Author Topic: Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?  (Read 5598 times)

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Offline 5kdad

Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?
« on: June 24, 2019, 12:34:41 pm »
I plan to start biking the ACA TransAm route in a couple weeks. Plan to hit the route in southern Missouri and head west. I've heard pros and cons about carrying bear spray.
Opinions from those who have done the TransAm?

Offline BikePacker

Re: Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2019, 01:04:30 pm »
I never had incident where it had to be used;
however, for me, it was necessary for my peace of mind.
You refer to it as Bear Spray.... what I have always toted along was Bear Fogger.
If you wish to use a Fogger and wish to consider purchasing from an REI brick/mortar
be aware that they carry it in all the stores but not out on display....
When I buy it from them they go back and get it from their stockroom.
They told me they were afraid to have it out in the open where youngsters might grab and open and....!
You probably know this; however I will say it on the outside chance you might not ....
If you are going to carry some version of the stuff,
folks in the know (e.g., interviews with Park Rangers) say to always have it immediately accessible
cause statistically the vast majority of bear attacks are surprises
whereby the person being attacked only has a few seconds to respond.
E.g., of the surprises the most frequent is when a person happens to cross paths with a bear cub(s) and mom is real near by....
then mom immediately charges thinking she is protecting her cub(s).
« Last Edit: June 24, 2019, 01:07:44 pm by BikePacker »

Offline Margaret

Re: Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2019, 08:41:41 pm »
I also and my entire group, never came close to a bear when I did the TransAmerica route.  The only areas that I think that might occur are in the Tetons and in Yellowstone.  Make sure to get all scented things out of your tent though and of course no food.


Offline staehpj1

Re: Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2019, 07:34:54 am »
We never saw a bear on the TA.  We were a little disappointed about that, but we did see most of the other wildlife we hoped to see.  Anyway I personally never felt the need to carry bear spray on the TA.  I didn't carry it on bike, backpacking, or canoe trips where I encountered lots of bears either.

I just use good camping practices and don't worry about it.  Read up on and follow good camp hygiene wrt food and scented product handling,  use bear boxes where available, and don't worry.

I do disagree that "The only areas that I think that might occur are in the Tetons and in Yellowstone".  There is a chance of seeing black bears over a lot of the trip including much of the route in the eastern and western mountains and their foothills.

The chance of seeing a Grizzly is much smaller and limited to a much smaller area.  Perhaps that is what Margaret was referring to.

The following link might be informative regarding where there may be bears.  I think you may be surprised at some of the places where there are black bears.  I know I was when I travelled the Southern Tier and learned they were along the Gulf Coast.  I was also a bit surprised bears were common enough that bear canisters were required on the Lost Coast.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 07:53:41 am by staehpj1 »

Offline Margaret

Re: Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2019, 07:52:57 am »
Yes staeph- I should have clarified that-  you could see Black Bears elsewhere esp in Montana.  We never did.  Thanks,


Offline John Nelson

Re: Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2019, 10:41:27 am »
I do not believe bear spray is needed on the TransAm. Learn bear-safe practices while camping (google "Bearmuda Triangle") and you should be fine. When in bear country, put all "smellies" (not just food) well away from your tent, and never eat food (or even brush your teeth, or even wash up) in or anywhere near your tent. In most areas with bears, campgrounds will provide bear boxes. When wild camping in bear country, put all your smellies in one of your panniers and hang it from a tree. It's not much of an issue until you get to the West. When in doubt, ask a ranger if there has been any bear activity in the area. If you go hiking in bear country, be alert and make noise. In addition to Yellowstone and Grand Teton, extra care is warranted when going over Lolo Pass.

These precautions will reduce problems with raccoons too. I hate raccoons.

There will only be a few nights on the TransAm that you'll even need to think about all this.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2019, 05:23:35 pm »
One more vote for "not needed."

Two notes: first, bear spray can't be shipped by air, and shipping it legally is a rather interesting process.

Second, as noted, if you're going to carry it, you have to be ready to squirt within a second or less.  While you're riding I think you'd have a much better chance of dropping it and possibly squirting yourself or your companions than of getting a charging bear with it.  However, if your trip includes some backcountry hikes, you may want to invest in some and carry it in the woods.

Offline Buddy_Hall

Re: Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2019, 07:23:32 am »
Another vote for not needed.  I rode the Transam in 2015 and never had any worries - however, I mostly stayed indoors and camped only as necessary.  I did see a mom and cubs in the Appalachians, and a large grizzly in Idaho (but he was way off in a valley below me), and others I met saw a bear in Northern Colorado, so it is possible that you may get close. See for a thorough discussion of the trip.

Offline fahrrad

Re: Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2019, 01:17:45 pm »
   I've seen this debate before on various sites for any number of routes and I wonder if anyone knows of a bicyclist ever having used their spray on a bear? I haven't carried spray myself but would contemplate including it on an off road tour. I've encountered black bears in the Appalachians on my bike but they are very skittish and easily 'shouted' away. Can you use that stuff on dogs also?

Offline zzzz

Re: Bear Spray necessary on TransAm route?
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2019, 06:11:47 am »
I was on the Denali rd and when I was going over a pass I encountered a grizzly. At that point I had seen several along the way and was not concerned as HE was eating away. I got off the bike to walk past the area HE was and took out the bear spray and HIS behavior got very odd. It may have taken 1/2 an hour to get past HIM as each time I stood still HE would go back to eating but when it noticed I started walking again it would again act very agitated.

When I finally got passed and rode down the other side of the pass I decided to pull over for a bit after I was out of harms way and a ranger came by and warned me that if I was heading to the top of the pass there was a grizzly sow up there w 2 cubs.

HE was a SHE and the cubs were out of my sight over the ridge line.

Any danger I was in was my own fault. I had run into enough bears on the ride to Alaska, and heard enough from the locals, to know what normal bear behavior was and I knew this bears behavior was not normal. I didn’t even consider that cubs might be out of sight. If I had thought about it I would have backed down the way I came or walked off the road directly away from her as we were pretty close,maybe 75 yards.

Of course Alaska, and Denali in particular, are different then the OP being on the TransAm.