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Observations on what happens when you use a can of bear spray

About 3 weeks ago, we picked up fuel canisters and bear spray at the Salt Lake City REI and then drove 3.5hrs to Pinedale, Wy to overnight, on our way up to the trail head just east of Jackson, Wy.

On these trips where you fly in and then fly out, you always have to leave the unused fuel and bear spray behind.

The spray was just about $50 at REI and it's a tough pill to swallow to have to leave a brand new can behind (what do you do with it anyway?)

So.....I decided that since no bears had been 'encountered' (mercifully), I would 'test' the spray out myself to get a feel for it's use in a 'non threatening' environment.  And, hey, admit it, who wouldn't want to do this?  Don't lie, I know we've all wanted to do this. lol

So I decided discharge the can at or near the end of the hike, but forgot to, so I still had it at the dispersed camping sites along the Buffalo Fork River.

Well, I announced my intent to the group, and there being no objection, and with the just the slightest of breezes, I positioned myself about 75' from the tents, down wind of course.

And sprayed away!  The can only discharges when the trigger is pressed, so you can do very long or very short bursts.  I was a bit surprised by the  volume (more than I thought).

Anyway, it was very interesting to see a yellow/reddish cloud form and gently, very slowly drift off.

But we forgot to film it.

So about 20 minutes later, the wind has all but stopped, and what is left of that yellow cloud...starts drifting, ever so slowly, back towards us....or so it was supposed.

There was a little coughing (I'm sure this story will grow) for about 10 minutes, buy hey, we were also in the midst of much smoke from the California wildfires, so who really knows for sure?

REI Member Since 1979
2 Replies

Like a fire extinguisher...everybody has one...nobody has every used one...

You can apparently ground ship the butane mix fuel canisters within the contiguous states

You have to mark it "Otherwise Restricted Material – Domestic" (ORM-D) and package it appropriately.  I have not tried this.

I think the same applies for Bear Spray...which you may also be able to ship UPS ground with the same marking. 

Not sure if it is worth shipping or shipping back and there needs to be a post office or if appropriate a UPS store near your destination...but that is a different matter.

You definitely cannot fly with either in the US.

Great story! I have been in a similar conundrum, having planned and executed hikes in Europe, and have had to wrangle with fuel and fuel canisters on the way there and on departure. I found the easiest course is to use the MSR fuel bottles with the Whisperlite stove, especially the International version. Although by no means lightweight, that stove really does burn anything you could pour into it, even I'm convinced, cooking oil (but don't do that!). As to bear spray, I noticed that some outfitters are now renting bear spray. We saw a number of shops doing just this in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as we passed through on our way to a 40 mile loop hike in Yellowstone this summer.  I wonder if ranger stations will pick up on the same thing, and like bear canisters, start renting out bear spray?  Who knows, this could even be a niche that REI cold fill. See you down the trail!