The Best Mosquito Repellents for Camping in 2023, Tested
Mosquitoes suck, but your camping trip doesn’t have to as long as you have one of these repellents
Mosquitoes don’t just suck blood, they also suck the fun out of camping, and if you want to prevent both, you’ll need a mosquito repellent for camping. Repellent comes in various forms and formulas from natural essential oils to harsh chemicals and lotions to aerosol sprays. If you need help separating the hype from the ineffective, this is the review for you. I tested the best mosquito repellents for camping in my buggy woods to find products that actually work, and here are my picks.
- Best Overall: Coleman Insect Repellent SkinSmart
- Best for Your Pack: Repel 100
- Best Lotion: Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion
- Best for Treating Clothing: Sawyer Permethrin
- Best Device: ThermaCell MR450 Armored Mosquito Repeller
- Best for RVs: ThermaCell EX90
How I Tested The Best Mosquito Repellents for Camping
Does It Repel Mosquitoes
This was a straightforward test and a product had to pass this portion to be included in my list of best mosquito repellents for camping. I’ve had a warm and rainy spring which made for ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes. With no shortage of test subjects, I applied each mosquito repellent and went into the shady, damp, and mosquito infested area of my property to see how each repellent performed at keeping bites at bay.
I know for a fact that 100% DEET is effective at keeping mosquitoes from biting. But, it also smells incredibly strong. There’s nothing pleasant about crawling into a sleeping bag wreaking of bug spray, or trying to enjoy one of the best camping meals of your life while getting wafts of bug juice. So, while odor is a key component of how mosquito repellent works, there are varying levels of offensiveness to the odor. I graded each repellent on a 1 to 5 point scale for odor with 5 being the strongest smell and one being the faintest.
I evaluated the ease and consistency of each product. I looked for ones that were easy to apply and didn’t leave an unforgettable film on your skin.
In the field: Using the products while hiking, hunting, and fishing were an important part of my test protocol because it subjected the repellents to the elements, sweat, and a variety of environments.
A 20% DEET Premium Controlled-Release Lotion will work well against mosquitoes, but Dr. Zimring says he prefers the 20% Picaridin lotion since it also protects against ticks, gnats, chiggers, and flies. (In both instances, he recommends Sawyer brand.)
Part of spending time outside means battling ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting insects. For this, Nelson swears by permethrin.
And out of the products we tested, Dr. Zeichner highly recommends Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent.