While you can’t avoid mosquitos altogether, below are a few effective tricks for putting those buggers in their place, so that you can enjoy your time in the backcountry.
Use Bug Spray Strategically1 of 5
The obvious first choice for keeping bugs at bay is bug spray. Applying DEET is a popular and effective approach to fending off mosquitos, but do note that DEET is a plasticizer and can damage your clothing and outdoor gear. Picaridin, which works like DEET but won't damage your stuff, is also a popular choice.
If you're going to an especially pest-ridden area, consider spraying your clothing, tent and backpack with Permethrin, a bug repellent that kills ticks and deters mosquitos. For those that don't want to apply (and reapply) the spray to clothing, there are a number of clothing lines sold with permethrin-treated fabric. ExOfficio's BugsAway is a great example.
No matter which repellent you choose, make sure to follow the application instructions and remember that the higher percent of active ingredient, the longer its bug-repelling properties will last.
Look for Windy Areas2 of 5
When it comes to keeping mosquitoes away, wind is your best friend. Stopping for meals on windy ridges and setting up camp in exposed areas are great, natural bug-repelling options.
Side note: It's also important to avoid camping near standing water where mosquitos lay their eggs.
Invest in a Head Net3 of 5
Sometimes the difference between an enjoyable backpacking trip and a miserable one all comes down to the head net. Head nets are lightweight, inexpensive and absolutely essential during mosquito season.
The net alone, however, won't save the day. Make sure you have a brimmed hat with you (a baseball cap works well), so that the netting drapes in front of your face and neck, instead of lying right on top of your skin. The latter won't stop the mosquitos, since they'll just bite through the net—yikes!
Dress the Part4 of 5
Even when you're doused in bug repellent, wearing your head net and scarfing down lunch on a windy summit, you still need to make sure your clothing provides the utmost protection. Wear long sleeves and long pants, even in warm conditions, to give your skin a protective barrier from the biting.
Dressing in light colors also keeps mosquitos away, since they have an easier time seeing dark colors than light. Rinsing any sweat from your head, neck and face is another preventative measure you can take, as mosquitos are attracted to sweat.
While no single method of repelling mosquitos is foolproof, having a multi-pronged approach to mosquito management will help keep your bites to a minimum so that you can maximize your time in the great outdoors.