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The 9 Best Insect Repellents for a Pleasant, Itch-Free Adventure

We love embarking on outdoor adventures and expeditions. Unfortunately, mosquito and tick encounters are inevitable. If you’re not careful, they can turn a pleasant day outdoors into a Biblical plague and leave itchy bumps on your skin. The best way to keep the bloodsuckers at bay, as well as curb the spread of diseases, is to use insect repellent.

Insect repellents, specifically those registered under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), contain potent ingredients such as DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and picaridin. When shopping for a repellent, consider choosing one that is infused with up to 30% of your preferred ingredient.

A repellent with a higher concentration may protect you from insects longer, which is handy if you plan to spend several hours outdoors. However, it’s okay to apply a lower-concentration (less than 10%) repellant if you’re chilling out in your backyard for 30 minutes. With plenty of options at our local retailers, we rounded up the best insect repellents for 2021. These options are sure to make your outdoor excursions more pleasant to you and your skin. We also included protective gears in case you need more protection from pesky insects.

Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellant Lotion

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REI shoppers — an outdoorsy lot for sure — love this lotion. It repels ticks and mosquitoes for up to 14 hours and flies and chiggers for up to eight. If you want to get rid of mosquitos from certain parts of the world this repellent is particularly effective against the breeds of mosquitoes that live in Central and South America, so keep that in mind if a trip to either is in your plans.

Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion Packets

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We love these individual Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion Packets that make it easy to grab-and-go repellant. They’re easy to pack for a weekend trip but also perfect if you’re just driving to a favorite local spot for a hike or picnic.

Total Home Woodland Scent Insect Repellent

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A DEET product that gets high ratings from consumers is this Total Home insect repellant from CVS. It’s more of a quick fix, lasting for about two hours, and it comes in an easy-to-use spray. It’s great for a short outing with the kids.

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent Pump

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The Centers for Disease Control support using natural products with oil of lemon eucalyptus to ward off mosquitoes, but they aren’t sure that these countermeasures work against ticks. This DEET-free insect repellant is effective for up to six hours, and we suggest using it when you’re wearing shoes, hiking socks, and hiking pants. Just be sure to do an all-over body check ASAP to make sure you haven’t picked up any errant ticks on exposed skin.

Bull Frog Mosquito Coast Sunblock With Insect Repellent

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We’re always a fan of products that do double-duty. Protect your hide from bugs and the sun’s damaging rays with BullFrog’s aptly named Mosquito Coast Sunblock. It’s DEET-free and should repel mosquitoes for up to eight hours, although the company suggests reapplying every two hours or after swimming to continue sun protection.

ExOfficio BugsAway Woven Bandana

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We like a lot of ExOfficio’s travel-oriented clothing, and their BugsAway apparel collection provides a stylish solution to ward off the little bloodsuckers. As its website says, “The built-in insect repellent permethrin provides a carefree outdoor experience, letting you focus on your adventure, not the bugs.” Grab one of these bandannas to wear on your head, around your neck, or on Fido for a little fashion flair.

Sea to Summit Bugwear Jacket and Mitts

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When all else fails, just wear a bug jacket, like this one from Sea to Summit. Integrating a permethrin-based technology into its design, this bug jacket acts as a mesh barrier to repel disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks during your adventures. It’s lightweight and ultra-compact, too.

Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller

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Go high-tech in taking back your camping area from bugs. This Thermacell repeller looks like an Alexa for your backyard. The device provides a 15-by-15-foot zone of safety by using butane to heat up a “mat” of natural insect repellent.

NoBugs Blanket

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A kinder, gentler approach that may be perfect to take to those outdoor concerts. The NoBugs Blanket uses permethrin to provide a protective barrier between you and bugs.

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John Jones
John Jones is a Jersey City, New Jersey-based writer who enjoys covering design in all its forms, from fashion to…
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