Tis the season of flying biting things, and this family has a hard time staying inside no matter what Mother Nature is throwing at us. If that adversity is of the stinging blood sucking kind, it’s good to have the right equipment to keep you and the little ones as comfortable as can be. Below I share my personal strategies for keeping baby and family relatively bite free.
1) Timing. Mosquitoes are most active from dusk to dawn (night), so I have the best luck in New Hampshire hiking in the morning or early afternoon. Late afternoon hikes run the risk being chased back to the car by a black cloud of culicidae.
2) Location. Many hikes start in low lying sheltered areas. Often the mosquitoes are worse right at the trail-head. I dislike wearing ANY repentant, natural or otherwise, when it isn’t needed. I’ve watched many families soak their children in “Off” when stepping out of the car, regardless to the presence (or lack of) any biting insects. So my advice is to get out of the car and start hiking. Get away from the damp low lying campground and moving along the trail. If the climb isn’t steep a 3 mph gait can really keep the fliers away.
3) Clothing. Even during the hottest months babies/toddlers being carried will be most comfortable wearing light weight long pants and long-sleeved shirts. This reduces the amount of bug repellent that must be applied when feed time begins.
4) Skin Repellent. If the presence of biter’s is apparent, and feeding time seems imminent (not Alex’s feeding time), then I bust out the repellent. For him I like All Terrain’s Kids’ Herbal Armor Repellant Spray. Legs, arms, and the back of his neck/ears get the most attention. I’ll use this myself when hiking with him, but I also carry a 30% Deet Spray for dealing with crazy swarms. If the bug situation has escalated to need DEET, I apply it away from him. No skin repellent beats the effectiveness of DEET, and if I am carrying him on my back while wearing it I feel we both have a bit of a protective bubble around us.
5) Gear Repellent. I treat our kid carrier with AMK BEN’S CLOTHING AND GEAR REPELLENT. This “Permethrin” formula is something I used for years in some of the most bug infested jungles in the world while serving as a US Marine. It really works against just about everything. This is not to be applied to skin, or even clothing while you are wearing it. Once it absorbs into clothing or gear and has dried it can not leech back into our skin. I can set the kid carrier down in a tick infested field and I won’t find one tick on him or the carrier. During tick season treating the outside of your shoes and the bottoms of your favorite hiking pants will do wonders.
I plan on adding a head net now that Alex is entering toddler hood. I’d be nervous about putting a head net on an infant, especially if hiking solo, due to possible strangulation, but if one is used just exercise extreme caution! There are also some great clothes and items like bandanas pre-treated with permethrin. You can see them, along with some other bug combat tools at this link.
What do you do to fight the bitey’s? Any products you would recommend to those hiking with kids?