Skip to Content

8 Best Mosquito and Bug Repellents for Camping Bug-Free

8 Best Mosquito and Bug Repellents for Camping Bug-Free

Once you’ve set up your space at the campground or pulled into your boondocking spot for the weekend, you’re ready to sit in a chair and enjoy the outdoors. But your moment of relaxation may be quickly interrupted. Not by screaming kids or barking dogs but by blood-sucking mosquitoes. They’re everywhere, and no amount of swatting will keep them away. You need a quality mosquito repellent for camping to enjoy your weekend in nature. Let’s dive in to learn more about the best bug repellents for camping on the market!

What Options Are There to Repel Mosquitoes?

When planning a fun weekend getaway to a local campground, you anticipate campfire stories, afternoons of swimming, and family games. But you also know you better be prepared for the bugs. Here are a few options to help repel those pesky mosquitoes.

Mosquito on a leaf
Be prepared for mosquitoes during camping season with a quality repellent.

Sprays

Bug sprays made by Cutter, Repel, and Off! are aerosol cans that use DEET or picaridin to repel mosquitoes. You simply spray it on your body and clothes before a hike or an afternoon by the lake. Most of these types of products will last up to 12 hours. They’re easy to use, convenient, and are great mosquito repellent for camping. They’re also lightweight, so you can take them with you in a daypack.

Other people like more natural bug sprays made from lemon or eucalyptus oil. You can make your own if you have the proper oils, or you can buy natural sprays on Amazon or at a local store. Greenerways, Murphy’s, and Wondercide are common brands.

Vaporizers 

Vaporizers are another option to repel mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects. Unlike bug sprays, you don’t put these on your skin. Rather, they’re tiny machines that emit insecticides into the air. Thermacell is a popular brand that manufactures these types of vaporizers. The products use butane to heat up a mat soaked in insecticide. Then it’s released into the air.

Many campers set a vaporizer on the picnic table or put a few around the welcome mat. The insecticide repels mosquitoes from the general area. However, they can be useless if the wind blows since it will move the released vapor.

Camping Mosquito Repellent Showdown | Thermacell Radius E55 vs Amazon Zapper

Traps 

Another option for a bug repellent for camping isn’t a repellent at all. Instead, it’s a trap. These traps attract bugs using carbon dioxide, light, or heat. A fan usually sucks them in once they get close enough to the trap. Unlike the vaporizers, you don’t put traps nearby. Obviously, you don’t want to attract mosquitoes near where you and other guests are sitting. Set them about 20 feet away so they can attract the mosquitoes away from the entertaining space.

What Makes Bug Repellents Effective?

Each type of bug repellent is effective in its own way. As mentioned before, sprays use DEET or picaridin, chemicals that repel bugs. Vaporizers release insecticide into the air; a synthetic called allethrin is used in Thermacell products. Traps attract bugs with carbon dioxide, light, and heat to mimic human activity since we breathe out carbon dioxide and our body temperatures are generally higher than the air temperature.

Why Are Bugs Such a Problem When Camping?

Camping is an outdoor activity. We’re invading the space of bugs and wildlife when we pitch a tent or park an RV at a campsite. But the bugs become a problem when we leave food outside or when stagnant water is around. Many campgrounds are near lakes or ponds, which attracts mosquitoes. Camping season is also prime season for laying eggs and breeding, so we’re more likely to encounter bugs than if we camped in the winter.

Some places are more prone to mosquitoes than others. Find out: Are Alaska Mosquitoes as Bad as They Say?

campsites near the edge of a lake
Camping near lakes or ponds usually means you’ll encounter more mosquitoes.

The Best Mosquito and Bug Repellents for Camping Bug-Free

Now that you know the three different options for bug repellents, let’s get more specific with the best products. You want to spend your money on quality, effective mosquito repellents if you want to enjoy the camping experience.

Picaridin Sprays

Picaridin sprays deter mosquitoes and ticks for up to 12 hours and gnats, chiggers, and flies for up to eight hours with 20% picaridin. It dries quickly without a greasy residue and is safe for use on clothing, backpacks, watches, sunglasses, and more.

Sale
Sawyer Products SP5762 20% Picaridin Insect...
  • Safe for use on the whole family, long-lasting insect and tick...
  • Fragrance-free topical insect repellent with 20% Picaridin —...
  • Very comfortable to wear on your skin, it's ideal for all your...

DEET Sprays 

Like picaridin sprays, DEET sprays offer protection against ticks, mosquitoes, flies, and other insects. Instead of using picaridin, they use DEET for up to ten hours of protection. It’s not just the insect bite these bug sprays protect you from. You don’t want to risk exposure to the viruses these insects can carry, like Zika, Chikungunya, or West Nile Virus.

Sale
Coleman 100 Max 100% DEET Insect Repellent Spray -...
  • One 4 oz can of Coleman 100 Max DEET Insect Repellent Spray
  • Bug repellent spray contains 100% DEET for strong protection...
  • Bug spray with DEET protects against mosquitoes that may carry...
person using bug repellent spray
Consider a spray with picaridin or DEET to prevent mosquito bites.

Permethrin Clothing Treatments 

Applied directly to clothing, sleeping bags, gear, and tents, permethrin clothing treatment sprays are unscented and a safe DEET alternative. It won’t stain or damage your gear and is safe to use on animals. If you’re going out for a multi-day hike, a permethrin clothing treatment spray will cover about seven full outfits.

Sale
Ranger Ready Permethrin 0.5% Clothing-Worn...
  • Clothing and Gear Protection: Unscented bug spray with Permethrin...
  • Odorless: Insect repellent lasts up to 5 washings or 40 days of...
  • Deet-Alternative: Also safe for use on dogs and horses

Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller

This vaporizer is unscented and releases repellent to keep bugs away. It generally covers a 15-foot zone. Each repellent mat lasts up to four hours, and the butane fuel cartridge lasts about 12 hours. When you’re looking for a mosquito repellent for camping, this patio shield is an excellent option because of the area it covers.

Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller, Navy;...
  • EFFECTIVE MOSQUITO PROTECTION: Thermacell Mosquito Repellent...
  • HEAT-ACTIVATED TECHNOLOGY: No cords or batteries. Powered by a...
  • EFFECTIVELY REPEL WITHOUT SPRAY OR SCENT: Repel mosquitoes...

Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller

For a portable Thermacell option, this repeller can go with you if you want to enjoy a picnic after a hike or plan on paddling down a river for a few hours. It operates the same way as the patio shield listed above. The mats last up to four hours, the cartridge lasts up to 12 hours, and it covers a 15-foot area. But this product can easily sit in the bottom of your kayak or be packed in your backpack for use later.

Sale
Thermacell MR450 Portable Mosquito Repeller with...
  • EFFECTIVE MOSQUITO PROTECTION: Thermacell Mosquito Repellent...
  • HEAT-ACTIVATED TECHNOLOGY: No cords or batteries. Powered by a...
  • EFFECTIVELY REPEL WITHOUT SPRAY OR SCENT: Repel mosquitoes...
Thermacell Patio Shield (2021) The Best Thermacell Mosquito Repellent | Best Thermacell for Camping

DynaTrap Large Mosquito Trap 

DynaTrap has several traps that work well for camping. This large mosquito trap is electric, so you can place it anywhere. The UV light combined with the TiO2 coating lure insects to the trap. Then the fan sucks them into the basket. This trap protects about an acre of property, very useful as a mosquito repellent for camping. Recharge and empty as needed.

Sale
DynaTrap DT2000XLP-TUNSR Large Mosquito & Flying...
  • What We Catch – Attracts and traps mosquitoes, biting flies,...
  • 3-Way Protection – The UV light and TiO2 coating lure flying...
  • Powerful Protection – The XL trap effectively protects up to 1...

DynaTrap Flylight Indoor Plug-In Fly Trap

For those bugs that escape your outdoor traps or repellents, add an indoor trap to get rid of them. This plug-in trap attracts flies, fruit flies, moths, gnats, and other flying insects in a 600-square-foot space. The UV LED light naturally attracts the bugs. Then the glue cards keep them confined. You can replace the glue cards as needed.

Sale
DynaTrap DT3009-1003P Flylight Indoor Plug-In Fly...
  • Works Fast – The trap starts working immediately to attract,...
  • Protects Large Rooms – The UV LED light naturally attracts...
  • Discreet Design – Trapped insects are discreetly hidden behind...

Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

Another alternative for parents who don’t want to use bug sprays on their kids is a mosquito repellent bracelet. This is a great bug repellent for camping because it can easily go with you on hikes. Instead of DEET or picaridin as the active ingredient, these bracelets use citronella, lemongrass, and geraniol oils to keep bugs away.

Mosquito Guard 20 Pcs Mosquito Repellent Bracelets...
  • NATURAL INGREDIENTS: Each mosquito repellent bracelet is made...
  • DEET-FREE BUG REPELLENT BRACELETS: Our mosquito repellent bands...
  • PERFECT FOR TRAVEL: Enjoy your vacation with the kids and bring...
mosquito repellent bracelets for camping
Mosquito repellent bracelets are kid-friendly.

Other Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away

Some people prefer to use more environmentally friendly and natural products to keep mosquitoes away. If you’d rather not use DEET products on your skin or release insecticides into the air, there are still other kinds of mosquito repellent for camping.

Environmentally-Friendly Bug Sprays

There are companies that specialize in environmentally friendly, natural bug sprays. Picaridin, a bioidentical version of a long black pepper plant, is used in these sprays. Generally, they don’t last as long (perhaps up to eight hours), but for most campers, that’s plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors.

Sale
Stay Away Picaridin Mosquitoes Insect Repellent...
  • LONG LASTING PROTECTION - Proven plant-powered Picaridin 14-hour...
  • KID FRIENDLY - Made with CDC recommended Picaridin, a...
  • IT DOES THE JOB - Water-resistant and non-flammable insect...

Portable Screen Rooms/Gazebos

Adding a portable screen room to your camping gear is another option to keep the bugs away. However, you’ll need ample space to store it. These gazebos are lightweight, and some pop up automatically without much set-up time. They’re ventilated while still keeping out the insects. In addition to protecting you from bug bites, they also protect you from sunburn.

Alvantor Screen House Room Camping Tent Outdoor...
  • ☀Highlight: design patented Lightest Pop Up Screen Room for 4-6...
  • ☀Spacious space & ventilation: Alvantor Breezy Hexagonal...
  • ☀Patent design: fabric top provides an all-day UPF...
screen tent next to camping tent
Screen tents help you enjoy the outdoors without worrying about pesky bugs.

Essential Oils

You can use the Trail Guard essential oil to naturally keep mosquitoes away with its combination of ylang ylang, eucalyptus, coconut, vanilla, Virginia cedarwood, Nootka wood, litsea cubeba, catnip, and western red cedarwood essential oils. Dilute the oil with a carrier oil and rub it on your skin. This is a natural way to protect yourself from insects while camping.

Sale
Trail Guard Essential Oil Blend 2oz - Outdoor &...
  • TRAIL GUARD ESSENTIAL OIL: Blend of Ylang Ylang Essential Oil,...
  • MADE WITH LOVE: UpNature was founded by two brothers with a...
  • VACATION ESSENTIALS: Perfect for patio or outdoor enjoyment and...

Essential oils can do more than repel bugs while camping. Learn about their other uses here: 7 Best Essential Oils for Camping & Recreating Outdoors

Outdoor Fan 

Using an outdoor fan is one of the easiest ways to keep bugs away. Set a fan near your entry steps to blow air away from your camper. Insects won’t be able to fly inside. You can also set a fan beside you when lying in a hammock reading a book or playing a game of checkers on the patio table.

Pedestal Fan, Outdoor Oscillating Fan with Remote...
  • [3 Fan Mode with 4 Speeds, 1 Pedestal fan, offer 12 options] This...
  • [Time Setting and Remote Control] Air Choice outdoor fan install...
  • [Vertically 90°Tilt and Horizontally 120°Oscillating] With a...

Tiki Torches 

Finally, tiki torches are great for people who are more stationary. They can be more challenging to set up, tear down, and store for people who travel often. But these are great bug repellents when camping because of the citronella and cedar formula in the torch fuel. They also create a fun ambiance at the campsite.

Sale
TIKI Brand 66-Inch Island King Large Flame Torch,...
  • LARGE FLAME TORCH: This big, bold torch has a contemporary metal...
  • EASY & MESS FREE: This torch comes with an attached magnetic...
  • PERSONAL PARADISE: We can help you create an outdoor paradise...
tiki torch for repelling mosquitoes while camping
Tiki torches help light up your campsite in addition to keeping mosquitoes away.

Stay Bug-Free During Camping Season

Don’t let bugs ruin your camping experience. Stock up on products that keep the insects away so you can enjoy making memories. The best mosquito repellent for camping options may not be cheap, but they’re worth it to enjoy the outdoors. So whether you want products proven effective for decades or natural and environmentally friendly products that are portable and easy to store, there are plenty of options.

What do you use to repel mosquitos? Share your go-to bug repellent for camping in the comments below.

Become A Mortons On The Move Insider

Join 10,000+ other adventurers to receive educating, entertaining, and inspiring articles about RV Travel Destinations, RV Gear, and Off-Grid Living to jump-start your adventures today!

Read More From The Mortons:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.