2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – January 2012

Escape Plan: Use Bear Spray Safely

How to use bear spray.

by: Kristy Holland

Use bear spray correctly. (by Supercorn)
Use bear spray correctly. (by Supercorn)

“If an animal comes within 50 feet, use your spray,” recommends Dave Parker, a certified bear spray safety trainer. If the bear isn’t run- ning, point the nozzle about 30 feet away, and fire a series of one- to two-second bursts. If it’s charging, point the spray at the bear’s chest and hold the trigger until the can is fully discharged. Out of spray and the grizzly is still charging? Don’t run, lay on your stomach, cover your head, and play dead.

See more Escape Plans in
Survival: True Reader Tales

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Jul 12, 2013

Is BACKPACKER so Liberal they refuse to explore the obvious method of self defense - carrying a large caliber handgun?

Jul 21, 2012

I was charged three (3) times in four (4)years all three (3) times Pepper spray worked all though I had to clean my shorts out small price to pay however i did have my 357 ready i am very happy i didnt have to use it they were very exciting times needless to say i no longer hike in BEAR country

Apr 27, 2012

Trekker doesn't seem like an idiot to me. He clearly states that his .454 is ready in the case that the spray doesn't work. Oh, and Ikan Mas, it only weighs about 3.5 pounds. You carry it with a shoulder harness to distribute the weight... which always giving you very fast trigger access. I think I'll try that before I curl up on the ground and have chunks taken out of my head...

Apr 24, 2012

People can be attacked suddenly, or in a tent. you don't always have time for a "deterrent".

Apr 11, 2012

I was thinkng about doing the bear spray thing when going on a long trip into bear and mountain lion country, but what about when you wake up to a grizzly scratching or violently rocking your tent? I think unloading a canfull of pepper spray fog while in your tent would be worse thana bear attack.
I went the .357 mag route and it's staying right next to me at ALL times.
I still might get some bear spray for walking around during the day though, because I really don't want to kill something if I don't have to. I figer if I see one during te day I'll just keep walking normally, an if it comes at me I'll spray ot, and if it keeps coming or it's got 5 shot's of .357 to deal with.
I just hope the only bears I see this year are trough my binoculars :)

Montana Jack
Mar 02, 2012

Each person should always carry two large cans of bear spray, and a 44 mag.

Ikan Mas
Mar 02, 2012

So how does that work trekker? Can you carry a 45 pound pack with that small cannon on your hip? (seriously, how does that work?) Or is it in your pack, which would mean you have to take off your pack, dig through it and then aim and fire. I suspect your skills aren't that good and that you really haven't spent that much time in the wilderness.

Cimarron Boy
Mar 02, 2012

trekker is an idiot! I play in the wilderness of Colorado all year, and bear spay is proven 90% effective, where shooting is 45%! What a moron!

I carry a "44 S&W" to keep away most of the two legged variety of animals anywho! :>O

Mar 02, 2012

The MAFP medical conference I attended in Whitefish, Montana in January, 2012, discussed GRIZZLY attacks only, namely from Glacier National Park which has the highest reported grizzly attacks in the USA. From Lawrence J. Iwersen, M.D.'s lecture come the following facts:

-Attack rate 1 per 1.3 million visitors
-Most attacks occur July through September
-Injuries are less severe than the bear's potential; the bear generally leaves after removing the perceived threat
-Most bear mauling wounds require surgical cleaning (debridement)due to a multitude of bacteria in the bear's mouth/claws; wounds go deep due to punctures
-Bear spray works
-Making noise while hiking helps keep bears away

It was stated that if attacked you should curl up on the ground and cover your neck. The bear will claw/bite in an effort to see if you're a threat; once satisfied that you're not, the bear will usually leave. (At this point I would probably call for help..AND change my underwear!)

Happy Trekking!

Arthur DM
Feb 15, 2012

Given that bear spray has a maximum range of 25-35 feet, why spray for a second or two at a stationary bear 50 feet away? You'd just be wasting spray. And most brands of bear spray only last 5-8 seconds.

Feb 10, 2012

that's what I'm talking about. Right on trekker.

Jan 27, 2012

If a charging griz gets through your spray; you won't have to play dead-you will be-unless-you pull your Taurus Raging Bull .454 Casul loaded with 300 grain solid nose and blow the sob into the next time zone. I know, I know. Go ahead, give your life to the bear.


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Hiking on rocks
Posted On: Aug 28, 2014
Submitted By: GoBlueHiker
Finally going Backpacking!
Posted On: Aug 28, 2014
Submitted By: 92hatchattack

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions