Best Insect-Repellent Clothing for Hunting

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Warmer weather seems to stir up an internal primal desire for outdoor adventure. Unfortunately, it also stirs up swarms of insects, and let’s face it, large numbers of those bugs totally suck, both literally and figuratively. Multi-legged critters like ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, and biting flies leave itchy bites, buzz menacingly in your ears, spread potentially dangerous diseases, and are just plain gross. 

Fortunately, we live in a wonderfully modern age. Gone are the days of soaking in smelly DEET or picaridin bug sprays to avoid tick- and mosquito-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus, malaria, and yellow fever. Instead, you can simply add a few pieces of odor-free, insect-repellent clothing to your hunting or camping wardrobe. 

A shirt or pair of pants that keeps bugs away sounds like a dream come true—but does it work? I wore some of the gear into the turkey woods to find out just how effective it is. After a lot of testing and a lot of research, I narrowed down the best insect-repellent clothing below, whether it’s a hoodie for cool morning hunts or a wide brim hat for sunny hikes.

The Best Insect-Repellent Clothing

How Does Insect-Repellent Clothing Work?

Most bug- and tick-repellent clothing is made from fabric treated with permethrin, which is an EPA-approved insecticide that’s been used to fight biting insects for over 40 years. Although it’s a synthetic chemical, it’s structurally similar to a naturally occurring compound in chrysanthemum flowers.

Most insect-repellent clothes use “No Fly Zone” or “Insect Shield” branded fabrics. Both use permethrin-based formulas, but each has its proprietary method of binding the formula to fabric fibers. The tight binding means the insecticide won’t rub off on your skin and will last through 70 or more trips through the washing machine.

Sportsmen are no strangers to battling warm weather bugs on the water and in the woods. One of the most significant advantages of this technology is that it doesn’t have the chemical reek of a bug spray. It doesn’t smell any different than other clothing, so early-season bowhunters have a much better chance of flying under the radar of keen, ungulate noses. 

Sitka’s Equinox Guard Collection consists of pants, hoodies, and gloves. After wearing the gear turkey hunting, I’ve found a lot to love about it. First, the pants are rugged enough to repel sharp thorns and briars. They also feature built-in internal leg gaiters that you can tuck into your socks for extra protection from ticks and chiggers, which are notorious for crawling straight up a pant leg in search of a tender spot to burrow. 

The hoodie has a built-in breathable mesh face mask, and when paired with Sitka’s Equinox gloves, you get maximum bite-reduction coverage all the way down to your fingertips. 

My biggest gripe is that Sitka doesn’t offer the Equinox Guard Collection in women’s sizes, and the men’s sizes don’t run small enough to fit me comfortably. (Sitka, if you’re reading this, ladies aren’t keen on bugs, either.) However, if you’re a dude or a fuller-framed gal, you shouldn’t have a problem.

As a bonus, Sitka offers their Equinox Guard Collection in several solid colors in addition to their most popular camo patterns, so you can enjoy its bug-busting performance while you’re on the lake, doing yard work, or pre-deer season scouting. 

You can read our full review of the Sitka Equinox Guard here.

Forloh’s Insect Shield lineup includes a SolAir Hooded Long Sleeve Shirt and SolAir Lightweight Pants. Both are available in solid colors and camo patterns in both men’s and women’s sizes.

Forloh clothing is lightweight, super comfy, and surprisingly durable. It almost feels like you’re heading into the woods wearing silky soft pajamas—except these PJs stand up to briars much better than your average bedroom wear. 

My Forloh Insect Shield kit has become a staple for turkey season. (Photo/Alice Jones Webb)

In addition to the highly effective insect-repellent technology, Forloh also used its hyper-wicking Brrr Pro technology, which incorporates cooling minerals into the fibers to reduce skin temperature by 3 to 4 degrees during outdoor activity. The fabric is cool to the touch, effectively wicks sweat and moisture, and has built-in odor control and UV protection. This stuff is perfect for active, warm-weather pursuits, whether that includes chasing late-season gobblers or pulling weeds in a backyard garden. 

This is definitely high-performance outdoor gear. I wish the pants had more pockets and the hoodie had a built-in face mask, but Forloh gets brownie points for being entirely made in the USA, from the first design to the final stitch.

You can read our full review of Forloh Insect Shield Clothing here. 

Buff designed their Insect Shield Neckwear with anglers in mind. However, their Lazs Khaki patterned neck gaiter earned a permanent place in my turkey hunting gear this spring. This multi-functional neck gaiter is jam-packed with excellent features beyond insect-repellent tech, including thermoregulating technology to keep you cool, built-in UV protection, and antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of microorganisms for odor control using natural silver salt. 

Female hunter wearing Buff insect shield neck gaiter
I’ve worn my Buff gaiter plenty of times to keep bugs off my neck. (Photo/Alice Jones Webb)

This neckwear is lightweight, comfortably seamless, and stretchy. It also dries super fast and can be worn in at least a dozen different ways. 

Gamehide has an extensive line of anti-insect hunting clothing called ElimiTick. The collection includes everything you need to keep ticks and mosquitoes at bay, including pants, shirts, jackets, face masks, gloves, and even socks. This is by far the most extensive insect-repellent compilation on the market. Available in a variety of camo patterns and solid colors, it comes in both men’s and women’s sizes and styles. 

Insect-repellent clothing can be pricey, but RedHead offers a budget-friendly way to beat the bugs with their Tec-Lite pants. These lightweight camo cargo pants are moisture-wicking, fast-drying, and refreshingly affordable. 

These merino wool hiking socks are not only easy on the feet but also keep your ankles protected from ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes. They feature a seamless toe to help prevent chaffing and blisters, making them perfect for outdoor pursuits that require putting miles on your hiking boots. 

As the name implies, this jacket was designed for the garden, but it is also perfect for setting up trail cameras, filling feeders, and setting tree stands. It features an odorless insect-repelling finish, adjustable cuffs, a stowable mesh face cover, built-in UV protection, and two oversized pockets perfect for holding a limbing saw, pruning shears, work gloves, and extra snacks. 

Ideal for long summer days on the water, the Port Authority Wide-Brim Hat features No Fly Zone insect-repellent technology, UPF 30+ sun protection, a concealable sun flap, and a moisture-wicking sweatband. It also has a foam brim that keeps it afloat if it happens to fall overboard for a quick swim. 

How We Tested

While manufacturers talk a big game in their marketing, we wanted to test insect-repellent technology to see just how well it performs in the field. 

We took two of the biggest names in outdoor gear on a mother/son spring turkey hunt in North Carolina. Mom decked out in Forloh’s Insect Shield and son donning Sitka’s Equinox Guard, the two of us chased gobblers through swampy river bottoms, thick woods, and the edges of grassy fields—all the places ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes love to hang out. We often sat side by side, leaning against the same tree, to ensure an accurate side-by-side comparison (the camaraderie was also a nice perk). 

Mother and son turkey hunters wearing Sitka and Forloh gear
Me and my son in the turkey woods testing our bug-repellent garb. (Photo/Alice Jones Webb)

Unfortunately, no gobblers were harmed during testing, although there were a few close calls. However, neither of us had any complaints about how well either brand’s insect-repellent gear performed. 

We’ve hunted the same land for several seasons, and it has been nearly impossible to come away from any hunt without at least a few ticks and a couple of insanely itchy chigger bites. However, we both survived two days of hunting without either of us finding a single tick or chigger. It was glorious. 

Does Insect-Repellent Clothing Work?

The final verdict: The technology works! 

While neither brand completely eliminated the swarms of buzzing mosquitoes, we escaped with only a few bites, mainly on the exposed areas between cuffs and gloves or the edges of our hoods. 

Unfortunately, Forloh’s Insect Shield Hooded Long Sleeve Shirt doesn’t have a built-in face mask (Sitka’s Equinox Guard Hoodie does, which honestly earns it more than a few bonus points). On day two, I grabbed a Buff Insect Shield Neck Gaiter to pair with my Forloh gear, and it honestly worked miracles in keeping the mosquitoes from driving me crazy with their constant buzzing around my face. It was a total game-changer, helping keep the bothersome bugs from swarming around my face. 

While Forloh and Sitka insect-repellent gear may not completely mitigate the problem of pesky mosquitoes, it does prevent biting. It also did a fabulous job of preventing ticks and chiggers in areas that are typically infested with the boogers. 

We’ll definitely be pulling this stuff back out for early bow season when the mosquitoes and ticks are still thick here in North Carolina. 

Why Trust Us

For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.

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