How Fast Can A Bear Run?

How Fast Can A Bear Run? Find Out! 24 miles per hour to 35 mph

If you are camping or hiking through the forest in the US, then it will come as no surprise to learn that many contain bears. While bears are beautiful creatures, care does need to be taken to ensure that you are being safe. When thinking about safety during camping, you may be wondering how fast can a bear run. While it is not possible to outrun a bear… these numbers are useful to know, and are interesting too! 

In this article, we will be delving into everything you need to know about a bear’s speed, from how fast they can move, and whether Usain Bolt, the fastest man on the planet, can outrun a bear. 

How Fast Can A Bear Run?

There are many types of bear across the globe, but North America is home to three species in particular. These species are the American Black Bear, the Brown Bear (grizzly bear), and the Polar bear.

While bears are quite heavy animals, they are surprisingly fast. You’ll be surprised how fast they can actually run. 

Out of the three species of bear in North America, the Grizzly bear is by far the fastest. The Grizzly can run up to 35 mph (ca. 56 km/h). The other two bears are not as fast, though the American black bear does come close to this. 

The American brown bear can still run fairly fast with a speed of up to 30mph (ca. 48 km/h). Given this, it is unlikely that you will outrun a bear if it is chasing you. 

Out of the three bears, the polar bear is the slowest. Even though it is the slowest, it is still particularly fast, and reaches speeds of around 24 mph (ca. 39 km/h), but these speeds do not compete with the American black bear. 

As the American Black Bear is the most common species in North America, you will be most likely to see one when hiking or camping. 

How Fast Can Humans Run?

A human typically cannot outrun a bear, especially given that a bear can keep running at a high speed for longer distances.

While there are certain runners that can run at high speeds, take Usain Bolt, for example, these speeds are for very short distance. Given this, even the best runner in the world cannot compete with the speed of a bear over a longer distance. 

When looking at the World Record for the 100 m sprint, which was created by Usain Bolt, his speed was a whopping 27.33 mph (ca. 44 km/h). While this is a very impressive speed, it still does not match the speed of the Grizzly or the American black bear. However, he is interestingly faster than a polar bear, when looking at the short-distance speeds. Though, this high speed cannot be maintained.

As a result of this, no human is capable of outrunning a bear. This is why it is so important to ensure that you are hiking or camping safely, especially in areas with previous sightings of bears.

Should You Try To Outrun a Bear?

Should You Try To Outrun a Bear

From looking at the statistics we have provided above, you should not try to outrun a bear. This is not a smart move, especially given that humans cannot physically outrun a bear. 

However, even if you are a good distance away from any bear, remember that they can maintain their high speeds, and it would not take long for them to catch up with you. 

When it comes to their prey, bears are known to chase, and this is something they are particularly good at, and are driven to do. As a result, it is not wise to run away from a bear. This is going to encourage them to chase after you, as this is built into their predatory instincts.

How Are Bears So Fast?

When you take into account the size and weight of a bear, you would not expect them to run fast. They are capable of these speeds because of their muscle mass. While you may not see it, they have a lot of muscle mass beneath their shoulder blades.

This muscle mass makes them nimble. They use this energy to propel themselves forward, especially in their front limbs. In addition, they use their front paws to dig slightly into the ground to gain momentum as they run.

This muscle mass is more prevalent in a grizzly bear, and can be seen by the raised bump they have on their back. This is a great way to tell this species apart from the American black bear. 

The claws that they have allow them to be more secure on surfaces as they run, it gives them more security with their footing and helps them to run downhill too. While you may assume that a bear would be slower running downhill, this is not actually the case, and their posture does not hinder their running ability in any way. 


We hope that you have found this article useful. As you can see, bears can run surprisingly fast. Even the slowest bear, the polar bear, can still run at impressive speeds and maintain this.

This is why it is so important to ensure that you are being safe while you are in the mountains or hiking. You never want to attempt to outrun a bear.

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