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Best Pepper Spray for Backpacking, Hiking, and Survival

Pepper spray is an essential part of any survival kit or backpacking setup. You should always have a canister within reach when you’re in the wilderness to protect yourself from while animals. I don’t go anywhere without it. Finding a good brand is crucial if you want to protect yourself within seconds of a running predator.

Bear pepper spray is the best option for warding off predators in the wild. The spray container should be a comfortable size for your hand, have at least 9 ounces of spray, and have a capsaicinoid formula of no less than 1.30%. It is best to keep it in a holster for easy access at all times.

This bear spray brand, found on Amazon, is a top-notch choice because it shoots up to 20 feet, releases immediately upon squeezing the trigger, and comes with a nylon holster.

Throughout this post, you’ll also learn answers to common questions about bear spray, including:

  • How do you use it?
  • Do you need bear spray when you’re backpacking?
  • What should you look for if you’re buying pepper spray for hiking?
Bear in Woods Looking Threatening

The Best Pepper Spray for the Outdoors

Hiking, backpacking, and even short walks in nature are known to get rid of depression and brighten up the mood. There are countless animals that roam the same places that you do, which is why you should have a pepper spray bottle ready to go if you need it.

My recommended bear pepper spray exceeds expectations for a store-bought bear spray. It’s no secret that commercial companies and law enforcement officers get access to the best gear, but this bear spray runs up with the same quality.

If you’re looking for a pepper spray canister that shoots further than the rest, then this one is definitely your best bet. A single squeeze of the trigger releases potent particles up to 15 to 20 feet. What makes it even more impressive is the fact that it unloads 9 ounces of liquid in only 9 seconds.

When a bear or any other wild animal is running at you at such high speeds, being able to target them from 20 feet is critical to your well-being. However, direct impact requires aim in a time of adrenaline-pumping fear. Thankfully, this pepper spray releases a cloud in front of you to prevent attackers from all sides.

The nylon holster that comes with the purchase stretches to fit the bottle. The secure fit provided by the material makes it impossible for the bottle to slide out of your holster. You’ll also notice that it has a metal clip to latch it onto your pants when you’re hiking.

All in all, survival situations require pepper spray that packs a bunch. This heavy-duty spray is as good as it gets. For the budget-friendly price, you couldn’t ask for anything better. Pair it up with the four-year shelf life, and you’ll understand why so many customers keep relying on this pepper spray.

Related 5 Legal Alternatives to Pepper Spray

How Do You Use Pepper Spray?

It’s important that you know how to use pepper spray before you buy it. Not only can you get injured if you’re not aware of the steps to take, but you could also spray it in the wrong direction. Fortunately, it’s rather simple. Follow the step-by-step guide below for the most accurate application each time you use it.

  1. Point the canister’s nozzle toward the incoming animal. If you accidentally pull the trigger before you aim the bottle, you can spray it on yourself and make the situation drastically worse. Do your best to hold it with both hands to allow you to maintain a solid grip.
  2. Squeeze the trigger on top of the bottle. If you chose the canister mentioned above, you’d be able to place your index finger into the ergonomic gripping loop for better handling.
  3. Spray the pepper spray in two-second bursts. You don’t want to release all of it at once because you might need to use it again if you miss it. Remember that you have a total of 9 seconds, which means you can use 4.5 bursts if you have to.
  4. If the animal stops approaching you, slowly back away. Running will trigger their predatory instincts, and they’ll start to chase you again. Try to keep the bottle facing the animal while stepping toward a safe destination. Most animals will run away or back down once they feel the pepper spray.

Note: Aim at their neck to prevent yourself from missing. An elevated heart rate can make it hard for you to aim correctly, so pointing the spray at their head might cause you to miss. If the animal gets close enough, you’ll be able to spray it at its eyes, nose, and mouth, thanks to the spreading cloud.

This informative video will show exact how to use it:

What to Look For When Buying Pepper Spray for Survival

Getting the wrong type of pepper spray could have dangerous results. If you don’t know how to use it or it’s the wrong size for your hands, you’ll be left defenseless. Before you buy a bottle of pepper spray, review the guidelines and questions below to know that you’re getting the correct one.

  • Look at the dimensions of the bottle in relation to the size of your hands. The bottle shouldn’t be too big or too small; Otherwise, you’ll end up fumbling the canister when you need it the most. For reference, the Guard Alaska spray is 2.2 x 2.2 x 8 inches in total. Alternatively, you can get pepper spray on a keychain and keep it in your pocket at all times.
  • How much pepper spray comes in the can? You shouldn’t settle for anything less than five ounces if you’re using it for survival purposes. The product above has 9 ounces, which is far more than enough to keep yourself protected.
  • What is the potency of the spray? Many people assume that all pepper spray is just as strong as the next bottle. Unfortunately, this assumption is far from the truth. If you tried to use regular pepper spray intended for humans, you’d only anger most animals. Look at the percentage of capsaicinoid formula found in the bottle. It shouldn’t be less than 1.30%.
  • Do you need a holster? While it’s not part of the pepper spray, having a holster to carry the bottle is very helpful. Leaving it in your backpack can cause it to discharge if you don’t have it stored correctly, not to mention that you need to have it ready to go during emergency situations. Just don’t forget an leave it in your car.

Do You Need Pepper Spray for Backpacking?

A short trip in the woods might seem harmless, but it’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared. You could end up saving your life just by carrying a bottle that weighs just over half of a pound. With the holster and metal clip, you’ll barely even notice that the canister is at your side.

If you’re making a bug-out bag or a survival kit, you should definitely add a pepper spray bottle. It’s effective against all animals, including humans, bears, wildcats, and more. You don’t need a license for it, and it doesn’t take much skill to learn how to use it effectively.


Pepper spray should be one of the first items that you buy when you’re about to go hiking or backpacking in the wilderness. It’s often the only item that you need to defend yourself against incoming animals. Even if you don’t use it (and hopefully, you won’t have to), it provides instant peace of mind.

Here’s a quick recap of the article:

  • The best pepper spray for survival, backpacking, and hiking is the Guard Alaska Bear Spray.
  • Aim at the upper chest and neck area to target an animal that’s coming toward you.
  • Spray in two-second bursts to make sure that you still have spray left to use.

For more, don’t miss How Much Does a Taser Cost? (With 5 Examples).