When your out hiking and camping in the great outdoors one big consideration is bugs! It is more important than ever to make sure you stay mosquito-free during summertime, when these annoying pests can turn into carriers of severe blood-borne diseases.
When you spend time outdoors camping, hiking, biking, or participating in water sports like canoeing and kayaking, you are going to encounter bugs—ticks, mosquitoes, flies, you name it.
That is why you need a reliable bug spray that is not going to harm your body. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns against using products with more than 30% DEET on children, which is a good rule of thumb for anybody.
Sawyer Fisherman’s Formula Picaridin
This repellent proved most effective in Consumer Reports’ studies, lasting for eight hours. It is made with the synthetic ingredient picaridin, which is a compound developed in the 1980s to simulate oils from plants that produce black pepper. The compound deters insects like mosquitos because it blocks them from sensing human prey.
Picaridin has been studied in labs with rats with positive results, and little to no negative side effects have been observed in humans. This repellent also proved effective in preventing ticks, making it a reliable bug spray choice for outdoor trips.
Natrapel 8 Hour
This reliable bug spray contains 20% picaridin and has proven useful in fending off insects for eight hours, just as the name promises. Consumer Reports found Natrapel 8 Hour to be the second most effective mosquito repellent that it tested. It is approved by the EPA as a safe and effective bug repellent, making it another good choice for camping and hiking adventures.
Off! Deep Woods VIII
Off! Is arguably one of the most famous brands of bug spray on the market, and for good reason. This spray contains 25% DEET, a compound that is very effective in fending off all kinds of bugs. This one remains effective for about eight hours.
DEET, however, is not exactly healthy for humans. It can be toxic in high concentrations, so using products with higher than 30% DEET can be dangerous. DEET should only be applied once a day, so choose your time wisely. If you need to go on a hike and will be back in less than eight hours, Off! Deep Woods VII is your spray.
Ben’s Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula
This bug repellent contains the maximum dose of DEET safe for humans, 30%. Above 30% is not more effective and can be toxic, especially since DEET is absorbed through the skin. Ben’s formula keeps mosquitoes away for seven and a half hours, making it a good choice for being outside any length of time. It was selected by Consumer Reports as one of their top five most effective mosquito repellents.
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus
Oil from lemon eucalyptus (also known as P-menthane diol (PMD) can be just as effective as low doses of DEET. However, children under age three should not use this product because of the eucalyptus property, which can cause skin irritation or worse.
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus contains 30% lemon eucalyptus and lasts for about seven hours, which is pretty good for a natural active ingredient. The scent is much more appealing than the traditional fumes of bug spray. This is a good bug spray for spending a short amount of time outside, like for a day hike.
You can consider making your own bug repellent with oils like lemon eucalyptus, using a mixture like water and witch hazel as the base and mixing it with fragrant essential oils. While pleasantly scented and better for your skin, these bug sprays usually only last an hour or less, and are not regulated by the EPA.
Be sure to keep homemade bug repellents in dark glass bottles in order to preserve the essential oils. Try a recipe of a half cup water and a half cup witch hazel, adding in 30 to 50 drops of essential oils like clove, lemongrass, citronella, or eucalyptus.