Best Bug Sprays Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Sporting a few bug bites when you come back from a run during the summer is all a part of the summer experience, or at least it used to be. The days of hating to wear bug spray because of the way it feels on your skin or not worrying about a “few bug bites,” are way behind you, as more and more evidence points towards biting insects that carry everything from the West Nile virus and the Zika virus to ticks that are spreading Lyme disease becoming more prevalent in the United States.
Now wearing bug spray when you go on your morning or even evening runs is just as important as wearing sunscreen if you run during the day. Since many runners prefer the early mornings and the dusk of evening, when it’s a little cooler to get in their running time, it’s extremely important to have a reliable bug spray on hand to use before you head out, or even while you’re on the running path.
- Repel Eucalyptus
- Six Hours of Protection
- Sawyer Products
- Stronger Than DEET
- Easy to Apply
There are many strategies out there to help you avoid being attacked by insects when you are on your run. From avoiding morning and dusk runs to wearing the proper clothing when you are on the running path, some of these just aren’t feasible for a serious runner, so having a good quality outdoor product to protect you from insect bites is extremely important. The Centers for Disease Control recommends using a bug spray with either DEET, picaridin, or a plant-based ingredient such as lemon eucalyptus or essential oils for the best protection and performance. If you can get a bug spray that is also a sunscreen, that is even better.
We considered a range of criteria when it came down to finding the best bug sprays to keep you and your family bite-free. We worked to include a range of types and application methods to give you the greatest selection possible.
10 Best Bug Sprays
1. Repel Eucalyptus
This DEET free bug spray repels bugs for up to six hours, making it possible for you to get your run in, safely and without the spray wearing off, leaving you threatened by insects that could be dangerous to your health. This plant-based spray is perfect for those who run during the mornings or at night.
Cool, Refreshing Scent
The Eucalyptus in this product gives off a cool refreshing scent that doesn't irritate your nose and bother you during your run. This way, you can concentrate on the run ahead of you, instead of the horrible smell that is featured with some bug sprays.
Cost and Value
With its ability to protect against biting insects and their possibly dangerous bite for up to six hours, this bug spray is perfectly priced. If you are worried about bug bites during your run, especially if you live in a bug-filled area, this is the right outdoor bug spray for your needs.
Protects for up to six hours
Refreshing, cool scent
Many users reported the bug spray doesn't work after sweating
Many customers reported the sprayer itself as faulty
2. Sawyer Products
This bug spray is 20 percent picaridin, which is more effective at warding off biting flies than DEET is. It is also number one protection against insects that are known to carry the Zika virus that has become more prevalent with each passing year.
Won't Damage Your Gear
Even though this bug spray protects against a few different kinds of pests, such as biting flies, sand flies, chiggers, gnats, and midges, it won't damage plastic or synthetic coatings and the spray last up to 12 hours.
Cost and Value
The fact that this outdoor product for bugs doesn't damage the gear you carry with you or that you are running in is enough to recommend it. Add to the fact that it has 20 percent picaridin and it is a good buy for the money spend.
20 percent picaridin, more effective than DEET
Spray lasts up to 12 hours
Some users report the spray sweating off easily
Some customers reported feeling sticky or oily after application
This is a bug protector spray that is DEET-free, instead, it contains 20 percent picaridin, which is said to be better and more effective than DEET. This product is also recommended by the CDC as being safe and effective.
Easy to Apply
This bug spray is easy to apply with a pump spray bottle that allows for a wider coverage with complete protection. The bottle is easy to carry with you on your runs and has a pleasant floral scent that is not overpowering.
Cost and Value
With the ability to take it easily with you on your run and the fact that it is DEET-free, this is one of the most affordable bug sprays on the list. The floral scent and easy to apply spray bottle for wider coverage makes it a great value as well.
Easy to carry
Easy to apply
Contains 20 percent picaridin, making it DEET-free
Last up to 12 hours
Some users complain that the floral fragrance is overwhelming
Some customers reported it leaving a heavy, greasy film when it is applied
4. Cutter Skinsations
The outdoor product protects against a host of insects, including bugs that carry diseases, ticks, biting flies, fleas, no see ums, and chiggers. It protects against insects that carry the Zika virus, the Dengue virus, the West Nile virus, and the Chikungunya virus as well.
This outdoor product for insects features a non-greasy formula that makes it possible for you to go on your run in the mornings or the evenings without feeling sticky or greasy after the application of the bug spray.
Cost and Value
The non-greasy formula itself lends to the value of this bug spray, as no one wants to feel sticky or greasy after applying an outdoor bug spray product. Add the addition of the 360-degree spray pump that allows you to spray upside down and at any angle and you have a winner.
360-degree spray pump
Protects against many pests
Fresh, clean scent
Some consumers reported the product not working past a couple of hours
Many users report that this product is not effective against any type of insects
This 100 percent DEET formula protects against many different pests along your running path. Some of those insects include bugs that could carry the Zika, Encephalitis, Dengue fever and the West Nile virus, as well as ticks, chiggers, ticks, fleas, gnats, and biting flies.
Available in Three Sizes
This bug spray is available in three different sizes to meet your lifestyle and make it easy for you to carry this outdoor product with you on your frequent runs.
Cost and Value
This 100 % DEET formula is worth every penny and comes in three sizes, which makes it convenient and easy to carry. Along with the fact that it is unscented and effective up to 10 hours, it's no wonder this product made it onto the list.
100 percent DEET
CDC recommended DEET product
Made for heavy insect infested areas
Many consumers report the DEET is too strong and melted their fingernail polish or other products
Many customers reported that the bug spray is oily and leaves a sticky residue behind
6. Bug Soother
This all-natural bug spray is made with essential oils and has no DEET in it at all. It is safe to use in your environment and on your runs as well.
Repels Many Insects
This outdoor product is said to repel many insects such as gnats, no see ums, sand fleas, and other insects naturally and without using DEET to do it.
Cost and Value
This is one of the more expensive bug sprays on the list, but it prevents pests from attacking you on your run naturally and without DEET. It is 100 percent safe, making it worth the little extra you will spend to purchase this outdoor product.
100 percent DEET free
Safe for everyone
Made in the USA
Many users report that this bug spray has a vanilla scent that is overpowering and sickeningly sweet
Some users report that this product simply doesn't work to deter insects the way it promised
This outdoor product for ridding yourself of insects is easy to use and easy to carry with you in its 1.25-ounce bottle for protection anywhere along your run that you feel you need it.
Provides up to 10 Hours of Protection
Another of the products on the list that provides up to 10 hours of protection, this 100 percent DEET formula is perfect for when you are going to be out all day long and need protection from the insects.
Cost and Value
With the ability to protect you from insects for up to 10 hours and the 100 percent DEET formula, this bug spray is worth the money asked for it. It is easy to use and can be applied anywhere you are along your running path, making it well worth it in value as well.
Contains 100 percent DEET
10 hours of protection
Easy to use
Can be applied anywhere along the running path
Protects from ticks and other bugs
Some consumers report that the container leaks
Some consumers report that the sprayer nozzle clogs easily
8. Bullfrog Coast
The is a two in one product that is DEET-free to help deter those annoying critters when you are running. It also contains a sunscreen to keep you safe from the sun on your run as well. It is an SPF 30 sunscreen that deters insects for up to eight hours.
Vitamin E Included
This bug spray also includes Vitamin E and Aloe leaf extract to ensure your skin is not irritated by the sunscreen or the bug spray in this product.
Cost and Value
For the cost, this outdoor bug spray product is well worth it. The fact that it is a two in one product containing sunscreen and protection from the insects on your running trail is enough to recommend it at the price asked for it.
Two in one product
SPF of 30 for sun protection
Many users report that the bug spray doesn't work against most insects
Some customers report having an aversion to the strong smell
This outdoor bug spray is deep woods ready with DEET featured that makes it perfect for runners who tend to take the trail less traveled and more populated with pests.
Designed for People on the Go
This outdoor product is designed for people on the go, just like you. Compact at 2.5 ounces, it's easy to use and easy to carry with you on the running trail.
Cost and Value
One of the more expensive bug sprays on the list, this product is worth it just because it is deep woods ready. Add in that it is a DEET product and the nice, mild scent and you have a winner here.
Deep woods ready
Easy to use
Easy to carry with you on a run
Some users report the bug spray left them with a white residue on their skin
Many users reported not realizing how small the canister really was until they received it
10. Amrita Bugs BeGone
The essential oils in this bug spray leave a pleasing lemon scent on your skin, one that is attractive to humans, but not attractive to insects.
Made with six organic essential oils, this outdoor bug protector is DEET-free but still protects against insects that carry the West Nile Virus and ticks that carry Lyme disease.
Cost and Value
This bug spray is one of the more affordably priced outdoor bug protectors on the list. With its pleasing lemon scent and the organic essential oils for an all-natural product, this is the right bug spray for you.
Made with organic essential oils
Fresh lemon scent smells great
Some users reported that the bug spray only works for about 30 minutes, then insects attack
Some users report it is not worth the money they spent to purchase it
Criteria Used in Choosing the Best Bug Sprays
This rounds out the top 10 best bugs spray on the market today. While you now know what the best insect sprays are, it is important to know the metrics and criteria used to choose the best as well. When you are searching for an effective bug spray to take on your run with you, the following things are important to consider, the ingredients in the insect spray, safety, effectiveness, the ease of application, the smell, and of course, the price.
For this top ten list and review summary, we looked at all of those metrics, criteria and even more when researching and writing our reviews and recommendations for you. If you are searching for an effective bug spray to take on your runs with you, then the ones on this list are the best. Below you will find the criteria used to find, rate, and review these insect sprays so that you don’t have to research and find them yourself! We know that every individual is different and every person will react to things like sprays and insect bites differently, which makes a list like this a challenge. But we are up to the task and believe we have presented a well-rounded summary of the top bug sprays that are available to you that should help you fight off the annoying and painful bites and stings.
With that in mind, read on with us for the first metric used to find the best bugs sprays for runners on the market today.
The first thing you need to do when searching for the best bug spray for runners is read the label of the outdoor product you are considering. There are three active ingredients that the top-rated on this list have. Those ingredients are DEET, picaridin and eucalyptus oil or other essential oils. These ingredients have been determined to be the best and most effective at preventing insects from attacking when you are on your run. Remember, you don’t need to just protect yourself from a bunch of different insects, and ticks as well. On top of that, who wants to be annoyed by chiggers, gnats, or no see ums during their run! It’s also important to look at the amount of these ingredients in the bug sprays as well. Some people are sensitive to certain chemicals and product ingredients, so it is important to know not only what is in the spray but how much is in it so you can have a better idea of whether it is a good match for your needs and your unique situation.
In today’s world of insect-borne viruses, it’s important to judge the effectiveness of the bug spray you are choosing very carefully. The top-rated on the list usually had an effectiveness of six to 10 hours, with a couple saying they lasted up to 12 hours. DEET and Picardian based bug sprays usually last for longer than many natural or plant-based insect sprays do. You need to determine if the product you are considering is EPA approved and many of the products on this list are CDC approved as well. It is important to note, that the effectiveness of bug sprays can be different, according to the user and other factors as well. And again, sometimes it comes down to the individual- how much spray did they apply, did they apply it correctly, what was the temperature like, di they get wet right after applying, and are they dealing with insects and bugs that particular spray is not designed for specifically? These are just some factors that can affect the effectiveness of a spray, even if it is of the highest possible quality.
Price and Value
Most of the top-rated on this list were around the same price, though there were a few that were a tad bit more expensive. Many of these were because of the number of ounces that came in the can and other factors had to be considered. As for the value of the product, you can’t put a value on protecting yourself from the diseases that many insects spread these days when you are on your runs. However, we did try to include a decent range when it came to the bottom line cost for these sprays. if you need something for a little protection during a quick 15-minute walk around the neighborhood, you may be able to get away with a cheaper variety than if you need protection for a 2-day camping and hiking trip. We tried to keep these kinds of factors in mind as well because they do play a part in the final decision people make about the bug spray they end up purchasing.
There has been a lot of concern recently over the chemicals used in outdoor insect sprays, especially the outdoor products that contain DEET. The concern comes from the chemicals ability to strip or melt plastics and other products or even jackets that runners use. However, the EPA has done extensive research and come to the determination that DEET is indeed safe to be used at certain times of the year and in moderation. Since some insects are more prevalent than others in the summertime, using DEET is not something that can harm you. The other top-rated bug sprays have active ingredients that though they haven’t been studied as long as DEET has, has proven to be safe to use as well. So, if you have no allergies when it comes to DEET picaridin, or essential oil, plant-based products, you should be fine with these products. But if you do have allergies you are concerned about or have sensitive skin or other chronic health issues, you should discuss your concerns with a health care provider and ask what products are the safest for you to use- especially if you are going to need to use the spray on a fairly regular basis or for an extended period of time.
Ease of Application
Since you are a runner, you don’t want an insect spray that is hard to put on. That is why the top-rated on the list are easy to open, easy to apply, and easy to take on the trail with you, in case you need to reapply the bug spray at any time. Be sure that you check to see how easy the spray is to apply and if the bottle is lightweight enough to carry with you on your runs. Also, check for easy open and close or on-off controls to prevent accidental misfires when you are transporting or before you are ready to actually use the spray.
The way an outdoor insect spray smells is also important to many people. In the past, runners have complained about how awful the chemicals smelled in their bug spray and many people were hesitant to use bug spray at all because the smell affected their eyes and nose, especially people who were sensitive to strong smells. Today and the top-rated on this list have tried to correct this problem by having mild or fresh scents, though many bug sprays have no scent at all instead. This is a big improvement over just 10 years ago when almost all bug sprays had chokingly strong odors that lingered and got into everything and was hard to wash out. Things have gotten much better in the smell department thankfully.
The top-rated bug sprays on the list have Vitamin E and Aloe, among other things to help keep your skin soft. No longer, do you have to deal with your skin feeling sticky or greasy after you spray on your outdoor product to keep the insects away. Now, you can choose from a variety of scents that are attractive smelling to humans but tend to send insects flying the other way. Thankfully many natural aromas and fragrances act as natural bug repellents and are used in bug sprays today.
The last thing you want when you are running is to sweat away from your insect spray before you have even gone a mile. The top-rated on the list can stand up to sweat and keep your protecting you from any insects you might run across on your path. Since most insects are out during the hot and humid weather, you should search for a bug spray that will stand u to the humidity and the heat.
It is important to note that there are many reasons you want reliable protection against fleas, ticks, and other biting insects during your runs. This is the criteria used to find what are considered to be the best products on this list. Making sure to judge what you purchase by the metrics above will ensure that you are protected whenever you decide to take your runs. Below you will find a few of the top questions asked about insect spray and the answers to help you make the right choices.
Q: Which is better: Picaridin or DEET insect spray?
A: It has been decided through research by the EPA and the CDC that either picaridin or DEET insect spray can be effective when it comes to protecting you from biting insects on your runs. Neither is better than the other, it is a preference and according to the amount of protection you need.
Q: Are most bug sprays sweat proof?
A: The top-rated bug sprays on the list are sweat proof, as you need them to be when you are on a run. Most biting insects come out in the humid and hot time of year, ensuring that you sweat during your run. Look for the insect sprays that say they are sweat proof before you decide on one.
Q: How many hours do most bug sprays last?
A: The hours that bug sprays last before needing to be reapplied varies according to the brand and the ingredients in that brand. DEET bug sprays tend to last longer than other combinations do. This is also according to the amount of DEET, Picaridin, or natural ingredients in the product as well.
Q: Is DEET harmful to your body?
A: It was once thought that DEET was extremely harmful to humans and pets. However, EPA studies have shown that the chemical is fine if used in small quantities. Since most biting insects, such as ticks, and gnats are more prevalent during the hot and humid months, you couldn’t use enough DEET to harm you, if it is used correctly.
Q: Can I use insect spray on my dog?
A: It is well-known that many runners take their loyal canine companions with them on their runs, it is not recommended that you use the same insect spray that you use on yourself on your pet. There are pet-friendly products that you can use instead. It is especially important not to use a DEET product on an animal, as it can be highly toxic for them.
Q: How fast does bug spray expire?
A: Reliable bug sprays have a pretty long shelf life. This is, of course, according to how well the bug spray is stored and if it is properly maintained. It is known that bug sprays do lose their ability to protect you from insects after several years. If you find that your insect spray isn’t working the way it should, it might be time to replace the container with a new one before your next run.
Q: How safe is bug spray?
A: Bug spray is effective and safe, as long as you use it the way it is intended to be used. The top-rated on this list come with instructions as to how the bug spray should be used. Make sure that you follow the directions to the letter when it comes to using any type of bug spray. It is also a good idea to shower when you get home from your run to ensure you get all of the insects spray off of exposed areas.