009 22:15:27 MST Print View

A lady who lives in the High Sierras and who works in SEKI told me mountain lions are not afraid of one dog but are fearful of two dogs. She owned two dogs. I wonder if the same is true for bears.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Bear Spray and Black Bears on 02/20/2009 22:18:08 MST Print View

Don't use bear bells. Again, the stats are iffy but there's no real evidence that they deter bears but there is some speculation that they attract cougars.

Awesome! I've never seen a cougar. Next time I'm out I will put a bunch of bear bells on in the hope of spotting one.

Seriously, how many hikers have been mauled by a cougar? =-)

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: bear spray...cougars on 02/20/2009 22:21:50 MST Print View

Around here a few have been mauled by cougars (with at least one death), most were children or lone hikers.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Does bear spray work with black bears and what brand?" on 02/20/2009 22:24:07 MST Print View

What if I put a bear bell on my dog? Maybe a Tazer, would that work? Ok JK --Fear based selling Is my term of the day. My question is has anyone here ever actually used mace on a bear? BTW my 40lb Brittany that is afraid of a one pound kitten has tree'd more than one bear. I have seen her turn into a 600 lb killing machine when confronted with a bear charging me. A lion on the other hand I think would take her out in a second. So she protects me from bears and I would if it came to it protect her from a lion. I hope that day never comes. Ali

Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Bear Spray on 02/20/2009 22:51:03 MST Print View

the comment ... "Bear spray is under so much pressure that the recoil when fired is similar to a handgun." is a bit far fetched, or written by someone who has never shot a hand gun. Bear Spray, even in the large can sold to tourists here in Alaska, isn't a bone cruncher when discharged. It is effective and will stop a bear if presented directly in its face.

A number of years ago I was part of a kayak expedition to Baffin Island that had a German Shepherd along as a bear dog. Aside from the logistical problem of having it in someone's cockpit during the day, the dog did well announcing the arrival of the daily polar bear. It had been performing this function for a number of years and was not one to come running back to camp with the bear on its heels. I'm not sure how our hiking friend's Cairn Terrier would stand up to that test, and hope never to find out.

Still the Cairn is a fighter... seen here being convinced not to go down into a land otter den, though to her nose it smelled so good.
Tim and Maes

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Does bear spray work with black bears and what brand? on 02/20/2009 23:20:44 MST Print View

Clay, don't waste your money or extra weight. Yes it might make you feel better, but WHERE are you going to carry it. IT HAS TO BE READILY ACCESSIBLE and unless your are a western gunslinger, if you need it, you will have to be that fast.
If a black bear is going to attack there has to be a very unique reason. I have never been able to get close to a black bear- they have all ran away when ever I have tried. Last summer I was fishing in a stream and after looking into my fly box I raised my head just as the most beautiful cinnamon black bear I have ever seen came up the bank about 30 feet away. My first thought was to slowly reach into my pocket and get my camera- then the other voice in my head (the one I don’t listen to very often) said- what would my wife say if I took that picture this close to the bear (I wouldn’t be allowed to fish alone, again). Well, I raised my hands above my head and told the beautiful thing to get out of there (very loud) and he turned away and left. Afterward I was really ticked because I had missed the chance for a great picture (but I can still fish alone).
I have had other encounters with grizzlies in the Alaskan bush, each one is a great story to tell the grandkids (when I get some), even then, I never carry anything. I am too busy doing what I’m doing to worry about that one in a million (or more) thing that might happen.
There are millions of people hiking in the woods and they don’t have a problem with bears. If you look at the list below, Bears aren’t even on it. I guess you should carry Hornet spray instead. You have a far greater chance to have a problem with a Bee or Wasp or Hornet then a bear accordingly to statistics. I wouldn’t suggest you take a dog either- you have a greater chance of being killed by the dog then any bear.
Animal Deaths 1991-2001

This was kind of fun to write, maybe next time I’ll tell the Grizzly stories.

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
I give up. on 02/20/2009 23:52:03 MST Print View

All I can say is research predator activity and risks in the area you plan to hike.
Research information on methods of AVOIDANCE and deterrence and PRACTICE it.
Don't be naive and get some poor bear killed because 'you know better than the average bear or hiker.'

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Bear Spray... on 02/21/2009 03:16:07 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/27/2015 15:01:27 MDT.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Bear Spray - Parks Canada on 02/21/2009 08:13:43 MST Print View

Having backpacked in the Canadian Rockies for many years the advice given by Parks Canada is more than sound. It is very unusual on any of my hikes to not see a bear or the recent reminants of one (footprints, scat, hair, etc).

Be bear aware and take spary as a last means of defence. Just check the expiry date ;)

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Chart on 02/21/2009 08:57:58 MST Print View

That is an interesting chart. I want to know what nonvenemous arthropod is taking out 6 people per year.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
death by nonvenomous arthropod... on 02/21/2009 10:09:40 MST Print View

mosquito? or maybe something eaten - bad shrimp?

David Bengoechea
(daveben) - F

Locale: Calgary, Canada
bear spray, dogs, etc on 02/21/2009 12:07:27 MST Print View

I love my dog and he loves going out for a hike. But I leave him at home now. DOGS = BEAR BAIT. End of story. Bear spray is a good deterrent, along with common sense.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
What was the OP looking for? on 02/21/2009 12:49:28 MST Print View

I think everyone has missed what the OP was looking for-
Yes he wanted to know what kind- but does he rally need it?
He lives and hikes in the middle Eastern States. Yes they have bears, but it is not like the Canadian Rockies.
I think the odds are so low of bears being a problem that if he were to try and carry something for every conceivable issue he would have a pack weight well over 50 lbs and bears would be way down on the list. A severe ankle sprain is far more likely, so should he carry an air boot splint? Or maybe a lighter splint? There are some, even on this board who carry a splint- add all the other possible problems that might come up and you have a boat load of STUFF. again, bear attacks would be way down that list.

As a side note I fish every year in an area that has the highest concentration of brown bear in the world. I'm flown in with 3 other guys and all we have is our fishing equipment and I carry my "hiking essentials" in case the plane is unable to land for the pick up. We meet a few bears everyday but have never had an issue nor have we ever heard of an issue. I did elect not to sleep out there in a tent over night though. In that area around salmon streams, after catching fish all day, in a tent with no protection in the fall is just stupid.