mosquito biting

The Best Camping Bug Repellent That Actually Works

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The best camping bug repellent can seem elusive. If you are wondering how to keep mosquitoes away or what the best bug spray for camping is and haven’t had success you’re probably feeling pretty frustrated.
Nothing can ruin your camping trip faster than mosquitoes! Those horrible bugs aren’t just annoying in the moment but for hours or even days after, especially if you forgo (or forget) a mosquito repellent. 

Last night I thought I could skip the bug spray. I didn’t want to worry about crawling into bed covered in sticky, smelly spray. Boy, was I wrong. I am now writing this article while itching all over. Maybe you can relate. So what are the best camping mosquito repellents to keep the mosquitoes away (far, far away) so you can actually enjoy your RV trip? Keep reading to find out! 

There are also some of the best mosquito repellent devices for camping nowadays. So, if you don’t want to slather on the bug spray, these gadgets are an excellent alternative mosquito repellent. 

  • Once you finish reading, remember to leave a comment with what you think is the best camping insect repellent. 

Best Mosquito Repellent Device for Camping 

Bug spray and lotions can be obnoxious. Here are the best mosquito repellent devices for camping that won’t leave you feeling sticky or itchy. They still solve the problem of how to keep mosquitos away but are much nicer than using event the best camping bug repellent.

Also Read:  Are RV Washer-Dryers Worth the Hassle (And the Space They Take Up)?

Thermacell- The Best Mosquito Repellent Device for Camping

Thermacell is all the rage these days in the Cool RV Stuff Facebook group, and for good reason. It comes with raving reviews and an average rating of 4.3 of 5 on Amazon. 

Just turn it on and Thermacell produces a 15-foot diameter, bug-free zone all without bug spray. After 15 minutes, the heat-activated mosquito repellent disperses into the surrounding air to repel the bugs. The repellent cartridges last 4 hours each but are easy to replace. 

Using a Thermacell is a safe, effective way to repel mosquitoes without having to worry about bug spray. The catch is it doesn’t work if there is too much of a breeze. That’s because the repellent gets blown away. The good news is, mosquitoes typically aren’t as bad in windy weather since they aren’t strong fliers. 

Thermacell is a bit on the spendy side, so make sure you remember to turn it off when you’re done for the night. There are serveral types of Thermacell mosquito repellent devices. I’ve linked a few of the most popular options below.

Thermacell also comes in a portable unit.

Here is a recharchable thermacell mosquito repellent device.

Dynatrap Mosquito Repellent Device

Another popular mosquito repellent device for camping is the Dynatrap. If you don’t like using even the best bug spray for camping, this lets you manage mosquitoes without chemicals on your skin. Dynatrap doesn’t actually repel mosquitoes. It uses a special attractant to lure them to the trap (instead of to you). They are then sucked into the trap by a small fan and usually die within 24 hours. 

Because it attracts mosquitoes, you want to put the Dynatrap at least 20-40 feet away from where you are sitting. It is also best to put it 3-6 feet off the ground and away from any other light source. 

The base model is effective for up to ½ acre of space. It should be more than enough room to keep your campsite clear. And maybe your neighbor’s too! 

Cliganic Mosquito Repellent Bracelets 

If you want a mosquito repellent for camping that goes with you, Cliganic mosquito repellent bracelets are one of the best options out there. Just slip it on your wrist and it masks the human scent that attracts mosquitoes. They have an average rating of 4.3 of 5 stars. Compared to other repellents, it is a top contender. 

One major drawback is that the reviews are mixed. There are some people who say they work great for those wondering how to keep mosquitoes away for camping. Others say they don’t work at all. It may be person-dependent or might depend on how bad the mosquitoes are when you’re wearing it. They are pretty cheap so it doesn’t hurt to try using them to keep bugs away.

Box Fan

Did you know a simple box fan can work wonders towards solving the age old problem of how to keep mosquitoes away from campsites. Mosquitoes are wimpy and can’t fly very well. That makes a fan one of the best mosquito repellent devices. It also doesn’t require recharging or purchasing additional supplies. Just plug it in and go. The strong breeze from a box fan is often enough to keep them at bay.

The only problem is fans are often noisy and might not protect everyone at the campsite. Plus, they have to be plugged into a power source. Fans are also pretty bulky and when storage in your RV is tough, you may not have room to bring a fan along.

box fans are an effective moquito repellent device

Mosquito Netting or Screen Rooms

Another great way for how to keep mosquitos away when camping is to use a screen room. Mosquito netting is fine and works well but is kind of a pain. Are you really going to use that? But there are some pretty quick and easy screen rooms that you can set up when camping.

A popular choice for a screen room to repel moquitos is a CLAM shelter. They are easy to set up and take down. As long as you zip the door shut, they will go a long way towards ensuring you don’t need any other camping insect repellent.

Bug Spray Alternatives That Don’t Work Well 

According to the experts, there are some popular mosquito repellents that simply aren’t very effective. 

I hate to break it to you, but tiki torches simply don’t make the cut no matter how fun they make your campsite look. Within 1 meter of the flame tiki torches are somewhat effective, but once you move further than that they don’t do much of anything. The same goes for citronella candles. So if you want the best mosquito repellent for camping, don’t choose these.

Guidance for Camping Insect Repellents Sprays or Lotions

When choosing the best bug spray for camping, it is best to go with something EPA-approved. The EPA even has a website where you can check the effectiveness duration of every EPA-approved brand of bug spray or lotion. 

In general, you’ll want to make sure your product has one of the following active ingredients: DEET, IR3535, picardin, p-Menthane-3 8-diol, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or oil of citronella. I also found a few products with high effectiveness that use catnip oil as the active ingredient. That’s a new one for me.

Many consumers don’t like using DEET despite it being one of the best camping bug repellent options. Because of that, I’ve provided a variety of choices, so keep reading to find what works best for you to keep mosquitos away on your next camping trip.  

There is a huge range in how long each product lasts even with the same active ingredient. For example, some mosquito sprays with DEET last 2 hours while others last 14 hours or even more. That’s why you’ll want to pay attention to the specifics to find the best bug spray for camping.

It isn’t possible to cover all of them here, but you can look up your favorite bug repellent using the website above. Otherwise, keep reading for a few solid recommendations. 

Top Camping Insect Repellent and Bug Sprays

Here are some top choice camping insect repellents that will save you if you’re always seearching for how to keep mosquitos away. There are many more out there, so if you have a favorite I missed be sure to drop it in the comments! 

spraying on the best camping insect repellent

Cutter Backwoods Insect Repellent

Cutter Backwoods bug spray works for up to 10 hours and repels mosquitoes like a champ. You really can’t go wrong with this product. Its active ingredient is DEET. It is one of the best mosquito repellents for camping.

OFF! Deep Woods 

OFF! Deep Woods is another one of the best bug sprays for camping containing DEET. It lasts up to 8 hours so you can enjoy the campfire all evening long. While still following campground etiquette quiet hours rules of course. 

Repel Essential Lemon Eucalyptus 

If you prefer a plant-based mosquito repellent, Repel has one of the best products out there. You’ll get up to 6 hours of protection. Best of all, this camping insect repellent is all-natural with lemon eucalyptus as the active ingredient. 

Top Mosquito Repellent Lotions

Some people prefer using a mosquito repellent lotion rather than a bug spray for camping. You don’t have to worry about breathing in fumes or getting bug spray in your eyes which sounds like a win to me. Keep reading for some top options. If you don’t see your favorite, drop it in the comments below. 

Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus 

Avon offers insect repellent lotion and spray. It provides up to 6 hours of protection and contains the active ingredient picaridin. Many people swear by it. Just make sure you don’t get the traditional lotion or it won’t provide any protection against mosquitoes. 

Sawyer Products Insect Repellent Lotion 

Sawyer products offers several insect repellent lotions. Some contain DEET and others have picaridin for up to 11-14 hours of bug-free camping! You can even get a spray for your tent or camp chairs for added protection. 

3M Ultrathon Lotion 

The 3M Ultrathon Lotion how keep mosquitos away for up to 12 hours with its time-release formula. It contains DEET to get the job done. It is a fantastic camping insect repellent if you don’t mind DEET.

What is the Best Camping Mosquito and Insect Repellent?

Alright RVers, I know you all spend a ton of time outdoors. So now it’s your turn to leave a comment below.  

  • What do you think is the best solution for the age old question of how to keep mosquitos away when camping?
  • Are Thermacells and other mosquito repellent devices all they’re cracked up to be?
  • What do you think is the best bug spray for camping?

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Kathryn Mancewicz

Kathryn Mancewicz is an RV expert who has been a full time RVer since 2019. She has bylines for her RV related content on major publications including MSN, MSN Canada, and AOL. She has also been featured on Yahoo and quoted on KOA. Kathryn is also a regular RV content writer for Cheapism.