A Marine Flare May Be the Best Bear Deterrent

Pepper spray is an excellent bear deterrent but it has it’s weaknesses:

  • You have at most six seconds of spray
  • You can never be 100% sure that you have pressure in your can (if you test it, you lose one or two of those precious few seconds).
  • It’s questionable in the wind
  • It’s problematic and probably not effective from inside of a tent.

Large bore handguns are a great back-up to pepper spray and great from inside a tent but firearms have their downsides as well.  They’re

  • heavy
  • expensive
  • Not legal in many areas
  • kill or gravely injure the bear unnecessarily

I am experimenting with a third option – the handheld marine flare.  The version made by Ikaros is ideal.   Unlike a typical road flare, it is ignited by simply pulling a string.  With a properly designed holster, this can be operated with one hand.  As far as I know the marine flare is untested on bears, but it is a good bet that the brightness, sound, and the heat would be an effective, last stand deterrent against an aggressive bear.

marine flare deterrent

Advantages of marine flares as a bear deterrent:

  • light weight
  • can be ignited with one hand
  • can be used in close quarters
  • burns for 60 seconds
  • the metal tube from the spent flare can be used to strike and poke with
  • relatively inexpensive (usually less than $20 at marine supply stores).

Disadvantages of marine flares as bear deterrent:

  • forest fire risk
  • hazardous materials risk
  • risk of suffocation and burns in tents

Video demonstrating the ignition of an Ikaros marine flare:

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