Trail Runner Q&A: How To Be “Bear Prepared” In The Wilderness

Do you have questions about trail running? Send em our way and we’ll connect you with experts who know the answers. American Trail Running Association (ATRA) member Paul Clark from Idaho asks:

“I’m planning a run in Yellowstone National Park which is known to be a Grizzly bear habitat. Is there a trail running friendly bear spray on the market that is lightweight and effective?”

Kim Ryals from ATRA corporate member Run Alaska Trails responds with how she keeps her clients and team members “bear prepared” on the trails:

“Our go-to up in Alaska is Counter Assault. It’s been around a long time and it’s a quality product we can count on. We buy the holsters for them and our guides wear them while running. They’re not particularly light but we seem to do ok with them for our mileage (5-20 miles).

We have one available for each guide and all guests. We give a wildlife safety talk before our trips, and although we give everyone the option of carrying their own, after hearing our guides share their experiences (100+ years residency and recreation in Alaska between the 3 of them) most people decide they are ok if there’s just one canister per cluster of runners. Sometimes (if guests offer) we’ll all take turns running with the one can. I don’t think the can is too burdensome on our trips.

We have yet to deploy one, which I like to think is due to the care with which we select our routes and their timing, as well as our level of awareness overall. We like to see bears from long distances and 99% of the bears in AK are “good bears”…which to us, means they really don’t want to associate with us at all.”

Note that this product cannot be carried on commercial airplanes.

For more information about traveling in bear country check out the Alaska Department of Fish and Game article – The Essentials for Traveling in Alaska’s Bear Country.

Tags: ,