As to bears, Norcal's right. Spray is better than a gun--i.e., shoot a grizzly and all you're likely to do is make it angry at you (good call, Norcal). Bear of all kinds are naturally shy of humans. Carrying a noisemaker to announce your presence so they stay away is a good idea, with chemical sprays on hand in the event of an encounter. This is not true and something that will get you killed. Pepper spray is an adequate deterrent under very specific circumstances. If it's too cold it won't spray. Wind of any kind can make it nearly impossible to deploy effectively. It's range is limited to about 30 feet under ideal conditions. Less than ideal would be a matter of a few feet. No thanks. Hell pepper spray doesn't work against determined human attackers so what would make you think it would work against a determined animal attack? Good luck deploying it into the wind. You won't be going anywhere and just made yourself easy pickens. Any firearm of adequate caliber with proper ammunition yielded by a competent shooter is far and away a better choice. A bear is like any other land animal. If you know it's anatomy you can stop an attack immediately with one well placed shot. Even if you don't have an immediate incapacitation a mortal wound lessens the length of time of an attack which is obviously beneficial to you. I could go on about multiple CNS/vital area hits but there really is no point other than to say it stops the attack quickly and permanently. Obviously other benefits include range and little concern for wind or temperature when out and about. Pepper spray was adopted so hikers/fishers in locals that do not allow one to carry a firearm have some means to defend themselves against an animal attack. It's also the choice of people who are anti gun or do not feel confident in their ability to use one when required. It's better than nothing so if that's your choice have at it. I personally would rather have a good solid spear.