Bug Repellent Options
To DEET or not to DEET
Though some concern has been expressed about DEET, the EPA has determined that insect repellents containing DEET do not present a health concern, if used correctly. The biggest concerns are to avoid getting repellent on hands (especially kids' hands) so it won't inadvertently get into the eyes or mouth, and to avoid over-application. For example, using a combination of insect repellent and sunscreen can be a problem if the sunscreen needs to be re-applied more frequently than the repellent. We do carry insect repellent that does not contain DEET, for those looking for a more natural option, but most experts agree it is less effective in preventing bug bites.
Some clothing we sell has insect repellent integrated into the garments, which is effective for up to 70 washings. Another alternative is to treat your own clothing with permethrin repellent (we carry Repel) which is effective for several weeks. Permethrine should never be applied to skin; it is to be used on clothing only.
Other Bug Prevention
There are other methods to prevent dangers from bugs. Wear long sleeves and long pants; tuck pants into socks or wear gaiters. Light-colored clothing make it easier to see ticks crawling around seeking a place to land. Avoid walking in tall grass or in damp, dark areas. Finally, find a close friend to help you check for ticks when you return from the outdoors — get rid of them before they get attached!
If you're concerned about sun exposure, you have probably noticed that many clothing items come with a UPF rating. It's important to understand what the UPF rating means and how clothing can work to protect you from damaging UV rays.
To begin, UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, meaning it's a measurement of how well it protects from ultraviolet radiation, which can lead to sunburn and skin cancer and can speed up your skin's aging. Ultraviolet rays can be particularly damaging to fair-skinned people and children, especially in high elevations, near the equator and on reflective surfaces (snow and water).
How high should the UPF be? Well, the higher the better, of course. A UPF of 15-24 is in the "good" range, letting up to 6.7% of UV transmission through the garment. The highest will be about 40-50, which lets in less than 2.5% of UV transmission. In contrast, a white cotton T-shirt has a UPF of about 5-8.
It may seem that any clothing will offer you protection from the sun, but that's not necessarily true. Fabrics vary in a variety of ways. Some fiber types, like polyester and nylon, are significantly more effective at blocking UV light than most natural fibers, especially cotton. Construction also makes a difference: dense, tightly woven fibers minimizes the space between yarns thus the amount of UV light that can pass through.
Other things that can affect a garment's ability to protect you include stretch (stretching fibers will allow more UV through) and wetness (30-50% less effective when wet).
What about SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The number is determined by exposing human skin to light that mimics noontime sun. SPF is the amount of light that causes redness in sunscreen-protected skin, divided by the amount of light that causes redness in unprotected skin. A sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will delay the onset of a sunburn in a person who would otherwise burn in 10 minutes to burn in 150 minutes instead. In other words, the SPF 15 suncreen allows a person to stay out in the sun 15 times longer.