How to Repel Mosquitoes While Camping?

Mosquitoes are nasty creatures and can ruin a perfectly planned camping trip. If you are not well prepared to keep mosquitoes out of your tent well ahead, you can be miserable at night. As annoying as they are, it doesn’t take much to repel mosquitoes while camping.

To keep mosquitoes away while camping, choose a dry campsite, keep it clean and tidy, dress in light color clothes, keep your tent door closed, conceal your body odor and use appropriate mosquito repellent sprays.

In this article, we are going to discuss all these practical tips in more detail to make your camping experience mosquito-free. Be sure to read all the way to the end and, if necessary, take notes for your next camping trip.

How to keep mosquitoes away while camping?

Before you go camping, check your camping area and see if it has mosquitoes and other bugs population. Especially if you are camping during late spring and early summer, you should be extra prepared as this is the breeding season for mosquitoes.

Here are a few practical ways to keep mosquitoes away.

1. Chose a dry camp site

Mosquitoes breed in still water and once the larva hatch, they make dark and damp places their home during the day. During the night, they come out for some blood.

When you are at your campsite, make sure there is no still water around like lacks, ponds, swamps, etc. Even running streams make localized still water spots where mosquitoes lay eggs and make baby mosquitoes.

If there is a water body around and it’s the breeding season, it is almost guaranteed that you will be overwhelmed by thirsty mosquitoes during the later hours and night.

Always select an area that is dry and far away from any still water body.

2. Carry the right camping gear

picture showing use of mosquito net on hammock

Good selection of camping gear is essential for a comfortable stay outdoors. That includes a camping tent that is completely enclosed and protected from all sides. Your camping tent should be of sturdy construction with thick material, and the windows and door should be zip closed.

If you are planning to sleep in a hammock, make sure you either carry a mosquito net or a hammock with integrated mosquito net.

3. Keep the campsite clean & dry

Mosquitoes are attracted by the scent of food. If your campsite is not tidy and there are leftovers or garbage nearby, they will attract mosquitoes like moths to flames. Even though mosquitoes don’t feed on leftover food, the garbage provides a good hiding place for them.

One of the best practices of camping is to pack all your foods in Ziploc airtight bags. These bags not only keep your food more hygienic, but they also keep the scent locked inside. Securely locking your food also keep spiders away from campsite along with other creepy crawlers like scorpion and snakes.

picture showing trash on campsite that home mosquitoes

Another best practice is to clean your table and pack all leftover food items and particles into a Ziploc bag and carry all this trash with you on your way back. Also, make sure you dispose of camping grey water from dishes and cooking. This ensures zero waste in the natural habitat also keeps the insects away.

4. Conceal your body scent

Mosquitoes detect their prey via special odor receptors that detect carbon dioxide and body scent. It is interesting to know that only female mosquitoes bite humans. They do so to derive protein from human blood to make eggs. The odor receptors are present only in females.

Since body scent is their primary attraction, do as much as you can to conceal your body odor. That means taking regular baths if water is available at the campsite, avoiding physical activities after dark that makes you sweat (sweat amplifies your body odor).

Do not use scented sprays or perfumes as they mix with your natural body odor and make you a sweet target for the flying feasters. During camping, take unscented organic soap and deodorants and only use them to hide your natural body odor without producing a new one.

5. Use appropriate mosquitoes repellents

picture showing use of mosquitoes repellent

This is probably the most effective way of defending yourself from mosquitoes. There are several mosquitoes repellent in the market that you can select from and take with you for camping.

Some come in form of aerosol spray while others are creams and body oils. Some also come in form of coils and mats that you can heat and diffuse in the air. There are three different types of mosquito repellents in the market i-e DEET, Picardin and Permethrin. I have also written a very detailed blog about best mosquito repellent for camping

Here are my personal recommendations for effective mosquito repellent sprays (all links go to Amazon):

  1. DEET based repellents: Ultrathon DEET Spray and Ultrathon Lotion
  2. Picaridin based repellent: Sawyer Picaridin Spray
  3. Permethrin spray for cloths & gears: Sawyer Premium Permethrin & Coleman Premethrin Spray

Apart from sprays and body lotions, you can also use coils and diffusers. Thermacell is very famous for its thermal devices that dissipate Allethrin vapors in the air to make 15 to 20 feet of mosquito-free zone around you. These are handheld devices that you can carry with you and use when needed. The table below lists Thermacell’s products.

Sr. No.DeviceFuel TypeWorking timeSafety Zone
1Thermacell MR300 [Recommended]Butane12 hours15 Feet
2Thermacell E55Rechargeable12 hours20 Feet
3Thermacell Patio ShieldButane12 hours15 Feet
4Thermacell Radius ZoneRechargeable40 hours15 Feet
5Thermacell MR450Butane12 hours15 Feet
Different Thermacell products for camping & outdoors

6. Make a campfire

picture showing campfire to repel mosquitoes

Mosquitoes and other flying bugs hate smoke and fire. If you are at a camping site and mosquitoes are bugging you badly, throw a few logs together and make a smoky campfire to drive them away.

Campfire is the high point of any camping trip. Especially if the evening is cold and you are with friends and family, a campfire can create the perfect evening activity. Plus, it keeps the insect away. Make sure there is no fireban in your area else you can get in trouble.

When the campfire dies out, you can take the smoldering logs and scatter them around your campsite to keep the smoke going and keep the mosquitoes at bay. Make sure there are no fire hazards around the logs.

7. Keep the tent doors closed

If you want to sleep in a mosquito-free environment during the night, it is very important to keep your tent door closed at all times. Most tents are pretty closed from all sides except for the front zipper door. That is what you have to take care of.

During the daytime, when you are out of the tent, make sure you close the zipper all the way around. While getting in and out, close the zipper and make sure the door doesn’t remain open even for a minute. That’s the only way to make sure no mosquitoes get inside.

The same principle applies if you are camping out of your car or hammock. Keep the car windows up at all times. If you are hammock camping, make sure you use a mosquito net. Some hammocks (like this one) come with an integrated mosquito net which provides extra security.

8. Dress appropriately for the evening

If you are going out of your tent or car during dusk, make sure you dress appropriately. Mosquitoes are quite good at finding that one bare patch skin on your body to attack. They also bite through thin and tight clothes.

To avoid mosquitoes bites during the evening time, avoid thin and skin-tight pants and shirts. Especially avoid wearing yoga pants as mosquitoes can easily penetrate through them. Wear loose and thick clothes like jeans and corduroy. Avoid cotton shirts as well.

Always go out in shoes worn with long socks. Avoid short ankle sports socks that can give a part of your ankle to mosquito bites. Tuck in your pants inside your socks so that mosquitoes can’t get inside your cuff. Also, wear long sleeve shirt and gloves if possible.

As I have discussed in my article about mosquito repellents, you can treat all your camping gear and cloth with Permithirin so to give you extra protection.

9. Wear light colors

This might seem strange, but mosquitoes are attracted o darker colors more than light ones. Mosquitoes use their IR21a receptors to detect heat and emission of carbon dioxide. Since dark colors trap heat inside your body, it makes you a hot target for mosquitoes.

Wear light colors like White, Khaki, beige, pastel colors, or grey. These colors will not only make you slightly invisible to mosquitoes, but they will also keep you cool during summers.

Conclusion

Mosquitoes are nasty blood feasting creatures, and you should take proper care during your camping and outdoor trips to keep yourself safe. To summarise our discussion above, here is the rundown of important points:

  • Always camp at a dry and clean location away from water bodies.
  • Keep your campsite clean and collect trash and food leftovers in ziploc bags.
  • Carry the rigth camping gear like tent and hammock that can protect you against mosquitoes.
  • Conceal your body odor and use mosquito repellents to guard yourself.
  • Make a campfire and spread smoky logs around your camp at night.
  • Keep your tent and car doors and windows closed at all times.
  • Wear long sleeve pants and shirt, avoid yoga pants and wear light colors.

I hope you will have a safe and more enjoyable camping trip by following these tips. If you have a tip or anecdote of your own that is useful, do share it with us in the comments section below.

Recommended Camping Gears: I have compiled a list of my favourite camping gear in one place. The selection is based on my own personal experience using them for many years camping as well as feedback from fellow campers. Check them out on my Recommended Camping Gears page