Bears aren't only solid tanks, but a HotW Tranquility from a Bear will basically give your healers an 8 second break, healing anywhere from 2 to 3 million. Not to mention the Rejuvs they can through out afterwards, healing for a trillion as well.
Bear's actually have a huge amount of Utility...
Might of Ursoc: A "Last Stand" that indirectly increases our self-healing for its duration.
Survival Instincts: A "big" damage reduction cooldown. Glyphable to make more potent if your timing is excellent.
Barkskin: A "small" damage reduction with a low CD.
Berserk: A significant in Rage Generation which can provide a huge burst of self-healing also granting immense Cleave damage for a few seconds.
Enrage: A on-demand gap filler Rage button which can provide an extra self-healing (assuming you're keeping SD on cooldown).
Incarnation: An immense increase in RPS for 30 seconds which basically turns you into an unstoppable self-healing machine.
Renewal: A powerful % based self-heal that can be used in conjunction with Might of Ursoc.
Nature's Vigil: Hugely increases your single-target damage which is then converted into raid healing. This, combined with high Vengence, can be as powerful as RESTO Tranquility.
Heart of the Wild: A niche talent that lets you assume a Ranged DPS or Healer Role for 45 seconds. This grants you the ability to cast Rejuv in Bear form. You can get a max of 30-32 Rejuvs in this time. Also one kick-ass Tranquility that will let your healers practically AFK.
Tranquility: A heavily buffed version compared to the old Bear/Cat Tranquility. This can be a saving grace EVEN if you're currently Tanking and have to leave bear form for it.
Nature's Swiftness: A short cooldown that can give you a decent heal on yourself, a party member or an instant Combat Ress without leaving Bear Form.
Symbiosis: This is an awesome Utility that grants our off-tanks an extra cooldown OR gives Holy Paladins our Combat Ress OR gives a Mage a potent direct Healing Ability letting them off-heal OR gives Shadow Priests an extra Tranq OR lets Rogues off-tank OR gives Warlocks a potent HoT letting them off-heal OR gives DPS Warriors an extra AoE speed boost. Ultimate utility spell in the game. Not even counting the slight bonuses we can get in return.
Innervate: You won't need it so that is just a little bit extra mana to one of your healers.
Stampeading Roar: An AoE speed bost that's great for moving in packs or as a personal move speed boost.
Some of these aren't as useful generally but they can still come in handy on fights occasionally, dpending on the design, and they can also be used in Dungeons/Questing/PvP effectively. All can be used in Bear Form. I won't list our usual Druid CC but will mention that with Nature's Swiftness you can get an instant Cyclone off without leaving Bear form.
Mighty Bash: Hard stun, 5 sec duration. 50 sec CD.
Ursols Vortex: AoE Death Grip that grips targets on the ground when they try to leave the Vortex. Also an AoE slow to anyone caught in it. 10 sec duration. 1 min CD.
Disorienting Roar: An AoE disorient. 3 sec duration. 30 sec CD.
Typhoon: Good for kiting. 20 sec CD for a 6 sec daze and, of course, the classic knockback.
Mass Entanglement: A powerful AoE root that lasts 20 seconds on a 2 min CD.
Nature's Grasp: An on-hit root. Useful for kiting a single enemy.
Dash: Our powerful personal speed boost which puts us into Cat Form... It's still good.
All this... So much Utility. I'd say probably the most or at least very close to the most. DKs have great personal utility, Monks and Paladins have great group utility. Warriors are useless meatwalls by comparison but do bring some cool toys. But Druids are the most potent raid Tanks in terms of Utility, I believe. Which is why they, along with Paladins, are the preferred setup for Heroic Raiding.
And theres' probably some things I'm missing.
We run Bear MT and Paladin OT for our 10m casual team and haven't had any complaints from healers as of yet really. We have the bear swap to kitty on 1 tank fights (Zorlok pretty much currently for us) and he does fine. As with every tank spec/class combo to some degree, its based on the skill or lack thereof of the player behind the keys.
~Melurnah~ 90 BM Hunter = GM of Onslaught; Doomhammer US Horde
Alts: Minaah - 90 Bear Druid // Zinaah - 90 Disc Priest // Pandoraah - 90 Mistweaver Monk // Elaraah - 85 Prot Paladin // Serriah - 85 Resto Shaman // Senali - 85 Combat Rogue // Vexxah - 85 Destro Warlock // Velaraah - 85 Arms Warrior // Aurorah - 85 Frost Mage
Well I know when I do heroics with my friends I used to take alot of damage till I read this awsome guide on the inc bear...and now my healer wont run with me cause I dont take enough damage and she gets bored .....so I guess it really has to do with how well you play your bear. (I don't raid, not enough people on my server for raiding 10 man)
Its really hard to say.
No one did any reliable simulation for tanks.
One tank may take 20% more damage than others and no one would ever notice. Also you have to summarize the result for all boss encounters in current tier, and the result will be totally different in 10man and 25man as well as in normal and heroic difficulty.
From healer point of view - all tanks are healable. But it just means that no tank takes 2x more damage then other tanks. If its just 50% more damage - they would not even notice.
I once made a funny experiment - I took off 5 items of my equipment on heroic 25man fight. And then asked in healers channel after defeating the boss "guys, don't you feel that I took more damage than usual?" and main healer, the paladin, responded "nah, it was my fault, I was slacking a little bit".
Every time we have disputes about who takes more damage(to decide who we should put as mt on particular boss), healers say "tank X takes more damage". We do 50 more tries, begin to analyse logs and realise that tank Y damage is less spiky, but tank X takes 20% less damage in average, as well as heals himself for additional 20% of the damage taken.
Don't trust anyone who says something like "tank x is good, tank y is bad". If you have a choice - choose the most experienced and reliable tank. It is proven by numerous first kills that you can kill bosses with any tank setup.
I'm a Bear tank as well and I wouldn't wanna trade my Bear for anything else. If I should point my finger at one thing, it's the lack of a raid wall. The raid wide FR in DS we got with our 4p bonus was just amazing, maybe a bit too much even. But Imo it would have been "fair", had Might of Ursoc been raid wide. It's nothing but a last stand and even dps Warriors have a raid wall in Rallying Cry, so why don't Bears have one?
Btw, Gara'jal isn't a problem for a Bear tank - or it shouldn't be. I take a lot less dmg than our Prot Paladin on that fight, just keep up SD and then rotate your other CD's. Most of the time, I have SD + trinket, BS or SI up at the same time.
Self heal is good and was just buffed, dmg both single and AoE is good (360k on Heroic Wind Lord while doing 38k HPS says hi).
About utility: Stampeding Roar is not the only thing we bring. We also bring a Tranq, a CR and Symbiosis. And even if you don't think as these as good utility, Stampeding Roar is really amazing. Using it on Heroic Ta'ayk=win, we can spec into Feline Swiftness. Add the speed enchant to boots and your run speed is 124%.
Spec into HotW and be half a healer on Tsu'long or dps your ass off with Wrath spamming.
Bears are just fine.
Got all tanks at max level again, and again Bear tank is my fav tank, feels like i take the least damage, my meening atleast.