Choosing the Best Bear Spray. How Does Bear Spray Work?

Last Updated on July 10, 2022 by Ecorf

When you go out hiking or backpacking in the wilderness, you would not expect to come face to face with bears or other attacking animals. However, when you are in the jungle, you are in the territory of different animals so you should be prepared to encounter them in one way or the other. 

To prevent the bears from attacking you, then you can choose bear spray which is effective in case of a sudden attack. When you plan your next trip, you should do the following things: “get the best bear spray, how does bear spray work?” It is essential to know how the spray works hence this guide provides such details. It also sheds light on how you can choose the best bear spray.    

How Does Bear Spray Work?

Bear spray is also known as bear deterrent or repellent and it is a self-defense product that is designed against bears. The product consists of non-fatal chili pepper which irritates the nose, eyes, skin, throat, and lungs which play a part in temporarily restricting the bear’s sensory and respiratory system. 

This would give the would-be victim a chance to get out of the danger zone while the bear is under the influence of the spray. Experts also refer to bear sprays as “lachrymatory agents” which are substances responsible for stimulating corneal nerves thereby causing temporary blindness and tearing. 

The Lachrymators also cause inflammation of the mucous membrane tissues which compromise the bear’s breathing and smelling functions. The spray affects grizzly bears, black bears, and even polar bears. The bear spray is a good defense mechanism against bears though it does not offer foolproof protection so be ready to quickly get out of the danger zone. 

Depending on how accurate you use the spray, you can also use it on other animals apart from bears. However, you must know that some animals stalk their targets so you must be careful when you use bear spray on them. There is no scientific data to prove the effectiveness of bear spray on non-mammals like snakes so you need to be careful about how you use bear spray.   

The spray can also affect humans if you spray it directly on the victim. You must be in the right position to create a cloud of spray between you and the attacker to be safe from danger. You should always be careful to avoid accidentally discharging the spray. However, you cannot use bear spray as mosquito repellent or on your clothes.   

Now that you know how the bear spray works, you should also be in a position to choose the best spray when you go for your next trip. The following are some of the factors and tips that you can consider to get the best product that can protect you against marauding bears in the jungle. 

How to Choose the Best Bear Spray?

There are different types of bear spray so you can also use various steps to choose the best bear spray. Some of the factors that you can consider are outlined in detail below. 

Positioning and Holsters

Many new hikers often make the mistake of packing the bear spray away in their bags. In case of an unprecedented encounter with the bear, you cannot negotiate with it while you pull out your spray to defend yourself. It is critical to have your spray in a position that you can readily access it. 


A holster is the best place for your bear spray just like other items meant for self-defense. You must get a good holster with the following features. 

  • Durable
  • Easy accessibility and release in emergency situations.
  • Different attachment options

A good holster can be attached to your belt, chest strap or any other ideal position where you can quickly access it. You must also ensure that the holster is strong such that it can securely hold the bear spray while you are out on the trail. 

Spray Distance and Time

The other important thing to consider is the spray distance. High-quality bear sprays usually have a minimum range of about 20 feet which gives you the opportunity to target the bear from a safe distance. Factors such as level of accuracy and wind, however, affect the final performance of the bear spray.

The spray time is determined by the amount of pressurized fluid each canister carries. Sprays with more fluid can give you more time but most sprays give you a performance period of between three and five seconds. 


The performance period is not very long as other individuals would want it to be, so make sure that you do not miss the charging target. Consider replacing the bear spray after a single use to ensure that you are safe in the future. You might be tempted to reuse the canister only to be shocked to discover that it is near empty when danger is staring at you.   


When buying any product, you must be careful to consider its size in relation to capacity. The largest bear spray can that you can get from the market is less than one pound. There are also other smaller cans that you can use as a backup so make sure that you get bear spray with reasonable price unless the product comes with other extras. 


It is also crucial to check the expiry dates of the bear spray cans so that you avoid wasting money on products that you may not use. The shelf life of a bear spray is about four years and this can also depend on the brand. The other important thing is that you should not use the spray when it is past its expiration date. 

Review of Best Bear Sprays

There are different types of bear sprays and the onus is on you to choose a product that you think can work best for you. The following are some of the products that you can consider.

Counter Assault Bear Deterrent

Counter Assault contains the 2.0 % MC formula which is the strongest and it also boasts of a longer spraying range of up to 40 feet. The canister is the largest in the market comprising of 10.2 ounces and it also has spray duration of 9.2 seconds. It also features a safety cap to prevent it from accidentally discharging. A belt holster also helps you to keep the spray in a position where you can quickly access it in case of an emergency. It also has a shelf life of 4 years.


  • Best spray time of 9.2 seconds
  • Large can of 10.2 ounces
  • Comes with holster
  • 2% MC strength
  • Longer spraying range of up to 40 feet


  • Holster may not be easy to strap

Choosing the Best Bear Spray. How Does Bear Spray Work?

UDAP Bear Spray

The spray consists of 2% CRC formula and it has a spraying range of 30 feet. It uses Pepper Power Fogger to spray large amounts of OC within a very short period on the subject. The glow in the dark feature helps to improve the safety of the canister so that it does not accidentally discharge in poor visibility. The feature also helps you to locate the canister when it is dark. The spray was developed by a survivor of a bear attack and it features a 32-page booklet for safety tips about the product. 


  • Maximum strength of 2% formula
  • 30 feet spraying distance
  • Glow in the dark feature for safety


  • Easily explodes when exposed to heat

Choosing the Best Bear Spray. How Does Bear Spray Work?

Bear Guard Alaska Bear Pepper

Guard Alaska’s Bear spray is effective in repealing all bear species and it is the only spray that is registered with EPA for that particular purpose. The spray is environmentally safe and scientifically proven superior. The big plus for this bear spray is its affordability


  • 15 to 20 feet spraying range
  • 9 ounces capacity
  • Comes with a nylon holster
  • Affordable


  • Though good, the spray range is limited

Choosing the Best Bear Spray. How Does Bear Spray Work?

Tornado Pepper Spray- Bear Spray

The canister gives you a spray range of 20 feet and it discharges the contents in a fog cloud pattern meaning that you do not concentrate more on aiming and hitting. It gives you 10 seconds of continuous spraying time and its performance is also good.


  • Fog and cloud spray pattern
  • 10 seconds spray time


  • Canister is small

Choosing the Best Bear Spray. How Does Bear Spray Work?

Frontiersman Bear Spray with Chest or Belt Holster

When you choose this bear spray, you also have the opportunity to choose between belt or chest holster. The spray covers a distance of more than 30 feet and it is reliable to use. It creates a full barrier that can encompass the advancing bear by delivering 45 grams of spray per second. 


  • 30 feet range
  • Belt or chest holster
  • Maximum 2 % capsaicin content

Choosing the Best Bear Spray. How Does Bear Spray Work?


When you are backpacking or hiking in the jungle, you are prone to attacks by bears. To ensure your safety, you can get a bear spray which helps to keep bears at bay in case of unprecedented attacks. Also known as bear deterrent or repellent, bear spray is a self-defense product that can protect you against bears. 

The product works by irritating the attacker’s senses of sight and smell by causing temporary disorientation which gives the victim a chance to get off. To get the best product, you should consider factors like spray range, strength, expiry as well as distance among others. From the products reviewed above, Counter Assault Bear Deterrent is the best since it has the longest spaying range, comes with a holster, best spray time of 9.2 seconds and 2 % MC strength.