What size Pepper Spray Do You Carry?

9:24 a.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Looking to get some soon for a trip into bear country. Do you really need a 7.9 -13 oz unit? Would some of the smaller jogger type units work? 7.9 oz seems to be the smallest the EPA will register with a minimum distance of 25'.

Will be carried in black bear areas for the time being.

randy

11:33 a.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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I would think a smaller canister would work, I sprayed a large brown bear in Denali and used very little (maybe a few ounces) of the large canister I carried. It was the size they sold at the BCO.

11:43 a.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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I carry the .357 size and an extra clip.

12:14 p.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks Gary,

I'm leaning towards a smaller EPA registered unit.. More so for my wife's piece of mind than anything else.

The death in Yellowstone last night had her asking me this morning if this was one of the items I was adding to my gear list.


I carry the .357 size and an extra clip.

Won't work for me. Already carrying 9 lbs of camera gear. :-)

12:59 p.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Black bears tend not to be as aggressive as browns and grizzleys. 30 years ago when I first hiked as a greenhorn kid in Alaska I never worried much about the bears, but in 2006 when I was there in my 50th birthday year, I looked high and low, around every scrubbery and was very outwardly looking for bear encounters, and carried bear spray. I came a across a sow and as soon as she saw me charged. I had the cansiter with a holster on my pack strap. I pulled it off and sprayed forward towards her face. Immedietly she stopped in her tracks and started moaning and rubbing her face. But I too got a wind blown return and tho not as bad as her's I could feel her pain, my eyes watered,my skin tingled and my mouth watered for a few hours. I was glad it stopped her but was sorry I had to hurt her to do it.

So be sure if you carry the canister to have it close to where you can grab it, not buried in your pack where it would take more time to get it out which could be too late.

In Denali NP they sell them at the BCO along with rental food canisters.

3:04 p.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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remington ,58 NEW Army .44

3:45 p.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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4:10 p.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Pepper spray marketed specifically as "bear spray" seems obscenely overpriced to me. I've always wondered if your standard self-defense sprays are an appropriate alternative. I specifically wonder about the volume of fluid dispensed, the pattern and range of the discharge, and whether or not the fluid is of a similar formula.

Are there any pepper spray experts on the forum?

4:42 p.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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I am not an expert, but I do know that they are different and it's not a safe alt. nor does it have the power needed to work at a safe distance.

4:42 p.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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How about just using a Taser

5:14 p.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't mind investing $30.00 -$40.00 on lowering the odds of being a very slow over-sized chew toy.

5:21 p.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Word

7:14 p.m. on July 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Self defense type sprays and bear spray are similar but different.

Self defense spray is designed to be used against a human obviously, in close quarters (typically 6-10ft max range) with a solid or slightly broken stream not a mist or fog. The active ingredient in both sprays is capsaicin, which is part of the OC that is added to the sprays.

The main difference is that self defense sprays contain a capsaicin concentrate percentage of typically around .5% where law enforcement grade and bear sprays have 1% which is the max allowed by law.

A bear spray is desired because of the application device. It is a concentrated fog. This means that your aim does not have to be real precise. Think of it like a shotgun. Point in the general direction and fire.

A self defense spray is designed to be used in very close quarters, where bear spray is designed to be used at a distance of 25ft or so.

I would take bear spray, if you really must buy a self defense spray have a law enforcement friend buy OCat-it is the best you can get outside of bear spray.

8:38 a.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't mind investing $30.00 -$40.00 on lowering the odds of being a very slow over-sized chew toy.

Of course, and I agree! It just seems prudent to quantify the greater expense than to simply take a marketing company's word for it. So much gear in this industry gets premium priced for its "outdoor-worthy" product labeling with little quantifiable difference between it and more pedestrian options.

8:11 a.m. on July 31, 2010 (EDT)
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I most definitely agree with paying a premium on good protective and survival type equipment. I feel mine and Gretchin's lives are more important than a few extra bucks.

I don't have any bear spray, but if/when I ever get some I would go for the actual bear spray, no substituting with the anti-human stuff. I have seen three sizes in my searches, I guess I would go with the medium sized one [don't remember how many ounces though...sorry].

11:09 p.m. on August 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Carry the medium canister size from UDAP (made locally). Being in the heart of bear country, I take this topic seriously and have done a great deal of reading and research on it.

Carrying spray is an effective and cost-friendly means of (hopefully) preventing an attack. Won't deter all encounters, but, research shows, it will work for the majority.

I would only carry a firearm for two-legged threats. You have to be very skilled and carrying a very heavy load (45 or better) to place a shot in a kill zone on a charging bear. Don't kid yourself. 357 is a fine round (I own a single action that I love dearly)... but simply not enough.

Don't take my word on it:

http://www.amazon.com/Bear-Attacks-Causes-Avoidance-revised/dp/158574557X

Do some reading and do some research. The above book is one that I highly recommend. It pays to be informed beyond what you read on online forums.

EDIT: Oh yes, in reply to D&G... your impulses are totally correct. DO NOT buy spray designed for humans for bear deterrent. Buy the real stuff.

6:40 a.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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I wonder how many of the posters here have ever actually dealt with bears on a daily basis, alone, for extended periods and in regions where wind makes the use of aerosols both inefficient and often dangerous to the user?

Bear spray is, IMO, probably THE most "over-hyped" outdoors product since they started installing Gore-Tex in boots. It CAN work, but, it is NOT a panacea and it is, after testing, something I never bother with.

There are a number of practices one can learn about which will substantially lessen the chances of an unexpected encounter with a bear, especially a Grizzly, which are far more dangerous in an attack than Black Bears.

Yet, I seldom see ANY comments on this issue on this or any backpacking forum I have visited and there are constant posts on bearspray...two at present in this section.

What do you people think we did for years before bearspray was invented and WHY are there far MORE attacks NOW than we experienced 30-50 years ago? Could there be situations developing that were not a problem in, say, 1965, when I started working in Grizzly country and this was/is REAL "Grizzly country" with the highest concentration of interior bears anywhere...about 3500 of them in about 20,000 sq. mi.

We were not allowed to carry guns and we VERY seldom had problems, so, what was different, one wonders?

8:57 a.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Alot was different, there are many more people heading into the backcountry now. As the human population increases, and the backpacking sport in general gains more popularity more people head out into the wilds.

More people in bear country greatly increase the chances of an incident, for many reasons, from simple territory encroachment to food habitulation and everything inbetween.

Bear spray is a tool, nothing more. It is a very good addition to anyones arsenal. The most important tool however is prevention, and using your brain to do so.

No matter how well you practice prevention, incidents can still occur. And if I ever find myself in that situation I would rather have a can of bear spray than not have it. Yes, it is an aerosol, BUT if your target is within 25-35ft or closer and you don't have a headwind of 100mph your spray will hit the target. Yes, a wind will cause some of the spray to come back towards you, but unless it is a really strong wind most of the spray will hit what your aiming for.

And it is proven to be effective all across the backcountry in lots and lots of encounters.

Ask Garypalmer about his experience, some blew back on him but it still did it's job.

I would rather suffer along with the bear and prevent an incident, rather than become a tasty snack.

Carry a spray or not, it's a personal choice. All I am saying is it is a valuable tool, that should be at least considered.

8:58 a.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Dewey,

I agree that there are probably much more uneducated people traveling in the backcountry, thus increasing the number of encounters. However, I think that this is also a product of how many more people are getting outside these days than they were 30-50 years ago. In the foreward to Harvey Manning's Revised Backpacking One Step At A Time, Jim Whittaker states that REI's sales increased more in 1 year (1971) than it's entire sales just 4 years prior. Obviously, this exponential trend hasn't continued, but it certainly does a good job of illustrating the trend towards greater numbers of folks in the backcountry.

11:37 a.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Some rather exaggerated comments here, one would NOT be hiking in winds of anywhere close to 100 mph. and the spray WILL blow back into your eyes in winds over 10 mph. The effect of this will vary between individuals as it does with bears, however, being blinded, even temporarily, in wilderness regions such as much of western and northern Canada, can and probably will result in your death.

On two of the three occasions I stood within ten yards of a Grizzly, twice alone, once armed and twice unarmed, it was in quite dense forest cover and the animal was only partially visible....just what should I have "aimed" this wonder product AT, if it has been available in 1974 and 1979 in the first two encounters?

My last encounter with a Grizzly, of which I have had about sixty over some fiftyfour years was in Sept., 2007, at about 03:00 when a bear came into a horse camp my buddy and I were at in the South Chilcotin Park in BC. This is a wilderness area larger than many US states and is totally wild. That bear came to about 30 yds. from our tarp shelter and took off when I shone my LED light on him and gave him some BC logger cussing....but, how would I have deployed spray successfully?

I can cite MANY recent incidents here that friends of mine have experienced and none of us bother with spray. Some people do carry it, but, there are options and I think people should be aware of these and at least consider them before succumbing to a lot of hype generated by those with an obvious agenda. Some, of the statements I have read here and on other backpacking sites make me wonder as to the actual "hands-on" bear experience of the posters and it may be that some are simply posting what they have read and yet have never actually dealt with a bear in person.

I will say that, I do not care if people carry spray or not, but, it often seems to me that those with little or no experience are the same ones who present spray as THE CURE for bear issues....and, it ain't, neither is ANY gun or ANY other method, except avoidance.

12:00 p.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Dewey,

I agree that there are probably much more uneducated people traveling in the backcountry, thus increasing the number of encounters. However, I think that this is also a product of how many more people are getting outside these days than they were 30-50 years ago. In the foreward to Harvey Manning's Revised Backpacking One Step At A Time, Jim Whittaker states that REI's sales increased more in 1 year (1971) than it's entire sales just 4 years prior. Obviously, this exponential trend hasn't continued, but it certainly does a good job of illustrating the trend towards greater numbers of folks in the backcountry.

The increased number of bear confrontations has little to do with the ignorance of today’s hiker, compared to the ignorance level of prior generations of outdoorsmen. Most people using the trails have little idea how to manage themselves, regarding bears. This has always been the case, at least over most of the last century. Virtually no one knew thirty years ago you should not run from a black bear, or that making noise as you hike is generally good to scare them off, versus attract a bear. Thus a greater percentage of those using the trails today are somewhat wiser to the bear’s ways, but it is probably still a relative minority of hikers that are in the know, compared to the majority that remains uninformed. One only need read the posts herein to realize how few are properly informed how to address bears in the woods.

I don’t think more people are getting to the backcountry today than 40 years ago. First off there are quotas in many areas, whereas this wasn’t the case in the early 1970s. Also there was a huge health movement during that same decade that inspired people to get out. As a scout in the 1960s and early 70s I noticed most of the people lakeside in the Sierras were near my age. That continued to be the case up until about 2000. My generation started dropping in numbers, and since then is no longer the largest age segment. But this is due to the ravages of age keeping some of us home, rather than some other generation displacing our numbers. No subsequent generation has been represented in the backcountry by the numbers of the boomer generation.

The REI data explains the surge of outdoor enthusiasts in the 1970s, but reflects little on the current level of interest in the outdoors. If one were to use REI as a gage, they sold mainly backpack style camping gear in the 1960s and 1970s. Nowadays the floor space of most REIs are only about 25% directly related to backpacking/climbing style camping, with other sports (e.g. cycling, alpine skiing, kayaking), and boutique trekking clothing - Dr Livingston costumes - take up most of the floor space. Thus whatever are the gross sales of REI, the sales volume of backpacking related gear probably has dropped off.

Lastly there is the observation that each generation after the boomers is more and more sedentary. Youth is more preoccupied with reality shows than actually experiencing reality firsthand. Of course there are the exceptions to this rule, but there is a reason 30% of adults under 50 are obese. In any case, I digress.

My theory why there are more bear encounters is threefold. First off the expanding human population is encroaching on bear country. In LA County, for example, suburbia has pressed into the foothills of the coastal mountains, the traditional winter range of the local black bears. Secondly, the Ursus populations in the lower 48 have rebounded from almost being wiped out, thus there are more bears to encounter, while their ranges continue to shrink. These effects may also be responsible for some encounters caused by bears losing weariness of humans, due to habitation in close proximity. Lastly modern media is omnipresent and tends to gravitate towards this kind of subject matter, exaggerating our perception of how large this problem actually is.

(For those who will claim I am talking out of my hat, its size is 7 3/8.)
Ed

5:07 p.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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I am not saying that just because a bear is within 30ft or so or it is close but you have an obstructed view because of trees or whatever to start spraying. The effective max range of the sprays is 25-30 ft. Just because you come around a bend in the trail and are stareing a bear in the face doesn't mean you should start spraying.

Bear spray should be a last resort when you feel you are in imminent danger, when the animal is charging/attacking you. You need to understand a little bit about bear behavior before you employ your "weapon" whatever it may be. For example black bears are known to bluff charge.

Just because you are close to a bear but have an obstructed view of him doesnt mean to start spraying the trees. If and when you feel you are in imminent danger then you aim at your target, aiming at a head half blocked by a bush/tree wont do you much good. If this means that you have to wait until the animal is basically on top of you, then that's what you wait for. If you don't at least have a somewhat clear shot, then you are wasting your only defensive device at that point. "Don't fire until you can see the whites of their eyes!"-Battle of Bunker Hill

Lots of things should be used before your last resort (bear spray), such as giving the animal space by slowly backing away, making noise, lights at nighttime etc.

If you feel that just because you have seen a bear that you need to start spraying you are very wrong, and will likely become a chew toy at some point in your life.

Bears are creatures that demand a high level of respect, and as long as you give it to them in all of your actions from food storage to actual encounters. Then you will probally never have an issue. But should you, for whatever reason find yourself in that situation that is life or death, then by all means pop off the safety and spray away.

I worked in law enforcement for a number of years, and dealing with bears and suspects is pretty similar. You exhaust all of your options first, before you use your weapon. You can make noise, you can back away, you can use proper food storage and handling techniques etc. If all of the other methods fail and the animal you feel is about to attack then draw your weapon and give it two in the chest and one in the head. In law enforcement we have to exhaust all of our non lethal force options before using our firearm, sometimes this means you try every single one first, othertimes you have no choice but to immediately employ your weapon.

The chances are that if you come face to face with a bear that it will not attack. Bear attacks happen, but are uncommon. Most encounters end peacefully with either you leaving the area or the bear leaving the area. I have had quite a few bear encounters in my time in the back county, and all of them have ended peacefully. I would say about 75% of the time the bear once they realize you are there, or shortly after noticing you will run off. Sometimes they don't and they hold their ground, that is when you should back away slowly. A mother and her cubs can be a different story, give them plenty of space.

Lastly, i was exagerating with the 100mph comment. Yes, any spray can blow back at you. But if you realisticaly think about the situation where you would be forced to use a bear spray, then that is an acceptable risk. Because it is used to prevent or stop an attack. If you gonna be attacked you may as well try to save yourself yes? Spray like a wildman, aim for the bears face, and if you happen to catch a little in your face, it will be much much less than the bear recieved. Take your chances. Turn your head away and close your eyes if you can, or maybe use your forearm to block some of the blowback from hitting you squarely in the face.

Life or death situation, best case scenario you hit the bear and stop the attack and can escape from the situation, and you don't get hit by any of the spray. Worst case scenario you get mauled and eaten by a bear while your eyes and face are on fire, but hey by the way you were already gonna be mauled and eaten, remember? And anything else will fall in the middle somewhere, better off trying than not IMHO.

Sorry for the long rambling post.

6:39 p.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't know much about bears, but being a former cop, I can tell you that I have used Mark IV mace guns on several people and it didn't even come close to stopping them. Now that was back in the 70's so maybe the stuff is better now.

7:18 p.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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That is true Mike, there is a possibility that a creature could just shrug it off. Though thankfully, bears probally wont be drunk or all doped up so your chances are probally a tad higher =).

7:41 p.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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This bear must have gotten a big dose right to the face:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GTfq2m-SnY

9:08 p.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Haha, thats kinda funny. Looked like he was gonna throw his neck out.

10:05 p.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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I must say that, again, some of the comments posted here subsequent to my last post strongly indicate to me that the poster(s) have very little personal field experience with bears, especially Grizzlies.

The situation concerning human criminals differs greatly from that of dealing effectively with bears and to equate these is not, IMO, a sound method of determining what behaviour(s) or "tactics" one should use in bear encounters.

The frequent reference to humans being ...eaten... by bears is also specious as predation by Ursidae upon humans is VERY rare and the major causes of bear attacks upon people have nothing to do with predation as such. I mean this in the scientific sense of the term.

I would simply stress that avoidance techniques and "bear smart" camping behaviour are FAR more efficient in respect of keeping one from unwanted encounters than any sort of bravado and bear spray have been or will ever be.

I regularly carry a freon horn and always make as much, especially metallic noise as I can when hiking in BC as bears are everywhere here and attacks are commonplace. In 54+ years of active hiking here and during my many stints of solo living in remote wilderness for extended periods among bears, many of them, I have NEVER been threatened, attacked and have stood within yards of three Grizzlies and several Black Bears....avoidance and confidence work.

10:44 p.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't carry bear spray ... I'm mostly in the Sierra and other areas in CA. Should I? Ugh...

11:20 p.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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The only point I am trying to make is that when it comes to that point, as rare as it may be, that all of the avoidance techniques and bear smart camping practices have been exhausted and you still find yourself staring down the charging nose of a bear... I at least, would want either a can of bear spray or a firearm, bear spray however is alot lighter.

I am not trying to say that every bear you may encounter is licking their lips and saying oh look here comes a human snack by using the word "eaten". I am just genarically refering to an attack/mauling/eating whatever word you want to use, they all basically have the same meaning in this situation.

Bear attacks are very rare, but being prepared beyong avoidance techniques etc is a personal choice each one of us has to make. I choose to carry bear spray, other may choose not to carry anything, others may choose a firearm.

12:13 a.m. on August 3, 2010 (EDT)
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Point taken, what I am really attempting to get across here is that it has become an accepted attitude that SPRAY will SAVE your butt, should you encounter a wayward bruin, bent on discombobulating your personal carcass...and, that leads to people, as I have witnessed being FAR less cautious in bear country than oldtimers were.

I started my "outdoors" activities by flyfishing with a branch and string at age six, in 1952, under the tutelage of long dead old men, who were among the first white settlers and pioneers in the Kootenays of BC. I based much of my subsequent decades of resource management wilderness work on what they taught me and I have seen far too many otherwise highly skilled mountaineers and recreational wilderness enthusiasts depend on technological devices to keep themselves from harm in the bush...and these are too prone to failure, much more so than the old skills that have worked for literally centuries.

So, I made these posts as from what I have seen the contemporary hiker is NOT as "bear knowledgable" as bushworkers were in my youth and this is among the major reasons for the increase in attacks. I consider that reminding people that such skills are still the best method of "staying safe out there" and to learn these rather than risk your life with spray, a GPS or a similar battery-dependent device is one real contribution I can make to this forum and that is what motivates my posts.

Me, I do not take chances and I do carry an appropriate gun whenever I feel it is warranted and I have the skills to use it. However, in many situations, one might choose spray, but, should, IMO, learn about bear safety first and worry about spray long after. Anyway, that's what I wanted to clarify, hope it is of some use to someone.

6:35 a.m. on August 3, 2010 (EDT)
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..I regularly carry a freon horn and always make as much, especially metallic noise as I can...

Yea those air horns pack quite the noise, very effective. Besides the horn, I also carry an M-80 firecracker that is sure to scare the trees right off the mountain, in addition to any curious bear. But never had the need to use either, since every black bear encounter ended with the bear merely ambling through camp, and when I camped in Grizzlie land (Alaska) I was too high (I mean elevation-wise Noodle) for grizzlies to be an issue.
Ed

5:52 p.m. on August 3, 2010 (EDT)
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Dewey said:

..I regularly carry a freon horn and always make as much, especially metallic noise as I can...

Yea those air horns pack quite the noise, very effective. Besides the horn, I also carry an M-80 firecracker that is sure to scare the trees right off the mountain, in addition to any curious bear. But never had the need to use either, since every black bear encounter ended with the bear merely ambling through camp, and when I camped in Grizzlie land (Alaska) I was too high (I mean elevation-wise Noodle) for grizzlies to be an issue.
Ed

Ed is smokin'n weed again!

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