Sunday, January 29, 2023


Don’t like guns? Alternatives for self-protection

By Mike Sherman
Do you want to feel protected while camping but you shun guns? There are alternatives that will help you in the event you find yourself under assault, either by an animal, or a human being acting like an animal.

Non-lethal weapons have, of course, been around since the beginning of time. Some might think a rock or a baseball bat is a non-lethal weapon but the law recognizes them as deadly weapons. If you rely on a baseball bat for personal protection, keep in mind its use requires you to be up close and personal with your attacker. But what about a defensive spray? They can save your life with a 15-foot separation between you and the offender. Continue reading about the benefits of pepper spray.

Differences between animal (dog or bear) spray and human pepper spray

If you want to stay safe from both animals and humans while jogging or camping, you probably don’t want to carry two different types of spray (animal spray and human pepper spray). So, the natural question is whether you can use one spray to cover all possible scenarios.

The fact is, animal spray is typically not as strong as human pepper spray. This is because, quite simply, it doesn’t need to be. Dogs and other animals have much more sensitive senses of sight and smell, so it takes much less OC (oleoresin capsicum, the active ingredient in pepper spray) to affect them and keep you safe.

Dog spray (like Mace Brand Muzzle Pepper Spray) is most often less than half of the industry standard put into human defense spray, with the industry standard for human pepper spray being about 2 million SHU (Scoville Heat Units).

What type should I carry?

If you only want to carry one type of spray, it’s advised to carry human pepper spray and have the protection against both animals and humans. Pepper spray is not lethal and will not cause long-term injuries to people or animals. It will only temporarily disable the attacking animal or human. Human pepper spray can still get an instant response in animals and the range is still adequate enough for you to stay safe (between 8 and 16 feet). Each spray wears off in 30 minutes to 2 hours and it’s legal in all states (with a few still having restrictions on its use).

Of course, it should be noted that human pepper spray might not be as effective on larger animals like bears. Bear spray might be a better choice if you’re an avid camper or hiker in locations where you’re more likely to encounter an angry bear than a human attacker. Both bear spray and pepper spray contain the same active ingredient, OC (oleoresin capsicum), and can cause temporary blindness, nausea, burning sensations, inability to breathe temporarily and other bothersome symptoms.

However, the big difference in bear spray and human pepper spray is the bear spray has to pass tests done by the Environmental Protection Agency, to ensure it’s humane. In terms of strength, bear spray has about 2% CRC (Capsaicin and Related Capsaicinoids) and human spray only has about 1.33% CRC. Bear spray typically can shoot farther than human pepper spray and also often has a wider affected area.

The main point is to keep yourself protected at all times, no matter where you are. Think about your lifestyle and what types of dangers you might encounter on a regular day. If you don’t ever camp or hike, chances are you need human pepper spray. It can help you fight off human or smaller animal attacks (dogs, cats, raccoons, opossum). It’s an ideal choice for joggers or for those who need protection as they walk in parking lots.

However, if you are in the woods a lot and need protection against bears it might be wise to carry bear spray alone or carry it with human pepper spray. It could possibly be illegal to use bear spray on a human should you be attacked by a human while hiking in the woods, as it’s not intended for human use. But, keep in mind if you’re being attacked you must react to keep yourself safe. So, if all you have is bear spray, be sure to use it! It will disable a human just the same, if not more effectively.

There are some restrictions in a few states. You can view the legal information and a wealth of product information at

Be alert and stay safe out there.

Mike Sherman is a retired street cop and investigator with 30+ years of RV experience as a traveler, camp host and all-around advocate for the joys of living on the road. His articles are for general discussion purposes only – you should always consult your local authorities or legal counsel for specific answers if necessary. 




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20 days ago

Easy-Off: removes stubborn, clingy scum. It also cleans ovens.

Sharon N
21 days ago

My biggest fear is walking through the Walmart parking lot, given the number of people in this area who carry firearms and think they know how to use them.

I don’t want to carry anything that could be used against me in an attack. I’m not traveling in the backwoods (any more), but we do have more idiots and druggies in our town than I’m comfortable with.

That’s why I carry a “screamer”. It’s an extremely loud device that can be carried on a key chain, attached to a belt or to a purse. It has a pin, that if pulled, can only be turned off by re-inserting the pin into the device. If a thief grabs a purse with the device attached, the pin detaches. They WILL drop whatever it was attached to and the entire RV park, store, or parking lot will hear it. The noise won’t stop until the battery dies or the pin is re-inserted. These devices are available on-line, but I found mine in a local drug store for about $15.

Donald N Wright
21 days ago

Has anyone tried Skunk spray ?

Wallace Wood
21 days ago

A fire extinguisher is a good non lethal self defense weapon and it’s legal everywhere you go

Thomas D
21 days ago

Hornet spray
20+ foot range
Might hurt bad guys eyes
Too bad, so sad
Probably legal

Dana Wright
21 days ago

There is another new option on the market for non-lethal personal protection. The Byrna Launcher is an incredibly powerful and effective non-lethal self-defense weapon that can be taken virtually anywhere. Powered by compressed air (CO2), the Byrna Launcher shoots . 68 caliber round kinetic and chemical irritant projectiles that can disable a threat from up to 60-feet away. The Byrna is legal in all 50 states, however, certain states place restrictions on the “pepper” and “tear gas” ammo. In addition, certain municipalities place restrictions on CO2 powered weapons such as the Byrna.

Howard Werden
21 days ago

US citizens crossing the Canadian border need to be aware that Pepper sprays or mace is prohibited under regulations in Canada. Bear spray can be purchased for those entering areas where wildlife encounters may be an issue.

Belinda George
21 days ago

Too funny. Stay home.

Seann Fox
21 days ago

Why did it ever become that a criminal attacking you has rights to safety. NO THEY SHOULDN’T. You attack me you will pay the price.

Tommy Molnar
21 days ago
Reply to  Seann Fox

Totally agree Seann! If I’m being attacked by a ‘human’ (that classification goes away if they are attacking me!) I will use anything and everything at my disposal to protect myself or my wife.

Rich K.
21 days ago
Reply to  Seann Fox

Exactly. Once they attack me or my family, they’ve reduced themselves from “human being” to “dangerous predator”, and will be dealt with accordingly. Too many crazies out there nowadays to not go armed in some fashion.

Last edited 21 days ago by Rich K.
Sheri Ken
21 days ago
Reply to  Rich K.

Why bring a knife to a gun fight….

Bringing a spray to a dangerous Armed Human Being or Animal.
You: 0
Attackers: how many family members, ‘THEY WIN’

Don’t travel out of the USA you’ve been warned.

M. Edwards
20 days ago
Reply to  Sheri Ken

Or, as a Canadian I might suggest, “Don’t travel to the USA” where the violent gun death rate per capita is eight times higher than in Canada and much, much higher than in ALL other developed nations. And growing worse every year.

Gregory Illes
21 days ago

The other thing that Mike didn’t mention about bear spray is that it typically has a much greater range than the other products — up to 30-40 feet in some cases. This is certainly appealing for being out hiking around, but of limited use in defending one’s RV or tent.

Personally, as a life-long firearms enthusiast (aka ‘gun nut’), I’d love to “carry” for self-defense. But the prospect of actually maiming or killing someone, no matter how vicious or malevolent they are, and then being dragged into $$$ court and/or jail for it… ugh. And then let’s not forget the draconian State and local gun laws that make one a felon for even having an unloaded weapon on board as you pass through a jurisdiction. I’m going with the spray. Maybe a taser for inside my RV.

Purple Bob
21 days ago
Reply to  Gregory Illes

First, don’t travel to or spend any money anywhere they don’t recognize your God-given, not state-given, right to protect yourself. There’s plenty of great places to go without going to those states and cities. Second, there are organizations, such as Texas Law Shield and USCCA, that protect you from crooks with 30 page rap sheets suing you for protecting yourself from their criminal activities.

Tim Hardy
21 days ago

When you are being attacked by a human and threatened with bodily harm or death, anything used for your defense, including bear spray, is legal to protect yourself. I, too, am a retired federal and state law enforcement officer.

21 days ago

I wonder how much time one would have to get out the spray, make sure it’s not pointed at yourself, (let someone get that close)–and hope the wind doesn’t blow it back in your face. I’ve got some spray and never remember to take it with me. I don’t want to shoot anyone or any animal, but I’ve carried a gun since I was 11, and I can have it in a flash. I never have had to show it except when a car thief was on my porch at home. But it’s part of me, and I’m probably too old to change to spray that I’m not comfortable using.

21 days ago

There are so many stupid laws. Self defense is just that, defending yourself against an attacker. But we have seen recently that if you injure your attacker you may be arrested or even sued for the injury. We need a major overhaul of our legal system. Bring back common sense.

21 days ago
Reply to  Steve

We’re too far gone I’m afraid…

Tommy Molnar
21 days ago
Reply to  MattD

We sure are! Nowadays the victim is the one subject to getting ‘in trouble’. The poor perpetrator is the one being “wronged”.

21 days ago

1st he says this: The fact is, animal spray is typically not as strong as human pepper spray.

then this: However, the big difference in bear spray and human pepper spray is the bear spray has to pass tests done by the Environmental Protection Agency, to ensure it’s humane. In terms of strength, bear spray has about 2% CRC (Capsaicin and Related Capsaicinoids) and human spray only has about 1.33% CRC. 

have trouble believing any of it now😬

21 days ago
Reply to  Shamrock

Do some research of your own. Let us know what you find out.

Seann Fox
21 days ago
Reply to  Shamrock


21 days ago

Thanks for this informative article!

Lenny Confer
21 days ago

Pepper spray is considered an offensive weapon in Canada (bear spray is ok) so do not try to take a canister across the border

Rich K.
21 days ago
Reply to  Lenny Confer

Personally I have no desire to go to Canada. They haven’t had any recognized right to self-defense in years and their rate of violent crimes is climbing.

Roger Marble
21 days ago
Reply to  Lenny Confer

If we are going to try and compare US vs Canada the Facts do matter.

Canada USA

Gun crime > Guns per 100 residents 30.8 Ranked 13th. 88.8

Ranked 1st. 3 times more than Canada

Intentional homicide rate 1.56 Ranked 12th. 4.7

Ranked 7th. 3 times more than Canada

Murder rate 554 Ranked 31st. 12,996

Ranked 9th. 23 times more than Canada

22 days ago

I know it is true but I’ve never heard anything dumber than the person being attacked getting in trouble for using bear spray (or anything else for that matter) on their attacker. They should be allowed to do anything required. The attacker is at fault. Point blank. Pun intended.

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