Bugs. This time of the year, they seem to make their way into everything. Pests can sneak through screen doors, sprays and camping equipment, generally cause people a huge pain—or at the very least, annoyance. But can critters so tiny really be that dangerous?

They can. In fact, Lyme disease is one of the fastest growing epidemics to date, currently with 300,000 new diagnoses occurring per year in the U.S., according to the CDC. Yet Lyme and other insect-borne illnesses such as West Nile and Zika are preventable, with one caveat – awareness. Enter Insect Shield® repellent clothing and gear.

How Does Insect Repellent Clothing Work?

Insect Shield® was born from a request by the U.S. Military, who was looking for a durable, long-lasting way of adhering the bug repellent permethrin to uniforms in order to ward off insects in dangerous and disease-prone environments. In 1996, Insect Shield® researchers perfected that formula and implemented it across the military’s specialized equipment, reportedly dropping Lyme disease cases in the West Point Military Academy to zero. Learn more about the story behind Insect Shield® clothing by watching this video.

Permethrin is an insecticide—so it does more than repel bugs like ticks. It kills them by interfering with how neurons fire in their brains. Is permethrin safe? Since our neurons fire differently, it doesn't—thankfully—affect us. Want more information about how insect repellent clothing works? Read this great piece by the New York Times.

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What Does Insect Shield Repel?

Each Outdoor Research product made with Insect Shield® is tested, proven, and registered to repel a wide range of bugs like mosquitos, ticks, flies, chiggers, ants, and midges (no-see-ums) – all pests that are actually more dangerous than they are annoying. Each of these insects include a surprising number of species that carry dangerous diseases like malaria, West Nile virus, dengue fever, Zika virus, Lyme disease and more.

Insect Shield® Third-Party Testing

Insect Shield® is proven to be effective and long-lasting, and can be worn and used by the entire family with no restrictions. Treated products, like insect repellent clothing, are put through a ringer of 3rd party testing like “KD” Knockdown, field testing, and more to ensure complete effectiveness. Plus, all Insect Shield® apparel is EPA-registered. Check out these tests in action right here.

The Insect Shield® repellant works just like repellent sprays and lotions, but stays on your clothing and gear – not on the skin. Topical repellants may still be used for exposed skin, especially in heavily bug-infested areas or areas where malaria and other diseases are at risk. Since this treatment is so tightly bound to the fabric, your gear remains effective and bug-free through an expected lifetime of roughly 70 washes.

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Bug Protection for the World

From the beginning, the philosophy behind Insect Shield® was to protect those most at risk for insect-borne illnesses. Today, the company works with a number of relief organizations to make their technology available to those who need it most.

This means being involved in efforts that brings Insect Shield® to parts of the world where insect control can be a matter of life and death, such as areas where malaria and dengue fever are widespread. You can read more about the latest Insect Shield® global health and humanitarian initiatives here.

Gear me up and get me going!

Our Insect Shield®-treated products will have you enjoying the outdoors again—whether it's in your own backyard or on the other side of the world. Here are a few of our favorites.

The Bug Bucket had with Insect Shield.

The Bug Bucket sun hat has a no-see-um headnet that protects your face and neck from insects. This bug net hat can be rolled up over the brim of the hat or tucked under the crown when it’s not needed. The entire hat can be stuffed into a hidden pocket in the crown when it’s time to pack up.

The Bugout Brim Hat.

The Bugout Brim Hat is our streamlined bug hat features a wide brim, mesh vents and lightweight UPF 50+ fabric to keep you covered and cool on adventures in hot climates.

The Bugout Sun Sleeves with Insect Shield technology.

Simple, sleek bug repellent sleeves with UPF 50+ protection and nothing unnecessary, the Bugout Sun Sleeves offer the lightweight, quick-drying coverage you need with a bicep grip to hold them in place.

The Bugout Gaiters with Insect Shield technology.


For head-to-toe insect protection, adventurers choose the Bugout Gaiters to stop bugs in their tracks. Durable and ruggedly built, these gaiters are ideal for protecting ankles and open-flare pants while hiking, backpacking, and wherever else you roam.


For other meshes, fabrics, and styles that ward off critters, be sure to check out our Bug Protection Collection.

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