Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy Darn Tough Hiker Boot Socks with Insect Shield to protect yourself against Lyme-disease carrying ticks? Unfortunately you can’t, but you can take matters into your own hands and send your socks out to be treated with Insect Shield. That’s what I did before hiking on the Appalachian Trail this spring down in Virginia.
Lyme Disease Prevention
What’s the one place where Lyme-disease carrying ticks have unfettered access to your skin. Your feet and shins, of course. While you can wear long pants, they still won’t protect your shins, calves, ankles or feet, particularly if you wear trail runners or hiking shoes for hiking.
A better solution is to treat your socks with Permethrin, the active ingredient in Insect Shield. Used by the US Military, Permethrin is an insecticide that bonds to the fabric of your clothing, killing insects that land on it, including ticks and mosquitos. While you can apply Sawyer Permethrin to your clothing by yourself, it only last for 3-6 washings. The advantage of the Insect Shield Treatment is that it will last for 70 washings, which is particularly good for garments that you get wet nearly every day on the trail, like socks, in stream-crossings or rain.
The Insect Shield Treatment is already used on many of the hiking clothes I wear including:
- Ex Officio Bugsaway Halo Check Long Sleeve Shirt
- RailRiders Eco-Mesh Pants
- Outdoor Research Sentinel Brim Hat
- Sea-to-Summit Headnet w/ Insect Shield
- Insect Shield Buff
After-Market Insect Shield Treatment
For garments, like socks, or clothes that you like to wear but haven’t been factory-treated with Insect Shield, you can send them to Insect Shield in North Carolina (click for details) and they will apply the Permethrin treatment that lasts for 70 washings for you. The cost is nominal in my opinion, costing about $10 per item, with a discount on multiple pieces.
Most of my hiking clothes last for less than 70 washings, so this after-market Insect Shield treatment lasts for the lifetime of the garment, although your mileage may vary.
As far as I’m concerned, the most dangerous animal on the Appalachian Trail or any other hiking trail is a Lyme-disease carrying tick. I’m willing to take great precautions to avoid contracting Lyme disease, and sending my socks out for an Insect Shield treatment is a necessary precaution in my mind.
- Hiking and Lyme Disease: Revised Estimates from the CDC Show a Tenfold Increase
- Treating Your Clothes with Permethrin
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