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  1. #1
    Registered User Candy Korn's Avatar
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    Default Bear spray or pepper spray....what's the difference?

    What is the difference between bear spray and pepper spray? Which is stronger?

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    One of the main differences is, Bear spray can legally be used on Bear, where pepper spray cannot, unless labels so....I have no idea about the strengths.

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    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    The active ingredient in bear spray is the chemical that makes hot peppers hot. What differentiates bear spray from other pepper sprays is the amount you're packing, enough to spray for up to ten seconds, and the distance it will shoot, generally 12-15 feet.

    The ideal way to use the spray is to form a vapor barrier a dozen feet away so the bear will run into it, will immediately feel his eyes and nose sting, and will lose interest in you and just worry about making the stinging stop, and run off. I've seen it used this way to get a bear to move out of the vicinity.

    In a much more dire situation, when a bear had one of my coworkers by the head and shoulder, my coworker was able to grab the spray with his free hand, spray the bear, and was released. I didn't witness the attack, but I've seen the scars.

    You do have to pay attention to wind direction, and you also need to know that bears move incredibly fast. You need to be bear aware, as well as carrying spray, in places where it might be needed.

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    Registered User Candy Korn's Avatar
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    So if I were to just carry one can of bear spray for all defensive purposes, that would be fine?

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    Wanna-be hiker trash Sarcasm the elf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketsocks View Post
    One of the main differences is, Bear spray can legally be used on Bear, where pepper spray cannot, unless labels so....I have no idea about the strengths.
    To add to that, EPA approved bear spray is legal in all 50 states. Pepper spray's status varies from state to state. Most notably, it is a felony to possess a can of pepper spray in Massachusetts without a permit.
    "This sucks and I love it"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarcasm the elf View Post
    To add to that, EPA approved bear spray is legal in all 50 states. Pepper spray's status varies from state to state. Most notably, it is a felony to possess a can of pepper spray in Massachusetts without a permit.
    Excellent point...know the rules, it'll save you a lot of legal aggravation.

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    Registered User Symba's Avatar
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    It is illegal to possess the sprays in certain states. I told a secretary once to have a can of Wasp spray close at hand if she was worried about an unruly individual coming the office. Wasp, not W.A.S.P. spray, haha sorry, wasp spray works very well if robbed.
    I am well again, I came to life in the cool winds and crystal waters of the mountains...

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    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    It's wicked stuff, not to be used frivolously. Also, the can is quite bulky. Sprayed by mistake, it will clear a building for hours.

  9. #9
    Wanna-be hiker trash Sarcasm the elf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Symba View Post
    It is illegal to possess the sprays in certain states. I told a secretary once to have a can of Wasp spray close at hand if she was worried about an unruly individual coming the office. Wasp, not W.A.S.P. spray, haha sorry, wasp spray works very well if robbed.
    That's really bad advice to give. Wasp spray isn't made to be used in humans and you WILL find yourself arrested if you choose to use it that way. That bit on the package that says "It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling" isn't a joke.

    Just for fun, here are a couple of google search results for "wasp spray self defense"

    http://oklahomapersonaldefense.com/waspspraymyth.html

    http://www.popville.com/2010/12/mpd-...-self-defense/

    http://www.hoax-slayer.com/wasp-spra...er-spray.shtml
    Last edited by Sarcasm the elf; 08-23-2013 at 00:46.
    "This sucks and I love it"

    The ground's under my boots and not over my head, so it's a good day.

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    Registered User Symba's Avatar
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    It is wasp spray or nothing. She had wasp problems. Advice was actually redirected from a police officer. I know, they aren't all geniuses.
    I am well again, I came to life in the cool winds and crystal waters of the mountains...

    ~ John Muir ~

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    In the East, I think of bear spray as a comfort item. Not really needed, but if it makes you feel safer then go ahead and carry it. One of my hiking buds carries it because of his dog. He also had a close encounter some years ago in SNP where both he and the bears (momma and cubs) were startled. It made quite an impression on him.

    As someone said above, situational awareness is the best thing you can use to deal with potential bear encounters. Pay attention and many times you'll see them before they notice you.

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    BARN OWLS (UK) Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    There is a huge difference in volume and stream. Pepper spray for protection is a short 6 foot stream. Bear Spray is a 10-30 foot cloud

    “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” Dr Seuss
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    Bear sprays are typically much larger than OC sprays marketed for self defense. Self defense spray can be as small as a tube of lipstick (many choices, though). As such, the bear sprays need to be carried in holster while the self defense sprays can be carried discreetly in one's pocket. Does that make a difference? Depends when and where you want access to it. In the cab of a pickup after throwing your pack in the back? At a shelter area when you go for water or are at the picnic table making dinner? Another thing to keep in mind is that while there are some minimal chemical concentration standards for bear spray, that does not hold true for the sprays marketed for self defense. If you go that route, you want the same or better quality the police use. A good gun store might be a good place to buy. History suggests that for all the potential reasons that spays might help protect yourself on the AT, risk from bear is essentially so low as not to be a factor.

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    Keep in mind that for bear spray to be effective, one must be able to reach it quickly. Bear spray stored in your pack will be of no help if a bear suddenly charges because you'll have no time to get it out.

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    I've been hiking the southern Appalachians for 30 years. In that time never once have I had a dangerous encounter with a bear, or lost food to a bear. My most significant meetings, I just take a picture. Then yell, BAD BEAR GO AWAY. I think it hurts their feelings, they always leave.

    IMO bear spray is high on the list "top ten items inexperienced hikers pack, then drop in a box"

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hill Ape View Post
    I've been hiking the southern Appalachians for 30 years. In that time never once have I had a dangerous encounter with a bear, or lost food to a bear. My most significant meetings, I just take a picture. Then yell, BAD BEAR GO AWAY. I think it hurts their feelings, they always leave.

    IMO bear spray is high on the list "top ten items inexperienced hikers pack, then drop in a box"
    Totally agree. Bear spray unnecessary for eastern black bears.

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    Sorry Hill Ape, i'd have to disagree. Been in GSMNP exactly one time to hike and that one time i had a pretty serious Bear encounter where i WISHED i had something more than a stick. Bear spray will be on my hip the next time i can promise you that. Maybe it was luck that i had the encounter, but nonetheless i will be prepared next time not doubt about it.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greyson2 View Post
    Sorry Hill Ape, i'd have to disagree. Been in GSMNP exactly one time to hike and that one time i had a pretty serious Bear encounter where i WISHED i had something more than a stick. Bear spray will be on my hip the next time i can promise you that. Maybe it was luck that i had the encounter, but nonetheless i will be prepared next time not doubt about it.
    What is a "pretty serious bear encounter"? Were you harmed? Did the bear take your stick away?

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    BARN OWLS (UK) Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Ace let it go - you weren't there.
    “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” Dr Seuss
    Woo

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    Hi...


    It's about time everyone cleared all of those urban legends regarding bears and bear spray out of their heads...!!

    Just google "Dr. Tom Smith biologist and bear expert" for everything you ever wanted to know about it. You just might be surprised...!!

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