Renting Vs. Buying Bear Spray

The argument, that isn't really an argument.


DISCLOSURE: Explore Rentals is the first company in the US to offer rental bear spray to visitors of Southwest Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Throughout the years we have worked with the premier bear spray manufacturer, as well as numerous non-profits and wildlife biologists to ensure a rental program that will safely protect visitors to the area with minimal cost, and minimal environmental impact. So yes, we are biased.


Very simply put, southwest Montana and the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem is grizzly bear country. The chances of you seeing one, and having a negative encounter with a bear are slim- but there is a chance. The National Park Service strongly encourages visitors to Yellowstone to have bear spray in their possession, and know how to use it.

This being said, there are some things to consider prior to purchasing or renting bear spray.

Q) Where in Yellowstone will you be going, and how many people are in your group?

A) If you are intending on staying on boardwalks and heavily travelled areas within the park (i.e. the geyser basin, Mammoth, well known waterfalls) and have a group of 4 or more people, there is an extremely small, almost non-existent chance, of having a negative encounter with a bear. That percentage of a chance is around 1 in 3-million.

If you have a smaller group, and are intending on doing some hikes and getting off the pavement, you really should have bear spray.

Looking at the statistics regarding negative encounters with bears, the odds drop tremendously in correlation to group size and activity. If you are quietly walking around the woods in late autumn hunting elk, when the bear’s are in a state of hyperphagia, you have a tremendously higher chance of a negative encounter versus walking around Old Faithful with your family. It is your decision to make, and we strongly encourage you to do your due diligence.


This is a fairly simple question to answer. If you are flying in and out, rent it. You CANNOT travel with bear spray on the airplane, and it can only ship Ground, which is getting harder and harder to deal with. If you are driving, you may want to consider buying it. Granted, you probably do not have grizzly bears at home, but you might have other dangerous animals and you might have bad-guys. We are a huge proponent of using bear spray versus a firearm for personal defense. The range is way further than mace, and there will be a lot less paperwork than if you use a gun.

The other HUGE consideration when considering renting or buying is the environmental impact. Bear spray is nasty, nasty stuff. It is extremely difficult, and expensive, to recycle. It is also about the worst thing in the world to add to our landfills. You can try to give it to somebody at the airport on your departure, but chances are they will end up putting it in the trash because they do not know you and the pedigree of the individual unit.

If any company is telling you it is better to buy rather than rent, they are full of crap. The only way to justify buying it is if you can take it home- otherwise, it will end up in the landfill. There are two reasons a company will tell you to buy versus rent: 1) they want to make more money and are counting on you not returning the bear spray. 2) they haven’t figured out the legality and liability of renting. 

Renting bear spray will:

  1. Save you money. $5/ day, $25/ week. $45 – $60 to buy.
  2. Potentially save your life.
  3. Reduce the horrendous environmental impact of disposing bear spray canisters.


We have been renting bear spray successfully for a long time, and by successfully we mean that we have never had anyone eaten by a bear. This is said lightly, but it is the truth. Here are the other facts:

  • Explore Rentals, originally Phasmid Rentals, is the first company in the US to offer rental bear spray.
  • Explore Rentals has rented bear spray to more people, safely, then any other company in the US.
  • Never have any of our renters had a negative encounter with a bear and had to discharge bear spray.
    • This is largely due to the education we provide our renters. Knowing how to act in Grizzly Country is the single most important facet to avoiding negative interactions. Buying bear spray, and reading the instruction manual does very little to help you prepare.

  • We have had well over 20,000 rental days of bear spray usage and have only had 1 reported failure, and this was the admitted result of the renter dropping the can and it landing on the nozzle.
  • Each can is visually inspected and weighed after each rental period. It is IMPOSSIBLE for a bear spray canister to have been deployed or damaged and to pass our inspection. This is why the manufacturer, and our insurance companies, allow us to rent bear spray.
  • Recycling bear spray is extremely difficult, and expensive. In 2011 MSU engineering students built a machine to discharge and crush cans. The last time we dropped off cans in 2017, they had ‘hoped’ the machine was operational.
  • No training agency uses live bear spray. Inert training cans are used for this purpose. Using a live bear spray can would be stupid.

The choice is, obviously, yours. If you buy bear spray, there is a 99.99999% chance you will not use it, and it will end up in a landfill. If you rent bear spray, there is still that high chance you will not use it, but it will cost you  a fraction of the price and it won’t end up in a landfill.

Since Explore Rentals began renting bear spray in 2010, we have likely prevented over 10,000 lbs of bear spray canisters from entering our landfills!

If finances are an issue, speak with the owner Will at Explore Rentals. He will give you a free bear spray rental just to know that another can won’t end up in the landfill and that you will be safe


Step 1.

On our Reservations page, enter your requested rental dates. Available inventory of each item will be displayed. Select what you desire and add to your cart.

Step 2.

Verify your Cart and rental dates/ times. A 15% credit card deposit is required to confirm all bookings. You will be prompted for flight info and contact info, as well as the CC deposit.


Pick up your rental gear at the office at your scheduled time. If you are picking-up after-hours, your gear will be boxed and labeled in our secure storage locker and you will be emailed more info prior.


Prior to your departure flight, swing by the office to drop off your gear. If it is prior to our 9am open, you can leave it in the storage locker outside. Your CC on file will be billed the balance due.


Explore Rentals is the original outdoor gear and car rental agency in Bozeman, MT. A brick-and-mortar business, trusted since 2010. Often copied, never equalled.


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