If you love exploring nature or hiking so you will be flying to somewhere remote to indulge this passion, bringing bear spray on a plane might seem like a natural thing to do.
After all, if you’re going to be spending time in the woods in bear country, it’s only logical that you’ll want to have the ability to protect yourself and others from attacks by bears and other wild animals.
But can you fly with bear spray?
In this blog post, we have provided information about why bringing bear spray on a plane is not practical and what steps you can take to make sure your next trip doesn’t get any more complicated because of legal restrictions on traveling with bear spray.
Can you take bear spray in carry on baggage?
Bear spray in any size container is not permitted to be taken on a plane in carry on bags. It is exactly the same for any kind of self-defense spray including mace and pepper spray.
This is because:
- they could obviously be used as a weapon so could compromise the safety of the flight.
- In addition, if there is a risk of an accidental discharge of bear spray during the flight and in such a confined space, the gas could have a very nasty effect on many of the passengers.
This is the TSA on their @asktsa Twitter service confirming that bear spray cannot be taken on a plane in carry on bags:
Can you pack bear spray in checked baggage?
Many people believe that bear spray cannot be taken on a plane, even in checked baggage, but this is not strictly true.
Bear spray can be packed in checked luggage if the container it is in is less than four ounces (118 ml) and the active ingredient is less than 2% by volume. However, all bear sprays are in containers that are larger than that.
A prohibited item if greater than 118 ml (4 fluid ounces), bear spray, animal repellent. Most bear sprays are beyond the 4-ounce size and therefore cannot be carried.Federal Aviation Adminstration
I looked at all of the bear sprays available on Amazon and every canister varied in size from 7.9 fluid ounces to 10.2 fluid ounces. There were none available that were less than 4 ounces.
This is a reply to a passenger asking the Transportation Security Administration on Twitter, if a particular bear spray can be taken in checked luggage:
Even if you could find a canister that was smaller than 4 ounces, you should check with your airline that it is permitted. Many airlines have a complete ban on being able to fly with any type of self-defense sprays being carried, even in checked luggage.
Why is bear spray not allowed on planes?
As can be seen above, although it is classed as a hazardous material, it is actually a myth that bear spray is banned from being carried on a plane.
Although, in theory, it can be carried in checked baggage, in practice it cannot since the size of bear spray is always larger than 4 fluid ounces which is the largest canister that can be taken under federal law.
How can you take bear spray when hiking?
If you have flown to the area you will be hiking in then your only option will be to purchase bear spray at a store when you arrive at your destination and before your start to hike.
In a popular hiking area, there are likely to be plenty of outdoor equipment stores that will sell bear spray.
Can you rent bear spray?
It is becoming increasingly popular to rent bear spray.
Many outdoor stores at the start of a trail will rent it to you and there are also rental kiosks at many national parks. You pay a rental fee, plus a deposit. When you return it unused your deposit is refunded.
As well as being cheaper this also alleviates the problem of what to do with unused bear spray if you had purchased it.
Trailquip is one of the companies that will rent bear spray in national parks but there are many others – Trailquip locations.
What to do with unused bear spray
Since you will be unable to take bear spray on the plane home you will have to dispose of it. Some suggestions I have found include donating it to park rangers, hotel staff or local residents.
DO NOT just dump bear sprays in the trash as, for one thing, it could be found by children which could obviously be very dangerous.
Can you take bear spray on a small aircraft?
If you were going hiking in a remote area of Alaska, for example, and being flown to that area in a small aircraft such as a float plane or similar you could carry bear spray with you as the above regulations only apply to commercial flights, not to general aviation. However, you should inform the pilot that you have it.
Can you take a bear horn on a plane?
You are not permitted to take a bear horn on a plane in either carry on baggage or in checked luggage. This is because a bear horn, just like other air horns, contains compressed air which is a banned substance.
Bear spray FAQs
Can you put bear mace in a checked bag?
Bear spray/bear mace is banned on all flights so it cannot be carried in either carry on luggage or checked luggage.
Is it legal to mail bear spray?
Perhaps surprisingly transporting bear spray is completely legal by mail across the US.
Is bear spray worse than pepper spray?
Bear spray is significantly worse than pepper spray and other self-defense sprays. Bear spray is approximately 3 times more powerful.
I have been traveling around the world by air since the early 70s and living overseas too. I worked for British Airways for a number of years and I am also a private pilot.