Essentials

The Best Gear for Bug-Free Summer Hiking

The worst part of summer hiking: mosquitos, black flies, ticks, and other pests. Shield yourself from head to toe with these swarm-tested picks, the best of 14 bug-baffling products we tried.

Nothing makes a fun summer backpacking trip go bad faster than swarms of bugs. Whether they’re gnats, horseflies, or the dreaded mosquito, being bitten up is painful, itchy, and distracting. Keep the insects at bay with these 5 smart picks.

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Craghoppers Insect Shield Adventure II Long-Sleeved Shirt

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Permethrin, a synthetic insecticide, works like bug dope for your clothes, but lasts much longer than the spray-on-skin stuff. This durable nylon top has an Insect Shield permethrin treatment that binds to each fiber (and lasts for 70 washes), effectively protecting us from bugs. Buy Craghoppers Insect Shield Adventure II Long-Sleeved Shirt Now / Read the Full Review

ExOfficio BugsAway Sol Cool Ampario Convertible Pants

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Bug season is usually hot, making these ultralightweight trousers our top pick. They use Insect Shield like the Craghoppers shirt, and their impressively breathable nylon fabric kept us from boiling over on Georgia’s Benton MacKaye Trail in 80°F temps. Buy ExOfficio BugsAway Sol Cool Ampario Convertible Pants Now / Read the Full Review 

Repel Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent

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If you’d prefer not to slather on chemicals, there’s oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE). We found this 30-percent OLE formula to be just as useful as DEET against mosquitos in Louisiana’s Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. Buy Repel Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Now / Read the Full Review

Ben’s 100% DEET

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Nothing is as effective as DEET at warding off bugs, and decades of research by the EPA and CDC have backed up its safety. This spray kept us bite-free all day lakeside at Quebec’s Gatineau Park. Buy Ben’s 100% DEET Now / Read the Full Review

Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent Gen 2.0

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Forget sprays: This binocular-sized gadget creates an anti-bug force field around your campsite, dispersing the insecticide metofluthrin in a roughly 15-foot diameter. Buy Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent Gen 2.0 Now / Read the Full Review