Carry-on Sized Insect Repellents | Practical Travel Gear 4

Traveling light, but need to keep the mosquitoes and more at bay? Here are some bug sprays that are sized for travel.

Trying to travel with a carry-on works fine when you’ve planned ahead and gotten all your cosmetics into travel-sized bottles that don’t go over the cabin liquid limits. But it’s tough when you need to pack sunscreen or bug spray.

Fortunately the latter doesn’t require as much liquid to be effective, so there are plenty to choose from that can last you a while. At REI.com there are 75 insect repellent choices, but here are a few that are good for travelers flying somewhere.

3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent

3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion, 2-Ounce
1,477 Reviews
3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion, 2-Ounce

  • Controlled-release technology to give military personnel long-lasting protection.
  • Tested in the world’s most demanding insect environment.
  • With a low percentage of deet is safe enough for the entire family to use.
  • 3M Technology allows time released protection for up to 12 Hours.
  • Freeze Thaw Stable.

If you want stuff that really works, skin care be damned, this is a good choice. If I’m going to the jungle or some area where malaria and dengue fever are common, I’m not screwing around with some wimpy organic stuff that may or may not work and has to be reapplied every ten minutes.

Ultrathon products have around 34% DEET, plus there’s a time-release element to the formula, so this stuff can last you up to 12 hours.

If you want military-grade protection against mosquitoes, Ultrathon combined with long sleeves, socks, and long pants at dusk should protect you better than a bottle of expensive malaria drugs. There’s a two-ounce lotion one you have to spread on with your hands (only good if you can wash them with soap well afterwards) or the other carry-on option is a 1.5-ounce sponge applicator version that’s hands-free.

Repel Sportsmen Max

$6.19
Repel Sportsman Max 40-Percent Deet Insect Repellent
1,086 Reviews
Repel Sportsman Max 40-Percent Deet Insect Repellent

  • Up to 8-hour of protection from mosquitos.
  • Pump Spray, Case Pack.
  • 40-Percent DEET.
  • Repels mosquitoes that may transmit the Chikungunya and Zika Viruses.
  • 4-Ounce lotion.

At 40% DEET, you shouldn’t need too much of this Repel stuff on your body to keep away mosquitoes, gnats, and ticks. So I’ve actually gotten one of these little 0.475-ounce containers (14ml) to last me several trips.

The size and shape is like a fat ballpoint pen, so it’s very easy to pack in your cosmetic or first aid kit just in case. Like a pen, it even has a pocket clip. It’s aimed at manly men who will be out fishing or hunting all day, but the chemicals don’t care about your gender or how you’re spending your time outdoors.

The Repel insect repellent comes in larger packages if checking a bag, but this little travel-sized one works the rest of the time and lists for four bucks. Get it online at Amazon or pick up one at REI. They also make wipes with 30% DEET. You can often find these at mass market retail stores too.

Coleman DEET-free Alternative GoReady

I haven’t tried this particular one yet, but if it works it’s going to do well because it’s got a patented formula that’s supposed to work as well as DEET while not being as toxic to humans. It also comes in a handy fat pen size and it’s only $6 at Paragon Sports, so take a flyer and try it out on your next camping trip.

Coleman Botanicals

I’ve tried just about every natural insect repellent out there and none of them do too great a job when the going gets tough. For your average hike in the woods or picnic day though, this travel sized Coleman Botanicals one will work if you keep reapplying it regularly.

It smells nice to us, with citrus, citronella, and eucalyptus, but the bugs don’t like those smells one bit. Just be wary about relying on this stuff in malarial zones though and some mosquitoes seem to think the sweet skin of your child is worth holding their nose for as the natural scents waft around them. Get a two-pack at Amazon.

All Terrain Herbal Armor

All Terrain Herbal Armor DEET-Free Natural Insect Repellent
23 Reviews
All Terrain Herbal Armor DEET-Free Natural Insect Repellent

  • Natural, DEET-Free insect repellent.
  • Clinically proven 100-Percent effective for two hours.
  • Allergy tested, proven non-irritating, for sensitive skin.
  • Sweat and water resistant; won’t damage clothing or equipment.
  • 4-Ounce lotion.

If you asked me what you should use on your sweet little toddler when you take her to the tropics, this is what I would tell you to buy. Of all the natural insect repellents I’ve tried over the years, this one I reviewed back in 2010 is still the best by far.

Maybe it’s because all this company does is make natural products or maybe they’ve just got the formula down better: theirs includes the usual suspects plus peppermint, cedar, and geranium—at a concentration of 25%.

This All Terrain Herbal Armor is the only one where we didn’t drive our kid crazy reapplying it as soon as she started having fun—it’s supposed to be 100% effective for two hours. Get it at natural product stores, some outdoor stores, or at Amazon for $6.25 in the 2-ounce travel size.

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2 Comments

  1. Joey B on May 25, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    If it’s a choice between a little skin irritation and dengue fever knocking me out for three weeks of pain, I’ll take the DEET. Always works for me, for hours at a time.



  2. Ahmed on October 6, 2016 at 6:43 am

    Good call Joey.



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