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What's your favorite bug repellent?

It doesn't matter where I'm at, but if there's biting bugs I seem to get eaten alive!  I really don't like feeling greasy or oily from certain bug repellents and I prefer to not be too smelly, but it's not the biggest deal breaker.  What do other people use when they go hiking to prevent getting bitten alive?

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16 Replies

I've had good results with permethrin-treated clothing.  Several years ago, we went to a scout camp that others ultimately suffixed with -itchy, and the only time we got any mosquito bites was when we were in our swim suits, which had not been treated.  Ever since, I've treated *all* our clothing, including the swim suits.  I just got back from another week-long camp, again having treated all my clothes, and some others had so many bug bites a reasonable person would have thought there was a plague going on.  But I only had 3 bites, and again, it was only on exposed skin when I was wearing short sleeves or shorts.


I have switched from DEET to picaridin lotion on exposed skin, with permethrin treated outer clothing. I only have trouble with the picaridin when I sweat a lot and don't bother to replenish it. The lotion lasts all day with moderate sweating. Never have trouble with ticks getting inside the treated clothes.

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We love our Thermocell.  I haven't tried it on trail, but at camp and around the fire it works great.  Best part is, no spray on you or your gear.


@Bearded_Axeman  I agree! It's awesome for mosquitos, but sadly does nothing for black flies...


In traveling to various parts of Africa, I've used a two-pronged approach. I first sprayed the clothes I would be packing with permethrin, and I frankly think that's the biggest pay-off. I also use Ultrothon on exposed skin at dawn and dusk as a second layer of protection.

With the permethtrin, I've rarely had a mosquito come too close. With that and the Ultrathon, I don't think I've ever been bitten. I've used Ben's wipes on occassion too and liked them.

With regard to cats, the permethrin is toxic when it's wet but not after it dries (according to the label). We take our clothes outside to spray them and leave them out for a day on the deck before bringing them back in to pack.


Hello Rei-Heather

In my experience the Sawyer Picaridin works well if you don't like deet. If you need something that I believe is stronger but has deet is Ultrathon lotion and if you do happen to get bit the best thing that takes away the sting and itchiness is After bite. It works wonders.


I use the Sawyer Permetherin to pretreat my clothes, which does a great job. If that doesn't cut it, I'll hit what little exposed skin I have left with the Sawyer Ultra 30 deet lotion. The time release formula provides excellent repellent over a long time. And the relatively low concentration doesn't melt anything plastic it touches.