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Insect Repellent &
Mosquito Net Buying Guide

Protecting yourself from biting insects is critically important in many parts of the world. With mosquito-borne diseases such as Malaria, Dengue Fever and Yellow Fever still prevelant throughout much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America and Southern Asia, arming yourself with the correct insect repellent and mosquito net should be one of the first things you do before travelling.

Malaria MapMalaria Map

Once you know what to look for, choosing the right insect protection is an easy process.

Guide to Insect Repellents - DEET vs. Alternatives

What is DEET?

DEET is a man-made chemical and is considered the most effective mosquito repellent available. Mosquitoes simply hate it.

It was developed in the 1940's and has been used widely ever since. Contrary to popular belief, extensive testing has revealed no known long-term side effects, though it can irritate those with sensitive skin.

DEET offers the highest level of protection against mosquitoes, and is our top recommendation if you're visiting an area where Malaria or other mosquito-borne diseases are present.

DEET Concentrations Explained

DEET Concentration does not reflect how effective a repellent is, but actually how long it lasts. Concentrations from 50 to 100% can be effective for over 10 hours, while lower concentrations will need more regular applications to provide continuous protection, but are easier on skin. The minimum concentration you should use in areas with mosquito-borne diseases present is 20%.

20-50% DEET

  • Use anywhere outdoors with biting insects
  • Low-risk countries with no presence of mosquito-borne disease
  • Ideal for general outdoor use and shorter periods spent exposed to insects
  • Reapply every 6-8 hours, depending on humidity and how much you sweat

20-40% DEET Expedition Endurance Formula

  • Areas with a high risk of mosquito-borne disease such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Central & South America, Southern Asia
  • Use on exposed skin when going outdoors, especially when near still water.
  • Can also be used during extended exposure to insects in low-risk countries
  • Suitable for children ages 2+
  • Reapply 10-12 hours, depending on humidity and how much you sweat

50-95% DEET

  • Countries with a high risk of mosquito-borne disease such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Central & South America, Southern Asia
  • Use on exposed skin when going outdoors, especially when near still water
  • Can also be used during extended exposure to insects in low-risk countries
  • Not suitable for children under 6
  • Reapply 8-10 hours, depending on humidity

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Alternatives To DEET

Pyrethrin & Pyrethroids
Pyrethrin is a naturally occurring insecticide and repellent chemical found in the flowers of a strain of Chrysanthemum. The natural chemical is hard to isolate in the quantities needed, so repellents often contain Pyrethroids - a synthesized versions of Pyrethrin which can be made in much greater quantities. They are biodegradable and generally considered the safest insect repelling chemicals available. They work by affecting an insect’s nervous system, causing it to fly away or die, but don’t affect mammals. Purely Pyrethroid-based products are are suitable for use in low-risk countries.

lifesystems natural formulalifesystems natural formula

Many DEET-based repellents also contain Pyrethroids to provide an extra element of protection.

For children and those with sensitive skin, Saltidin is a worthy alternative to DEET, with proven efficacy, but with the added benefits of being colourless and odourless. This makes it ideal for those having to wear it for prolonged periods

Citronellal is a distinctive lemon-scented compound found in the oil extract of the Lemon Eucalyptus tree among many others. It is used in a huge range of products from perfumes to flavourings, but is particularly effective in repelling mosquitos. Naturally occurring and non-toxic as a topical repellent, it makes it an ideal choice for protecting children. It is the active ingredient of Citronella candles.

Guide to Mosquito Nets

Mosquito Net Fabrics

Mosquito nets are the most effective way to keep biting insects at bay when you're at your most vulnerable - during your sleep - by forming an impenetrable barrier around your bed against mosquitoes and other biting insects.

Modern mosquito nets are made from polyester as it is lightweight and strong, but they can vary in density depending on their intended use.

Lifesystems categorise their nets into three brackets according to coarseness:

  • Travel Nets - 156 holes per square inch
    These protect against mosquitoes, but not smaller biting insects. They offer more ventilation and are ideal for indoor use.
  • Superlight Nets - 500 holes per square inch
    These are more versatile and protect against most biting insects indoors and outdoors.
  • Expedition Nets - 1001 holes per square inch
    This is their finest weave, and protects against the smallest insects including sandflies and midges. (Ideal for Scottish camping!)

To provide even greater protection, Lifesystems treat their mosquito nets with EX8 – a repellent formula that can last over 2 years, and can be retreated.

lifesystems ex8 formulalifesystems ex8 formula

Mosquito Net Shapes

Mosquito nets come in different shapes and sizes, and your choice will depend on where you're using them, how much room you have and how long you’re staying in one place.

Box Mosquito Nets
These provide the most room and are ideal for double beds. They allow more air circulation within the net so are cooler to sleep in, but can be tricky to assemble, making them better suited for long term accommodation.

box mosquito netbox mosquito net

Wedge Mosquito Nets
Wedge-shaped nets are perfect for those on the go. The four corners hang from a single pole suspended above the head of the bed and can be strung up in seconds. While they don’t provide as much room, they are an ideal choice for the minimalist backpacker.

wedge mosquito netwedge mosquito net

Bell Mosquito Nets
Bell shaped nets suspend from a single point above the centre of a bed, with a small square frame ensuring the net hangs with plenty of room. Like box nets, they are ideal for protecting two people, but are more suited to short-term stays.

bell mosquito netbell mosquito net

Hoop Mosquito Nets
Like box nets, these are an ideal choice if you need coverage over a larger bed such as a king size. The advantage of hoop nets is that they are incredibly simple to set up, but they don’t pack down as small as other designs, making them more suited for long-term stays.

hoop mosquito nethoop mosquito net

Free-standing Mosquito Nets
Free-standing nets are a great choice for outdoor use or where there is no ceiling. Using a geodesic design, they can even be used as a tent in dry, hot-weather environments. The downside is that they weigh considerably more than those that can be suspended.

free standing mosquito netfree standing mosquito net

Insect Repellent Clothing

Regardless of repellents, the best way to protect yourself from being bitten is simply to cover up, but in situations such as a jungle expedition, or if you're sensitive to DEET-based repellents, treated clothing can provide an extra shield.

Craghoppers Nosilife Clothing

Nosilife is a range of insect-repellent clothing developed by Craghoppers. The fabric is given a permanent treatment during the manufacturing process, meaning it is woven into the fibres and maintains its anti-insect properties for life. The treatment contains a synthesised Pyrethroid called Permethrin, giving the clothing permanent top-level added protection against the most determined insects.

nosilife logonosilife logo

Lifesystems EX4 Fabric Treatment

Lifesystems EX4 is a spray-on treatment for clothing, tents and sleeping bags. Like Craghoppers Nosilife, EX4 contains Permethrin as its active ingredient and provides mosquito protection for up to 2 weeks,but should be reapplied after each wash for optimal efficacy.

Mosquito Headnets

Mosquito Headnets are the best way to keep flying insects away from your face (why do they always go for the face?). They may not be the height of fashion, but are invaluable if you're camping near a body of water.

mosquito head netmosquito head net

Protective Accessories & Bite Relief

Mosquito Coils

Mosquito coils are made from incense that contains an insecticide, usually a Pyrethroid such as Allethrin. As they burn, the smoke released deters mosquitoes and other biting insects from coming near the area.T They are a cheap, lightweight option for keeping mozzies away from your camp.

Plug-in Mosquito Killers

Mosquito plug-ins are a highly effective way to keep insects away from your room at night. They secrete an insecticide that harmless to humans, but provide 10 hours of protection with each tablet.

Bit Relief Clicker

These little click devices provide instant relief, and are most effective if you act straight after being bitten. They work by restricting the histamine that causes the itch and inflammation around a bite.

bite clickerbite clicker

Tick Removers

Ticks are found in areas of long grass or heather, usually where sheep or deer are present, and carry Lyme Disease. Their mouthparts latch into the skin, and once they've anchored they can be pretty tricky to remove. It's very important to ensure a tick is removed fully and intact. Leaving any of the mouthparts in the wound can result in infection, while squeezing or bursting the tick can cause it to release its contents back into your bloodstream. Using specially designed tick removal tweasers or a tick removal card makes the job much easier.

tick remover cardtick remover card

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