You know that carrying bear spray is becoming more accepted when you see how fashionable – and practical – the holsters have become! This is ‘The Griz’ model from Scat. You can find them at www.scatbelt.com. I noticed that Mountain Equipment Co-op is now carrying the product and Trail Sports in Canmore, AB. They come in several colours and varieties, enough to fill a display rack. There was a time not too long ago (like last year) when the only choices available were the crappy neoprene holsters that always tore or the bulky webbing and Velcro holsters that looked like one of batman’s utility belt items.
Recently, I had the opportunity to try this belt for a week. I brought it trail running, hiking and even for a walk around town. My first impression is that it looks like gear that you would buy from a running store. It comes in trendy colours and it’s nicely designed. I think that many people have shied away from the traditional police-like holsters and opted not to carry bear spray for a few glaring reasons:
- They simply don’t wear a belt to which they can attach the holster, or
- Because the swat-team-like holster appears too aggressive, or
- They look hideous. I mean bear-geek awful. Lets admit it!
To drive home the fashion point, no one noticed or commented on the Scat Belt when I wore it downtown except for my 14-year-old daughter who was working a shift at a busy ice-cream outlet. Between scoops, she asked me what I was wearing, so I spun around and she said “Oh, it’s a bear spray belt. Cool.” Believe me, if I had stood in line, in her ice cream shop while she was working with a regular holster she would have pretended not to know me. Okay, enough said on that point.
I’m an avid ultra-distance trail runner and I’ve experimented with several different methods of carrying bear spray over the years. So far, my favorite way is with a well-placed pocket on a running vest. I only wear my vest on long runs though. Anything under a few hours and I just wear a belt with a water bottle holder minus the water bottle, so that I can carry the bear spray somewhere. It still flaps around and doesn’t ride well. Oftentimes I leave the belt at home and just carry the spray in a hand.
The Scat Belt carries the bulky bottle in a horizontal tube that is held close to the body near the small of the back, so that when I ran, I didn’t notice it at all. I didn’t have to cinch the belt to tightly like my other homemade rigs nor did I have to keep adjusting the belt from spinning around my waste while in motion. It was perfect! Finally a belt I can use for running. The Griz adds a cell phone pocket and a mesh pocket that nicely fits a single gel – as you can see in the photo.
The only downside to this belt is that it’s not reversible (or flippable, if that makes sense). If it were a holster in the wild west, I’d lose my first shoot-out because I’m not a south paw! The belt seems to be designed to be worn either way, so that you could choose where to put the opening for the holster but if you did that, the pockets would be upside down. So, for the time being, you will have to practice drawing the spray with your left hand, repeatedly, to get the hang of it.
The materials used in the belt are light, sufficiently padded and dry quickly. There are some extra loops where you could conceivably attach another pocket or something but I think it’s fine just the way it is. It’s a minimalist’s dream. I didn’t try it but I could have worn this belt with my hydration belt. I suppose you could also spin the belt around so that the holster rides on one side or the other or up front even.
I encourage everyone who lives, works or plays in bear country to carry bear spray for their protection and the bear’s. This innovative product from Scat will make doing so much easier – and fashionable! Runners: you now have a something that will work without the addition of duct tape and zip ties!