Mountain lions are apex predators that can be a real threat to hikers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. While mountain lion attacks are relatively rare, they can be deadly.
That’s why we need to be prepared when hiking in mountain lion country. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to carry pepper spray.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the top-rated pepper sprays to protect yourself from mountain lions and ensure you’re well-prepared for any wilderness adventure.
Why Pepper Spray?
Pepper spray is a non-lethal self-defense tool that can be used to deter and incapacitate mountain lions. It works by irritating the eyes, nose, and throat of the animal, causing it to retreat.
How To Choose The Right Pepper Spray For Mountain Lions
When choosing pepper spray for mountain lions, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Strength: The strength of the pepper spray is measured in SHUs (Scoville Heat Units). The higher the SHU rating, the stronger the pepper spray. For mountain lions, the ideal pepper spray will be one with a SHU rating of at least 2% capsaicin and 180,000 SHUs.
- Range: The range of the pepper spray is important because mountain lions are fast and agile. You need a pepper spray that has a long enough range to reach the animal before it has a chance to attack. Most pepper sprays have a range of 10-20 feet, but there are some models that have a range of up to 30 feet.
- Pattern: The pattern of the pepper spray is also important. Bear spray is designed to be sprayed in a fog pattern to create a cloud of pepper spray that can be difficult for the bear to avoid. However, mountain lions are smaller and more agile than bears, so you don’t need a pepper spray with as wide of a pattern. A stream pattern is ideal for mountain lions because it allows you to aim more precisely.
- Ease of use: Pepper spray should be easy to deploy and use in a stressful situation. Look for a pepper spray that has a safety cap that is easy to remove and a spray trigger that is easy to pull.
Best Pepper Spray For Mountain Lions
With that said, here are a few of the best pepper sprays for mountain lions:
The SABRE Crossfire Pepper Gel stands out as an excellent choice for deterring mountain lions. Boasting an impressive 18-foot range, a potent stream pattern, and a high SHU rating of 1.8% capsaicin and 180,000 SHUs, it offers formidable protection. Additionally, its flip-top safety cap and convenient belt clip enhance ease of use and accessibility.
Tailored for budget-conscious consumers, the Frontiersman Bear Pepper Spray offers dependable protection. With an impressive range of up to 35 feet, it provides a substantial barrier of defense. Complemented by a potent stream pattern and a high SHU rating of 2% capsaicin and 300,000 SHUs, it ensures formidable deterrence. The inclusion of a safety cap and a convenient belt clip adds to its practicality, making it a well-rounded choice for those venturing into bear country.
Guard Alaska Bear Spray offers robust protection with its impressive 15-20 foot range and a potent 1.34% total capsaicinoid formula. Housed in a 9-ounce UltraMag shotgun-sized canister, it features an EZ Access Firemaster Actuator for precise deployment. Dispensing 9 ounces of bear deterrent in 9 seconds or through bursts using its fogger delivery system, it swiftly envelops any attacking mountain lion.
4. UDAP Bear Spray:
The UDAP Bear Spray is a trusted and highly effective option for deterring mountain lions. It strikes a balance between safety and ease of use with its 30-foot range. Widely recognized for its reliability, this product is a dependable choice for countering wildlife threats.
No matter which pepper spray you choose, make sure to practice using it before you go hiking. This will help you to become familiar with the pepper spray and how to deploy it quickly and effectively in an emergency situation.
How to Use Pepper Spray Safely
Here are some additional tips for using pepper spray against mountain lions:
- Aim for the face: When spraying a mountain lion, aim for the face, especially the eyes and nose. This will be the most effective way to deter and incapacitate the animal.
- Spray repeatedly: Don’t just spray the mountain lion once and then stop. Continue to spray until the animal retreats.
- Back away slowly: Once you have sprayed the mountain lion, slowly back away from the animal. Do not turn and run, as this could trigger the animal’s predatory instinct.
Pepper spray is an effective way to protect yourself from mountain lions, but it is important to remember that it is not a foolproof solution. The best way to stay safe in mountain lion country is to be aware of your surroundings and to take precautions to avoid encounters with these animals.
Tips for Avoiding Mountain Lion Encounters
In addition to carrying pepper spray, there are a few other things you can do to avoid mountain lion encounters:
- Make noise: Mountain lions are more likely to avoid humans who make noise. When hiking in mountain lion country, talk loudly or sing songs. You can also carry a noisemaker, such as a bear bell or air horn.
- Stay on marked trails: Mountain lions are more likely to be found in dense brush and thick forests. Stay on marked trails to avoid running into a mountain lion.
- Be aware of your surroundings: Be on the lookout for mountain lion tracks, scat, and other signs of the animal. If you see any of these signs, be extra cautious.
- Don’t hike alone: If possible, hike with a group of people. Mountain lions are less likely to attack a group of people than a single person.
- Be especially cautious at dawn and dusk: Mountain lions are most active at dawn and dusk. Be extra cautious during these times of the day.
What to Do If You Encounter a Mountain Lion
If you encounter a mountain lion, do the following:
- Stand your ground: Do not turn and run. This could trigger the animal’s predatory instinct. Instead, stand your ground and make yourself appear as large as possible.
- Make eye contact: Make eye contact with the mountain lion and speak in a firm voice. This will show the animal that you are not afraid.
- Wave your arms: Wave your arms and shout at the mountain lion. This will help to scare the animal away.
- Back away slowly: If the mountain lion does not back away, slowly back away from the animal. Do not turn and run.
- Use pepper spray: If the mountain lion attacks, use your pepper spray to deter the animal. Aim for the face, especially the eyes and nose.
Pepper spray serves as a valuable tool for safeguarding yourself from mountain lions; however, it’s crucial to recognize that it is not a guaranteed solution. The best way to stay safe in mountain lion country is to be aware of your surroundings and to take precautions to avoid encounters with these animals.
Here are additional safety recommendations for those in mountain lion habitat:
- Share your plans: Always inform someone about your hiking or outdoor excursion, including your destination and your anticipated return time.
- Carry a cell phone: Keep a functioning cell phone with you for potential emergencies, ensuring you can call for assistance if needed.
- Develop an action plan: Prepare yourself with a clear plan of action in case you encounter a mountain lion.
By adhering to these guidelines, you can enhance your safety while exploring mountain lion territory.