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The Best Bug Repellents

Everyone should avoid bug bites, which are annoying at best and debilitating (or even lethal) in worst-case scenarios. For a bug repellent that’s safe and effective—and that won’t stink or leave a puddle of oil on your skin—skip the DEET and get a picaridin formula, like Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent. It’s the best bottle of bug spray we found after testing 23 repellents and talking to everyone from the EPA to the American Mosquito Control Association.

How we picked

  • EPA approval - EPA-approved repellents have undergone extensive safety and efficacy testing and can be trusted.
  • 20% picaridin - Most of our recommendations use a 20% concentration of picaridin, which offers long-lasting repellency for ticks and mosquitoes with none of DEET’s downsides.
  • Testing, within limits - We test our picks for usability, as opposed to efficacy, because the variables of environment, physiology, and bug behavior affect performance.
  • Spray matters - The best repellents have a nice, even spray that is easy to apply. The worst ones are spitty and messy, and can overspray or puddle up.

You can find the full article with Wirecutter's top repellent reconmendations, written by Doug Mahoney here.

LAST UPDATED

July 13, 2022

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Doug Mahoney

Wirecutter

MEDIA MENTIONS

While DEET products may be more familiar by name and their chemical smell, sprays with 20 percent picaridin, like Sawyer Products, offer comparable protection without the harsh odor and oily feeling on your skin.

Kevin Brouillard
Travel & Leisure

MEDIA MENTIONS

The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
Media Mentions from Halfway Anywhere

MEDIA MENTIONS

SAWYER MINI WATER FILTER, $22 This has been my water filter of choice for years now. The bags can be iffy — I have had a few break – so carry a couple. However, the filter itself is reliable, light and inexpensive. -Logan

Bikepacking Team