Receive $50 off an eligible $100 purchase at the Outside Shop, where you'll find gear for all your adventures outdoors. Sign up for Outside+ today.
Paddling the gently meandering Isabella River takes you through marshes that abound with moose and other creatures. Unfortunately, in June those low-lying, windless marshes also abound with the kind of wildlife that can send a trip south faster than a whining partner on a long portage: clouds of thirsty mosquitoes. Don’t let the buggers buzz between you and the best weather and fishing found in these parts; take a cue from the locals, who fight back on multiple fronts.
Catch a breeze: Stick to windy shorelines, rocky points, and ridgetops. In camp, sit facing the wind with your hood up; the mosquitoes will cloud behind your head.
Tone it down: Neutral colors fool mosquitoes, which are attracted to contrasts of light and dark.
Cover up: Wear long pants (tuck hems into socks) and a long-sleeved shirt with a collar. A head net offers effective protection. Put on a billed cap to keep the netting at a comfortable distance from your nose and mouth.
Clean up: Biting bugs are drawn to the ammonia in your sweat, as well as sweet-smelling soaps. Both are good reasons to enjoy a suds-free skinny dip before dinner.
Hide or flee: Mosquitoes are most voracious at dawn and dusk. Chill in your tent, or if you’re out, hike at a brisk pace.
Go nuclear: Slather on the deet, which is still the most effective repellent around. Apply directly to exposed skin and clothing, but beware–deet damages some synthetic fabrics. Don’t use it on infants younger than 2 months, or on any child in a concentration higher than 30 percent.
Return to the Backpacking 101 home page.