If you are planning to rely on bear pepper spray for protection in bear territory it is important to know how to use bear spray properly. Bear spray is an aerosol spray designed to deter a bear attack. The product can stream from 12 to 30 feet and the red pepper derivatives in bear spray affect the mucous membranes of the eyes and lungs causing painful irritation for the target animal.
Customer reviews can be very useful in learning about bear spray. For instance, most users will recommend trusting the lower end of the stream range. In other words, trust the product to be most effective at the base of its range, twelve to fifteen feet. If the bear is too far away, the spray is too diffuse. If the bear is within mauling range its likely to be on you before you have a chance to use it.
If carrying bear spray remember that it is not allowed on flights, so buy at your destination or mail it to your destination ahead of time. When hiking its best to carry the bear spray in your hand or at least in a pocket you have fast access to it. Do not carry it in your backpack. Belt holsters also generally aren't recommended unless you can reach the spray quickly.
If the need presents itself to use your bear spray be certain that the wind is blowing towards the bear. A stiff crosswind will disperse the spray fog and wind blowing back in your face is a sure recipe for disaster.
It should be noted that using bear spray should be the second to last resort. Using a sidearm against a bear is not preferable. If you miss the bear or wound the bear they are likely to attack aggressively. Accept the fact that bears are unpredictable. Most experts say that bear attacks can be generally avoided by making noise, paying attention to the surroundings, staying in groups and properly stowing food at your campsite. If face to face with a bear, try slowly backing away and acting submissive. If the bear charges, let loose with the bear spray. If the bear persists, lay down on the ground (play dead). Do not drop your pack, this will provide you some protection on the ground.
Do not try to outrun a bear. They can close at a speed of about forty-four feet per second and on average the distance between bear and hiker upon encounter is only fourteen feet. This means that in a charge the bear can close on you in about a third of a second. Do not put yourself in unnecessary danger. Be certain you know how to use your bear spray properly.