How Fast Are Bears: All You Need To Know For Safe Camping

How Fast Are Bears: You Guide for safe Camping

Bears, despite their sweet appearance, are one of the largest and strongest wild animals. If you are a lover of outdoor activities and camping trips, you should get an idea how dangerous this carnivore can be and how fast are bears.

In this article you will learn about how fast can a bear run, is the speed vary accroding to the animal species, are you able to outrun a bear and what should you do in case you face this carnivore.

image 9

How Fast Can A Bear Run?

The speed of the running can vary greatly due to the differences in body dimensions and weight of the various bear species.

If we are talking about bears that are living in the US, we should say some words about Grizzly bears and Kodiak bears.

image 10

There is a lot of research that is related to how fast a bear can run. It is believed that the bear can reach speeds between 40 to 45 km per hour when running over 3 km. These references to a bear’s speed are taken from two different encounters in Yellowstone National Park back in the 1930s.

Like other wild animals with a thick layer of fuzzy fur during cold times, especially in winter, they can easily get overheated and become tired.

How Fast Are Brown Bears?

The North American Brown Bear, better known as the Grizzly bear, lives throughout the rest of the US. According to the National Wildlife Federation, Grizzly bears are the fastest bears in comparison with the other 8 bear species! Grizzly Bears are known as dominant predators in their environment!

Can you imagine, a Grizzly bear can easily reach up to 56 km per hour!

But when it comes to some extreme situations, the Grizzly bear run at speeds of 60 km/h!

How Fast Are Kodiak Bears?

As you probably can guess, you can face Kodiak bears if you decide to have a camping trip in the Kodiak Archipelago in Alaska. This bear can reach speeds of 40 km per hour when running over a 3 km distance.

image 13

In case of danger, this carnivore can also sprint at the speed of 65 km per hour! The Kodiak bear can be as fast as the Eurasian lynx.

How Fast Are Black Bears?

For example, American Black Bear or Asiatic Black Bear. If it is necessary, Black bears can run at speeds between 40 to 48 rm per hour.

image 14

When compared to other animals, Black bears are faster than horses!

How Fast Are Polar Bears?

The Polar bear is a unique wild animal that differs from other bears not only in the color of wool, but also in lifestyle and type of nutrition.

These amazingly beautiful Polar bears live only in the northern part of the world, in the Arctic, but you can see them in Alaska.

image 15

Polar Bear is the largest member of the bear family: its weight is about 1000 kg!

In the same time, Polar Bears are the slowest in comparison with other bears, but they are still pretty swift. Despite the large-sized dimensions of the body, Polar Bear run up to 40 km per hour, even over ice!

How Fast Are Spectacled Bears?

Spectacled bears can run at the speed of about 48 km per hour, so it can rightly be called one of the fastest bears. They can move rapidly enough to outrun dangerous carnivores and to go for relatively long distances during searching of food. 

Spectacled bears have a thick coat of fur that allows then to live in the cold weather conditions and from carnivores. The distinctive features of Spectacled bears are sharp as needles and long claws and thanks to this advantage they prefer climbing trees and digging.

image 19

How Fast Are Sun Bears?

In contrast to the Polar bears the Sun Bears are the smallest members of the bear family! Thanks to its small weight (about 200 pounds), this bear can reach a speed of 48 km per hour! This is why the Sun Bear is good at hunting.

How Fast Are Panda Bears?

As you probably know, Panda Bears are considered to be one of the slowest members of the bear family. These bears run up to 32 km per hour.

image 18

Panda Bears usually can increase their speed to outrun dangerous carnivores. If you are wondering why Panda Bears are slow in comparison with other bears, we can explain! Panda Bears are not hunters, so they prefer eating some plants.

How Fast Are Sloth Bears?

Like Panda Bears Sloth bears are one of the slowest members of the bear family too. They are not able to run at high speeds because they are lazy animals.

image 17

They usually become a good prey for other dangerous carnivores – their top speed is about 32 km per hour.

Yes, Sloth Bears are not good in outruning carnivores, but the advantages that facilitate their life are their mighty jaws and sharp long claws. Sloth Bears have a developed capability to climb, so they can easily hide in trees or hunt.

Is It Possible For A Bear To Run Downhill?

The centre of gravity of the bears is low to the ground. It allows them to feel stability when moving. Despite the fact that bears have large-sized body dimensions and short legs they have a developed capability to run downhill.

Their speed downhill allows them to pursue of prey and try to avoid the dangers. Bear is able to travel great distances, which gives them a significant benefit over other carnivores.

image 16

Why Bears Run Fast?

You probably can think that the massive body, the thick layer of fuzzy fur and flat feet can weigh down the bear. But it is not.

The Grizzly Bears have protruding shoulder blades with a massive muscle layer, so they have powerful claws that allow bears to run fast and dig holes.

The bears also have long fingernails which can reach more than 10 cm in length! It allows them to find a foothold in the soft ground but prevents running on hard surfaces like asphalt.

Is It Possible For A Human To Outrun A Bear?

Now that we know about the speed of different species, a logical question arises: can an average human outrun a bear?

Bears are much faster than humans. Even the fastest person in the world – Usain Bolt – will not outrun the Black bear or the Sloth Bear on his maximum speed! The famous Jamaican sprinter set the world record – he can reach up to 45 km per hour, but that is not enough to outrun the Black Bears that have a maximum speed of 48 km per hour.

On the other hand, Usain Bolt can probably outrun the Polar bear, which can reach speeds of 40 km per hour.

image 20

But according to recent studies, as a usual sprinter, Usain Bolt can maintain his maximum speed during only 1- 2 seconds. This is why an average person that runs at an average speed of about 24 km per hour will have no chance to outrun a bear!

Do not forget that bears as the other wild animals usually prefer to avoid people. Frequently they attack in extreme situations. For example, when the mother bear is trying to protect its cubs.

Can A Dog Outrun A Bear?

No studies about comparison of the dog and bear speeds were made, but in our opinion the majority of common dog breeds are not able to outrun a bear. There are about 10 different dog breeds that can reach speeds above 35 mph among the 194 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. So, less than 5% of the breeds in the world have a chance to outrun a bear.

There is a couple of dogs that in theory could outrun a bear (based on maximum speeds would be): a greyhound (72 km per hour), saluki (72 km per hour), jack russell terrier (61 km per hour, dalmatian (60 km per hour), and weimaraner (56 km per hour).

What Should You Do If You See A Bear?

Let’s start with the good news: bear attacks are relatively rare. According to statistical data, there are 40 brown bear attacks all over the world every year. Black bears attack at times less frequently. When it comes to the United States, there is only one fatal black bear attack per year.

First of all, you can avoid coming face-to-face with these large predators in wildlife. There are some brilliant tips how to do this:

1. Be aware with what bear species are living in your camping area and how to identify them

During the preparation for your camping trip, try to find some information about wild animals living in your camping area and the alleged risk.

For example, if you face a black bear somewhere in Alaska, it can be distinguished by a straight profile and high-set pointed ears. You should immediately establish eye contact, throw up your hands and make noise.

On the contrary, it is not recommended to look into the eyes of the Grizzly bear. To determine this species, pay attention to the convex profile and the significant ridge of the shoulders.

2. Make noise

Remember that the bears don’t really want to be close to humans and get in contact with them. For this reason, it is important to talk or sing loudly constantly during your camping trip. This way, it will let them know you’re there, and keep them away.

It is advisable to tie a bell or a mug with a spoon to the backpack. This will allow the bear to discover you and leave in time.

3. Stay together

You should not walk alone or go too far from your camping place. If there is a necessity to leave, warn the companions and bring a knife with you.

image 21

4. Store your food properly

Try to not make a landfill in your camping area. Also do not leave your food in the tent where you are going to sleep.

Keep in mind that the bear has a developed sense of smell, and the smell of food will certainly attract his attention.

In case you face the bear follow this instruction:

  1. If you see a bear, stop. Take a deep breath, keep calm, and assess the situation. If the bear doesn’t notice you, try to leave quietly.
  2. If the bear runs in your direction, try not to look threatening. Do not show your fear, scream and try to make a noise. Let the bear know that you are a human and you will not pose a danger.
  3. In case the bear can not recognize who you are, it will come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell – do not panic. A standing bear is usually curious and not threatening. Try to leave without taking your eyes off the bear. If it follows you, stop
  4. Do not shout and throw anything at the bear, in an attempt to defend yourself – you may seem dangerous. This action may provoke the bear to immediately attack.
  5. Finally, always carry bear spray, especially if there is a big chance to meet the Grizzly Bear.

According to the study called Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska, it was found that bear spray stops the bear’s attack in up to 92 percent of cases.

To protect yourself using a bear pepper spray you should point the canister at an aggressive wild animal and spray the contents for 2–3 seconds. The maximum range of sprays by different manufacturers varies, but they are reported to be effective when sprayed at aggressive bears from a distance of 1.5 to 3 meters.

After being sprayed onto a bear’s face, it causes its eyes, nose and lungs to swell. This means they lose their sight and have trouble breathing.

This is only temporary and it’s completely harmless to the animal. The effect lasts less than an hour, so you will have enough time to leave the dangerous area.


Bears usually attack people only in extreme situations, so if you seem not dangerous to a wild animal, it will not be interesting to hike on you. But it is important to know how fast can a bear run and what to do in case you face a bear because only this way you will be able to save your life during your outdoor adventures.

We wish you comfortable and safe camping trips! If you are interested in Camping at Yosemite national park, here you can find some tips. Read also about Yosemite winter Camping.

Read also the following interesting articles:


Leave a Comment