The outdoor gear company, Wenzel, has started making family camping tents pre-treated with Permethrin, which repels and kill mosquitos and ticks, including those that carry Lyme Disease. I think this is a fantastic development and hope higher-end backpacking tent manufacturers follow Wenzel’s example and start selling backpacking tents that have been pre-treated with Permethrin. It may in fact inevitable, since pre-treating backpacking tents with Permethrin would be such a competitive feature. Still it’s interesting to see that Wenzel spearheaded this innovation in the highly competitive family camping tent segment of the market.
What is Permethrin?
Permethrin is an insecticide that bonds to the fabric, killing insects that land on it, including ticks and mosquitos. Until now, it’s been mainly used by outdoor clothing manufacturers such as Columbia, Railriders, Ex Officio, Sea-to-Summit, Cabelas, and others (see also Permethrin Clothing) to create insect proof clothing for hikers and hunters.
For example, here’s the pre-treated Permethrin clothing that I normally wear hiking.
- 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
- Darn-Tough Hiking Socks
Approved by the EPA and FDA, Permethrin is used by the US military to create insect repellent clothing for the armed forces. It’s chief benefit is that it lasts long-term (up to 70 washings on clothing) when applied using a factory process (like Insect Shield), although you can also buy Permethrin at retail stores and apply it to your own clothing (see also Treating Your Clothes with Permethrin)
Permethrin Applied to Tents
Permethrin can be safely applied to synthetic fabrics including mosquito netting (as evidenced by Sea-to-Summit mosquito net shelters and head nets) unlike DEET which literally melts plastic and synthetics, including gore-tex and waterproof laminates. Published research has shown that occupants sleeping in tents sprayed with Permethrin experience 85-95 fewer mosquito bites, lending credibility to the claim that spraying tents with Permethrin can increase camper comfort as well as decrease insect-born diseases like Lyme Disease.