If you are serious about backcountry hiking, you are encouraged to carry a defensive firearm. What you carry depends on where you are headed. The bigger the threat, the larger the caliber of weapon you should carry. Generally, revolvers chambered in .44 Mag and above are solid choices. The Glock G20 Gen4 in 10mm is a solid choice because it is lightweight, easy to use and provides exceptional power. This Glock also allows for a much higher magazine capacity (15 rounds) than most other revolvers. If you have to shoot, fire several consecutive rounds at the animal. Escape as soon as possible! For more information on this and other defensive firearms, visit


A knife is generally a part of any backpacking expedition. With a little forethought, it can be an effective weapon as well. Fixed blades are preferable because they are quicker to deploy and have larger blades. One seen on the belts of serious backpackers as well as military members is the SOG SEAL Pup Elite. Sturdy and known for a sharp edge, it is a great choice. If you end up having to use a knife against an animal, it is important to stab. Slashing will cause pain but rarely causes the animal to break its attack. Good targets are the neck and center torso. Plan on administering multiple fast stabs to drive the animal off. For more information, visit

surviving animal attack
A knife is generally a part of any backpacking expedition. With a little forethought, it can be an effective weapon as well.


This is a general term for powerful OC or pepper spray. Similar to those carried for human-centric self-defense, it is effective. If you have spray, point the canister and hit the animal’s face with a full blast. Be conscious of wind direction, as the spray will be just as effective on you as it will be on attacking animals. One of the best on the market is UDAP bear spray. Carried by many rangers and professionals, it has excellent range and spray duration. For more information, visit


If you only have a branch or empty hands, strike down onto the bridge of the animal’s snout. You can also attack the eyes with sticks, dirt, rocks or anything possible. Articles of clothing, like shoes or belts, can also be used in a pinch. You will never overpower the animal. Strive to get them to lose interest in you. The minute you are able, you need to get away.

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