“Mom and the cubs continue to follow me. They’re walking at least as fast as I am.”

Those words are spoken by a surprisingly calm voice, as a hiker in Alaska narrates his terrifying encounter with a grizzly bear and her two cubs.

The creator of this video keeps his cool. His voice remains steady, but you can sense a rising anxiety as the three bears come closer…

How to Survive a Grizzly Bear Encounter

This hiker survived a run-in with grizzly bears because he knew what to do. Here are 9 potentially life-saving tips, should you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

1. Stay with your group.

This tip applies before you’ve ever encountered a bear. Sticking with a group will make your presence bigger, and bears will likely stay away. They don’t want to mess with you, any more than you want to mess with them.

2. Determine what type of bear.

If you do spot a bear, it’s extremely helpful to know what you’re dealing with. Black bears and grizzly bears behave differently when threatened. A grizzly is more likely to act with aggression, while a black bear can be scared off. Check out this website for information on how to differentiate between a black bear and a grizzly.

survive a grizzly bear encounter

3. Do NOT approach.

Regardless of which type of bear you’re dealing with, do not approach the bear when it’s a safe distance away.

4. Remain calm.

This hiker did a great job of keeping his voice and his pace slow and steady. By remaining calm, you minimize the chance of the grizzly feeling threatened.

5. Walk away slowly.

If the bear is not close or approaching you, walk — don’t run — in the opposite direction while keeping your eye on the bear.

6. Is it a black bear? Make yourself large and scare it away.

If a black bear is close or approaching, use whatever you have available to make yourself appear larger. Black bears are typically non-aggressive and they’re easy to scare away.

7. Is it a grizzly bear? Do NOT try to scare it away.

Grizzly bears are more likely to act aggressively, and they’re not as easy to scare off. Do not provoke a grizzly bear by trying to scare it away.

8. Carefully prepare to use your bear spray.

Reach for your bear spray slowly. You don’t want to appear aggressive or panicked. Remove the safety latch. Once the bear is within 20-30 feet, shoot your bear spray just above their head so the spray falls into their eyes.

9. If a grizzly bear attacks, play dead.

Cover your neck and spread your elbows out wide to make it more difficult for the bear to flip you over. Keep you backpack on (if you have one) to protect your back.


Whether you’re car camping or hiking into the backcountry, it’s important to keep in mind that the wild comes with risks. And we’re not always at the top of the food chain! Do your research and know what type of wildlife you need to be prepared for.

Important Note: This is NOT a comprehensive guide to avoiding and dealing with grizzly bears. Check out the National Park Service page on bear safety and BearSmart.com for more important information.

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Britany Robinson

Britany Robinson

Britany is a freelance writer with bylines in BBC Travel, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, and more. When she's not at her computer, she's (hopefully) outside, hiking or camping with her dog. Oh and she definitely ate all of the chocolate out of the trail mix you're sharing.