How to Prepare for Mosquitoes on Hiking & Backpacking Trips

I am one of the unlucky souls that mosquitoes love, yet I don’t want that to stop me from being able to go hiking and backpacking. To prepare for trips into areas that are known to have a lot of the biting nuisances, I use a three-step method:

Sawyer Permethrin1. Sawyer Permethrin: I spray the clothing that I’ll be wearing while hiking and relaxing at camp with Permethrin (a synthetic version of the Chrysanthemum flower’s natural insect repellent pyrethrin), including my socks and hat. Unlike DEET, Permethrin won’t damage gear, so you can also spray it on your tent and backpack. On three separate backpacking trips last year to alpine lakes areas, the treated clothing that I wore really repelled the mosquitoes. A few landed on me, but didn’t stick around long enough to bite. Note: this product should be sprayed on clothing only (not skin). Permethrin  can be toxic to cats when it’s wet, but is supposed to be safe after it dries. Purchase: Amazon  //  REI 

Sawyer Picaridin2. Sawyer Picaridin: For use on your skin, this product protects against mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, gnats, chiggers and fleas. The lotion version lasts for up to 14 hours, and the spray version lasts 8 hours. I applied this on every backpacking trip during mosquito season and it worked in spite of being swarmed by mosquitoes. To protect aquatic life, make sure to wipe it all off before taking a plunge. Purchase: Amazon  //  REI

Sea to Summit Head Net3. Sea to Summit Head Net with Insect Shield: The last line of defense against mosquitoes that I use is a head net. However ridiculous it feels to wear, it really works. Just remember it’s there when you are eating and don’t push your food through the net. Yeah, that happened to me. Purchase: Amazon  //  REI



UPDATE: on a recent trip to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the mosquitoes were swarming heavily and I had to resort to using DEET on any exposed skin during the super buggy parts of the day. Otherwise, the system above worked great.

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