4 Best Bear Sprays for 2022

We tested the best bear sprays for 2022 and this is how they performed.

Updated on November 22nd, 2022
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There are few things more rewarding than spotting a bear in the wild, as long as it's from afar. Although technically not aggressive animals, bears tend to be unpredictable when they feel threatened. That's why you don't want to find yourself too close to one, especially if the bear has cubs or is foraging for food. But if you do and the bear decides to attack, bear spray (aka bear mace) will act as an effective deterrent to protect yourself and your belongings.

We tested the best bear spray on the market for 2022. Read on to see how they performed, which one is best for you, and get some buying advice.

Best Bear Sprays

The best bear sprays are:

MODEL Volume Duration Concentration Distance Holster PRICE Score
1. Counter Assault 8.1 oz 7 seconds 2% 32 ft Y $62.95 9/10
2. UDAP 7.9 oz 4 seconds 2% 30 ft Y $44.99 9/10
3. Frontiersman 9.2 oz 5 seconds 2% 35 ft Y $49.99 9/10
4. Guard Alaska 9 oz 9 seconds 1.34% 20 ft Y $52.49 8/10

Best Overall Bear Spray:

COUNTER ASSAULT

Price: $62.95

See on REI See on AMAZON
best bear spray counter assault

PROS:

✅ Lightweight

✅ Spray distance

✅ Spray duration

CONS:

❌ Expensive

KEY SPECS

  • Volume: 8.1 oz
  • Duration: 7 seconds
  • Concentration: 2%
  • Distance: 32 ft
  • Holster: Yes

Counter Assault was the first bear spray to receive EPA approval, and it’s a long-standing favorite in the hiking community. We found this bear spray to be the best-balanced bear mace on our list. It rates the second highest in weight, spray distance, and spray duration. It sprays slightly slower than the competitors to deliver a dispersed cloud giving you ample coverage to get away.

We loved the bright red can and glow-in-the-dark safety that makes it easy to find in all conditions. It ships with a nylon holster with a belt loop too. The biggest drawback to Counter Assault is the price tag. It’s the most expensive bear spray on our list.


Best Budget Bear Spray:

UDAP

Price: $44.99

See on AMAZON
best bear spray udap

PROS:

✅ Inexpensive

✅ Lightweight

CONS:

❌ Short spray duration

KEY SPECS

  • Volume: 7.9 oz
  • Duration: 4 seconds
  • Concentration: 2%
  • Distance: 30 ft
  • Holster: Yes

Similar to Frontiersman, the UDAP bear spray delivers a short, but powerful burst of 2% pepper spray when you fire. We love that it’s the lightest and least expensive bear spray on our list, which makes it our top budget pick. The spray distance of 30 feet is good, but not great.

We don’t like that the can empties in only 4 seconds. Just enough time to blast a bear once or twice before running out. If you want maximum protection we recommend going with an option that gives you more spray time. The UDAP ships with a camo hip holster.


Best Long Range Bear Spray:

FRONTIERSMAN

Price: $49.99

See on AMAZON See on WALMART
best bear spray frontiersman

PROS:

✅ Long spray distance

✅ Inexpensive

CONS:

❌ Heavy

❌ Shorter spray duration

KEY SPECS

  • Volume: 9.2 oz
  • Duration: 5 seconds
  • Concentration: 2%
  • Distance: 35 ft
  • Holster: Yes

Frontiersman delivers a wicked blast of 2% pepper spray right when you need it. We are impressed with the 35-foot spray distance, the longest on our list. Price wise the Frontiersman is on the affordable end of bear sprays. We found the 5-second spray duration to be the second shortest of the products we tested. At 9.2 ounces it’s also the heaviest bear mace we tested.

We loved the glow-in-the-dark trigger making it easy to find at night. It is made by Sabre, one of the top self-defense pepper spray brands. It can be purchased with a belt, chest holster, and a practice spray.


The Other Noteworthy Models

GUARD ALASKA

Price: $52.49

See on AMAZON
best bear spray guard alaska

PROS:

✅ Long spray duration

CONS:

❌ Low spray concentration

❌ Short spray distance

KEY SPECS

  • Volume: 9 oz
  • Duration: 9 seconds
  • Concentration: 1.34%
  • Distance: 20 ft
  • Holster: Yes

Guard Alaska is the only EPA-approved bear spray effective against all bear species. We found the 9-second spray duration the longest of the bear sprays on our list.

The 1.34% total capsaicinoid formula and 20-feet spray distance are the lowest on our list. This would make us think twice about buying this spray unless we thought we needed the most spray duration possible. For example, on an extended trip or area of heavy bear activity when multiple uses might be needed. It includes a holster.


Key Factors To Consider When Choosing

PRICE

Factors that affect price are the amount of spray in a can, the concentration of the spray, and the spray distance. The more of each of these you have the more premium the spray.

Bear sprays that provide the greatest value:

Affordable bear sprays:

Premium bear sprays (most expensive):

WEIGHT

Consider how much your canister weighs in relation to the quantity of spray provided. The EPA requires that all bear sprays have at least 7.9 ounces of spray to be effective. More canister weight generally means longer spray times.

The lightest bear sprays:

SPRAY DURATION

This is the amount of time you can continuously spray a blast. Look for sprays that last at least 4 seconds or more. The longer spray duration will give you more room for error and could potentially save your life.

Bear sprays with the longest spray duration:

SPRAY DISTANCE

Bear spray should spray in a cloud/cone pattern and have an absolute minimum range of 16 feet, 25+ feet is preferred. The longer, the better. Some products can spray up to 35 feet giving you an additional distance to deter a bear.

Bear sprays with the longest spray distance:


Other Things to Consider

Formula

The maximum bear spray strength allowed by the EPA is 2% capsaicin and related capsaicinoids (CRC). The higher the CRC percentage, the stronger the spray. Look for the strongest spray you can find.

Ease of Use

Bears can run up to 28 miles an hour. Bear spray needs to be easily accessible. It won't help buried deep inside your backpack. Look for sprays that come with a fast-drawing belt clip or chest holster in case a bear pops up when you least expect it. If you aren't carrying trekking poles, you can also hold it in your hand, although this becomes tiring on a long hike.

how to use bear spray illustration

FAQs

What bear spray works best?

The bear spray that works best is one with a 2% concentration of CRC. Of the products we tested, we found the Counter Assault bear spray works the best.


What bear spray shoots the farthest?

The bear spray that shoots the farthest is the Guard Alaska bear spray.


Is bear spray stronger than pepper spray?

Yes, it is. Bear spray is up to 3 times stronger than pepper spray.


Related:
See Best Bear Canisters and Bear Scat Identification Guide.

Justin Sprecher photo

About Justin Sprecher

By Justin Sprecher (aka "Semisweet"): Semisweet is a Wisconsin-based thru-hiker, adventurer and digital storyteller.

He's thru-hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail, LASHed the Great Divide Trail and Arizona Trail, and sectioned hiked large parts of the Continental Divide Trail, amongst others.

About Greenbelly

After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Chris also wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail.

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