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Best way to survive bug season?
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Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Best way to survive bug season? on 02/19/2013 01:49:40 MST Print View


I wanted to "bug" you all with a new flying insect thread. Anyone have any unique tried and true ways of staying happy on the trail during the height of bug season (say, for gits and shiggles, June in Arctic Sweden).

I'll be rolling with head net and complete net protection at night (inner net and Duomid) but was wondering what else, DEET, light gloves, etc. would help make the trip more enjoyable.

David Noll
(dpnoll) - MLife

Locale: Maroon Bells
Best for BUGS on 02/19/2013 06:26:05 MST Print View

I have found shirts that have been factory pretreated work pretty well.

Mike V
(deadbox) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
"Best way to survive bug season?" on 02/19/2013 06:39:09 MST Print View

Treat your clothing and headnet with Permethrin, use DEET on any exposed skin. Wear tightly knit fabrics that bugs can't bite thru. Use a netted shelter. Avoid areas where biting insects will be most likely to be, ie. low laying shaded areas, near standing water, etc.

Michael B
(mbenvenuto) - F

Locale: Vermont
bugs on 02/19/2013 06:52:22 MST Print View

I usually do ok wearing long pants and dense shirt while hiking, as long as you can move fast and it is not too hot. I can't stand wearing a head net, so having a treated bandana to attach to my hat for neck protection can really help.

But where most folks go crazy is cooking and eating. The arctic in June may be even worse than the north woods in June, but either could be miserable. So for paddling trips at that time of year, I take a bug tent of some sort. Being able to throw it over your head, stick your poles in the ground for some support, and being able to eat in reasonable peace is priceless. Even the cheap mosquito nets for beds (Coghlan's for example), don't weigh that much, pack small, and can really make a difference. The bugs will come in under the bottom edge, but once inside will mostly fly up into the corners out of the way. I can't tell if your inner tent is big enough to sit in, and it appears to have bottom, which makes it slightly less useful since you may not want to cook in there, so you may want to try sitting in that, and/or thinking about carrying something more for use while sitting, cooking, and taking breaks.

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Arctic bugs on 02/19/2013 08:13:35 MST Print View

I worked for a few years as a guide in Denali. In certain areas at certain times, the mosquitoes were pretty bad.

What worked for me:


  • Lightweight, woven long sleeve shirt and pants.
  • Headnet (Peter's headnets are the best I've found).
  • Light shortie gaiters (otherwise, your ankles will get tore up, even through thick socks).
  • 100% DEET on my hands. I prefer not to use chemicals but compromised here. Gloves can work, but you have to go with leather or something with a tight-woven membrane (example).


  • Look for higher, drier spots for breaks and camp.
  • Take meal breaks when a nice breeze kicks up.
For true arctic travel, many of my friends used and recommended The Original Bug Shirt.

Edited by milesbarger on 02/19/2013 08:17:11 MST.

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Bug names on 02/19/2013 14:21:46 MST Print View

Translation required please: gits and shiggles are what?

Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Bug names on 02/19/2013 14:39:27 MST Print View

It's a Spoonerism; the leading 'g' and 'sh' have been swapped among the words.

Edited by requiem on 02/19/2013 14:40:25 MST.

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Peter's Headnets, DEET, Permethrin, etc. on 02/20/2013 00:09:58 MST Print View

Well, it looks like I'll need the full litany of items, from headnets to treated clothing to DEET . . . to mental toughness.

Does anyone know what the worst part of the bug season usually is? We'll be hiking the Kungsleden the last two weeks of June. If there is an early spring, I assume it is worse, but if we have a late spring (and colder hike), will this spare us the worst of bug season?

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: "Best way to survive bug season?" on 02/20/2013 09:15:05 MST Print View

My recommendations are pretty much the same as everyone else's. Tight woven clothing treated with Permethrin. short gaiter to protect ankles. Hat and a headset, I like little fly designs but there are lots of good choices. I haven't found a glove solution I like so I do chemicals here. I typically use >=20% Picaridin which I have found is just about as effective as DEET without that slimy feeling and plastic destroying nature.

As other have noted, pick stopping locations that are up a bit and are have strong breezes. For the end of the day I REALLY like a bug free space, so for me whatever shelter I use has a fully enclosed space that gives me room to move - sit up, eat when there isn't a danger of bears, take a bandana bath. At the end of a long day I am often running hot so it also needs to provide plenty of ventilation, so tarp with perimeter bug netting doesn't work so well. This means either a classic double wall tent, good size bug tent + tarp, or hybrid shelter with lots of netting such as the hexamid (what I use) six moon designs skyscape, etc.


Edited by verber on 02/20/2013 09:18:59 MST.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Re: "Best way to survive bug season?" - gaiter question on 02/20/2013 09:42:04 MST Print View

Does stretchy fabric such as is used in Dirty Girl gaiters and the like provide ankle protection from bugs, or can mosquitoes bite through that fabric? Now that I am doing more hiking in low top shoes, I probably need to find something to protect my ankles.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Best way to survive bug season?" on 02/20/2013 10:04:38 MST Print View

Sun grubbies on your hands are pretty effective for skeeters. Push come to shove I'll spritz the back of the grubbies with deet, which I hate. Then I can remove the grubbies when eating/filtering water.

Sun precautions make a Solumbra drape style sun hat that looks...interesting but boy is it great for mosquitoes. I don't even treat mine with Permethrin. It hangs loose about your face and skeeters can't get to you. Zip it up (velcro)to cover almost your entire face when you enter a swarm and then un-velcro when you've moved on.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Best way to survive bug season?" on 02/20/2013 11:39:36 MST Print View

I'm not a fan of DEET or other chemicals on my skin. I go nowhere in Alaska without long pants, long sleeves, gloves, hat and a good head net. I rarely need it (even a light breeze will keep the skeeters away) but when I do need it it's a sanity saver.

I started experimenting with permethrin last year. I can't say I've noticed a difference in how the skeeters behave. Maybe it doesn't affect them.

I carry DEET as a back up. If it were bad enough, I'd use it.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Chemicals vs Coverage on 02/20/2013 11:43:15 MST Print View

My input would be to focus more on coverage and less on chemical use. It seems every generation has chemicals that are touted for their amazing properties and then 10 years down the road we find out they cause cancer. For that reason I won't use DEET or whatever the latest chemical is if I can at all avoid it.

Edited by randalmartin on 02/20/2013 11:44:05 MST.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Agreed: use minimal chemicals on 02/20/2013 11:54:56 MST Print View

Michael B, Mark Verber, and Randy Martin capture my feelings on this best.

During the day, if you're a strong enough hiker then just take no breaks, keep moving (doesn't necessarily have to be really fast). Long pants, sleeves, sun gloves, headnet kept handy.

Take a decent length lunch break, in part to make up for no breaks along the way. Ideally somewhere windy, or sometimes you find a spot that's just mysteriously low in bugs and/or the bugs aren't too aggressive. Backup plan: put up your tent!

Evening: eat cold meals only, or if you must, be efficient at cooking the meal quickly. Put up the tent, get in the tent, and stay in the tent. Use a pee bottle. If the bugs are bad enough, skip brushing your teeth for this particular night.

This strategy works best for me when hiking solo, or hiking with one or more hiking partners that have a similar approach. In an ad hoc group setting, if you feel inclined or required to stay with the group, you're sort of screwed --- probably need the chemicals.

Look on the bright side: in the comic books whenever someone falls into a vat of nasty chemicals, they always develop super powers, right? !

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Ah, one other thought on 02/20/2013 11:59:04 MST Print View

One more thought about camping in really buggy conditions: if you're the type that is on a regular "#2" morning schedule, dig your hole the night before, unless you're confident that the morning will be too cold for bugs to be out yet.

Very nice in the morning to have that much less time to draw a horde of bugs before you expose all of that skin. It's also a good idea, btw, if you anticipate rain/snow/sleet/hail in the morning, or just cold and/or windy conditions.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Best way to survive bug season? on 02/21/2013 12:48:40 MST Print View