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Re: What is the best item to carry for bear protection?


I don’t want to start any drama or bring on bad karma for people. I know this will probably be a sore subject for people.

So, first, I want to say that I downloaded the Guthooks app and opened the free demo for the AT. I tapped on every campsite icon and read their comments. A couple people had to tango with some bears. That got me curious if anyone carries a gun or other type of weapon with them to ward off these animals.

I know that if you don’t give them a reason to come, like some careless person that forgets to hang their food in a tree, that they will generally leave you alone.

Aside from that, I love wildlife and think it would be a pretty good pic to add to your photo album, if you happen to see one.

What are your thoughts on carrying weapons? Do most parks and forestry services allow it?

I know most parks will allow you to have it, either conceal carry or if carried in a case, ammo and gun has to be separate.

Sorry if this came across the wrong way to some people.

25 Replies

If you feel comfortable, educated, and trained in carrying a gun and want to, then carry a gun. This question shouldn't "cause drama" at all. It is all up to you. Personally, if I'm up in the backcountry, I carry a gun and my wife carries spray. But I am trained and practice. Guns aren't magic and are only as good as you are. A 45 caliber with case hardened steel bear bullets is my choice. A 10mm is a good choice as well. Guns and spray each have their own pros and cons, and only you can decide which is right for you! 


As noted, keep state firearms  law in mind. In NJ carrying without the proper creds earns you a go straight to jail card even if you’re licensed in other states. If you do have the right paperwork then you’d better know how to use it for the situation you are carrying for, that means practice, practice, practice that goes for all other means of self defense including bear spray, knife, stick whatever. Bears are FAST.

Therefore the best protection is prevention. Practice leave no trace, good camp hygiene, make a little noise in dense brush and near blind corners etc.

As an aside, I sometimes wear a bell on my pack. It’s not necessarily for bears, more for hunters when hiking on state game lands (in addition to high vis clothing). I’ve noticed that some hunters put a bell on their dogs and seems like a simple enough thing to do.


On one of my backpacking trips in the Bridger Wilderness, we observed several hikers, and most of the outfitters 'packing'.

I asked a forest ranger about the policy of carrying firearms in this wilderness area and he said "this is Wyoming...everyone carries guns".

As for me, way to heavy.

REI Member Since 1979

so, just to spice this up, here's my bear video, again...


REI Member Since 1979

Probably if not a gun, bear horns or bear spray/gel.

Kyle M |
Have a Great Day, and make your best adventure yet.

12 gauge with slugs