If you like going on outdoor adventures quite often, you’ve probably run into a bug problem. Mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects can be very annoying to encounter on a camping trip. Things can get even more serious when you realize some of these insects can carry worrisome diseases. If bugs seem to make your outdoor activities less enjoyable, you need to come prepared with a reliable insect repellent. It’s a good idea to invest in a quality bug repellent to avoid getting bitten by these pests. The only problem is which repellent should you choose?
The market is full of bug sprays and lotions that are more or less effective at keeping insects at bay. Many of them are based on a powerful active ingredient called DEET (diethyltoluamide). Research has shown that this chemical can protect you from mosquitoes and other annoying insects. Some people are worried about its toxicity though, and that’s why there are some alternatives out there that rely on more natural ingredients or less toxic ones such as Picaridin. Regardless of your preference, we’ve assembled a list of the most effective and reliable insect repellents for the money. Whether using strong chemical formulations or more organic solutions, these products are essential to prevent any bug bites and allow for a safe outdoor experience.
1. Sawyer Products Picaridin Insect Repellent – Best DEET Free Bug Repellent
Safe to use and incredibly effective, the Sawyer Products Picaridin bug repellent takes the top spot on our list. It has many great features that make it worth the cost. The lotion offers an extended 14-hour protection against ticks and mosquitoes and keeps various flies at bay for approximately 8 hours. Its main ingredient is comparable with DEET in terms of effectiveness while providing a fragrance-free and non-greasy experience.
A great feature of this insect repellent is the way you can safely use it on clothes and other items. You don’t have to worry about any kind of damage to your gear. The lotion comes in different sizes to get the right amount for your needs. It’s a small and practical tool that you can employ in the fight against pesky biting insects of all kinds. Safe and highly effective, the Sawyer Products bug repellent lotion with Picaridin represents a top choice for the cost.
2. Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent – Best Natural Bug Repellent
If you’re searching for a reliable DEET-free insect repellent, you should definitely try out the Repel plant-based spray. It has an effective formulation based on lemon eucalyptus oil promising adequate protection against mosquitoes for a maximum of 6 hours. Instead of the typical bug repellent spray smell, this product gives off a refreshing scent. It’s also worth mentioning that the skin doesn’t feel sticky afterward.
This repellent is capable of giving you a shield of protection against a wide range of flying pests, including mosquitoes transmitting Zika and West Nile viruses. Despite containing absolutely no DEET, this repellent can provide dependable coverage if used correctly. The main active plant-based ingredient in this pump spray has a solid level of effectiveness that’s been acknowledged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is one of the best DEET-free bug repellents for the money.
Those who aren’t satisfied by the usual methods of insect repelling, such as sprays and lotions, can take it a step further and invest in a more innovative portable device that keeps bugs away. The Thermacell MR300 is a good example of an insect repellent focused on giving you protection against mosquitoes with the help of its interior-heating element without open flame or cords.
Once you activate this repellent, you can enjoy an effective barrier against mosquitoes within a 15-foot zone. The fuel cartridge should last for approximately 12 hours of protection. Mosquitoes are stopped before they even get a chance to bite. Another advantage of this unit is the compact footprint that makes it an ideal accessory to take during outdoor adventures. We also like the lack of strange smells which turn the Thermacell MR300 into a worthy alternative to the classic bug spray.
4. 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion – Best Bug Repellent Lotion
Lotions are generally more dependable compared to sprays when it comes to gaining protection against flying pests. If you want a really powerful insect repellent, the 3M Ultrathon has all it takes to make your outdoor time more enjoyable. It’s packed with a 34.34% DEET solution that’s highly effective against mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, and others. As long as you use it correctly, the lotion should give you long-lasting protection.
The formulation of this lotion has been proven to act as a powerful repellent for the most common biting insects. You can enjoy almost half a day of complete protection which is a solid result at this cost. The tube has a 2-ounce capacity which means it’s airplane-friendly. While other repellent lotions can easily become ineffective after a couple of years, this one is designed to resist a maximum of five years.
5. Avon SSS Bug Guard Plus Spray Insect Repellent – Best Bug Repellent Spray
Many people prefer an insect repellent in spray form as it’s usually more practical to apply. Avon’s Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus represents an excellent shield of protection without relying on DEET or greasy oils. This is a Picaridin-based repellent that promises a clean skin feel and virtually no unpleasant smell. You might need to use it again after around 6 hours to renew protection against biting insects.
The low odor and light feel of Picaridin makes this repellent a very attractive option over its usual DEET-based counterparts. Aside from the concentrated Picaridin, this bug spray contains a pleasant fragrance that can best be described as a blend of caramel with a pine note. It smells quite similar to a sunscreen spray without feeling too overwhelming. Taking into account everything about the Avon SSS Bug Guard Plus, the final conclusion is highly positive.
6. Coleman 100 MAX Insect Repellent – Best DEET Bug Repellent
With its ultra-strong formula containing 98.11% DEET, the Coleman 100 MAX is the kind of insect repellent that you should never forget to pack when you go camping for extended periods of time. This bug repellent keeps you safe from flying bug pests for up to 10 hours which is a long amount of time considering the spray form. If you’re looking for the most concentrated insect repellent, this one fits the bill.
The formula used by this repellent is unscented which means even people with more sensitive skin should tolerate it well. There are three sizes available (0.5, 1, and 4 ounces) to suit any outdoor explorer out there. This is an extremely powerful ally for those who want reliable insect protection no matter what. It can even withstand rainy conditions well but keep in mind that you need to reapply the bug repellent after swimming.
While it contains 7% DEET, the Cutter Skinsations insect repellent has a very fresh and clean smell. It’s packed with other moisturizing ingredients for a soft skin feel while providing a solid level of protection against all the common biting insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, and biting flies. The 360° pump spray design allows you to use the repellent from multiple angles with ease.
Aside from the active protective ingredient, this pump spray also contains aloe and vitamin E to nourish the skin without any greasy sensations. Even though some people will look for insect repellents with higher DEET concentrations, this model does a solid job without leaving you with an unpleasant smell. If you’re looking for a non-obnoxious bug repellent, don’t miss out on this valuable unit from Cutter Skinsations.
If you want a completely natural insect repellent, the Bug Soother spray could be an ideal product to consider. Its DEET-free formulation gives excellent protection against gnats and sand fleas. The repellent is fairly reliable to keep mosquitoes away but you might have to reapply the spray more frequently. Thanks to a nice mix of vanilla and lemony scents, this spray has a very pleasant smell.
With the help of this natural insect repellent, you can relax outside with confidence. Aside from the active lemongrass essential oil, this spray also contains lots of ingredients that nourish the skin such as castor oil and Vitamin E. Those worried about the safety of their pets can rest assured that this is completely non-toxic for them. Overall, the Bug Soother offers excellent protection against biting insects for the entire family. It’s a bit costlier than others but it could be worth it for the nice scent and silky skin feel.
9. Ben’s 30% DEET Insect Repellent Wipes – Best Bug Repellent Wipes
Anyone who’s worried about ticks and other insects that carry dangerous diseases should ensure they get their hands on a highly effective insect repellent. Ben’s 30% DEET wipes have a special formula that enables the repellent to linger for a longer time which translates to prolonged protection against various insect bites. Given how the wipes are individually wrapped, they’re more convenient to apply as needed.
With the help of these wipes, you can enjoy approximately 8 hours free of the risk of insect bites. Aside from getting rid of this painful inconvenience, you also stay protected against viruses and diseases transmitted by some mosquitoes and ticks. There are a few reasons why you might consider wipes instead of a classic bug spray. Some exposed areas are harder to reach with the spray and this repellent can give you protection for those vulnerable places.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus is a great natural ingredient that can protect you from insect bites. Here’s a natural bug repellent from Coleman that relies on this type of oil to give you protection in a less toxic manner. There’s no DEET found here and the concentration of lemon eucalyptus oil is quite high to repel mosquitoes for 5-6 hours.
Part of Coleman’s lineup of products based on natural ingredients, this insect repellent offers a very nice fragrance and keeps mosquitoes at bay in non-greasy style. If you have sensitive skin, this product can be a lifesaver as DEET-based repellents can feel too strong for some people. While this product has its shortcomings, it can offer decent protection as long as you reapply it more often. Coleman created a solid alternative to DEET through this bug repellent and we recommend it for its cost-effectiveness.