If you’ve been hiking out in Canada, you will have heard of bear spray. The reason it is getting more and more common is because it is the most effective way to stop a bear attack that is not lethal or harmful to the bear.
Bear spray is to be used as your last line of defense. It should only be used against a bear that is aggressive or approaching you in a threatening way. We are visiting their home when we camp or hike- it is our responsibility to try and prevent bear encounters! We can do this by making lots of noise on the trail, keeping a bear proof campsite.
How to Use Bear Spray: Step by Step
- Take the spray from your holster and aim towards advancing bear.
- Slip off the safety tab, and position your finger on the trigger.
- Aim at the eyes and face of the bear, and squeeze trigger.
- Let out a 3s blast into the face of the bear. Try not to use the whole can at once.
- If bear continues to approach, empty the can at the bear.
- Get the hell out of there- avoid running but move as quickly as you can.
Other Quick Tips
- In a situation with a bear, you will likely feel panicked. It is helpful to practice using your spray before a trip. This way you will feel more confident if you need to use it.
- Try to consider the wind when aiming your spray. You won’t always have a choice in the matter, but you’d definitely want to avoid it all spraying back.
- When pressing down on the trigger, shield your face. Even if the wind is favouring you, some particles could blow back into your face.
What Not To Do With Bear Spray
Bear spray is not like bug spray. You should not spray it on a human- this will do you way more harm than good! Similarly, you should not use the spray on your tent and sleeping area. It has been shown that bears can actually be attracted to campsites by this. In addition, particles of the bear spray could get through your tent and make your overnight rather uncomfortable. Bear spray is also explosive and flammable. It should be kept out of the way of open flames (aka, keep it away from the campfire!!).
In addition, check the expiry date on your bear spray. It will lose its effectiveness if it is past the date. However expired bear spray= great way to practice using it! Make sure if you are practicing with it that you are away from other people, and practicing in a safe environment.
Where to Buy Bear Spray
Bear spray can be purchased online, or at most outdoor outfitters. Most come with a holster, and instructions on how to use it. You can purchase some here. It is actually less expensive on Amazon than it is in most stores (you’ll save about 10 dollars). By the way, if you do buy the product, I will gain a small commission. But I definitely advocate for bear spray- I never leave for a hike without it.
Grab your Bear Safety Cheat Sheet by entering your email below. The cheat sheet includes the step by step process for using bear spray, a checklist to bear proof your campsite, and two methods for tying a bear bag.
Do you have any other suggestions for using bear spray? Any experiences where you needed to use it? Comment below!
The featured photo was taken by Teresa Chang, who kindly gave me permission to use it on the blog!
Check out some other ways to stay bear safe: