Summer is right around the corner... and time to get ready is ticking

Around here that means fun in the sun, on the water, and in the mountains. Unfortunately all that fun comes with bugs. Ticks and mosquitos being the two primary ones to fend off. There are however lots of ways to prevent them from raining on your parade.

  • DEET is arguably the most effective but it has it’s downsides. It will eat holes in plastics. Think waterproof jacket or synthetic layers, your tent, sleeping bag, pad, backpack, fishing line and a whole host of other things you’d really rather keep in good working order. Remember to wash your hands after applying it so that this doesn’t happen inadvertently.
  • Picaridin is a great alternative. It is highly effective, lasts up to 12 hours, and won’t damage your gear.
  • Lemon and Eucalyptus blends are another highly effective repellent. They are the go-to for folks who want to avoid the chemical repellants.
  • Derived from Chrysanthemums, Permethrin is another highly effective way to go. Of note though… it only works on your clothing and gear. It’s not for your skin! Some clothing comes pre-treated with it and is sold under multiple labels and vendors. You can also just buy it and spray the clothes you already have. It will last thru several washings and doesn’t smell once dry.
  • My favorite method… pants and long sleeves. And don’t forget to tuck your pants into your socks when in tick country. A headnet is also a good physical barrier that can be tucked into your collar to seal things up. It’s a little warm, but effective.
  • Eating garlic and B vitamins also tends to help repel the critters. If you overdo it on the garlic you may end up repelling friends too though.
  • Don’t forget to check yourself head to toe when you get back either.

Then there’s that gigantic glowing yellow thing in the sky that is causing us all to want to get out there and play! It comes with it’s own hazards. I had a tan once. It took me all summer to get it wearing SPF45 and lifeguarding. Without doing that I my skin resembles that of a tomato way too quickly! I’ve learned that sunscreen works great, but not all of them are the same. Dermatologists recommend SPF30 or higher for daily use. Clothing is often now including a UPF rating as well (SPF is for skin, UPF is for everything else). Granted, some of it is marketing gone awry. Does a waterproof jacket really need a UPF rating? Generally speaking, the tighter the weave, the better the protection. Also, synthetic fibers protect better than natural ones.

Don’t forget about your eyes either. Invest in a high quality pair of polarized sunglasses. Polarization cuts down on glare from reflective surfaces like car windows and water. Not all polarizing films are the same though. And price doesn’t always reflect quality, but that’s what knowledgeable salespeople are for. They can help you discern whether the price is warranted. Polycarbonate lenses are great for impact resistance, but nothing beats the clarity of glass. Also, look for lenses that block the 400 and 580 nanometer spectrum of light. Those particular wavelengths cause images to be “fuzzy”.

Then there’s the rest of your gear.

  • When was the last time you washed your sleeping bag and pollow? Get some Down Wash or Tech Wash.
  • Did you dry out your water filter before packing it away for the winter? If not, you’ve been storing a petri dish.
  • If it’s ceramic (MSR Miniworks or Katadyn Pocket, Combi, or Vario) or micro-tube technology (Sawyer Squeeze or Mini, Katadyn BeFree, MSR TrailShot or Hyperflow, Platypus GravityWorks) did it freeze? Do a pressure check.
  • Does your stove still work correctly? Does the pump need to be lubed?
  • How old is your fuel? White gas goes bad after about a year of being opened. It will smell similar to turpentine. Canister fuel should be fine.
  • Do you use the Blue Gaz canisters? Bummer; they stopped making them. Time to go stove shopping.

Did any critters snack on your tent? Pick up some repair tape, mesh repair, or Seam Grip.