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The Best Insect Repellent to Help You Ditch the Itch Outdoors

There’s only one thing worse than hauling a camping tent and canoe along a dirt path on a backwoods camping expedition: hauling a tent and canoe across a dirt path while being eaten alive by insects. But the best insect repellent can protect you against bug bites for hours, allowing you to be active outdoors in any condition. With a strong bug spray, you can hike through any woodsy trail without running in a frenzy from unwanted pests or taking periodic breaks to itch that hard-to-reach bite behind your knee.

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Insect repellent, aka bug spray, can be a godsend during mosquito season, but it’s not just about keeping you comfortable outdoors. Pests like ticks can carry blood-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, and the best bug spray can help protect you from serious health risks. The top bug sprays defend you against viruses known to be carried by mosquitoes, like the Zika, West Nile and Dengue viruses. Insect repellent contains ingredients such as DEET, picaridin or citronella to ward off bugs.

It’s important to pack a bottle of bug spray before any outdoor excursion, even if it’s just lounging in your backyard. Check out SPY’s list below and get your hands on the best insect repellent available right now.

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LAST UPDATED

October 20, 2023

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Yahoo Sports

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Sawyer has an alternative [to DEET] made with Picaridin, which works just as well without spoiling your clothes.

James Wong
Freelance Writer

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Zinzi Edmundson, the founder of Treehouse newsletter, who gardens in Maine, suggests spraying your shoes, especially (she uses Sawyer’s permethrin).

Laura Fenton
Contributor

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I carry bottles of water, but I also have a Sawyer squeeze water filter. Also, if it’s cold, make sure you sleep with your water filter in your sleeping bag, so it doesn’t freeze.

Shilletha Curtis