In Australia’s Outback, it’s not uncommon to see travelers wearing wide-brim hats adorned with a ring of corkscrews dangling off strings affixed to the brim. All the better, apparently, to keep the swarms of flies from landing on your face. And apparently it sort of works. To ward off mosquitos? Not so much. And even if you avoid Rio due to the threats of Zika, those bugs are still part of our daily warm-weather reality. Here’s a few legit ways to ward ‘em off.
1. Ex-Officio Bugsaway Clothing, Prices vary; 2. Snow Peak Insect Shield Parka, $175; 3. Sea to Summit Bug Jacket and Mitts with Insect Shield, Starting at $37; 4. Buffwear UV Insect Shield, $24; 5. Thermacell Scout Mosquito Repeller Camp Lantern, $40; 6. Sawyer Jungle Juice 100 Insect Repellent, $8; 7. Bug Protector All-Natural Bug Repellent, Starts at $2.
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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Ex-Officio was one of the first apparel companies to incorporate Insect Shield into their clothes, an odorless and invisible man-made treatment that repels bugs that carry insect-born illnesses. The active ingredient—Permethrin—is EPA-registered to last for 70 washings, which is conveniently the same length as the products' typical life expectancies. Go for something like the long-sleeved Breez'r Shirt, which gives you full upper-torso protection along with front and back vents for max airflow and UPF 30 fabric that wicks, dries fast, and keeps the bugs at bay.
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Like Ex-Officio, this park employs Insect Shield fabric, but with a more fashion-forward, Japanese-influenced overall aesthetic. The mesh design delivers killer ventilation, and you can hunker down when the biting bugs get serious by synching the hood closed.
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From fashionable mesh bug parka to full-on suit of armor, Sea to Summit offers Insect Shield mesh outfits that cover from head to toe. The Jacket comes with a zippered hood for easy head access, a black face panel, adjustable cuffs and waist, and generous sizing to easily fit over other layers. Both the Jacket and Pants/Socks combo ($34) are made of the same featherweight see-through poly mesh you'll find in their other anti-bug accessories like the head net and net shelters.
Sea to Summit
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Buffs boast that you can wear this simple piece of fabric in more than 12 different ways. Now, thanks to Insect Shield, they're even more versatile, and will help keep bugs off your face, neck, and scalp—and also protect you from 93 percent of harmful UV rays. If you're all about flair, go for one of the company's louder-than-a-klaxon-horn patterns. Otherwise, opt for the quiet simplicity of one of the more modest designs.
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This high-powered lantern casts out 220 lumens with four light settings and can run for up to ten hours—which would be the ideal bug magnet, save that it also creates a zone of protection against mosquitos, black flies, and other biting insects. It doesn't use DEET or open flame; just insert one of the included butane cartridge, attach "repeller mat" (read: the thing that houses the odorless repellant) and the heating element vaporizes the repellant off the mat, creating a 15-foot-radius bug-free dome.
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Some find the very idea of DEET—or N,N,Diethyl-meta-toluamide—pure evil. So many chemicals! But candidly nothing repels insects better, and it's safe if used in moderation. This 2.5-once bottle contains Maxi-DEET, so only four to six drops are needed per application, and protection lasts up to 10 hours. It won't damage cotton, wool, or nylon but don't apply it near acetate, rayon, spandex, or other synthetics, as well as leather, plastic, or varnished surfaces.
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For those with a natural aversion to chemicals (or to putting chemicals on your kids or pets), Bug Protector offers a solid alternative to DEET-based repellent. The all-natural spray protects you from mosquitos, gnats, and other insects thanks to a special recipe of lemongrass, geranium, peppermint, and cinnamon essential oils. As you'd expect from those ingredients, it smells pleasant, doesn't generate any sticky residue, and carries no other synthetic or petroleum-based properties. Just expect to apply it more than anything with DEET.