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  1. #1
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Effective Mosquito/Insect Repellant

    Hello All, I am an active cyclist who is going on my first backpacking trip soon. I am kinda worried about west nile virus, as I live in SoCal, and my trip is to one of the local mountains.

    I am looking for recommendations for an effective mosquito/insect repellant. I would really prefer one that does not have ingredients that are toxic.

    I would have done "Search", but as you know, the search function is presently unavailable. I figure touring cyclists are very experienced at "trying to outwit" bugs .

    Here are my conditions:

    a) non-toxic to humans, i.e. having ingredients that are as close to, or as natural as possible;

    b) comes in a very handy size in spray or lotion-form; and

    c) has a very mild pleasant or neutral smell, as I do not want to repel my co-backpackers, nor do I want the top-of-the-foodchain locals (bears and mountain lions) keying-in on my insect repellant's smell, thus making dinner out of me .

    It would also be nice, if it is something I can purchase rightaway in my local stores like REI, Adventure 16, Walmart etc, as opposed to something I'll have to order on the Web.

    Thanks for all responses and suggestions.

    Regards,
    Last edited by Jed19; 08-24-06 at 02:49 PM.
    Regards,

    Jed

  2. #2
    Cycle Dallas MMACH 5's Avatar
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    I use stuff with DEET. It's about as effective as it gets. Of course, it really doesn't meet your requirements.

    Some people swear by Skin-so-Soft from Avon.
    That's gonna leave a mark.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMACH 5
    I use stuff with DEET. It's about as effective as it gets. Of course, it really doesn't meet your requirements.

    Some people swear by Skin-so-Soft from Avon.
    Are stuff with DEET smelly or "dangerous for my health", or why do you think they don't meet my requirement(s)?

    Regards,
    Regards,

    Jed

  4. #4
    jcm
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    DEET. It works. Not too bad unless sprayed directly into the mouth en mass.

  5. #5
    going downhill fast maximusvt's Avatar
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    Stuff with DEET, like Off and Cutter, is pretty chemically and smelly. But it works better than just about anything else, and only really smells bad while you're putting it on. As for dangerous to your health, I doubt it unless you inhale the stuff. If you're worried about west nile, well, that's probably a lot more dangerous than DEET. I can't imagine that it would attract animals.
    ...and don't forget to stretch!

  6. #6
    Cycle Dallas MMACH 5's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUCAS
    Are stuff with DEET smelly or "dangerous for my health", or why do you think they don't meet my requirement(s)?
    I just don't think DEET is considered a natural product.
    That's gonna leave a mark.

  7. #7
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    Avon 'skin so soft' is now standard kit for the British Army, the theory behind how it works is it is so greasy the insects cant land

  8. #8
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maximusvt
    Stuff with DEET, like Off and Cutter, is pretty chemically and smelly. But it works better than just about anything else, and only really smells bad while you're putting it on. As for dangerous to your health, I doubt it unless you inhale the stuff. If you're worried about west nile, well, that's probably a lot more dangerous than DEET. I can't imagine that it would attract animals.
    Maybe I should consider DEET products like Cutter. I saw it on the REI's website, but it contains only 23% DEET, and it's supposed to be effective for 8hours per application.

    REI's site also show a house-labelled product they call Jungle Juice, and this product is said to be 98.11% DEET and 1.89% other ingredients. It is also suggested that one should use sparingly. 4-6 drops/application(recommended dosage) is said to last 10hours. As I do not have any experience with DEET and other bug repellants, would one "drop dead" from applying a 100% DEET product to one's skin?

    Or

    Is DEET equal to DEATH minus an "E" plus an "A and a H"?

    Regards,
    Last edited by Jed19; 08-24-06 at 01:32 AM.
    Regards,

    Jed

  9. #9
    Bike touring webrarian
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    I've been using a spray that you apply to your clothes which provides insect repellant qualities. It worked well in Costa Rica! It lasts for up to 6 washings. I apply it to my biking shorts and shirts.

    The spray is not to be applied to skin, so you might need to take some other repellant for the exposed parts. If you need to use DEET, you don't need something with more than about 40% DEET. DEET is very bad for certian plastics as it dissolves them.

    The product I used is called Sawyer Clothing Insect Repellent. It comes in a hand pump spray bottle and I got it at REI.

    The key ingredient is permethrin. More information here: http://www.permethrin-repellent.com/.

    Ray

  10. #10
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUCAS
    Maybe I should consider DEET products like Cutter. I saw it on the REI's website, but it contains only 23% DEET, and it's supposed to be effective for 8hours per application.

    REI's site also show a house-labelled product they call Jungle Juice, and this product is said to be 98.11% DEET and 1.89% other ingredients. It is also suggested that one should use sparingly. 4-6 drops/application(recommended dosage) is said to last 10hours. As I do not have any experience with DEET and other bug repellants, would one "drop dead" from applying a 100% DEET product to one's skin?

    Or

    Is DEET equal to DEATH minus the "H" plus an "A"?

    Regards,
    Click here for a DEET data sheet. If you want a much more scientific paper, you can get it here. The upshot of both is that it is effective but can cause rashes if used in too high a concentration. The Cornell paper says that it has an LD50 in rats of 1500 to 2700mg/kg. What that means is that if you force feed a 2.2 pound rat 2.7g of the stuff, half of the group will die. That's 0.8% of the rats body weight so for you and a friend of around 180 lbs, you'd have to down around 1.4 pounds of the stuff to possibly kill one of you.

    DEET is nasty smelling and tastes really horrible (which would make downing 1.4 pounds of the stuff difficult!) but it does keep the mosquitoes away. It doesn't kill them, just confuses them. From what I've read elsewhere about the "natural" products, you'd be just as well off using remedies that Lewis and Clark used, like mud, bear fat and dung. The natural repellants are equally as effective...which is to say they aren't
    Last edited by cyccommute; 08-23-06 at 08:06 PM.
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  11. #11
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    I am a satisfied user of Natrapel (see: http://www.tendercorp.com/natrapel.html), which REI sells. It's active ingredients are natural, and I have found it to be quite effective in my mosquito infested backyard. I use it daily in the summer, and used it effectively on a trip in the tropics this year. I think it meets of your criteria. It also has a pleasant but not too strong odor. The sponge-like applicator works well, and it's neither sticky nor oily. I believe that studies have shown it to be effective, though not to the same degree of effectiveness as DEET. In any event, it works very well for me.

  12. #12
    nm+
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    DEET works well at 20%-30% unless you're going to Alaska or a swamp, you shouldn't need much more.
    I carry around a 25% and a 99% and nearly always just use the 25%.
    Whatever you use, take a shower after you don't need it anymore.
    /DEETs the way to go
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Click here for a DEET data sheet. If you want a much more scientific paper, you can get it here. The upshot of both is that it is effective but can cause rashes if used in too high a concentration. The Cornell paper says that it has an LD50 in rats of 1500 to 2700mg/kg. What that means is that if you force feed a 2.2 pound rat 2.7g of the stuff, half of the group will die. That's 0.8% of the rats body weight so for you and a friend of around 180 lbs, you'd have to down around 1.4 pounds of the stuff to possibly kill one of you.

    DEET is nasty smelling and tastes really horrible (which would make downing 1.4 pounds of the stuff difficult!) but it does keep the mosquitoes away. It doesn't kill them, just confuses them. From what I've read elsewhere about the "natural" products, you'd be just as well off using remedies that Lewis and Clark used, like mud, bear fat and dung. The natural repellants are equally as effective...which is to say they aren't
    Thanks for the link cyccommute. I think DEET might be the ticket for me. I am however worried about it being nasty smelling. The taste does not have me worried, as I know I won't be tasting it, not to talk of eating it.

    Is the smell really really bad?

    I'll also stay far away from the "natural repellants" like bear fat and dung.

    On a lighter note, isn't it possible that another bear might get angry, or maybe amorous from catching a whiff of some bear dung or fat in the air? Kinda like human pheromones/perfume with the fat and "another bear taking a dump in my territory" with the dung. The last thing I want to do is turn a bear on, or get it angry, on what is my very first backpacking trip.

    Regards,
    Regards,

    Jed

  14. #14
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Click here for a DEET data sheet. If you want a much more scientific paper, you can get it here. The upshot of both is that it is effective but can cause rashes if used in too high a concentration. The Cornell paper says that it has an LD50 in rats of 1500 to 2700mg/kg. What that means is that if you force feed a 2.2 pound rat 2.7g of the stuff, half of the group will die. That's 0.8% of the rats body weight so for you and a friend of around 180 lbs, you'd have to down around 1.4 pounds of the stuff to possibly kill one of you.

    DEET is nasty smelling and tastes really horrible (which would make downing 1.4 pounds of the stuff difficult!) but it does keep the mosquitoes away. It doesn't kill them, just confuses them. From what I've read elsewhere about the "natural" products, you'd be just as well off using remedies that Lewis and Clark used, like mud, bear fat and dung. The natural repellants are equally as effective...which is to say they aren't
    Thanks for the link cyccommute. I think DEET might be the ticket for me. I am however worried about it being nasty smelling. The taste does not have me worried, as I know I won't be tasting it, not to talk of eating it.

    Is the smell really really bad?

    I'll also stay far away from the "natural repellants" like bear fat and dung.

    On a lighter note, isn't it possible that another bear might get angry, or maybe amorous from catching a whiff of some bear dung or fat in the air? Kinda like human pheromones/perfume with the fat and "another bear taking a dump in my territory" with the dung. The last thing I want to do is turn a bear on, or get it angry, on what is my very first backpacking trip.

    Regards,
    Regards,

    Jed

  15. #15
    nm+
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    DEET doesn't smell that bad as long as you get something unscented.
    Breaking bike parts for more than 20 years
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  16. #16
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUCAS
    Thanks for the link cyccommute. I think DEET might be the ticket for me. I am however worried about it being nasty smelling. The taste does not have me worried, as I know I won't be tasting it, not to talk of eating it.

    Is the smell really really bad?

    I'll also stay far away from the "natural repellants" like bear fat and dung.

    On a lighter note, isn't it possible that another bear might get angry, or maybe amorous from catching a whiff of some bear dung or fat in the air? Kinda like human pheromones/perfume with the fat and "another bear taking a dump in my territory" with the dung. The last thing I want to do is turn a bear on, or get it angry, on what is my very first backpacking trip.

    Regards,
    I said it didn't work but you know a bunch of guys wandering around in the woods Probably did it on a dare. Sacagawea probably just shook her head and said "Men are sooo stupid!" in Shoshone.

    DEET has an odor but it doesn't linger that long...at least to us. You'll know if you have some on your hands and get it in your mouth. It is waaaay nasty! Don't get it on plastic lenses either! My wife sprayed some on her glasses (polycarbonate) and ruined them instantly! It might be whatever carrier they use for the DEET or it might be the DEET itself but just avoid spraying it around plastic glasses.
    Stuart Black
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    I must throw in my 2 cents about DEET. That's all I use now. It's effective, plain and simple. It "smells" but it has a kind of sweet smell that's not that bad. Generally, I get used to the odor within a matter of minutes. Although I am prone to skin allergies, DEET hasn't really bothered me. I use Ben's 100%.

    If you decide to use it, make sure you double-bag it and keep it away from everything else.

    David in FL

  18. #18
    Je suis un ananas!
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    I highly recommend Sawyer's "slow release DEET" lotion. It is unscented, and it lasts all day with a comparatively low DEET level. Higher DEET concentration only affects the length of time for which the repellent will work, not its effectivenes. To keep the DEET level low, slow release is recommended. This was suggested to me by a travel medicine clinic before my trip to Africa last year, and the slow release DEET worked very well. Also, lotions are better because DEET is only effective at repelling from the skin it is directly on, i.e. if you miss an elbow while spraying, or just a spot, the insect will likely find it. If you spread the lotion like a sunscreen and cover all exposed areas (including ankles), it will work very well. Also, if you are really concerned, permethrin, mentioned above works very well for clothing (since DEET doesn't usually work on clothing this is important) in my experience.

    I'm not an expert, but this advice worked well for me in Africa & Mexico.

  19. #19
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    http://www.consumersearch.com/www/fa...ent/index.html

    I use Deep Woods Off or Cutter. I think both are about 28% Deet. Good luck on them smelling good. I haven't found one yet.

    Don't spray it on your plastic stuff, like a plastic watch. It stains it. Clothing is fine.

  20. #20
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the responses and recommendations. Here is what I have decided to do.

    I am going to buy the clothing spray suggested by raybo in post #9 and also the Sawyer's slow release DEET recommended by cmarkey in post #18. I am going to be wearing shorts, thus the need for the DEET, in addition to the clothing protection.

    Between the two, I should be fine, I think.

    Now let's hear your suggestions and recommendations for bear and mountain lion repellants.

    Regards,
    Regards,

    Jed

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    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    I think you are overly concerned about wildlife. They're not out to get you. They would prefer to avoid you much more than you would them.

    All I do is carry a fairly large stuff sack (enough for your stuff, or in my case, enough for the group) with about 50 feet of thin (1/8-3/16 in) rope/twine attached to it. And at the other end, I attach a tiny stuff sack. When I get to my camp site, I put a rock or 2 in the small stuff sack. At night, put all of your food, trash, toothpaste, deoderant, sun block/lip balm, etc into the stuff sack-anything that smells like it could be food. You should completely wash your pots/pans/utensils. Those can be left out, but often critters (raccoons) will make a mess of them. You can put them in the stuff sack if desired. Then, find a tree branch that will hold the stuff sack at least 12-15 feet above the ground and will be at least 6 feet from the trunk of the tree and about the same below the branch. The tree should be at least 100 feet from your campsite. Toss the rock-filled small stuff sack over the branch. When it comes back, hoist the big stuff sack to the appropriate height. Then, tie off the rock-filled rope end somewhere relatively high around another tree nearby.

    It's lightweight, and it works. Often, a good tree will determine where you camp. Camping out in a field won't work so well unless you want to hike to your food. Trees make great rain shelter anyway.

    You could also bring one of those bear proof containers, but they are expensive and you have to cart them around. Plus, you have to leave it out on the ground, and a bear could change it's zipcode trying to get it open if you get my drift.

    I've not heard of people carrying bear repellent too much in the lower 48 except maybe in Montana. You have a much better chance dying from the car ride to the trailhead than by wildlife.

  23. #23
    Hooked on Touring
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    One of the best insect protections is long pants and long sleeves.
    And that is non-toxic unless you haven't washed your clothes for a long time.

    Insects love your neck - I always wear a baseball cap with a bandana trailing. It's cheaper than the hats with the neck flaps plus you can change colors. No joke - colors seem to make a difference. Red seems to repel - hot pink even better. Green and blue are worthless.

    Cutter's makes a 33% Deet repellant in a stick like stick deodorant. I put this on the bill of my cap - and around my collar and cuffs rather than directly on my skin.

    Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide so you should keep your breathing to a minimum.

  24. #24
    Hooked on Touring
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    PS - As for bears -

    Take along a person younger than you. Bears have a keen ability to pick out the tenderest person in a party.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani
    One of the best insect protections is long pants and long sleeves.
    And that is non-toxic unless you haven't washed your clothes for a long time.

    Insects love your neck - I always wear a baseball cap with a bandana trailing. It's cheaper than the hats with the neck flaps plus you can change colors. No joke - colors seem to make a difference. Red seems to repel - hot pink even better. Green and blue are worthless.

    Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide so you should keep your breathing to a minimum.
    Well, long-sleeved shirt and long pants won't work for me, as the heat most likely will kill me before the mosquito/bugs.

    How about that? Insects preferring certain colors over another. I guess I'll hold my breath and pray that I don't run into color-blind bugs, while wearing my red or hot pink bandana, eh

    How can I keep my breathing to a minimum, while exerting myself hiking up a mountain with a heavy backpack?

    Thanks for your suggestions though.

    Regards,
    Regards,

    Jed

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