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Backpacker's Health & Safety The Backpacker's Health & Safety forum is for the discussion of health and safety/survival issues that directly relate to backpackers.

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Old 05-31-2006, 10:46 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Bear Spray

Please post any good information that you have on bear (pepper) spray... What is your experience with it? Do you carry a can with you in "bear country"?


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Old 06-05-2006, 03:09 PM
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pnwmist pnwmist is offline
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I've never had to use my bear spray, however I did have an encounter of the accidental or forgetful kind. I bought the kit that comes with the big can of grizzly spray (assault I think) and it came with a handheld can, a key chain size and an office size that looks like a regular ink pen. Well, I wasn't sure on the key chain size whether the safety was on or off. I assumed it was on, but needed to make sure. So I pressed ever so lightly until a fine mist sprayed out, then I knew the safety was off, so I put the safety on and left the bathroom off the master bedroom. About 5 minutes later I ran back in to get something and all of a sudden my eyes started burning and my throat was burning... Dummy me! Anyway, I discovered it works at least on humans so far.
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Old 06-26-2006, 02:50 PM
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Mataharihiker Mataharihiker is offline
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Bear Spray in Glacier National Park

I met about 35 members of the "Over-the-Hill-Gang" a few summers ago. These are local men who have been hiking the park every Thursday for over 30 years. They meet for breakfast in West Glacier before heading out in various groups for hikes that average 15 miles...and most of them are over 70 now...they hike where they want, often off-trails as they know the park better than almost any ranger. And each and every one of them carries bear spray on their belt. They told me that, while it may not keep them from being attacked by a grizzly it makes them feel better having the way, they have never had to use the spray.

I was lucky enough to get to spend the day with George Ostrum who is one of the original members of the OTHG. Luckily for flatland me, he had a colonstomy bag so couldn't hike his normal 20 miles...instead, he cut it down to 6. He had his 10 year old grandson with him and a friend of his who took most of the pictures in the 3 books he has had printed. Anyway, we each carried a can of bear spray. He led us off trail around Logan Pass...dug up a Glacier Lily so I could see why grizzlies, who had been digging up the ground earlier in the morning he said, loved them...they are very good, by the way...anyway, he also told me although the park claims 400 grizzlies the OTHG thinks the number is closer to 600...they get really irritated when rangers close trails due to bear activity...they said they often met bears on trails in the past...after all, it's their, if these experienced men will not hike with anyone not carrying bear spray you better believe that when I'm in Glacier there is a can on my belt....
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Old 10-11-2007, 09:16 AM
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Flack_Jacket Flack_Jacket is offline
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Bear Spray

Does anyone know of a good Bear Spray? Thanks!!
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Old 10-11-2007, 02:12 PM
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OregonBeerMan OregonBeerMan is offline
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In Yosemite they discourage people from using bear spray. I heard this on a PB Podcast episode from a Yosemite Ranger.

The reason was that people would end-up spraying themselves and additionally they felt bear attacks were more provoked by people mis-managing their equipment and food. They wanted people to be more responsible in the wilderness and not rely upon bear spray to deter a bear going after un-protected stuff.

Of course grizzly bears are totally different..

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Old 10-11-2007, 02:19 PM
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HighAltitude HighAltitude is offline
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So far I haven't ever carried any. It seems like the chances of something happening are very slim. Kind of like a shark attack. I never carried shark spray either while swimming in the ocean :-)

How effective are the bear sprays? What kind of testing have they gone through? Any real life, true stories of someone using bear spray to ward off a grizzly?

Last edited by HighAltitude : 10-11-2007 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 10-11-2007, 04:40 PM
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gizmo4223 gizmo4223 is offline
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I've considered taking it with me when I've gone up to Yosemite ... but for people, not bears (the bear thing is a bonus). I would carry it if I was heading up to grizzly country, and I know many people who carry the Counter Assault brand with them when they head up to the Reno/Tahoe area, for people, bears, and (supposedly) mountain lions. Most of them say its take bear spray or a gun. I would like to hear more about how it deals with grizzlies however, anyone have any stories?
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Old 10-16-2007, 08:16 PM
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Camperdan Camperdan is offline
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About bear spray...

Hello everybody,

There is just a few other observations/facts I wish to add to this topic. I had approached it as a mission to "find the truth" about what manufacturers and vendors were SAYING about the various products, rather than what is the best product. My efforts revealed the companies making the sprays were honest in their statements. Several of the vendors, on the other hand, left something to be desired, in their manner of representing the products.

1) The most important statement I can make is that "Bear Repellent" is NEVER to be used like "Mosquito Repellent". <<<<DO NOT TREAT CLOTHING, GEAR, YOUR PERSON OR CAMPSITE WITH BEAR REPELLENT/PEPPER SPRAY.>>>> Used in this manner, it can act as an attractant!!!

2) Employing bear repellent, i.e. pepper spray, is basically a last resort option used as a deterrent to an impending attack. It is also recommended that you DO NOT "test spray" the product, as you only have a limited amount of product and time in which to use it, anyway.

3) I found that bear pepper spray type repellents, is that, peppers (the actual pepper fruit) come in different strengths or degrees of hotness, i.e., mild, hot, four alarm, etc. What does this mean? Well the degree of hotness of a pepper spray product's capsaisin and oleocapsaisin resin can vary, too. It may contain 2% capsaisin and oleocapsaisin resin, but how hot it is, how much it will discourage or irritate a bear, cannot be represented by that 2% figure. Red peppers, however, are the preferred type of pepper for these products.

4) Another item I discovered, is that the pepper extract itself is suspended in an oil base, usually vegetable oil. One brand added a solvent to accelerate and intensify the effects of their pepper spray. This industrial solvent works by dissolving the bear's body oils and causes the skin pores to open. This makes it particularly volatile, not only for the bear, but especially if you get it in or on your person.

5) List of acceptable EPA registered bear deterrent products: Beardeterrents

I also offer this web site as a "must read" if you are considering purchase and use of this type product. It is a government site, rather than a private site.

The links provided on this web page are also very informative.

There is one last comment I would like to qualify as "unverified". I remember reading one reference regarding surprise encounters on the trail. That when this occurred, usually the distance to the bear was only about 12 feet. This is the most common type of occurrence where there is need for a deterrent, bears and people surprising each other. I have not been able to re-find this information, that is why I say it is "unverified".

After reading the information provided at the above links, you will see that there is no "best" product. It only shows that deterrents usually work and what products meet the EPA standards.

Using these guides, the choice, as always, is up to you. I hope this will help you be a better "informed" consumer.

One government site also added this statement:
"No deterrent is 100% effective, but compared to all others, including firearms, bear spray has demonstrated the most success in fending off threatening and attacking bears and preventing injury to the person and animal involved. The proper use of bear spray will reduce the number of grizzly bears killed in self-defense, reduce human injuries caused by bears, and help promote the recovery and survival of the grizzly bear."

I carried "Counter Assault" on several day hikes in Glacier NP, but did not see any bears.

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Old 11-07-2007, 09:28 AM
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Rickosovitch Rickosovitch is offline
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I think the main reason I always carry Counter Assault bear spray is the peace of mind it gives me that, should I surprise a bear on the trail, I not only have a reliable means to prevent an attack, but I will have greater confidence in talking to discourage the bear knowing that I have a means of self defence. I have only had to use my spray once, but that was to stop a pair of dogs who had come out of a rural residence and were barking and lunging at me. I missed the most aggressive dog, but the pair seemed to sense that I had the ability to respond and they backed off.

Two things I would recommend to anyone carrying bear spray. First, get the holster. Second, practice pulling it out, flipping off the protective tab and aiming. You need to be able to do this automatically and very quickly. If a bear charges you from twenty feet or less, you only have a couple seconds to discharge your spray. When you do, use a short, short blast. It only takes 7 seconds to completely discharge the 8 oz. can.
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Old 11-07-2007, 01:16 PM
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nogods nogods is offline
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I purchased counter assult pepper spray with their bear resistent canister for myself and son for our most recent trip the Adirondacks. The number of human-bear encounters has been increasing regularly. Bear resistent cannisters are now required for all food and toiletries subject to a $250 fine if caught without one. Saw no bears on the trip but felt more secure with it, especially after the recent black bear attack in PA.

I came across a video featuring a glacier park ranger which promotes carrying bear spray, although there is no mention of the brand.

Interestingly, he suggest holding your ground if the bear is approaching with a bluff charge to let the bear know you are not "easy prey", then backing off after the bear stops.

It reminded me of years ago when I used to do a lot of jogging, and whenever I got chased by a dog I would turn around and growl and chase it - everytime the dog turned tail and ran.. I'm not suggesting that anyone try this with a bear, but it works on dogs. They apparently don't want to mess with what appears to be a crazed human being.

Last edited by nogods : 11-07-2007 at 01:18 PM.
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