Bear Spray blog by Counter Assault,
Fish Alaska Partner

Bear SprayHaving the right knowledge helps keep you safe and equipped in the outdoors. We’ve answered the 5 most frequently asked questions about bear spray.

How do I properly use bear spray?

If a bear is charging you, hold the can firmly and remove the safety clip by placing your thumb in front of the curled clip and pulling back.

Counter Assault Bear SprayPress the spray trigger and direct the cone-shaped spray cloud downward at the front of the bear. Continue spraying until the bear diverts its charge.

If the bear is charging from within…

  1. Bear60 feet, direct your spray to a point 30-40 feet in front of you. The bear will meet the cloud almost simultaneously at that point.
  2. 30 feet, spray downward at the front of the bear until it diverts its charge.
  3. 15 feet in a sudden impact charge, try to spray the front of the bear but be prepared to lie face down on the ground, protecting the back of your neck while still holding the can and randomly spraying the area you are in.

Are all sprays created equal?

“No, bear sprays are not all equal,” says Chuck Bartlebaugh, Executive Director of the Be Bear Aware Campaign. He recommends you purchase spray with the maximum level of capsaicin and related capsaicinoids of 2%, at least 7-8 seconds of spray duration, and 30-40 feet of spray distance.

Counter Assault is formulated to provide additional spray time and distance to compensate for windy conditions, accidentally spraying too high, or more than one charging bear. Other brands may provide only 4 seconds of spray duration and 15 feet of distance. This is inadequate for the different ways that bears charge.

How will wind and cold temperatures affect my spray?

For wind, you will need to adjust your spray angle so the spray drifts in front of the charging bear’s path. Longer spray durations give you additional time to make adjustments. Cold temperatures have been known to affect the efficacy of spray, which is why Counter Assault includes additional chemicals to compensate for cold weather.

How will spray affect me?

When being charged by a bear, focus on the bear and deploying your spray. Yes, wind and blow back can cause you and others near you to feel the spray effects, but your adrenaline will take over and allow you to focus on spraying the bear.

Once the bear diverts its charge, move to an area of fresh air quickly. Wash your eyes and mouth with cool water; do not rub. The tearing effects, runny nose, and coughing should dissipate in about 30 minutes. Asthmatics may require special care.

How to avoid bear encounters

Bear spray is not a substitute for vigilance or following proper safety precautions. Stay on established trails and hike during daylight hours and store all food properly. Don’t be distracted – be aware of your surroundings and call out in non-threatening tones to alert bears of your presence.


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AK Residents: Counter Assault can be purchased at your local REI store.