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  1. #1

    Default Self-defense options and pepper spray

    How would hikers rate mace or pepper spray as a self-defense option? Bears? Dangerous people? Few people are trained in the martial arts or self-defense. What other options would you recommend? https://youtu.be/yhJvKdk4lts
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sme9HSirf4


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    first in to say "gun"....

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    While it might be for self-defense, pepper spray is considered a type of weapon, and various jurisdictions are going to have varying rules and regulations regarding the carrying of this weapon.

    Two VERY different examples I happen to be familiar with:
    Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Pepper spray is allowed, but it must be commercially made, specifically labeled as "Bear Spray", with limits on the strength of the active ingredients.
    Yosemite National Park - Pepper spray is not allowed at all (even if it's labeled "Bear Spray" and your justification is self defense from bears).

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    first in to say "gun"....
    Yeah, I was very conscientious is formulating a response to avoid the use of "that" word.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    first in to say "gun"....
    1. Legal issues in several trail states. 2. Requires quality training, and temperament to be effective. 3. Heavy, compared to pepper spray.
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    First in to say "nothing", or nothing more than you would have walking down the street. Yes, someone was just killed by a machete-wielding wacko, but it's such a rarity. You're much more likely to be killed by said machete-wielding wacko on the street, but do you carry anything in your hometown? If you do, carry it on the trail if you like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Feral Bill View Post
    1. Legal issues in several trail states. 2. Requires quality training, and temperament to be effective. 3. Heavy, compared to pepper spray.
    By several do you mean 3? MD, NY, and NJ are the only may issue states that consistently deny CCW applicants.

    Pepper spray requires certain conditions to be effective as well, no wind, very limited range, and if the assailant is wearing eye protection or correction you have issues as well.

    Weight is definitely a benefit. The lightest effective (arguably) pocket carry pistol out there loaded with hollow points is around 14 oz.

    The best self defense option out there is situational awareness, the tool between your ears.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Feral Bill View Post
    1. Legal issues in several trail states. 2. Requires quality training, and temperament to be effective. 3. Heavy, compared to pepper spray.


    i was merely implying, and since the thread was fresh and new, that it would come up...

    let the poop storm begin over it.....

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    It's pretty useless to discuss this question. Hike your own hike. People should keep defense products inside their backpacks, and be completely unaware of their surroundings. Also, it's best to use earbuds to listen to music.
    Last edited by ocourse; 05-13-2019 at 17:25.
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    My bear spray canister is my best new friend....

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    Quote Originally Posted by greenmtnboy View Post
    How would hikers rate mace or pepper spray as a self-defense option? Bears? Dangerous people? ...
    I think I would rank them in this order:

    1 Bears
    2 Dangerous people
    3 Mace
    4 Pepper spray

    That would change though if combinations were considered because a dangerous person riding a bear and swinging a mace would totally be my number one self defense option given the chance.
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    In light of what has recently transpired, and particularly since I nearly always hike alone, I am going to give a lot of serious thought to what I have never brought with me in the past and what I might in the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by greenmtnboy View Post
    How would hikers rate mace or pepper spray as a self-defense option? Bears? Dangerous people? Few people are trained in the martial arts or self-defense. What other options would you recommend? https://youtu.be/yhJvKdk4lts
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sme9HSirf4
    If I were in grizzly bear country, I'd get a bear spray, but other than that, I would just say use your common sense.
    Time is but the stream I go afishin' in.
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    Self defense can be a pretty straight forward idea. First, do whatever feels the most natural and logical for you. Second, train in that methodology. Third, understand that violence can be swift, it can be shocking and it usually hurts. Learn to manage those sensations and bring the fight to your attacker.

    If you can run, run as fast and far away as you can. Don’t always trust your instincts. While they may serve you well with the average criminal element, the true predators of society have polished their image enough to be very friendly and welcoming up to the point of assault.

    Pepper spray is not a great defensive tool, several factors (I.e. wind, rain, glasses or contacts as well as physiology) affect its ability to stop an aggressor. You can also be affected by it if the wind brings it in your direction. What was meant as a force multiplier to protect yourself has now interrupted your self defense strategy.

    Hiking poles can be useful but you have to fully commit to that first strike because you may lose a second strike capability once they know your intent.

    Encountering someone with an edged weapon can be terrifying. They can cause horrible injuries and rapid blood loss. A three inch blade can sever, puncture or lacerate every major artery in the human body. Never underestimate how dangerous a knife can be.

    Stay focused on the point of threat (usually the hands), their eyes, waist and feet don’t matter, what matters is the action of their threat delivery. If they have a knife, stick or rock, or are punching at you, watch the hands. If they are kicking you watch the knees and feet. Move as much as possible offline from the direction of attack.

    What I choose to protect myself is my business. Being trained, confident and capable in your abilities takes time, practice and commitment. Choose one or two and become an expert. Personally, having this confidence allows me to enjoy my experiences without thinking about bad people. Most people are good and I love interacting with them. If bad crosses my path, I will do whatever it take to avoid it. If it can’t be avoided or they are threatening someone I love or someone more vulnerable, then for me the choice is clear.

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    Those poor hikers found themselves in a worst case situation. They're in for the night, probably asleep and this dude shows
    up. You stay quiet and hope he moves on but he does not. He starts threatening to gas and light your tent which probably gets
    everyone up and out. What a mess. We'll learn more about what exactly happened.

    Even if you have a gun, do you shoot the dude through the tent wall? Do you do this with the other tents next to you and
    not knowing whether the others are up and out already? Or you're out with your gun but this guy is just feet away with a big
    knife. There's no guarantee you can fire before he's on you and cutting you. This kind of violence is totally non-linear and
    even gun people who train for these kind of close encounters consider this scary worst case stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eigerhiker View Post
    Self defense can be a pretty straight forward idea. First, do whatever feels the most natural and logical for you. Second, train in that methodology. Third, understand that violence can be swift, it can be shocking and it usually hurts. Learn to manage those sensations and bring the fight to your attacker.

    If you can run, run as fast and far away as you can. Don’t always trust your instincts. While they may serve you well with the average criminal element, the true predators of society have polished their image enough to be very friendly and welcoming up to the point of assault.

    Pepper spray is not a great defensive tool, several factors (I.e. wind, rain, glasses or contacts as well as physiology) affect its ability to stop an aggressor. You can also be affected by it if the wind brings it in your direction. What was meant as a force multiplier to protect yourself has now interrupted your self defense strategy.

    Hiking poles can be useful but you have to fully commit to that first strike because you may lose a second strike capability once they know your intent.

    Encountering someone with an edged weapon can be terrifying. They can cause horrible injuries and rapid blood loss. A three inch blade can sever, puncture or lacerate every major artery in the human body. Never underestimate how dangerous a knife can be.

    Stay focused on the point of threat (usually the hands), their eyes, waist and feet don’t matter, what matters is the action of their threat delivery. If they have a knife, stick or rock, or are punching at you, watch the hands. If they are kicking you watch the knees and feet. Move as much as possible offline from the direction of attack.

    What I choose to protect myself is my business. Being trained, confident and capable in your abilities takes time, practice and commitment. Choose one or two and become an expert. Personally, having this confidence allows me to enjoy my experiences without thinking about bad people. Most people are good and I love interacting with them. If bad crosses my path, I will do whatever it take to avoid it. If it can’t be avoided or they are threatening someone I love or someone more vulnerable, then for me the choice is clear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by greenmtnboy View Post
    How would hikers rate mace or pepper spray as a self-defense option? Bears? Dangerous people? Few people are trained in the martial arts or self-defense. What other options would you recommend? https://youtu.be/yhJvKdk4lts
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sme9HSirf4
    The most dangerous creatures aside from people, from a standpoint of things that can harm you, on the AT are ticks, mice, dogs, snakes, moose, bear - pretty much in that order. Pepper spray is not completely legal in all states unless you comply with some unique laws, like NY's which require that you purchased it there. I believe CT or MA also has some restrictions.
    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    first in to say "gun"....
    Quote Originally Posted by Feral Bill View Post
    1. Legal issues in several trail states. 2. Requires quality training, and temperament to be effective. 3. Heavy, compared to pepper spray.
    Quote Originally Posted by C4web88 View Post
    By several do you mean 3? MD, NY, and NJ are the only may issue states that consistently deny CCW applicants.

    Pepper spray requires certain conditions to be effective as well, no wind, very limited range, and if the assailant is wearing eye protection or correction you have issues as well.

    Weight is definitely a benefit. The lightest effective (arguably) pocket carry pistol out there loaded with hollow points is around 14 oz.
    Carrying concealed requires a permit that is honored in the state you are carrying the weapon. It's not always simple. Reciprocity with the state(s) you are licensed in is complicated. A few states honor all, some only honor other selected states, some don't honor non-resident permits, some honor none at all. Check here: https://www.usacarry.com/concealed_c...city_maps.html Don't screw up. A felony conviction can ruin your otherwise wonderful life, never mind your hike.

    It is difficult enough to secure a weapon 24/7 when around your home, car, workplace, etc. It's even more difficult on the trail. There's nowhere other than on your person to keep it secured. Makes going for water, to the privy, showering, going for a swim, etc all the more difficult. Can't leave it in your pack outside a store, etc. Think about it, it's a responsibility that isn't always easy to maintain. I'm not anti-gun - I own several and have a carry permit. But I don't think I'd take one on a long like.
    The best self defense option out there is situational awareness, the tool between your ears.
    ^^^THIS

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    Almost all violence is non-linear. Training and preparation give you the ability to make quick judgements under stress. Thatís true in most professions where rapid judgement calls are necessary. People train to be good at a lot of things. Why not self-defense and critical thinking under stress.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shooting Star View Post
    Those poor hikers found themselves in a worst case situation.
    Agree, I pray they find peace and healing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shooting Star View Post
    Even if you have a gun, do you shoot the dude through the tent wall? Do you do this with the other tents next to you and not knowing whether the others are up and out already?
    Are you being attacked through the tent? Is there a smell of fuel in the air? Do you hear other people outside the tent? Proper training and decision making skills are essential when using firearms. There is no definitive answer to your questions or mine, everything is scenario based.

    Also, I never advocated for or against firearms in my response, only offered practical advice anyone can utilize if theyíre so inclined.

    Basically, the OP asked a question of the community, while Iím new here, Iím not new to this topic. A question was asked and an opinion was offered in return. Contributions allow us to make decisions based on the experience of others, like picking out a new piece of hiking gear.
    Last edited by Eigerhiker; 05-13-2019 at 22:06.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadeye View Post
    First in to say "nothing", or nothing more than you would have walking down the street. Yes, someone was just killed by a machete-wielding wacko, but it's such a rarity. You're much more likely to be killed by said machete-wielding wacko on the street, but do you carry anything in your hometown? If you do, carry it on the trail if you like.
    Exactly.
    Nothing has changed
    Your still as safe on trail as at home.

    Trail is a representation of society at large.
    It wasnt first time, it wont be last.
    You can choose to live in fear, or not. Its up to you. Its a choice.

  19. #19

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    Thanks for the advice and that which may follow. I hiked 70% or more of the AT from GA to ME, missed some midsections south of the Shenandoahs. And the LT numerous times. I never had a threat or challenge from a hiker. I remember a wacko in PA who called himself "mountain man" hiking with "mountain dew" who was not soon after bounced from the trail. I would keep in mind with a society of fragmentation and people out of work, put on drugs, doing drugs, there are major imbalances in what should be the most physically challenging and healthy of activities if we are using the best of natural and healthy inputs.


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    we all die. everything does. nothing is forever, including those carbon to carbon bonds in a diamond.

    give me a machete death on the AT versus cancer under hospital sheets.

    not seeking death at all, just not wanting to worry about what - statistically - one should worry about more when getting into a car. or....even just waking up.

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