Mosquitoes and other biting insects can make being outdoors miserable. Here’s a bug repellent shirt that may help you deal with them.
by Leon Pantenburg
I was not paid to do this review. As of publication, Hook and Tackle has no sponsorship relationship with SurvivalCommonSense.com. Hook and Tackle supplied the shirt for testing.
There weren’t supposed to be so many mosquitoes, not up that high.
My hiking partner, John Nerness, and I were backpacking in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains at elevations between 7,000 and 9,000 feet. And the mosquitoes followed us in droves and swarmed over any exposed flesh. Hiking was miserable, and the only relief came from pitching the tent and hiding inside.
After three days of battling the biters, we left, drove all night to Utah, and hiked in the Unitas. The mosquitoes ruined my first Idaho mountain adventure.
Mosquitoes can make any summer hiking/camping miserable. They can drive you indoors. Or worse, they can keep you from going out at all. And mosquitoes and ticks can carry West Nile, malaria and Lyme diseases.
What can you do?
Well, I don’t like bug repellent, and only use it if there is no other choice. Generally, the stuff makes me feel greasy and sticky. If it’s really hot and humid, as in some southern swamps or in northern Minnesota, I sweat off the bug spray. And I don’t want to regularly daub my skin with chemicals.
My preferred method of mosquito co-existence is to wear a broad-brimmed hat with head net, a long sleeved shirt, long pants and mesh gloves.
Subsequently, I am always interested in any long-sleeved shirt that offers protection from the sun and bugs. The Bug/X, sold by Hook & Tackle looked like it had potential.
The Bug/X has incorporated Insect Shield® into the shirt construction which, the company claims, repels mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and midges and insects that can carry West Nile Virus and Malaria. The insect repellent provided by Insect Shield® will last through 70 washes, considered to be the life of the fishing shirt, according to the manufacturer.
Insect Shield® is a chemical, Permethrin, and was originally incorporated into clothing for military use. It’s been available in the private sector for a few years. It’s a fascinating story and you can read more about the uses and product testing here.
The Bug/X features an ultra-lightweight textured fabric that shields the wearer from UV rays. You could stuff it in your day pack, the company claims, and just shake it back out in to shape. Hook & Tackle’s minimalist design has a front pocket and a rear vent that allows the air in and the heat out.
- 100% Microfiber Textured Dobby
- UPF 40+ Sun Protection
- Moisture-Wicking Mesh Lining
- Rear Air Vent
- Secured Front Pocket
- Fly Rod/Utility Loop
- Roll-Up Sleeves with Tabs
Testing efficiency is easy – all I had to do was find a mosquito-infested area and put on the shirt.
But first, I washed the Bug-X, then wore it on a desert hike. The day was hot, my pack was heavy, and I sweat through the fabric. The shirt proved to be comfortable, and the rear vent worked well, even with a backpack on. The sleeves are large, easy to roll up and have a button tabs in the appropriate places.
The shirt was designed for fishermen out in the sun all day. As such, the design and materials work very well. In the 90-degree desert, the shirt did its job of keeping me from getting sunburned and over heated. The material worked well for wicking away the sweat and heat from my skin, and the shirt proved to be an excellent hot weather choice.
Testing for bug repellent was a little trickier. I put on the shirt and walked through a mosquito breeding marsh in the Cascades. The material worked really well. The same thing happened in a wetland along the Deschutes River in Central Oregon.
But these Oregon mosquitoes, IMO, are not nearly as ferocious as the No-See-ums and black flies I experienced in northern Minnesota in the Boundary Waters canoe area. And the ultimate test for any form of mosquito defense should probably include a trip through the Atchafalaya River Basin in southern Louisiana, or the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.
Should you buy one of these shirts?
A Bug-X costs about $75, depending on where you buy it. That’s about what you can expect to spend for a quality shirt of this type, with the high tech fabric.
As a shirt to deal with hot sun and temperatures, the Bug-X works quite well. It is cool and comfortable, and is designed to keep the wearer from getting sunburned.
The jury is still out on the insect repellent aspect. It worked fine at keeping Oregon mosquitoes at bay. I assume it would work equally well with other insects. We’ll have to wait and see how well the bug repellent treatment lasts.
I intend to stick the Bug-X in my summer hiking daypack and take it along as part of my normal gear.
So I’ll let you know.
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