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  • Trevor Perkes

Should I Buy or Rent Bear Spray? - (Pros and Cons)

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

There is an increasing number of people venturing into the great outdoors and visiting our national parks. There also seems to be an increasing number of reported bear encounters by those hiking and back-country overnight camping. In a wilderness setting, safety and protection should always be an important consideration. You are farther from medical care and you may even suffer injury without others knowing of your situation. A bear encounter and/or attack is one such incident that could happen to anyone in bear country.

In answering the question as to should I buy or rent bear spray, in brief, those who are traveling to the national park such as Yellowstone or will spend multiple days hiking and/or camping should consider buying bear spray. Those who will spend only a few days hiking and/or camping or will fly to an airport in route to the park should rent the bear spray. Of course, these recommendations are first centered on the basic principle that being prepared is always the best principle to follow. The peace of mind this protective and preventive strategy brings is more than worth its cost.

The different recommendations are mostly economically based. If you plan to spend multiple days in bear country, then you can purchase online a canister of bear spray, depending on the make and volume of bear spray deterrent, for somewhere between $30 to $60. It should be noted that the closer you get to the national park the cost of bear spray increases.

If you are only going to be in bear country for a day or two, then renting a canister of bear spray is the best scenario from a cost-savings standpoint as the rental fee for one or two days will be less than if you were to buy the product.

Are there other considerations when choosing to buy or rent bear spray?

There are other considerations that warrant discussion to help the park visitor make the best decision for their trip regarding the purchase or rental of bear spray for bear country outings.

1. There are different makes of bear sprays that can be purchased. Also, the bear spray comes in different size canisters which influences the amount of spray deterrent it contains. The difference in the amount of spray a canister contains can affect the duration of spray during discharge. Because recommendations include repetitive spray in bursts to deter a charging bear, the volume of spray can affect how many short-duration bursts can be discharged.

We suggest you read our other article, “Bear Awareness in Yellowstone National Park” by clicking HERE.

A reading of various documented bear attacks has shown that some attacks were effectively repelled with spray from one canister, while other reported attacks indicate that two canisters were utilized to ultimately deter the attacking bear.

2. The bear spray uses a pressurized aerosol to discharge the spray. As such, bear spray cannot be transported on commercial airlines. If you purchase a canister of bear spray and will be flying back home, you will need to drop off the bear spray canister at the airport, Bear spray rental shop in Canyon Village, or try to sell it when leaving the park – a practice that is discouraged as quality control cannot be verified.

In addition, every year there is a significant number of bear spray canisters that are simply dumped in the garbage cans and wind up in garbage landfills. Therefore, renting is a better environmental choice.

3. It is highly recommended that a person hiking or camping in Yellowstone National Park carry bear spray with them on their outings. However, if your trip is to Yosemite National Park, the carry and use of bear spray is prohibited. Yosemite’s website states that “the possession, use, or discharge of pepper spray (including bear spray), pellet guns, and BB guns in Yosemite National Park is prohibited.” The main reason for this is that there are no grizzly bears in Yosemite and there has not been a reported bear attack from the black bears that are present in Yosemite.

4. The pressurized bear spray deterrent has unique requirements for properly caring for your bear spray, including a safe temperature range. If temperatures where your store or place your bear spray canister exceed 120° Fahrenheit (such as in a car on a hot day with direct sunlight) it can adversely affect the product including the risk for explosion.

We suggest you read our other article, “How Do I Properly Care for My Bear Spray Canister” by clicking HERE.

Where can I rent or purchase bear spray?

Purchasing Bear Spray: Bear spray can be purchased online (e.g., Amazon) and at many stores throughout the United States but is obviously mostly available in stores near areas where bears reside. Large retail stores like Walmart and Costco sell bear spray, and most outdoor and sporting goods stores near bear country carry the product.

You can also purchase bear spray in outdoor stores at the various gateway towns leading up to Yellowstone National Park. As mentioned previously, you will typically pay more to purchase a canister of bear spray the closer you get to the park entrance.

You can also purchase bear spray inside the park at the Yellowstone General Stores located at the major locations in the park (Old Faithful General Store, Old Faithful Basin Store, Grant Village General Store, Grant Mini Store, Bridge Bay Marina Store, Lake General Store, Fishing Bridge General Store, Canyon General Store, Yellowstone Adventures Store, Tower-Fall General Store, Roosevelt Store, Mammoth General Store).

Renting Bear Spray: Bear spray can be rented from the following businesses.

1. Bear Aware Bear Spray Rentals. This business is the only place where you can rent bear spray inside Yellowstone National Park. The main business location is located at Canyon Village and there is seven additional convenient drops off locations at the Sinclair Gas Stations (Mammoth, Tower-Roosevelt, Fishing Bridge, Grant Village, Old Faithful, and Madison Campground and Cooke City Visitor’s Center).

· Product: UDAP Bear Deterrent (9.2 oz.)

· Rental Pricing: -Daily (24 hours) $9.50

-2 Days (48 hours) $18.75

-Weekly (3 to 7 days) $28.00

-Week Plus (8 to 14 days) $32.00

-Purchase/non-return $49.99

*All in-Park rentals and sales subject to 5% WY sales tax.

· Rental Policy: -Deposit of $49.99 due at time of rental.

-If the canister is not sprayed and not damaged at return, you will be refunded the deposit less rental charge.

-If the canister is sprayed and/or damaged, the deposit will not be refunded, and rental becomes purchase.

- Has 7 convenient drop off sites: (See Map Below)

For more information: Bear Aware Bear Spray Rentals Website:

2. Teton Backcountry Rentals. This business is located in Jackson, Wyoming, the gateway to Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway which borders with the southern boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Besides the main business location, there are two additional drop off locations, one in West Yellowstone and the other at the Jackson Airport.

· Product: Counter Assault Bear Deterrent (8.1 oz.)

· Rental Pricing: -Daily (24 hours) $8.00

-2 Days (48 hours) $16.00

-Day 3+ (additional $4.00/day up to a maximum rental price of $28.00)

*All rentals and sales subject to 5% WY sales tax.

· Rental Policy: Bear spray must be returned undamaged, and unused to be considered a rental. In the event that a bear spray is used, the difference between the rental price and the purchase price of $50.00 will be charged.

- Has 3 convenient drop off locations outside of the park – No map provided.

For more information: Teton Backcountry Rentals Website:

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