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The 5 Best Bear Bells
If you love hiking and want to avoid bears on the trail, you need to wear the best bear bells. Bears don’t like being surprised, and if you wear bear bells while camping, it alerts the bear that you are taking a hike, and it will try to avoid you. Bears only attack if they feel threatened or want something you have. Wearing bear bells is a good way to bears know you’re there so you can both avoid each other. Read our bear bell reviews & ratings to find the best bear bell today.
In This Article
The 5 Top Bear Bells
Bear bells are relatively simple products that can be worn while hiking, but they can also help you avoid wild animals. They constantly produce a noise to alert any bears in the area about the presence of humans. Over time, bear bells have become a favorite product among outdoor enthusiasts. To help you find the perfect one for you, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best bear bells on the market today.
Best Choice: Coghlan’s Hiking Bear Bell with Silencer for Camping
The Coghlan’s Bear Bell w/Silencer is the best bear bell because uses a Velcro strap that makes it easy to attach to your person and has a magnetic silencer that keeps it quiet when you want it to.
The Coghlan’s Bear Bell w/Silencer can be attached to your clothing or gear via a Velcro strap. This makes it convenient to pull on and take off. When stowed in the bag, the product has a magnet that prevents it from making noise. This is useful during transport or times when you need for it to remain quiet.
When in use, though, your movements will cause the bell to ring steadily. This warns any animals, particularly bears, that you are in the area. Many hikers also carry bear spray when they hike for added protection. At any rate, hikers frequently report that the bear bells give them a added level of comfort when hiking through wooded areas.
- Simple product
- Has a magnetic silencer
- Attaches with Velcro
- Small chance of receiving a defective bell
Premium Pick: Coghlan’s Pack of 20 Bear Bells with Bowl for Camping
The Coghlan’s Pack of 20 Bear Bells with Bowl is the best bear bell because it’s a giant pack that’s big enough to outfit you and everyone in your camping party and still have extras to spare.
The Coghlan’s Pack of 20 Bear Bells with Bowl attach easily to your clothing or gear with a Velcro strap. A magnetic strap secures the bell so that will not ring while stowed or not in use. This is helpful when you are transporting the bells so that they don’t constantly ring. The bell’s rigning isn’t loud enough to be annoying, but it still alerts animals that you’re there.
This pack contains 20 bells which is good if you are planning on hiking with a large group or find yourself frequently misplacing or losing them. They are also helpful when you have visitors who want to take a hike. The bells come in red and yellow for visibility. They are stored in a clear, plastic jug to keep them neat when not in use.
- Stores neatly in a clear plastic jug when not in use
- Pack of 20 for large groups or when you need more than one or two bells
- Silencer secures the bell so it won’t make noise when stowed and not in use
- Bells come in red and yellow
- Magnetic silencer does not always work
Best Value: Deco2pro Bear Bell with Magnetic Silencer for Camping
The Deco2pro Bear Bell with Magnetic Silencer is the best bear bell because it has four bells instead of just one, so it jingles louder to alert bears to your presence.
The Deco2pro Bear Bell with Magnetic Silencer is a strip with four bells. A hook-and-loop closure allow you to attach it where it suits you. You can put them on your clothing, boots, backpack, hat, or staff where it can ring with your movements without getting in your way. When not in use, it can be stowed in the provided bag. The bag has a magnet inside that will prevent the bells from making noise. This is particularly handy when you are traveling or don’t want them making noise.
This particular style of bear bells can potentially be worn on your wrist, it you so desire. For me, I prefer to keep them out the way at attach it to my daypack when I head out for a hike. The flexibility of this bear bell is what makes it attractive.
- Bear bells can be attached anywhere it is comfortable and out of your way
- Includes four bells
- Attaches with a hook-and-loop closure
- Comes with a storage bag
- Velcro strap makes it easy to lose bells on a hike
Runner Up: Coghlan’s 4-Pack Bear Bell Blue with Magnetic Silencer & Loop Strap
The Coghlan’s 4-Pack Bear Bell Blue with Magnetic Silencer & Loop Strap is the best bear bell because its 4-pack design allows you to share with your entire party and comes with a strap that allows the bell to be easily looped.
The Coghlan’s 4-Pack Bear Bell Blue with Magnetic Silencer & Loop Strap is a great size for a family. It’s also handy if you anticipate having a few extra when visitors come over to hike with you. When attached they will make constant ringing while you are moving. The bells are blue and the Velcro strap is black.
Use the Velcro strap to attach the bell to your pack, clothing, hat or boot – anywhere that it can move freely without interrupting or interfering with your hike. Some people also put bells on their dogs when they hike along with them. When not in use, store them in the included bag. The bag has a magnet that will prevent the bells from ringing when not being used.
- Bells can be attached to dog’s collar
- Bells consistently ring while you are moving
- Attaches with a hook-and-loop closure
- Comes with a magnetic storage bag
- May be too quiet for some
Honorable Mention: Coghlan’s 2-Pack Bear Bell with Magnetic Silencer
The Coghlan’s 2-Pack Bear Bell with Magnetic Silencer is the best bear bell because its 2-pack design allows you to share with your entire party and comes with a magnetic silencer .
The Coghlan’s 2-Pack Bear Bell with Magnetic Silencer are made by a respected leader in outdoor equipment. This set contains four bells. This is a good size for a camping trip with a friend or significant other. Attach bell to clothing, pack, hat or boots: wherever the bell can move freely without getting in your way or becoming a nuisance. You can also attach a bell to your dog’s collar if they hike with you. Just be sure that the ringing doesn’t scare the dog before using it.
The silver bell is attached via a dark green strap that has a Velcro closure. When not in use, the bag has a magnet to prevent the bell from making noise. This is helpful when you aren’t in bear country or are transporting the bell.
- Easy-to-use Velcro strap
- Bells can be attached nearly anywhere
- Comes with a magnetic storage bag
- Comes with a magnetic silencer
- Magnetic silencer does not always work
Features to Consider for the Best Bear Bell
Bear bells are simple products. however, there are still aspects you should consider before purchasing one. Here are some important things to look for.
Bell Noise Level
In conducting research on best bear bells, it quickly became apparent that hiking product consumers were divided on the topic of bell noise level. Many wished the bells rang loudly as they walked along. Others preferred a softer consistent level of ringing. This is a matter of personal preference. Animals have a keen sense of hearing, so they will hear the bell even if you think it’s quiet.
All of the best bear bells we reviewed came with hook-and-loop or Velco closures. Some didn’t not work as well as other causing hikers to lose bells when they went out. That being said, pay attention to attachment system and buy one that it tight and secure.
When using bear bells, you won’t want it to jingle constantly. A magnetic silencer keeps the clapper in place so it won’t make any noise. This can be useful for when you return to camp. Using the magnetic silencer is a better idea than just removing the bell altogether becuase it reduces the chances of it getting lost.
You can get bear bells in packs with anywhere from 1-20 bells in it. This is useful for large camping parties or in case you lose your bell while hiking. If you like using bear bells, having extras can be a good idea.
Benefits of Using Bear Bells
While experts disagree on whether bear bells are effective at repealing bears, many hikers firmly believe in using bear bells when they hike in areas where bears may potentially be living. The belief is that it prevents them from startling or accidently running into bears. Experts aren’t so sure.
A study conducted in Alaska found that hikers who used bear bells had a lower risk of being charged by a grizzly bear or black bears. Other experts report that bear bells may actually attract curious bears. This is often heard from park rangers in some national parks, too. As the experts are divided, some hikers have resorted to carrying devices that make loud, sharp noises like air horns.
Having bear bells can also give hikers peace of mind regarding bear attacks and bear encounters. When hiking in bear territory, you should always have a backup in case the bells don’t work. Bear pepper spray can be very helpful if you run into a bear. Using a bear canister or setting up a bear hang are also good ways to help ensure that bears don’t want anything from you.
Precautions When Using Bear Bells
As there is not definitive information on the effectiveness of bear bells at your campsite, hikers should use their best judgement when walking in bear territory and know how to interact with wildlife. In principle, the best bear bells make sense. Caution should be exercised in the event that the use of bear bells does not provide adequate protection for hikers.
Regardless, they provide psychological comfort as a bear deterrent for many people when they head out for a walk in the woods. If you aren’t feeling completely comforted by the bells, consider including additional protection such as bear spray to your gear.
Bear Bells FAQ
Some people evangelize the use of bear bells, while many others point to different bear-diversion strategies they feel are better at mitigating the risk of being hurt by a bear. Here are a few frequently asked questions about bear bells so you can make a decision about if this bear prevention method is right for you.
What is a Bear Bell?
A bear bell is a bell that hikers can strap to their belt, their wrist, or their backpack that is designed to jingle loudly as they walk to avoid surprising bears on the trails.
How Do Bear Bells Work?
It’s commonly believed that bear bells are designed to scare bears to encourage them to keep their distance from campers. However, the true intended use of a bear bell is not to scare bears, rather, to notify them of people on the trails so they aren’t surprised. Animals can react dangerously out of surprise or fear, so alerting bears to your presence is often regarded as a means to protect yourself from a startled bear who hasn’t had a chance to move away from your location.
How Do You Use a Bear Bell?
Learning how to use a bear bell is simple: campers simply need to strap it to their belt, their backpack, or their wrist, and go. Many bear bells are designed with clips or straps on the device, making attaching them a simple job. When you’re using a bear bell on the trails, make sure it isn’t muffled, as fabric or skin covering up the bell can prevent the sound from ringing out and being audible to bears in the area. Many bear bells come with silencers to make them less annoying when not in use, so campers should make sure to disable the silencer before going out on a hike in bear country.
Can You “Turn Off” A Bear Bell?
Bear bells are designed to make a lot of noise by nature. However, the loud ringing sounds campers want on the trail to alert bears are not desirable when hanging around the campsite or when returning home from a trip. Fortunately, most bear bells can be “turned off” with a magnet silencer that usually comes with the bell. Simply clip the magnet to the bell’s exterior and the ringer inside will adhere to it, preventing any sound. If your bear bell did not come with a silencer or it was lost, a medium-strength magnet from a hardware or craft store should sufficiently replace the missing part.
Do Bear Bells Really Work?
Though bear bells are commonly used by hikers, there is some controversy regarding their effectiveness. People generally fall within three camps regarding whether or not bear bells help hikers stay safe:
Bear Bells Work: People who advocate for the use of bear bells often refer to a 1982 study that researches bear & camper interactions at Glacier National Park. According to this study, the hikers who wore bells on the trail were less likely to be charged by a grizzly bear.
Bear Bells Don’t Work: A second camp of people cite a more recent study by a U.S. Geological Survey scientist that indicates bears ignore bells on the trail much like they would bird song or other background noise. This group believes that bear bells offer no benefit or detriment in protecting hikers from bears.
Bear Bells Make Things Worse: A third party of hikers backed by bear expert Dr. Stephen Herrero believe that bear bells may even attract curious bears, as he writes in his book Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, drawn by their curiosity about the jingling noise. Because they may increase the rate that hikers encounter bears, this crowd’s belief is that it can increase the number of bear charges.
Other Bear Prevention Methods
Whether or not you intend to bring a bear bell with you out on the trails, you may be able to supplement it with additional precautions to help reduce the likelihood of encountering a bear.
- Talking/Singing. This strategy works similarly to using a bear bell, by providing noise on the trail to alert wild animals of your presence.
- Bear Horns. This air horn is another product that works similarly to bear bells, creating a loud noise that alerts them to your presence across a larger radius of up to half a mile.
- Bear Whistles. Some campers also use bear whistles to deter bears, although this method can be controversial because whistles are often used to signal distress and can cause false rescue alarms.
- Bear Canisters. Though not made to deter bears, this device will help prevent drawing bears near by serving as an airtight odor-proof container to store your food in and prevent the smell from wafting.
- Locksak Opsak. Similar to bear canisters, these plastic bags are water- and odor-proof, allowing a more lightweight and compact transportation of your foods without the transmission of odors.
- Bear Bagging. This practice of hanging food from a tree in a way that bears can’t reach is designed to prevent access to food by a bear in the absense of bear canisters or odor-proof bags. Though less effective than odorproof options, bear bagging is preferable to keeping unsealed foods in camp.
- Bear Spray. For use in close encounters when a bear isn’t deterred by normal means of avoidance, bear spray is a form of mace meant to cause non-injurious pain to the bear to dissuade them from assault.
In reviewing the best bear bells, Coghlan’s Bear Bell with Silencer was our top pick. It made the top of the list for best bear bells because it demonstrated the best qualities of bear bells. While it is a simple product, its effective. That’s all that is important. Coghlan is a trusted outdoor gear leader.
This best bear bell comes with a magnetic silencer so that the bell won’t ring while not in use. The bell attaches to clothing or gear with a simple Velcro fastener. It works well for the goal that it was designed for. For us, that’s the hallmark of a best bear bell.