OR - Sawyer Repellent - Ray Estrella
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Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Repellent
By Raymond Estrella
July 07, 2007
NAME: Raymond Estrella
LOCATION: Huntington Beach California USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and
in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and
average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to
lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike
hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a
freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I
am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or fiancée Jenn.
Manufacturer: Sawyer Products, Inc.
Web site: www.sawyerproducts.com
Product: Permethrin Clothing Repellent
Product number: SP647n
Year manufactured: 2005
Volume listed (ingredient only): 6 fl oz (177 ml)
The Sawyer Permethrin Clothing repellent came in a non-aerosol
plastic pump-type bottle, a picture of it courtesy of Sawyer is seen
to the right. The bottle contains 6 fl oz (177 ml) of Permethrin, an
insect repellent and contact killer used widely in the outdoor flower
gardening industry to control ants, beetles and other crawly
critters. The dilution of the product sold by Sawyer is a 0.50%
solution. Among the warnings on the label the most glaring is
to, "not use this product on bare skin". It is not to be used as a
repellent after the manner of DEET and the other common repellents,
but is to be used to treat clothing that will be worn only after the
item has dried completely. While I try to stay away from using
manufacturer's hyperbole in my reviews, I believe that this is a case
that it would be best to use their words to describe the product,
lest I mislead in any way with a potentially dangerous (if mis-used)
product. I will comment on it later.
"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
"As a clothing, tent or sleeping bag application, Permethrin is very
effective at keeping ticks from attaching to you and at reducing the
mosquito population in your camping area."
"Permethrin is also an effective repellent against mosquitoes and
flies and can be used in conjunction with a skin based repellent.
Permethrin can be used as the primary repellent if the exposed skin
area (gaps in the treated clothing) is not too large. By storing the
treated clothing in black plastic bags between uses the protection
can be extended considerably."
"Developed in cooperation with the U.S. Military, government
agencies, universities, and others; this Sawyer Clothing repellent
offers superior protection from disease-carrying biting insects. The
active ingredient, Permethrin, is a synthetic molecule similar to
those found in natural pyrethrum which is taken from the
Chrysanthemum flower. Not only does this product repel insect, but
will actually kill ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers, mites and more than
55 other kinds of insects. Sawyer Permethrin insect repellents are
for use with clothing, tents, and other gear. A single application
lasts 6 washings. Permethrin is odorless when dry, and during the
drying process, it tightly bonds with the fibers of the treated
garmet. It will not stain or damage clothing, fabrics, plastics,
finished surfaces, or any of your outdoor gear."
I used the Sawyer Permethrin on two major trips, the first a three-
day 51 mile (82 km) backpacking trip in the Sequoia National Forest.
Elevations ranged from 2700' to 8000' (820 to 2400 m). Three quarters
of the trip was along the Kern River and various creeks. Portions of
the trails were so heavily over-grown that one section going to a
water fall took me 2 hours 10 minutes to go 5 miles (8 km) downhill.
(About 45 minutes slower than normal for me when I am solo.) Ticks,
mosquitoes and deer flies were abundant. Temperatures got up to 108 F
(42 C) on this trip, although the sections in the trees at the edge
of Domeland Wilderness only saw them in the 70's F (24 C), thank the
The next was a six and a half day 90 mile (145 km) trek along the
northern John Muir Trail through Yosemite National Park (and others).
The weather took a turn for the worse dropping to a low of 17 F (-8
C) but it did nothing to kill the mosquitoes, at least as we got back
to warmer areas. The highs on that trip were in the 70's F (24 C).
Elevations ranged from 8000' to over 12000' (2400 to 3660 m)
Because of the nature of the product it was used on other hikes, but
those mentioned are the reasons for its use.
In March of 2005 I purchased an Ex Officio Buzz Off shirt and was
impressed by the way that it worked on ticks. After doing some
research into how it was made I decided to try some do-it-yourself
stuff for a trip to the lower Sierra Nevada at the heart of bug
season, where I knew I would be around water most of the time. I just
did a short sleeved tee, a long sleeved tee, and a pair of shorts.
Following the directions to get both sides, and to completely
saturate the clothing item I put the clothes on plastic hangers and
hung them outside my California apartment. My finger got tired of
spraying by the time I had everything soaked. And it used the entire
bottle, so I do not know about the claim to do two outfits. Of course
I have been getting bigger as middle age slaps me in the face wait! I
am losing weight. Well maybe it would do a couple outfits for my kids.
I let them dry completely before I even brought them in the house.
Even then I put them in my bathroom for the next two days. I wanted
to make sure there was no harmful fumes that may still be coming off
I was pretty impressed by the first use. I am a bug magnet and get
bit a lot through my shirts. I could really tell in the evening. I
like to wash up every day after hiking. I hate leaving sweat and bug
repellent on me and try to jump in a creek, lake or river whenever
possible. But as soon as the sun starts going down the mosquitoes get
bad! I hate juicing up again before climbing into my sleeping bag. I
could tell that the skeeters did not like the long SmartWool shirt I
was wearing in the evening. Here is a shot of that shirt at dinner
time in the Sierra.
Three and a half months later I used a second bottle to do the same
shirts again and to spray some Gramicci pants for the Yosemite trip.
Again I was impressed by the way that it seemed to keep the
mosquitoes off my back. The tick problem is not as bad in the
northern Sierra as it is in the southern sections where they still
have a lot of cattle in the forests. So I was not as concerned about
them. (It was pretty late for ticks to be a major problem anyway.)
But the needle-bombers were bad, as always. I brought my Buzz Off
shirt also on this trip for layering and with both shirts on I was
golden. I only had to use DEET on my hands, neck, and arms when I had
the short sleeved tee on (which is a lot of the time as I get so darn
I have noticed that horse flies are not bothered by the treated
clothing. They happily bite right through it where it is stretched
tight across my shoulders or back. Deer flies though do not seem to
like it, which is a good thing as I can't stand those aggressive
In conclusion I have found that the Sawyer product works excellent
against ticks, very well against deer flies and mosquitoes and poorly
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- Hello Ray,
Looks good. A few trifling edits. Please upload to
One thing that I have wondered about is whether the permethrin stays
as well bonded to the fabric when the clothing is wet, sweat or rain?
>### EDIT: 70s
> Field Conditions
> I used the Sawyer Permethrin on two major trips, the first a three-
> day 51 mile (82 km) backpacking trip in the Sequoia National Forest.
> Elevations ranged from 2700' to 8000' (820 to 2400 m). Three quarters
> of the trip was along the Kern River and various creeks. Portions of
> the trails were so heavily over-grown that one section going to a
> water fall took me 2 hours 10 minutes to go 5 miles (8 km) downhill.
> (About 45 minutes slower than normal for me when I am solo.) Ticks,
> mosquitoes and deer flies were abundant. Temperatures got up to 108 F
> (42 C) on this trip, although the sections in the trees at the edge
> of Domeland Wilderness only saw them in the 70's
F (24 C), thank the
> lord### EDIT: 70s
> The next was a six and a half day 90 mile (145 km) trek along the
> northern John Muir Trail through Yosemite National Park (and others).
> The weather took a turn for the worse dropping to a low of 17 F (-8
> C) but it did nothing to kill the mosquitoes, at least as we got back
> to warmer areas. The highs on that trip were in the 70's
F (24 C).
> Elevations ranged from 8000' to over 12000' (2400 to 3660 m)................
> Because of the nature of the product it was used on other hikes, but
> those mentioned are the reasons for its use.
> In March of 2005 I purchased an Ex Officio Buzz Off shirt and was
> impressed by the way that it worked on ticks. After doing some
> research into how it was made I decided to try some do-it-yourself
> stuff for a trip to the lower Sierra Nevada at the heart of bug
> season, where I knew I would be around water most of the time. I just
> did a short sleeved tee, a long sleeved tee, and a pair of shorts.
> I have noticed that horse flies are not bothered by the treated### COMMENT: "works excellently" or "excels against ticks..." if I'm
> clothing. They happily bite right through it where it is stretched
> tight across my shoulders or back. Deer flies though do not seem to
> like it, which is a good thing as I can't stand those aggressive
> In conclusion I have found that the Sawyer product works excellent
going to be pedantic about it... <g>
> against ticks, very well against deer flies and mosquitoes and poorly
> against horse
> One thing that I have wondered about is whether the permethrin staysHi Ted,
> as well bonded to the fabric when the clothing is wet, sweat or rain?
I don't think so. I put a paragraph about that in there. When I was
completely sweat covered they were biting my back at a stream that we
were filtering water near.
Thamks for the help, all changes made and it is up.
I am out the door, have a good weekend.