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Best Pepper Spray For Runners in 2023

Running is one of the best ways to stay healthy and in shape. While running can be more fun as a group activity, you don’t always have a running partner available when you have the chance to go out.
Running alone is a joy unto itself. At least, it should be. But for many runners, running alone also comes with safety concerns. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice safety just to get a few solo miles in.
There are a few reasonable precautions all runners should take. Things like letting someone know your route and when you should be back. But another good precaution, especially if you’re going to be running in a new space, is to carry pepper spray.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing pepper sprays designed specifically for active people. These are a little more convenient and designed to be easily accessible on the go. We’ll identify the most important features, which pepper spray is best for which type of user, and the most important pros and cons of each version.
Feel free to run whenever you want, with or without company. Carry pepper spray, and stay safe.

Top 3 Best and Favorites


Mace Brand PepperGard Sport Pepper Spray


  • Up to 15 uses
  • 10 ft range
  • Derived from natural sources
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SABRE Red Runner Pepper Gel with Adjustable Hand Strap


  • Less likely to miss the target
  • 35 uses per container
  • Adjustable hand strap
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SABRE Red Runner Pepper Gel with Clip-on Alarm


  • Compact alarm
  • Flashing lights attract attention
  • Good for scaring wild animals
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Best Overall Pepper Spray for Runners

1. Mace Brand PepperGard Sport Pepper Spray

Mace brand pepper spray has given its name to the product. They’re a big part of why many people say ‘mace’ instead of pepper spray. So it should be no surprise that this is the best overall pepper spray on our list.

The PepperGard line is a utilitarian and highly potent blend of pepper spray from Mace. It’s police-grade, which means that it will be effective on almost anyone, and most animals and other dangers as well.

Its utilitarian design means this spray is easy to use, has enough spray for multiple uses, and is easy to carry. The spray also leaves a UV marker, making it easier to identify the person sprayed, even if they get away.


  • Up to 15 uses
  • 10 ft range
  • Flip-top safety is easy to use, and effectively prevents accidental spraying
  • Pepper spray is derived from natural sources


  • Thumb trigger takes some getting used to
  • Need to fully depress the trigger to get full range spray

Best Pepper Gel for Runners

2. SABRE Red Runner Pepper Gel with Adjustable Hand Strap

While Mace brand pepper spray might have made our top pick overall, SABRE, another has a better option for runners specifically.

This pepper gel works similarly to pepper spray (and we’ll talk more about the differences between pepper spray and pepper gel in the FAQ), but it is much less likely to get caught in the wind or blowback toward the user.

The adjustable hand strap makes this a more accessible pepper spray when you’re on the go. Strap it to your hand while running, and you’re ready if anything should happen.

SABRE also has an extensive quality control process to make sure every batch of their pepper gel is potent. Hot peppers are notoriously inconsistent in their heat ratings, which means that you need quality control to make sure you’ve got enough of the active ingredient in every gel.


  • SABRE has an incredibly high success rating
  • Gel is less likely to miss the target or injure the user
  • Hand strap means you’ll always be able to access the pepper gel
  • 35 bursts (uses) per container


  • Some users report that the button is difficult to press

Best Pepper Gel and Personal Alarm Combo Kit

3. SABRE Red Runner Pepper Gel with Clip-on Alarm

Just pepper spray isn’t always enough, especially if you run on trails and in other remote locations. Regardless of why you’ve had to use your pepper spray, it’s a good idea to have an additional alert to bring attention to your situation.

This combo kit from SABRE gives you both their high-quality pepper gel and a personal alert alarm. No, this isn’t like the alarms for seniors that immediately contact emergency responders. Instead, this is an alarm designed to provide an alert, scare the person or animal you’re dealing with, and provide multiple ways for people to find you.

The alarm can be heard for 600ft once activated. A flashing light will help nearby people and first responders find you, regardless of the time of day or weather.


  • High- quality pepper gel spray
  • Alarm is compact and easy to use
  • Flashing lights attract attention
  • Sound and light good for scaring wild animals


  • Have to remove a battery tab before the alarm works
  • Pepper gel holster is a little loose, might need adjusting to stay secure

Best All-Purpose Pepper Spray

4. SABRE Red Compact Pepper Spray with Clip

Another SABRE spray, this is a good option for runners looking for an accessible option that you don’t have to hold or wear directly on your hand.

Like their gels, SABRE has a rigorous quality control process for all their pepper sprays. That includes the individual batches of spray along with the triggers, canisters, and other features. You’ll also get access to their safety training videos and information.

That safety training can be a critical addition for new pepper spray users. The best spray in the world is useless if you are unable or unwilling to use it properly.

Available in multiple colors, the real standout feature of this pepper spray is the release clip. It’s easy to clip this pepper spray to a piece of clothing, backpack, or any other equipment you carry with you while running.

The clip keeps your pepper spray secure until you need it, but the quick release lets you access the spray quickly.


  • Convenient without being in the way
  • Can customize color
  • Rigorous quality control and product testing
  • Access to free library of pepper spray training materials


  • Too easy to unlock, should never be stored inside a bag or other container

Top Pepper Spray for Women Runners

5. Guard Dog Security Instafire

We know that women want to be safe while they run. This pepper spray is a great way to have a little extra tool up your sleeve in the case of an emergency.

Like other pepper spray formulas, this spray includes a UV dye that makes it easy to identify the person who was sprayed. It’s also rated for effectiveness up to 12 feet away from the user, which is 2 feet further than most competitors.

With a more comfortable container than most Velcro strap pepper sprays, Guard Dog Instafire is also easier to wear.

But the biggest advantage that comes with this pepper spray is its replacement guarantee. If you ever have to use this spray, Guard Dog will replace the canister. That way you always have a fresh, high-pressure canister ready to use.


  • Lifetime replacement of the spray if used
  • Comfortable to wear while running
  • 12 ft range
  • UV dye for easy identification of sprayed individuals


  • Glove holder may not fit all users
  • Trigger may jam after repeated use

Best Pepper Spray Gun for Runners

6. Mace Brand Pepper Gun with Strobe LED

This system is a good option for runners who need a more substantial spray system than a hand-held canister. Shaped like a pistol, but distinguishable from a firearm, this model offers a longer range, superior control, and a few other benefits.

Bright colors and clear mace labeling make this easy to identify.

The gun also has a bright flashing strobe. That strobe can be used to alert others, distract an attacker, and scare or incapacitate animals.

The pepper spray gun is also easy to load and easier to aim and use than many alternatives.


  • Easy to aim
  • Long, 20 ft range
  • Strobe light for alerting others and distracting attackers
  • TSA compliant for air travel


  • Can be more difficult to carry discreetly
  • More expensive than most pepper sprays

Top Pepper Spray for Aggressive Dogs

7. Halt! Dog Repellent

Anyone who runs in areas with a lot of dogs knows that dogs can be one of the most present threats while you’re on the go. Guard dogs and other animals trained to protect themselves, other animals, and their owners can react poorly to quickly moving people.

But regular pepper spray isn’t guaranteed to work on animals.

If you’re concerned about dogs where you run, you need a pepper spray that is effective for canines. Fortunately, Halt! is designed with dogs in mind. It’s potent enough to work on canines of all breeds and sizes and will work on other animals and people as well.


  • Preferred dog spray of the U.S. Postal Service
  • Accurate up to 10 feet
  • Designed for dogs specifically
  • Is rated to be temporary, won’t injure the dog


  • Cannot be sold to anyone in the state of California

Best Keychain Pepper Spray

8. POM Key Pepper Spray

Keychains sprays are one of the most popular formats out there. They’re convenient, easy to use, and easy to keep on you. But, with the popularity can come confusion. There are a lot of bad pepper spray products that are either unreliable or ineffective on the market.

POM’s keychain pepper spray is easy to use and highly effective. Their formula is one of the strongest legal formulations of pepper spray. The lock mechanism gives you peace of mind that the spray won’t accidentally misfire.

Available in singles, or in multi-packs, the sprays each have a color band that makes it easy to tell a used spray from its replacements. Just make sure you don’t have the same color band when you go to replace the spray.

The flip-top design was also created from 40 years of aerosol experience, creating a more reliable product.


  • Powerful spray
  • Easy to carry
  • More effective aerosol design
  • Up to 12 seconds of continuous spray


  • Need to check concentration legality in some states
  • May not always get the color ordered

Top Pepper Spray with Laser Sight

9. Guard Dog Security Accufire

Accuracy is one of the biggest problems with effective pepper spray use. Most sprays cover a relatively small area, by design. But that means that a slight error in aim can prevent your pepper spray from being as effective as you need it to be.

The laser sight on this pepper spray makes it much easier to guarantee that you’re aiming in the right direction.

It also has the hottest pepper spray blend legally available, in addition to a UV dye for later identification.

Designed to fit on a keychain, this is a good portable option for most users.

Like other Guard Dog pepper spray products, this spray is protected by their 4 Life program. If you use the spray, they will replace it with a fresh canister.


  • Protected by the Guard Dog 4 Life program
  • High potency spray
  • Laser sight for easier use
  • Keychain design makes it convenient and portable


  • LED button sometimes sticks
  • Battery for the LED can be a little bulky

Best Pepper Spray for Personal Defense

10. Guard Dog Security Olympian 3-in-1

A little more expensive but a lot more flexible, this is a good option for people who want something more than a standard pepper spray.

The Olympian is a standard Guard Dog pepper spray, combined with a flashlight and a stun gun. The flashlight is designed as a survival tool, and to be bright enough to surprise and disorient attackers. The stun gun is strictly short-range but offers higher than average consumer voltage.

The combination of these three products creates an impressive deterrent. Not to mention that the pepper spray is also covered by Guard Dog’s 4 Life program.


  • High voltage stun gun
  • Flashlight effective for a deterrent and as a tool
  • High capsaicin pepper spray
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee on the whole product


  • Stun gun requires a charge and needs recharging
  • Some users report the flashlight stops working after a few uses



What’s the difference between pepper spray and pepper gel?

There are a few key differences between pepper spray and gel. It’s much more than just the consistency of the product.

For starters, pepper sprays have a cone of effect. Pepper gels spray in a direct stream, and generally only affect the exact place they’re sprayed. But, pepper gel also tends to have a better spraying range. That’s because the thicker product doesn’t disperse as easily.

Pepper gels also virtually eliminate the risk of the product blowing back toward the user.

One of the last differences is the durability of the product. Pepper sprays work for quite a while after getting on your skin, but they can be washed off. Pepper gels are much harder to get rid of and are thick and sticky.

That means that if your assailant tries to wipe the pepper gel away, they’re much more likely to spread it around.

What’s the difference between mace and pepper spray?

There isn’t a difference between mace and pepper spray. Mace is a term commonly used to refer to pepper sprays, taken in part from the Mace Brand of pepper sprays.

While the Mace brand is a good brand of pepper spray, you can refer to any pepper spray as ‘mace’.

Is pepper spray or gel legal in my state?

Pepper spray is technically legal in all 50 states. But different states have different regulations regarding possession, legal use, and legal potency. Unfortunately, there isn’t any one hard and fast rule for whether pepper spray is legal in your state.

If you’re interested in owning and using pepper spray you should familiarize yourself with your state’s rules for possession, carrying, and using pepper sprays and gels.

This guide from Cabelas is a good primer for pepper spray legal status by state.

Can pepper spray be shipped to me?

Like the legality of pepper spray, this can be a gray area. Some states like California restrict the shipment of pepper spray more than others. Like most substances, the legality of shipping the product is on the consumer, not the company. But, many companies will have some kind of warning or prohibition on shipping where it’s not allowed.

You should look at the legality of shipment in your state before ordering a pepper spray product. This guide will give you some legal information, but you should also look up your state’s specific pepper spray regulations.

Even if shipping is legal in your state, you may have weight restrictions to deal with. That might mean that you can order an individual pepper spray device, but not replacement canisters or a multi-pack.

If not, where can I buy it?

The restrictions on where you can buy pepper spray can also vary from state to state. Your best bet is either to look at your state restrictions or to contact a possible retailer before checking their store.

One of the most common ways to restrict pepper spray is to restrict it to gun retailers since pepper spray is also considered a weapon by most states.

However, New York also allows pepper spray to be sold in pharmacies. In Washington, D.C., you have to register in order to legally possess pepper spray.

How long does pepper spray last?

This question is really asking two different things. How long does pepper spray last in its container? And how long do the effects of pepper spray last after use?

Most pepper spray is considered shelf-stable for 1-2 years. While the product itself might still be potent after that period, the delivery system is less likely to be effective. It’s also possible for pepper spray ingredients to react with themselves or degrade in containment.

However, some products are rated for longer, depending on the manufacturer and intended customer.

Because of the potency and formula of pepper spray is different for every product, you should check for an expiration label on the device itself.

Once used, pepper spray is effective for between 30-90 minutes, depending on the potency of the spray, how much was used, and the susceptibility of the individual sprayed.

How old do you have to be to carry pepper spray?

This is another question where the answer depends on where you live. Some states don’t have a specific age restriction, meaning you can carry pepper spray as soon as you are old enough to understand the regulations and can be trusted to safely use the product.

Other states restrict the purchase and use of pepper spray to age 18. Still, others limit carrying and using pepper spray to age 21.

You should also be aware of any size and potency restrictions in your state.

Here’s a quick guide to the laws by state. But you should also look up your state regulations in case they’ve been recently changed.

How do I use pepper spray?

Pepper spray is pretty easy to use, but there are a few things you need to know first. You have to be familiar with your spray. Take some time to practice with it. You need to know what it feels like, and what it feels like when it’s oriented correctly.

You also need to know how to disarm the safety mechanism. Some sprays have a separate button to engage and disengage the safety, while others are ready to spray as soon as you take them out of the holster. Ideally, you should be able to deactivate the safety one-handed.

Always make sure you’re spraying away from your body mass, especially your eyes. It’s easy to disable yourself with pepper spray if it’s pointing the wrong direction.

Make sure you’re within range before you use the spray. A good rule of thumb is that the spray works within about 10ft, but different brands and sprayers have different ranges.

Aim for the eyes. Whether you’re spraying a person or a dog, or any other attacker, you should always aim for the eyes. That’s because one of the first, and most effective, things pepper spray will do is force them to close their eyes.

Move the spray across their eyes so that you get both. If you miss, reverse directions and give it another go.

You should also move to the side as soon as you start spraying. Because your attacker is going to close their eyes, moving to the side gets you out of the way in case they keep charging. That way, as soon as you see that the pepper spray is working, you’re out of their reach and can get away.

How effective is pepper spray?

Pepper spray is generally considered highly effective. It’s also considered a weapon since overuse or misuse of the spray can cause vision damage, blindness, and even death.

However, pepper spray designed for people will usually be less effective on dogs and other wildlife. Pepper spray may also be less effective on inebriated attackers since their bodies might respond differently to the spray.

Overall, pepper spray is a great personal safety option. The vast majority of the time, properly used pepper spray will deter your attacker and allow you to get away and get help. Pepper spray also makes identifying an attacker much easier thanks to lingering side effects and UV dyes.

But it isn’t infallible. You should always have some idea of what to do next in case your pepper spray fails.

Ben Drew

Ben Drew

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.

The Wired Runner