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Gear: Summer dreams

Written by Kimberly Nicoletti

As summer closes in, I’m looking back at a few of the go-to items I regularly used throughout the last couple of months — things that made my days, and nights, much more comfortable.

Sea-to-Summit Thermolite Reactor Liner

I initially saw the beauty of traveling with a sleeping bag liner when my friend and I went to Maui and Moloka’i. I’ve grown up with feather beds, even in the summer, and chill easily, so her liner came in handy at night with sliders open. It also felt comforting in Moloka’i, when we arrived to a not-so-clean bed placed in a super-cool sailboat wreck that had washed up near the owner’s shore (Because, when in Moloka’i, sleep in a friend of a friend’s found shipwreck, right?)

And that’s exactly what I love about this Thermolite Reactor Liner: It’s lightweight at 8.7 ounces and packs up tiny, for ease in the backcountry or on small airplanes to, say, Moloka’i, where we could only bring a small backpack. It keeps me warm, it provides a barrier between whatever sheets I might slide into (uh, not that I slide into dirty sheets regularly), and it keeps my own sleeping bag nice and clean.

The secret to its warmth lies in the hollow-core Thermolite fibers, which trap extra air for insulation, much like the hollow cores of polar bear and caribou fur. The soft, stretchy fabric feels good against the skin and provides a sense of roominess to roll from side to side without pulling me fully from my slumber. And, its odor-resistant wicking performance holds up to machine washes and dries.

Sea to Summit rates this liner as providing up to 14 Fahrenheit degrees of added warmth. It’s perfect for van or tent camping in warmer weather, and, on cooler nights, it kept me toasty with my sleeping bag; a drawcord lets you cinch the hood to keep the additional cold out. $69.95.


Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent

First of all, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that this has no scent — absolutely none. That’s my biggest complaint about insect repellant. I’m pretty sensitive to aromas, including perfume, so I tend to avoid insect repellents. As a result, I get bit. So, to me, Sawyer’s Picaridin Insect Repellent is a dream.

I also admit that I’m pretty paranoid about tick bites when I visit the Midwest, East, South, and when I venture into the backcountry because tick-borne illnesses are no joke. I avoid DEET, so this is a safe and effective alternative, which provides protection from ticks and mosquitoes. It also repels those nasty biting flies near water in the backcountry for up to eight hours (if only I had it when flies attacked us in Alaska — if you’re going to Alaska, bring this!). Apparently, it’s good at repelling all kinds of insects (55 total), including sand flies, whose bites have kept me up many a night on tropical beach trips, but I haven’t had a chance to test that one out. The lotion repels ticks, mosquitos, and other annoying bloodsuckers for 14 hours, which is a huge bonus.

It soaks right into the skin, without leaving a greasy or sticky residue, and the 4-ounce bottle easily slides into pockets or fanny packs. Picaridin also comes in individual, 0.34-ounce lotion packets for even more portability. Derived from piperine in pepper plants, Sawyer Picaridin is a synthetic replica of a natural solution, making it reportedly safe for pregnant women and children as young as 6 months. Prices range through various retailers, around $13 or less.

Find the rest of the gear items here.


September 27, 2023

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The Aspen Times

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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.)

Rachel Schultz
Editorial Director


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.

Samson McDougall