Five on Friday: Keeping the Bugs at Bay

by Jacob Gordon


I know we’ve talked about fending off ticks and mosquitoes before, but if you’ve had a summer like me, the mosquitoes and other bugs have been relentless. Even the most leisure hikes have me coming home with legs and arms red and bumpy all over. At a certain point, it’s time to say enough is enough.

That’s where I hope this list of five different ways to fend off bugs comes into play for you. I won’t lie, I’ve done my fair share of field research here out of necessity. Aside from rain, nothing puts a damper on my outdoor activities the way bugs can. Not to mention, several kinds of bugs, like mosquitoes and ticks, could carry an array of diseases.

Unlike previous Five on Fridays, this list is a bit more abstract. Since Appalachian Outdoors has so many products to fend off critters, it doesn’t seem possible to just list five different products. Instead, I’ll be focusing on different kinds of products. Many of these products could work in tandem to give you the best chance to ward of bugs, but a lot will also hinge on your personal preference.

Don’t be afraid to try as many products or combinations of products as it takes. Much like perfume or cologne, your biological makeup could have some say on the effectiveness of some of these products, so it’s imperative to find the right ones that work for you.

With that in mind, let’s get this Five on Friday buzzing!


1. Citronella Candles


This might be a no-brainer since citronella candles have been a staple in the war on bugs since your dad’s dad’s dad’s first bbq, but it needs to be stated here: get yourself some citronella candles, especially when you know you’re going to be staying in one place for any amount of time. An oil extracted from plants, citronella is a natural insect repellent and offers an inexpensive means to ward off bugs. This might not be the most exciting purchase you make before your next camping session, but it certainly won’t go unappreciated.


2. Chemical-based Bug Repellent Sprays

deet bug spray

Many effective bug sprays offered at Appalachian Outdoors feature the DEET chemical compound. DEET Bug Sprays are highly effective in warding off bugs, but can have some side effects to those of us with sensitive skin. Because of this, it’s a good idea to look at products with variable DEET concentrations. Some products may have up to 30% DEET while others may offer max protection with 95% DEET. Most chemical-based repellents have the advantage of being long-lasting (giving you up to 6 hours of protection) and water-resistant, meaning you can spend less time applying the spray and more time adventuring.


3.  Natural Bug Repellents

natural bug spray

If chemical-based products give you as much irritation or discomfort as bugs themselves, there are always natural-based bug repellents for you. Badger Bug Repellant and Herbal Armor DEET Free Bug Spray offer a few options for you try, either in spray or stick form. Regardless of which brand you go with, you can rest easy knowing these products are DEET-free and contain all-natural ingredients. The end result is a repellent that’s gentler on your skin, causing less irritation, while still providing excellent protection against bugs. The downside is the effect isn’t as long lasting, maxing out at about 2 hours. The natural products are also a little pricier than the DEET-based products, but for those who have sensitive skin or want to minimize chemical use, the natural repellents are a fine choice.

4. Clothing Infused with Insect Repellent


If sprays aren’t your thing clothing infused with insect repellent enzymes might the next best option. Rest assured, these garments have zero odors and no odd feels; they actually feel like any other piece of clothing. Each garment is treated with a special enzyme that helps keeps mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects at bay. And best of all: you can wash these products frequently to avoid any funkification. The repellent enzyme stays active for up to 70 washes in most pieces of clothing! Try both Ex Officio BugsAway Apparel and Columbia Insect Blocker Shirts and Jackets.  They offer an array of different products with insect repellent imbedded in a garment, so be sure to check out their line of products.

***See my note at the end for protecting your four-legged friends***

5.  Insect Repellent for Clothing


If having special clothes designed to ward off bugs seems too challenging, than having an insect repellent spray designed to go on clothes is the next best option. While other vendors’ insect clothing comes imbued with a special repellent enzyme, the Permanone Gear and Clothing Repellent spray from Repel offers you some versatility, letting any garment or shoe you own become a shield against insects. Unlike the previously mentioned clothes, this spray may only last for 2 weeks (as opposed to 70 washes), but for many of us, it’s a more economic choice as opposed to getting specialized clothes.



***Editor’s Note: Obviously, it goes without saying that protecting ourselves from bugs is crucial, especially when traveling abroad to new lands or heading to the backcountry where we could become a buffet for disease-ridden insects. However, many of us like to go exploring with our trusty canine companions, and it’s just as important to make sure they’re protected too. Sure, flea and tick topical treatments and heartworm meds help, but I like to give my dog some added protection with the Ex Officio Bugsaway Bandana.



The first hike I took my dog Barton on with the bandana around his neck he came through just fine — untouched, I dare say. Me? I was covered head-to-toe in mosquito bites and was constantly checking for ticks the entire hike. Needless to say, I was impressed with the effectiveness of the Bugsaway Bandana and grabbed some Bugsaway clothes for myself. Obviously, keep up to date on the flea and tick and heartworm medications, but you might want to think about adding the Bugsaway Bandana to your dog’s hiking wardrobe. At the very least, the bandanas add a nice look.

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