One of the most frequent survival questions has to do with surviving a bear attack. Folks want to know: What firearm should I carry to ward off an attacking bear? Handgun or shotgun? Is a .357 magnum big enough? Should I saw off a shotgun barrel? It’s a complex question, and for 9 out of 10 wilderness travelers, there’s a very simple answer: Carry bear spray.

Unless you practice quick-draw shooting under intense pressure, forgo the firearm for a load of bear-incapacitating pepper spray.

The first step is to buy the real stuff. Personal defense spray is not bear spray, so make sure you purchase spray labeled as bear deterrent. One study showed that more than half of the hikers armed with pepper spray didn’t have bear spray. The second step is to practice. In a study of bear attacks in Alaska, bear spray stopped a bruin’s “undesirable behavior” in more than 9 of 10 cases, and 98 percent of those attacked escaped uninjured with using the spray. But get it right. Here’s how.