Sawyer Products Insect Repellents
Name: Clifford R. Haynes
Height: 5' 11" (1.8 m)
Weight: 300 pounds (136 kg)
Location: Western Maine
I am from and live in Maine. I have been hiking, backpacking, and canoe camping for over 45 years. I am also an assistant scout master; I average 2 to 3 days a week in the woods year round.
Over the years I've used or tried a variety of different gear. When I joined scouts as a boy, most of the boys my age didn't have backpacking gear, and their families didn't have money enough to buy it. So we had great fun making our own gear.
I can't really say that I have a backpacking style. I take what I need or want, depending upon what I plan to do on the outing. Even before my knees became a problem, I could never see being in a big rush. It is my opinion that camping is part of backpacking, and should be enjoyed at least as much as the hiking. In areas where there is a lot of hiker traffic, I tend to pack heavier in order to minimize impact. I just like being out in the woods, and exploring.
Testing was conducted in western and northern Maine at elevations from about 200 ft (60 m) to 4000 ft (1200 m). Temperatures during testing ranged from 95 F (35 C) to 35 F (2 C). Activities I engaged in while testing included; yard work, gold panning, fishing, hiking and backpacking (bushwhacking and on the Appalachian Trail). Since the amount of product to be tested is limited, I made an effort to reserve the Sawyer Products insect repellents for areas where it's effectiveness would be most evident.
Manufacturer: Sawyer Products
Web Page URL: http://www.sawyerproducts.com
Year Manufactured: 2003
This test involves 4 different insect repellent products;
1. Sawyer Premium Controlled Release Insect Repellent
2. Sawyer Premium Broad Spectrum Insect Repellent
3. Sawyer Maxi Deet Insect Repellent
4. Sawyer Premium Permethrin 6 oz. Aerosol Clothing Spray
Product Descriptions and Field Reports:
Sawyer Premium Controlled Release Insect Repellent:
Sawyer Controlled Release insect repellent uses "Sub Micron Encapsulation" to accomplish timed release of the DEET, and to reduce skin absorption of the DEET. What does "Sub Micron Encapsulation" mean? The DEET is contained in pockets of a microscopic Micale protein. The tiny globs of DEET containing protein are suspended in an inert carrier lotion. After you put the lotion on, as the globs of protein come in contact with your skin the protein glob begins to break down. As the glob of protein breaks down, the individual pockets of DEET are opened releasing the DEET. Sawyer's web page claims that this process can take place for up to 24 hours after an application. Sawyer claims this repellent can be effective for up to 20 hours for mosquitoes, and up to 17 hours for ticks. Due to the gradual release of the DEET, the skin absorption is less than other 20% DEET repellents.
The container is plastic bottle about 5 1/2" (114 mm) tall, 1 3/4" (44.5 mm) wide, and 15/16" (24 mm). The cross section of the container is a flattened oval. The cap screws on and has a "press" to flip open spout. The size tested contains 2 fl oz (about 59 ml), and weighs 2.7 oz (74 g).
Through out the test, I have been impressed with the Sawyer Premium Controlled Release Insect Repellent. I especially like that it is a cream and not a spray. It spreads well, and doesn't dry greasy, oily or sticky. At least to me Controlled Release is odorless. I like the plastic bottle that it is packaged in. I experienced no leakage, and due to it's shape it is easy to carry and stores well.
As with the rest of the Sawyer products, I tried to test the Controlled Release repellent under a variety of conditions. I found that for me the recommendations from the Sawyer web site regarding using Controlled Release as part of a repellent system was right on the money. When mosquitoes and black fly concentrations were low to moderate, the Controlled Release was adequate. In most cases I was able to get five to six hours of protection between applications (unless I was sweating profusely or swimming). When the concentrations of bugs was high (especially blackflies and no-see-ums), the Controlled Release often wasn't adequate, but worked well when combined with the application of Maxi DEET or Sawyer Permethrin to my clothing. While I tested the Sawyer Products in as many different circumstances as the amount of repellent available allowed, there were two locations that I was able to tested all of the products. Both locations can be depended upon to have heavy concentrations of mosquitoes and blackflies during the day and mosquitoes and no-see-ums at night.
One of the locations is a local alder swamp where I occasionally fish the brooks and beaver ponds. The fishing is usually good because the bugs are very bad, most folks don't want to deal both with the swamp and the bugs. I found that for me the Controlled release wasn't adequate alone, due to the heavy concentration of bugs. But when combined with Maxi DEET or Sawyer Permethrin on my clothing as part of a bug protection system, Controlled Release worked very well and I was adequately protected. Due to the heavy perspiration generated while hiking into the swamp an application was only good for two to three hours (which is actually quite good when compared to some other products I have used).
The other location was scout camp, during the Survival Merit Badge sleep out. The location where the boys build their debris shelters and sleep in them is (due to hiking distance requirements) on the banks of a large marsh. The area is extremely buggy and most of the boys that fail to complete the merit badge, fail because they can't stand the bugs. It isn't uncommon for some of the boys and even camp staff to spend the night huddled around smudges (smoky fires) in order to get some relief from the bugs. In all I managed to get in nine of the Survival overnights testing the different Sawyer products. The results were consistent with my testing in other areas. The Controlled Release alone was inadequate for a good night's sleep (numerous bites under and thru my clothing). When used as part of a protection system with Controlled Release on all of my exposed skin and Maxi DEET or Permethrin on my clothing, I got a good night's sleep and only received a few bug bites (usually received while hiking back to the main camp early the next morning about 10 hours after application).
I like the idea that there is less skin absorption of the DEET when using Controlled Release. My experience with Sawyer Premium Controlled Release Insect Repellent leads me to believe that Controlled Release is relative water resistant and will stay put during a reasonable amount of rain or perspiration, and even a quick evening swim.
Sawyer Premium Broad Spectrum Insect Repellent:
According to Sawyer's web page, DEET does not repel all flies effectively. R-326 has been added to the formula in the Sawyer Broad Spectrum Insect repellent in order to make it effective against mosquitoes, ticks, flies, gnats, and no-see-ums. Broad Spectrum contains 16.6% DEET and no alcohol, which has been shown to increase the skins absorption of DEET.
The container is a plastic spray pump bottle, about 5 1/8" (130 mm) tall and 1 7/16" (36 mm) in diameter. The bottle contains 2 fl oz (about 59 ml) of repellent, and weighs 2.8 oz (77 g). Unfortunately since the container has a pump dispenser, I feel it will be necessary to keep the protective cap on the container while carrying.
I'm not a big fan of spray insect repellents. If I follow safety instructions, I still have to get repellent on my hands to apply it to face (around mouth, nose and eyes), and it is often difficult to not breath the spray. But if I have to use a repellent from a spray container, I prefer the pump spray. In my opinion the Broad Spectrum dries without and oily or sticky feeling, but does have a odor (it smells like perfume to me).
That said, I like the Sawyer Premium Broad Spectrum Insect Repellent. It has proven (at least for me) to be effective against mosquitoes, blackflies, no-see-ums, horse flies, deer flies and moose flies. It seemed really nice to not get bitten by them for a change. They would hang around like they normally do when in season, but didn't bite. It seemed really strange to have the deer flies doing tough and go landings, without stopping for their usual pound of flesh.
In areas of very heavy bug concentrations, I found that Broad Spectrum worked best when used as part of a protection system, Broad Spectrum on exposed skin and Maxi DEET or Permethrin on my clothing. I don't recall receiving any no-see-um bites while wearing broad spectrum. Testing during the Survival Merit Badge overnights yielded results similar to the Controlled Release results, except that Broad Spectrum seemed to provide better no-see-um protection and needed to be reapplied after two or three hours.
The Broad Spectrum didn't seem to be as resistant to perspiration as the Controlled Release, but not to the point where I would consider it a problem. I like the fact that the Sawyer Broad Spectrum doesn't contain alcohol, reduced DEET skin absorption is important to me.
Sawyer Maxi DEET Insect Repellent:
Maxi DEET is Sawyer's 100% DEET repellent. While reviewing Sawyer's web page on Maxi DEET, I was surprised that Sawyer recommended using 100% DEET on the skin only in extreme conditions of bug density, and cautioned against overexposure to DEET. They recommend using Maxi DEET to spray clothing and head nets, and using Sawyer Controlled Release on exposed skin (instead of using 100% DEET on exposed skin). Since I prefer not to routinely use 100% DEET on my skin, this system approach appeals to me. Like Sawyer Broad Spectrum and Controlled Release insect repellents, Maxi DEET contains no alcohol.
The container is a plastic spray pump bottle, about 5 1/8" (130 mm) tall and 1 7/16" (36 mm) in diameter. The bottle contains 2 fl oz ( about 59 ml) of repellent, and weighs 3 oz (85 g). Unfortunately since the container has a pump dispenser, I feel it will be necessary to keep the protective cap on the container while carrying.
The only time I used the Sawyer Maxi DEET as a stand alone product, was two of the scout camp Survival Merit Badge overnights. The first use was with Maxi DEET applied only to exposed skin, and the second with Maxi DEET applied to exposed skin and to my clothing. On both nights, the Maxi DEET provided adequate protection. The Maxi DEET seemed to leave an oily film on my skin. This oily film was particularly unpleasant because I was sleeping on the ground with no ground cloth or sleeping bag in a debris shelter. By midnight, I felt really dirty and couldn't wait for morning and staff swim call. Because of the oily film it left on my skin, I prefer to use the Maxi DEET on my clothing and not on exposed skin. I found that often if the bug concentration wasn't heavy I could get by with just Maxi DEET on my clothes. I used this method of protection several times while backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. I found that I could hike and sweat like mad, yet still have bug protection when I stopped in the shade for a break. I especially liked not having DEET on my hands when I reach into my GORP bag for a snack.
Sawyer Premium Permethrin:
The Sawyer Premium Permethrin came in a metal aerosol can, containing 6 oz (170g) of 0.5% Permethrin. The directions indicate that about 3/4 of the can is required to treat one outfit, and that a treatment can last up to 6 weeks and through several washings.
Due to the limited amount of Sawyer Permethrin, I picked one out one outfit (cotton T-shirt, long sleeve wool blend shirt, cotton/nylon blend shorts, hat, and two pair of wool hiking socks). This application exhausted my can of Sawyer Permethrin. I used this outfit with both Sawyer Broad Spectrum and Controlled Release insect repellents. While wearing this outfit, I never had a bug bite through or under my clothing. Even on the scout Survival Merit Badge sleep out, I received no insect bites under or through my clothes.
Between uses, I cold water washed this outfit with a mild laundry soap, and air dried in the shade. After drying, I stored the outfit in a sealed plastic bag. After six washings, one of the pairs of socks no longer provided any protection, and the no-see-ums had there way with my ankles. The rest of the outfit seemed to still provide protection, but after washing number seven the Permethrin appeared to be gone. Fortunately since I was headed for an overnight in the alder swamp, I had brought the Maxi DEET and was able to avoid a very unpleasant night.
After reading more about Permethrin on the Sawyer web site, I believe I will use Permethrin more frequently. I am including a quote from their web site that I found very interesting. "Permethrin is a contact insecticide. That is, it kills ticks or other insects when it comes in contact with them. It is used on clothing and materials. It uses the same active ingredient used in hair shampoos for head lice. When applied to clothing the Permethrin binds to the fabric eliminating the risk of over-exposure to the skin. Though FDA approved for use on skin, skin contact deactivates Permethrin within fifteen minutes." While I still feel that it is important to follow the provided directions and precautions while applying Permethrin, I'm less reluctant to it's routine use during bug season.
Likes and Dislikes:
a.. I like the fact that Sawyer Products DEET Insect Repellents contain no alcohol, resulting in less skin absorption of DEET.
b.. I like the long term protection provided by the Sawyer Controlled Release Insect Repellent.
a.. The warning/instruction labels on the Controlled Release, Broad Spectrum, and Sawyer Clothing Permethrin spray are very difficult to read.
b.. I would prefer that the Broad Spectrum were a lotion like the Controlled Release repellent.
Bug season has essentially come to an end here in Maine. Most of the little blood suckers have dug out there long winter woollies, and have settled into there little bug rocking chairs in front of there little bug fireplaces. But there will hopefully be a few more days to test bug dope before the snow flies, and I hope to get out there with those few hearty mosquitoes and no-see-ums that haven't settled in for the winter yet.
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