Best Mosquito Repellent: Picaridin Today, Kite Patch Tomorrow?

August 25, 2015

In my mind, it’s pretty much settled: Picaridin is superior to DEET. Consumer Reports essentially just confirmed it. But will an entirely new model of mosquito repellent change the picture?

I’ve written a fair bit about the picaridin vs. DEET debate. Now the latest entry is from Consumer Reports, which reviewed 15 common repellents earlier this year for their effectiveness against both mosquitoes and ticks. Their top-rated repellent, by far? Picaridin-based Sawyer’s Fisherman’s Formula (20% picaridin), which currently sells for $14.97 on Amazon. (You can see the complete ratings here; subscription required.)

There are some other interesting findings in the Consumer Reports ratings, including the effectiveness of oil of lemon eucalyptus. (Repel Lemon Eucalyptus was the second-highest rated, ahead of a 15% DEET repellent.) But the main takeaway? If you want the best, look for picaridin.

At the same time, a fledgling company, Kite, has garnered considerable resources and facilities over the past few years, including a mosquito megawarehouse for product testing and development in Riverside, California.

The company’s goal is to develop new, innovative, cost-effective approaches for repelling mosquitoes. It has received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and its own crowd-funding efforts (including more than half a million dollars on Indiegogo).

Their signature product—slated for release in 2016—is the Kite Patch, a small adhesive square that repels mosquitoes. Early tests show promise, including this recent glowing testimonial from a New York Times writer. So it seems at least possible that such an approach might work. (The company is largely quiet on the tech behind exactly how it works.)

I am going to hold my judgment until an actual consumer product is released, especially since equivalent approaches to date (repellent bracelets, etc.) are so ineffective as to be all but worthless. That being said, there is a lot that we currently don’t understand about what exactly attracts—or repels—mosquitoes. It seems entirely possible that new understanding and breakthroughs will lead to different, more effective ways to repel mosquitoes.

Will the Kite Patch be it? I’ll keep you posted.

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Equipped is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.