How can you prevent bug bites without using DEET or other insect repellents, stay cool during day hikes or backpacking trips, and protect your skin from sun burn?
Easy – wear long pants, a long sleeve shirt and a hat when you hike. It’s really not as bad as you think. I’ve been doing it for the past 5 years and rarely get any bug bites. I know how to cool down without taking off all of my clothes, and I never get sun burn.
I still carry a very small quantity of DEET and a little tin of Dermatone sunscreen for my lips and face, but I hardly every need to use them. I stay much cleaner and don’t have to put tons of chemicals on my skin.
I also don’t have to worry nearly as much about have Lyme disease carrying ticks attach themselves to my legs because they’re completely covered. That alone makes wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt completely worth it in summer, even when it’s quite hot out.
Common Questions & Answers
Don’t you sweat? What’s worse: sweating or mosquito bites? You can’t wash off a mosquito bite.
What if you get to hot? I walk into a lake or stream, or pour cold water over my shirt. It’s refreshing to do in hot weather and the bugs still can’t get you through my clothing.
Don’t your boots/shoes get wet? Yes, my mesh trail runners get wet. But they dry very quickly. Gore-tex lined boots and leather boots don’t, which is one of the chief reasons I don’t wear them hiking in summer anymore.
Can’t mosquitoes bite through thin fabrics? While true, they don’t bite through my clothes which are factory-soaked in a bug repellent called Permethrin and stay potent through 100 washings.
What kind of shirt and pants do I wear? I wear Railrider Ecomesh pants and a Railrider Madison River shirt. Both of these garments have mesh venting along the sides that lets me sweat freely but still protects me from bugs. The mesh is a very clever idea and really works. Of course, you could also wear any make of synthetic long pants and a long sleeve shirt and get the same results. This is why park rangers and trail maintenance crews always were long pants and shirts on the job.
Do I ever roll up my sleeves? If there are no bugs out, of course.
How many pairs of pants and shorts do I bring on backpacking trips. Just the ones I’m wearing. If they get too salty or dirty, I just rinse them out. They’re made out of nylon and dry very quickly.