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Keeping Critters Away: The Best Bug Repellent for Camping

From Florida to Alaska, campers everywhere have a common battle to fight. The constant fight to keep bugs off their loved ones, out of their tents and off their pets is a tough battle to win. It is not the easiest thing to do, and campers have tried almost everything as a weapon in their fight against bugs. Let’s look at what today’s camper considers the best bug repellent for camping.

Thermacell in backpack

Applied Directly to Skin

One type of bug repellent is the kind you apply directly to your skin. Bug repellent can be in the form of a spray, wipe-on or lotion. When considering any bug repellent, always follow the directions on the package. Some are not great for children or pets, and some are safe to use on children if you take proper precautions. 

Time to Spray

If you are learning how to train for hiking, you should know that spray-on bug repellent is the most popular way to protect against bug bites. It’s easy to use and very effective. When using bug spray, make sure it has either DEET or picaridin. They are the most effective of all repellents and EPA approved. DEET has been around a long time and works great. Picaridin works well, too, and is more forgiving on waterproof clothes. 

Bug repellent wipes are great for the face or areas you don’t want to cover with a spray. Many are kid-friendly but may have a strong odor. They are easy to throw in the car or backpack for those times you run into unexpected mosquitoes. Wipes are a great alternative to sprays on windy days; you get more repellent on you and lose less downwind.

Bug repellent lotions come with DEET or picaridin, but many will use alternative forms of repellent such as citronella or lemongrass oils. There are also bug repellent balms available that use DEET, picaridin or alternative forms of repellent. Parents often prefer lotions and balms with natural bug repellents for their children. Unlike wipes, lotions and balms do not leave you with a handful of packaging to dispose of.

camping tailgate

Wearing Your Protection

When most of the camping trip is spent outside the tent, many campers wear clothes treated with bug repellent. Clothes treated with spray and let-dry products that use permethrin will repel insects for up to six weeks or six to eight washes. Permethrin is also effective on tents, sleeping bags or netting.

Do you like the idea of treating your clothes with bug repellent, but don’t want that hassle or prefer a longer-lasting solution? Companies like Insect Shield will professionally treat your clothes. They send you a packet that you put your clothes in and mail back. In a couple of weeks, you get back your professionally treated clothes. Plan on one treatment lasting up to 70 washes. Insect Shield is a great option if you are going on a long overlanding trip.

If you prefer, you can buy clothes made specifically to repel bugs. Products like ElimiTick have a variety of clothing and even socks that are available with the Insect Shield technology. It works against most critters and especially ticks. Many hunters prefer clothes already treated, as they have less odor. Parents with children involved in outdoor sports like to throw a ElimiTick tee shirt on and go. 

In some parts of the country the mosquitoes can get so bad, it seems nothing keeps them off your face or out of your ears. You will often see hikers in Alaska wearing a head net to keep the bugs off. Head nets are a great alternative to continually putting bug repellent on your face. Head nets like Ben’s InvisiNet have Insect Shield technology and work great when nothing else will.

tick on finger

Smoke Them Out

If you are sitting around the RV or just trying to sit still in a tree stand, you want to avoid swatting bugs or constantly spraying on bug spray. For these occasions, fuel-powered products like Thermacell are great for the campground or for a hunting bug repellent. These products use a butane fuel cell that heats an allethrin-treated bug repellent mat. The heat disperses the repellent into the air, forming an effective protection zone. Small versions form a 15-foot barrier, and other versions are effective for much larger areas.

If you are looking to defend the perimeter of your campsite or RV, a bug zapper is an effective weapon against flying insects. Today’s bug zapper is much more advanced than the one your grandparents used. Modern features like a USB charger, different light color choices and quiet operation are just a few you have to choose from. The UV technology used by today’s bug zappers works against all types of insects and is great indoors or outdoors. 

Win the Battle

We will never win the war against insects, but we can win the battle. Winning the battle against bugs keeps us camping, hiking and fishing all year long. You may prefer to use a spray, wear bug-proof clothes or fire up a Thermacell, but you can win the battle. Maybe you need to use all three, but never let the bugs prevent you from enjoying your next camping trip.

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Mossy Oak Wellness products are designed with that singular goal - to help you get the most from your time outdoors. Our passion for helping people get closer to nature has led us to develop innovative, new products built to not only motivate and inspire you to pursue your best life outdoors but to help you feel better while you’re out there.

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