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05/20/2024 08:29PM  
So this question is really in relation to Grizzly vs. Black bears, but I'm guessing some of you fine people know more about it than me.

I'm taking the family (wife and two kids) on a "western" US road trip this summer. Planning on doing extensive hiking, though not camping outside developed sites. I do plan on taking a can or two of bear spray for the hikes. As I've never owned, much less used it (hopefully never will), I was interested in thoughts on effectiveness, types, ect. Or if there's something better around...

For whatever it's worth, most of the relevant hikes will be in Wyoming with areas of S. Dakota, Utah, Colorado, and possibly Montana.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts/info.
 
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Minnesotian
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05/20/2024 08:41PM  

I've always used Counter Assault Bear Spray. It is also the one that the NPS sells in Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Tetons, etc. Comes with a good carrying pouch that I like to strap to the front of my backpack for quick access. I've never had to use it in the moment, but there is plenty of vidoes out there of it in use and being effective.

The biggest thing about bear spray is being aware of the wind direction and force. If the wind is up and blowing at you, the spray will just come back and hit you. You might have to adjust your position to get the bear face on.

Additionally, you only got 10 seconds of spray, going out 40'. It goes quick. So that means you have to hold out on spraying the bear until the last second. Gotta make it count. A lot of bears will do what is called a bluff charge, where they come at ya but then veer off about 10 to 20 feet away from you. Look up Grizzly Bluff Charge and watch some of those video so you become familiar with how that looks.

And finally, if you got the cash, get two bear sprays or more and, just like going to the gun range, practice. Practice unholstering it, removing the "safety", adjusting your stance relative to the wind, and blasting at the last second before you drop a load in your pants.

Good luck!
 
nooneuno
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05/20/2024 09:37PM  
I have traveled throughout the west from Alaska down through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and into California, I have always carried the UDAP Brand available from Costco in a two pack for a decent price. I am sure any of the major brands are comparable. In addition to practicing unholstering And aiming the spray, I think the most important factor to remember is that bearspray needs to be assessable in a split second never in your pack or in a pocket. Years ago I realized that bearspray and hairspray come in almost identical sizes and shapes and its very economical to practice with hairspray from your bearspray holster.
I consider bearspray as my first line of defence allong with a 10 mm for backup, Both are carried in a chest rig for immediate access.



 
Minnesotian
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05/21/2024 07:24AM  
nooneuno: "I have traveled throughout the west from Alaska down through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and into California, I have always carried the UDAP Brand available from Costco in a two pack for a decent price. I am sure any of the major brands are comparable. In addition to practicing unholstering And aiming the spray, I think the most important factor to remember is that bearspray needs to be assessable in a split second never in your pack or in a pocket. Years ago I realized that bearspray and hairspray come in almost identical sizes and shapes and its very economical to practice with hairspray from your bearspray holster.


That's good advice about practicing with hairspray. I'll have to remember that one.

Side note, in your pictures, that looks like the path to Hole in the Wall in the first photo, and maybe Lake Francis in the others, both in Glacier NP? Nice shots.
 
05/21/2024 08:35AM  
Hairspray is not bear spray, they discharge very differently. You need to understand how to create a barrier between you and the Bear. Hairspray will not come close to doing this. Buy a few extra bottles of bear spray and go practice. Being comfortable handling the bear spray should be worth the extra money spent. If $80 is too much money to ensure you're prepared to use the spray in a moments notice, call outfitters in the places you intend to travel and see if they got expired cans they can sell or give you. I've got a few I'd just give you since they're useless to me.
 
nooneuno
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05/21/2024 09:07AM  
YaMarVa: "Hairspray is not bear spray, they discharge very differently. You need to understand how to create a barrier between you and the Bear. Hairspray will not come close to doing this. Buy a few extra bottles of bear spray and go practice. Being comfortable handling the bear spray should be worth the extra money spent. If $80 is too much money to ensure you're prepared to use the spray in a moments notice, call outfitters in the places you intend to travel and see if they got expired cans they can sell or give you. I've got a few I'd just give you since they're useless to me. "


perhaps I should've been more clear on the hairspray, I mainly use it To practice unholstering and drawing it in my opinion, this needs to be second nature 100% muscle memory, just as drawing a handgun, if you have to think about what to do, you are already dead
 
05/21/2024 10:15AM  
nooneuno: "
YaMarVa: "Hairspray is not bear spray, they discharge very differently. You need to understand how to create a barrier between you and the Bear. Hairspray will not come close to doing this. Buy a few extra bottles of bear spray and go practice. Being comfortable handling the bear spray should be worth the extra money spent. If $80 is too much money to ensure you're prepared to use the spray in a moments notice, call outfitters in the places you intend to travel and see if they got expired cans they can sell or give you. I've got a few I'd just give you since they're useless to me. "



perhaps I should've been more clear on the hairspray, I mainly use it To practice unholstering and drawing it in my opinion, this needs to be second nature 100% muscle memory, just as drawing a handgun, if you have to think about what to do, you are already dead
"


I agree, practice unholstering is just as important. I also carry a 10mm when hunting in Grizzly country.
 
05/21/2024 10:20AM  
Counter assault for 35 years and they have one that is a little larger and spray lasts longer.
 
05/21/2024 12:13PM  
First, obviously most of the places you listed are not grizzly country, but if you feel better carrying it for black bears or anything else certainly you can.

Absolutely agree about having it constantly accessible (at least in grizzly country) and practicing if at all possible. When I first started carrying bear spray I should simply do "fake draw's" (like a movie cowboy!) over and over to try to build up muscle memory. Also excellent to practice spraying if you can. They now make dummy cans of bear spray just for this purpose and they only cost about $20.

I've carried it many times on hiking/fishing day trips in Yellowstone. I have drawn it to the ready many times when I thought I saw a bear or was going through brushy areas with low visibility. I only used it once, and that was to stop a testosterone fueled bull bison one fall that charged me in the back country - stopped him in his tracks at 11 feet then he ran off wheezing and tossing snot all over.

I've carried CounterAssault and UDAP. I've noticed the cans are absolutely identical to the last detail, and suspect the other brands are too. They all have to have at least 2%OC, but there may be differences in how long or far they spray. There are certain government mandated minimums on distance and time, so sometimes I wonder how different they are - still I"ll stick with one of the two big names.
 
05/22/2024 11:52AM  
Thanks for the responses and information. Definitely one of those things I hope I never need, but better prepared than not.

Happy Paddling!
 
05/23/2024 12:33PM  
To stress the need to be quick, really quick with the spray, read up on the guy who was mauled by a grizzly last Sunday in Grand Teton NP. After seeing a smaller bear run away, he reached for his spray but the mamma bear was on him too quick. He hit the ground and covered his neck, with the spray still in one of his fingers. The bear bit him a couple times, then bit the canister of spray puncturing it and getting a self-inflicted dose. The bear then ran off, and the guy got himself away and to a hospital. He will be ok, and the bear will not be hunted down as they believe it acted naturally to protect its cub.
 
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