- Infinite simultaneous connections
- 5000+ servers
- TCP Override to obtain stable connections
- Cheaper than ExpressVPN
- Faster speeds than TunnelBear
- 3000+ servers in 94 countries
- Better than TunnelBear for torrenting
- Premium security suite
But how do these two VPNs stack up against each other?
To unravel this mystery, I conducted dozens of tests on both VPNs based on factors such as speeds, streaming, torrenting capabilities, gaming, logging policy, device compatibility, usability, and pricing.
Ready to embark on a head-to-head comparison between TunnelBear and ExpressVPN? Let’s begin.
TunnelBear vs. ExpressVPN (Overview Table)
|Servers:||5,000+ servers||3,000+ servers|
|Speed:||7 Mbps drop||4 Mbps drop|
|Protocols:||WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN||Lightway, IKEv2, OpenVPN|
|Streaming:||Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, NRK, France.TV, Netflix US, UK, POL, JP, IT||Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, NRK, France.TV, Netflix US, UK, POL, JP, IT|
|Torrenting:||On all servers + unlimited bandwidth||On all servers + unlimited bandwidth|
|Gaming:||36 ping + 3.5% packet loss||31 ping + 0% packet loss|
|Logs:||(Probably) Verified no logs policy||Verified no logs policy|
|Security:||VigilantBear, GhostBear, TunnelBear Blocker||Network kill switch, Obfuscation, TrustedServer technology, Threat Manager|
|Devices:||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android Smart TVs||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Fire TV, gaming consoles, smart home devices, Smart TVs, routers (app)|
|Customer Support:||No live chat||24/7 live chat|
TunnelBear boasts a server library of over 5,000 servers, surpassing ExpressVPN’s 3,000+. However, ExpressVPN is better at unblocking restricted content with its broader geographical coverage in 94 countries. In contrast, TunnelBear has servers in only 47 countries.
Meanwhile, TunnelBear and ExpressVPN boast USA, UK, Africa, Europe, and Middle East servers to bypass geo-restrictions, but ExpressVPN has more US servers (24 vs. 13).
Thus, ExpressVPN is better for US users who want nearby servers.
One unusual fact about TunnelBear is that it’s unusable in India.
It lacks physical or virtual servers in the country, and neither sells nor provides access to TunnelBear users from India.
In contrast, ExpressVPN works seamlessly in India and has two virtual servers.
Thus, ExpressVPN is the only choice for Indian users.
ExpressVPN also employs TrustedServer technology that operates on a volatile memory, so all user data is erased with every server reboot. Unfortunately, TunnelBear doesn’t offer a similar diskless infrastructure, giving ExpressVPN another win.
Do TunnelBear or ExpressVPN Work in China?
TunnelBear and ExpressVPN work in China and offer robust obfuscation, which often goes undetected by Chinese authorities. I’ll delve further into obfuscation in an upcoming section.
In the meantime, it’s worth noting that TunnelBear and ExpressVPN don’t have Chinese servers. The closest users can get with ExpressVPN is its Taiwan and Hong Kong servers.
Meanwhile, TunnelBear has a single server in Taiwan.
Both VPNs can unblock content from China. However, ExpressVPN is better at bypassing geo-restrictions in other countries, as it offers twice as many countries as TunnelBear. Also, unlike TunnelBear, ExpressVPN features RAM-only servers. So, ExpressVPN wins this round.
Is TunnelBear Faster Than ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN is faster than TunnelBear, consistently outperforming the latter in multiple tests I conducted using similar protocols.
This is no surprise, considering ExpressVPN has an in-house protocol, Lightway, renowned for being the fastest in the industry. It also offers IKEv2 and OpenVPN protocols.
Meanwhile, TunnelBear has WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN protocols.
Additionally, TunnelBear has a distinct feature called TCP Override, allowing the VPN to prioritize stability over speed on an unreliable internet connection.
However, for the following tests, I disabled the TCP Override feature.
I conducted the speed tests using the following protocols:
- WireGuard (TunnelBear) and Lightway (ExpressVPN)
- IKEv2 (TunnelBear) and IKEv2 (ExpressVPN)
- OpenVPN (TunnelBear) and OpenVPN UDP (ExpressVPN)
I used a combination of near and distant servers for these tests:
- United States
- United Kingdom
As mentioned, TunnelBear’s WireGuard protocol struggled to keep pace with ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol. The only instance where TunnelBear came close was on the Australia server using its WireGuard protocol.
Check the next section for a more comprehensive analysis of my tests!
Speed & Performance
The table below has the results of the 18 tests I performed, illustrating the speed drop of each VPN across different servers and protocols.
|US Server||UK Server||Australia Server|
|TunnelBear (WireGuard)||7.49 Mbps drop||5.71 Mbps drop||5.34 Mbps drop|
|ExpressVPN (Lightway)||3.16 Mbps drop||0.13 Mbps drop||4.57 Mbps drop|
|TunnelBear (IKEv2)||19.14 Mbps drop||11.21 Mbps drop||10.47 Mbps drop|
|ExpressVPN (IKEv2)||9.48 Mbps drop||10.09 Mbps drop||8.28 Mbps drop|
|TunnelBear (OpenVPN)||15.18 Mbps drop||11.17 Mbps drop||12.53 Mbps drop|
|ExpressVPN (OpenVPN)||12.61 Mbps drop||10.61 Mbps drop||9.83 Mbps drop|
TunnelBear delivered its fastest speed of 94.66 Mbps over my 100 Mbps connection via the WireGuard protocol on the Australia server.
ExpressVPN recorded its highest speed of 99.87 Mbps over my 100 Mbps connection via the Lightway protocol on the UK server.
With a mere 0.13 speed drop on the UK server using the Lightway protocol and exceptional performance across other servers and protocols, ExpressVPN outshines TunnelBear. Thus, ExpressVPN wins for being faster.
Thanks to both VPNs’ consistently high speeds, I enjoyed buffer-free uninterrupted streaming on these platforms in 4K resolution.
However, only ExpressVPN offers a SmartDNS service called MediaStreamer, which I use to binge foreign TV shows on my Samsung smart TV (which doesn’t support VPNs).
I performed Netflix tests to determine whether these VPNs unblock regional Netflix libraries:
|Unblocks:||Netflix US?||Netflix UK?||Other Netflix Libraries?|
|TunnelBear||Yes||Yes||Netflix POL, AU, JP, IT|
|ExpressVPN||Yes||Yes||Netflix POL, AU, JP, IT|
TunnelBear and ExpressVPN successfully unblocked all the Netflix libraries I threw at them, including Netflix US, UK, Australia, Poland, Japan, and Italy.
To evaluate the performance of these servers, I streamed Queen of the South, which isn’t on Netflix in my region but is available in the Australian library.
Both VPNs did equally well in streaming UHD content with no buffering.
ExpressVPN and TunnelBear unblocked every streaming platform I tested, including Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, NRK, France TV, and various regional Netflix libraries. While both were good at buffer-free 4K streaming, ExpressVPN features SmartDNS. Thus, ExpressVPN wins this round.
TunnelBear and ExpressVPN support P2P traffic, and you can use all the servers for torrenting on clients like BitTorrent, Deluge, Transmission, Vuze, etc.
And while you don’t get SOCKS5 Proxy with either, ExpressVPN supports port forwarding on routers, allowing for faster torrent seeding.
However, ExpressVPN disassociates itself from any participation in intellectual property infringement conducted via its servers, as mentioned in its Terms of Service:
Similarly, TunnelBear prohibits the distribution of copyrighted material using its servers.
The VPN providers likely include this clause in their ToS due to legal obligations. Nonetheless, it’s important to be aware of it.
Check my test results for a deeper analysis of how these VPNs stack up regarding torrenting.
I put the torrent capabilities of each VPN provider to test by downloading a 700.26 MB file using the Vuze torrenting client on Windows.
To ensure a fair comparison, I utilized the US server for both, Lightway UDP for ExpressVPN, and WireGuard for TunnelBear.
Here’s a breakdown of how they compared:
|Average Download Speed||Max Download Speed||Download Completion Time|
|TunnelBear||1.04 MiB/s||1.61 MiB/s||8 minutes, 21 seconds|
|ExpressVPN||1.37 MiB/s||2.11 MiB/s||7 minutes, 38 seconds|
TunnelBear’s torrenting speeds trailed only slightly behind ExpressVPN.
This is TunnelBear:
This is ExpressVPN:
Despite the marginal difference between the two VPNs, ExpressVPN downloaded the torrent file slightly faster. Additionally, unlike TunnelBear, ExpressVPN supports port forwarding on routers. Therefore, ExpressVPN takes the crown.
I conducted ping and packet loss tests to evaluate how TunnelBear and ExpressVPN compare in gaming. Here’s a breakdown of the results:
I ran the tests multiple times to get the accurate ping using two games.
The first was Fall Guys, a lower-end title, while the second was Destiny 2, a high-end title.
In these tests, ExpressVPN crushed TunnelBear by achieving zero packet loss, while TunnelBear followed behind with a 3.5% packet loss.
Despite the slight packet loss, Fall Guys ran smoothly with TunnelBear.
However, with Destiny 2, I did encounter a few frame drops, whereas ExpressVPN ran it smoothly.
ExpressVPN demonstrated minimal lag and 0% packet data loss in the test, while TunnelBear exhibited a 3.5% packet loss and slight lag while playing Destiny 2. So, ExpressVPN wins the gaming round.
The only data TunnelBear and ExpressVPN collect from users is the email they enter while signing up for the service. The email is stored to send you purchase receipts and facilitate future communication.
As for payment options, ExpressVPN accepts a wide range of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and XRP. In contrast, TunnelBear only accepts Bitcoin.
Furthermore, ExpressVPN’s headquarters are in the British Virgin Islands, a very privacy-friendly nation with no data retention laws. Meanwhile, TunnelBear is based in Toronto, Canada, and is part of the 5 Eyes alliance.
However, this shouldn’t be a significant issue since it has a strict no-logs policy, so no user data is stored. Let’s dig deeper into the logging policies.
TunnelBear and ExpressVPN value users’ privacy by not storing critical data such as traffic logs, connection logs, IP addresses, and server locations.
|Traffic Logs?||Connection Logs?||IP Address?||Server Location?|
TunnelBear’s logging policy has gone through six security audits since 2016.
The last audit was in 2022 by Cure53, which found 32 vulnerabilities.
Upon reviewing the audit report, I found no direct link between these vulnerabilities and TunnelBear’s logging policy. However, I also couldn’t find mentions of TunnelBear’s logging policy in the audit report. But as the technical jargon looked like gibberish, I’ll give TunnelBear the benefit anyway.
Meanwhile, ExpressVPN’s no logs policy only went through a single audit by KPMG in September 2022. But that logging policy also proved effective when it withstood scrutiny in court cases where demands for logs were made.
These factors prove that ExpressVPN’s logging policy is better than TunnelBear, particularly in light of the 32 vulnerabilities.
TunnelBear’s logging policy lacks a concrete assurance of its effectiveness. Moreover, unlike ExpressVPN, TunnelBear resides in the Five Eyes alliance region and doesn’t offer Ethereum and XRP cryptocurrency payments. So, ExpressVPN wins the privacy round.
TunnelBear and ExpressVPN are equipped with industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption, which works automatically across all protocols and servers.
I tested the encryption on both VPNs to verify its effectiveness, and all results confirmed secure traffic from hackers.
TunnelBear’s encryption test results:
ExpressVPN’s encryption test results:
Besides the military-grade encryption, both VPNs have a kill switch for IP and DNS leak protection in case the VPN connection drops. TunnelBear’s kill switch is called VigilantBear and is available on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
Similarly, ExpressVPN features a kill switch on all devices called Network Lock.
IP and DNS Leak Protection
The results below show that both VPNs passed the IP and DNS leak protection tests.
TunnelBear’s IP and DNS leak results:
ExpressVPN’s IP and DNS leak results:
ExpressVPN and TunnelBear offer obfuscation, but a significant distinction lies in that ExpressVPN incorporates built-in obfuscation on all of its servers.
This eliminates the need for manually activating a setting.
In comparison, TunnelBear’s obfuscation feature is called GhostBear and can be enabled through the settings. GhostBear is currently unavailable on macOS and iOS.
So, if you desire obfuscation on your iPhone/iPad or Mac computer, your only option is ExpressVPN.
Furthermore, enabling TunnelBear’s GhostBear technology slightly decreased my connection speeds, which is not the case with ExpressVPN’s obfuscation.
Also, Ghostbear is unavailable on the IKEv2 protocol.
TunnelBear offers TunnelBear Blocker as a Chrome extension, enabling users to eliminate basic pop-up ads and trackers while browsing the web.
You don’t even require a TunnelBear account to use the ad blocker.
Simply add it to your browser and activate it to initiate secure browsing.
However, the TunnelBear Blocker is ineffective at blocking more severe threats and malicious trackers since it’s a browser extension.
So, the better choice for users seeking enhanced protection against such threats is ExpressVPN’s Threat Manager, a more sophisticated ad blocker capable of thwarting serious tracking attempts and blocking pop-ads.
However, ExpressVPN’s Threat Manager is exclusive to macOS, iOS, and Linux devices at the moment.
Both VPNs feature a robust security stack comprising encryption, a kill switch, and IP leak protection. However, ExpressVPN surpasses TunnelBear with superior obfuscation technology and a more advanced ad blocker. Therefore, ExpressVPN emerges as the winner here.
Devices & Connections
ExpressVPN has apps for a broader range of devices than TunnelBear.
You can install ExpressVPN on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Fire TV, Android TV, Gaming consoles, and Smart home devices.
It also features dedicated router firmware that takes mere minutes to set up.
Even more, ExpressVPN’s router app has an ingenious Device Group feature that lets users categorize their router-connected devices into different groups, which can be assigned to different server locations.
On the contrary, TunnelBear can be installed on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS devices. It can’t be installed on a router and doesn’t support unique platforms like Fire TV.
Meanwhile, ExpressVPN’s browser extensions are available for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox browsers, while TunnelBear only offers Chrome and Firefox extensions.
Additionally, only ExpressVPN offers SmartDNS technology called MediaStreamer.
I had a blast using it on my PS5 to stream international content on BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, and more.
While TunnelBear doesn’t offer SmartDNS, it can be installed on any Android TV with access to the Google Play Store (as can ExpressVPN).
|Compatible OS?||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Android Smart TVs||Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, Android, FireTV, Android TV, Gaming consoles, Smart home devices|
|Smart TVs?||Android TV||Android TV, FireTV + Mediastreamer|
|Router Support?||No||Yes (dedicated app)|
|Browser Extensions?||Chrome, Firefox||Chrome, Firefox, Edge|
The primary advantage TunnelBear holds over ExpressVPN is its unlimited device connections, allowing you to secure all the devices within your household or workplace using a single subscription.
Comparatively, ExpressVPN only allows five simultaneous connections.
Still, you can bypass this modest device limit by configuring ExpressVPN on your router.
Despite TunnelBear offering infinite simultaneous connections, ExpressVPN is better regarding platform support by extending its compatibility to Routers, Fire TV, Gaming consoles, and Smart home devices. Moreover, unlike Tunnelbear, ExpressVPN has SmartDNS. Therefore, ExpressVPN wins this round.
ExpressVPN and TunnelBear offer split tunneling but are limited in regarding platform support. For instance, ExpressVPN’s split tunneling is only available on Windows, Android, and its router app.
Another issue with ExpressVPN’s split tunneling is that it’s only limited to apps, not websites.
TunnelBear upholds its tradition of fancy naming by dubbing its split tunneling feature as “Split Bear.”
Fortunately, Split Bear allows you to exclude both apps and websites from the encrypted tunnel. However, like ExpressVPN, it’s unavailable on macOS and iOS apps.
While both VPNs only offer split tunneling on Windows and Android, TunnelBear has the added benefit of excluding both websites and apps while ExpressVPN is limited to apps only. So, TunnelBear wins this round.
The most notable drawback of TunnelBear’s customer support is the absence of a live chat feature. It has an outdated web contact form and email support.
I had a question for which I raised a ticket on the contact form, and the response took about ten hours.
I raised another ticket, and my query was answered in about six hours this time.
ExpressVPN, on the contrary, features an excellent customer support experience via its live chat, a feature I took for granted before using TunnelBear.
All my queries were addressed in no time by their proficient live agents.
Additionally, while both VPNs offer support resources, ExpressVPN features more comprehensive tutorials, FAQs, and troubleshooting tips to assist users.
TunnelBear’s email-based support falls short compared to ExpressVPN’s seamless live chat support. Undoubtedly, ExpressVPN is the winner here.
TunnelBear and ExpressVPN offer user-friendly apps, but ExpressVPN’s contemporary user interface pays the most attention to functionality.
ExpressVPN’s desktop apps offer a convenient shortcuts feature that allows you to add up to five of your frequently visited websites directly to the app’s user interface.
Instead of a map interface for selecting servers, ExpressVPN presents you with a list of server locations from which you can pick your desired location.
In response, TunnelBear offers visually appealing desktop apps with a map interface. However, the heavy use of design elements and numerous animations can often result in lag and delays while loading the app.
This situation is even worse in TunnelBear’s mobile apps. Although the bear-themed UI is captivating, the focus on aesthetics sometimes hinders the app’s functionality.
In contrast, ExpressVPN offers superior iOS and Android apps with a smoother user experience and responsive interface.
I tested both VPN providers on Windows, macOS, and iOS, and all protocols and most features were available across all platforms. A notable exception is split tunneling, which was missing from macOS and iOS in both VPNs.
Finally, I measured how long each VPN app takes to connect to a server, and ExpressVPN was faster than Tunnelbear VPN almost every time on iOS and Windows.
ExpressVPN outperforms TunnelBear’s app performance, offering more practical and responsive mobile and desktop apps. In contrast, TunnelBear’s heavy emphasis on aesthetics often causes lag. Therefore, ExpressVPN wins this round.
Price & Value
TunnelBear is cheaper than ExpressVPN across all pricing plans.
Overview of TunnelBear pricing plans:
Overview of ExpressVPN’s pricing plans:
ExpressVPN lets users select between monthly, semi-annual, and annual plans. TunnelBear offers monthly and yearly plans priced less than ExpressVPN’s offering.
As mentioned earlier, ExpressVPN accepts cryptocurrency payments, including Bitcoin, XRP, Ethereum, USDC, BUSD, PAX, and GUSD stablecoins.
You can also purchase an ExpressVPN subscription with a credit/debit card, Paypal, and Apple Pay. Meanwhile, TunnelBear only accepts credit/debit cards apart from Bitcoin.
What sets TunnelBear apart from ExpressVPN regarding value is its free version, which gives you 2 GB of secure data. ExpressVPN doesn’t offer a free version but has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
TunnelBear offers a distinct refund policy for its paid plans, where refunds are assessed on a case-by-case basis within 30 days.
While Tunnelbear is less flexible than ExpressVPN regarding payment methods, it provides cheaper monthly and yearly subscription plans and a free version with 2GB of browsing data. Hence TunnelBear is the clear winner here.
TunnelBear vs. ExpressVPN (Overview Table)
|Servers:||5,000+ servers||3,000+ servers||TunnelBear|
|Speed:||7 Mbps drop||4 Mbps drop||ExpressVPN|
|Protocols:||WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN||Lightway, IKEv2, OpenVPN||ExpressVPN|
|Streaming:||Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, NRK, France.TV, Netflix US, UK, POL, JP, IT||Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, NRK, France.TV, Netflix US, UK, POL, JP, IT||Tie|
|Torrenting:||On all servers + unlimited bandwidth||On all servers + unlimited bandwidth||Tie|
|Gaming:||36 ping + 3.5% packet loss||31 ping + 0% packet loss||ExpressVPN|
|Logs:||(Probably) Verified no logs policy||Verified no logs policy||ExpressVPN|
|Security:||VigilantBear, GhostBear, TunnelBear Blocker||Network kill switch, Obfuscation, TrustedServer technology, Threat Manager||ExpressVPN|
|Devices:||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android Smart TVs||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Fire TV, gaming consoles, smart home devices, Smart TVs, routers (app)||ExpressVPN|
|Customer Support:||No live chat||24/7 live chat||ExpressVPN|
Which Will It Be - TunnelBear or ExpressVPN?
ExpressVPN emerges as the top-tier VPN service in this showdown because it’s better at content-unblocking, speeds, security, and device compatibility.
Meanwhile, TunnelBear is ideal for users seeking a cheaper VPN to share with their friends or family who require VPN access.
Protect private web traffic from snooping, interference, and censorship. All plans are covered by a no-hassle 100% money-back guarantee for your first 30 days of service.