The Best Insect Repellents - Backpacker

The Best Insect Repellents

Whether you’re hanging out in the backyard, taking off on an adventure, or simply going to work, we’ve gathered 3 of the best options for protecting yourself against those pesky insects. With varying application methods, ingredients, and durations of coverage, there are a number of reliable mosquito repellents to consider. To find your new go-to insect repellent, take a look at how these three solid selections measure up against each other.
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Easiest to Use

Thermacell Radius Gen 2.0 Mosquito Repeller

Perfect for Outdoor Hangouts. For those who don’t want to apply repellents directly to clothes or skin, the Thermacell Mosquito Repeller is our top recommendation.

What We Liked: 

The Thermacell Mosquito Repeller is one of the simplest devices available. One push of a button and you keep mosquitoes away for hours. Perfect for those on the move, this device is lightweight and TSA-compliant. The Radius Gen 2.0 promotes a 15 foot protection area, so you and your family can enjoy a picnic or night out under the stars in peace. Get it here.


  • Easy to set up, 4-step process
  • Zero odor
  • Automatic shutoff timer after 2 hours (push ‘on’ botton twice)
  • No chemicals applied directly to skin


  • Hard to see light indicator
  • Takes a while to get going


 Sawyer Premium Permethrin Clothing Repellent

Great Repellent for Clothing. A simple and efficient way to repel insects without having to apply product onto skin.

What We Liked:

 The Sawyer Premium Clothing Repellent works great against mosquitoes without damaging your clothes, but it may not be your best option. One major advantage of this product is that it’s less expensive than buying insect-repellent clothes. Another plus is that it lasts for up to 6 weeks (or 6 washes). But it’s messy to apply and needs to be kept off your skin. Another issue is that when it’s in a liquid state, wet permethrin is seriously toxic to cats. Although it’s safe to apply on dogs, it’s best to use this repellent only when far away from feline friends. Get them here.


  • More convenient than spraying DEET every day
  • Works great for mosquitoes and ticks
  • Helps protect your from Lyme disease-carrying insects


  • Has a slight odor
  • Toxic to cats

Best Value

Sawyer Premium Repellent with 20% Picaridin

Best Overall Mosquito Repellent. In terms of value, this repellent offers the most coverage per dollar.

What We Liked: 

Sawyer’s Picaridin Insect Repellent is great for use on both skin and clothing. Some of the pros include its long-lasting properties (up to 12 hours) and that it’s not as sticky as other repellents. This mosquito repellent is also perfect for travelers as it’s airline friendly and available as both a spray and lotion, making it ideal for total-body coverage. One of its biggest cons, however, is that the spray head isn’t always the best. It’s recommended that you buy your spray weeks in advance to ensure that your product is fully functional and complete. Buy it today.


  • Less odor than oil-based (lemon, eucalyptus, etc.) repellents
  • DEET-free
  • Available as a spray and lotion for total coverage


  • Must cover every inch of exposed skin
  • Lotion is sticky and dries slowly