The Best Portable Bug Spray For Families Is An Everyday Need
Bug spray isn’t just for the Great Outdoors, or for the summer months
When we go about our daily lives, our travels, or our recreation time, there are so many things we
might need. Nowadays it can be easy to remember the sunscreen or the hand sanitizer. But an
essential item also merits a place in your day bag: the best portable bug spray for everyday use.
That’s not just for summer, either. While mosquitoes are typically most active during late spring and
throughout summer, other biting pests such as ticks can be active even in the winter months. Our
family no longer thinks of pest repellents as a summer purchase, but family protection we can have
at the ready year-round, depending on where our adventures take us.
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- Ranger Ready Picaridin Repellent for skin
- Ranger Ready Permethrin Repellent for clothing and other fabrics
We want to thank Ranger Ready for sponsoring this article. However, this article reflects our own
personal opinions and experiences.
The tick bit her in her own backyard
In 2022, a friend of Anthony’s posted online that she had just had a tick removed. But the thing was,
she and her family weren’t on a camping trip. They hadn’t gone hunting or fishing. They weren’t
trekking through the mountains.
Nope. The tick that bit her, made its gross, bitey way onto her while she was gardening, right in her
That friend’s experience got us considering more about how, and how often, we use our own pest
repellents. All too often it’s easy to think of packing the bug spray for camping, or when you know
you’re going to be in “the great outdoors.”
The reality is that most of your risks of coming into contact with pathogenic pests like ticks and
mosquitoes come from your everyday activities, not just in summer, but throughout the year:
Ticks aren’t just a warm-weather pest. If ground temperatures get above 45ºF at any time of
year, these little arachnids can cause trouble. Even worse, they can start out as small as a
poppy seed, making it hard to spot them. While most infamous for spreading Lyme disease,
ticks can spread other pathogen-spread afflictions, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever
(RMSF) and anaplasmosis.
Mosquitoes can be active from March through November, depending on region and
conditions. In addition to itchy, uncomfortable bites, mosquitoes are responsible for
spreading a range of dangerous and deadly diseases, including malaria, West Nile Virus
(WNV), and various types of encephalitis.
Over the past year, our family has traveled in Oregon, Washington, Texas, Virginia, Mexico, and
various parts of East Asia and Southeast Asia. Again and again, we’ve been glad we had our pest
repellents on hand, whether RV camping near tall grass fields in Washington State, going out for ice
cream in Oaxaca, or wandering the grounds of Bangkok’s Grand Palace.
The two Ranger Ready Repellents we rely on at home, across the country, and around the world
Our entire family, including our two children, regularly use Ranger Ready repellents. These best
portable bug sprays offer us DEET-free, non-greasy, long-lasting protection against common biting
pests such as:
- Biting flies
- Sand flies
Here’s a quick rundown of the 2 Ranger Ready DEET-free repellents our family uses:
Skin: Picaridin 20% insect repellent spray
- One application of this picaridin insect spray provides up to 12 hours of tick and mosquito repelling power, and up to 8 hours from other pests
- Pump spray is easy to apply to exposed skin, such as forearms, feet, backs of necks, and lower legs. We also spray some on the backs of our hands to then apply to facial areas away from the mouth, nostrils, and eyes
- We can apply the 20% picaridin formula to our skin without having to worry about its active ingredient messing up our clothes or other fabrics
Fabric: Permethrin 0.5% repellent spray
- Lasts up to 5 washings and 40 days
- Great for t-shirts or dresses, especially backs, which may be less likely to get a picaridin spray
- Assures us that even if we forgot our picaridin spray, our sprayed clothing still offers pest- resistant protection
4 ways we use pest repellent day to day
You might find our family wandering Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, touring a historic prairie
homestead in Texas, or kayaking a lake in Idaho. You’re also just as likely to find us grilling burgers
at a park, taking our son and daughter to a summer ball game, or carrying a dish for an al fresco
dinner with friends. This summer, our “everyday normal” is RVing across the entire US, from Washington State to Florida.
Wherever we go, we’ve packed our Ranger Ready skin and fabric repellents. Here are four ways we
use them not only for grand adventures, but everyday activities.
In the day bag
For many of our outings around town or around the world, Anthony carries a small daypack. It’s our
family travel epicenter for snacks, water bottles, and other things we’ll use on an outing. A zippered
pocket on the front gives us right-away access to sanitizer, sunscreen, and our trusty Ranger Ready
picaridin spray. (Or, if we don’t use the daypack, Jodie might tuck a bottle in her purse, or we keep
one in the console of our vehicle.)
Getting ready for an evening park cookout, we knew it was going to be a buggy evening. The
mosquitoes were already flitting around as we started setting up the picnic table and nearby grill at a
park. We’d applied some Ranger Ready before coming over to the park, but especially with the kids,
we realized we’d missed some spots. We quickly snagged our trusty, effective mosquito repellent
from our bag, touched up those spots, and had far more complete protection than we would have
otherwise. (And the cookout, by the way, was delicious.)
By the door
One of the most important things we’ve learned about our repellent is keeping it at the ready not just
when we’re about, but when we’re home. For our traveling family, “home” is also a relative term.
Home can be our house with its big backyard. Home could be a townhouse or apartment we’ve
rented while visiting somewhere abroad. Or home can be the RV we use to explore America and
show the US to our kids.
Wherever we stay, we keep our essentials close to the door, because we also know that while home
is wherever we are, pests like mosquitoes are a buzzy reality pretty much anywhere we go. Whether
we’re camping around the country in our RV, or getting ready for an evening in our backyard in
Oregon, we keep a bottle of Ranger Ready by the door.
Out of sight is out of mind. If you don’t see the spray, it’s easy to forget to put it on. But a bottle at the door means remembering to spray your body. Since we have a ready-to-go bottle right there, we
always remember to spray up before we go out. This simple change has helped us be much more
consistent about using our Ranger Ready.
On clothes and fabrics
While Ranger Ready’s picaridin formula is for skin applications, our favorite Ranger Ready is
actually their fabric-safe permethrin spray. In addition to lasting through up to 5 washes, the
permethrin spray practically turns our clothes into pest repellent armor.
One night during a cookout, the mosquitoes were coming on thick. When many of them approached
our clothes, they turned away. We got some bites, but if they were through our clothes, we realized it
was on areas we hadn’t sprayed.
Using the permethrin spray takes a little thinking ahead. You don’t apply it to clothing that you’re
wearing, for example. The spray also needs time to set up and dry. We usually aim to spray in the
evening, and we often set up clothes outside on a night when no rain is forecast. Some of the items
we regularly spray permethrin on include:
- Outer layers such as fleece jackets
- Anthony’s daypack
- Camp chairs
We even spray permethrin around the entry area fabric on the collapsible screen house we use
camping. It has dual flaps that magnetically latch. After spraying, we’d see mosquitoes approach the
entry, hover a moment, and then turn away.
On the water
Quick distinction: We are not talking about using our repellent when we are going to be IN the water,
such as swimming or generally splashing about in a pool, lake, river, or ocean. Most of our water
recreation is ON the water, such as on SUPs or, especially, in our two trusty tandem inflatable
On the water, we are vulnerable to pests such as mosquitoes and biting flies. Not only do bites suck,
smacking at bugs throws off our paddling rhythm. Applying Ranger Ready to our gear and skin
beforehand helps us focus our attention on each other and surroundings. Instead of worrying about bugs snacking on us, we can be fully present with each other as a family and with the amazing natural world around us.
Not just for for the Great Outdoors: The best portable bug spray shines for the Great Everyday
That friend of Anthony’s who got a tick bite while gardening in her own backyard? Ultimately she was
okay. However, one of the hardest things she had to account for from now on was to consider her
own garden and yard space as a potential tick zone, and take that into account with post-gardening
tick checks—and the best portable bug spray.
Her experience made us think about pest repellents in a different way. Instead of using them mainly
when we camp or go hiking, we’ve realized that our bug sprays aren’t just for the Great Outdoors.
They’re for the Great Everyday. From day-to-day activities to traveling the world, a backyard cookout
or a cross-country RV camping expedition, our Ranger Ready is always at the ready, for whatever tasks, outings, and adventures our day will bring.
Protect yourself and your family and save
Ranger Ready repellents give our traveling family so much peace of mind. We can be more present
with each other and our experiences at home and away. And you can get that peace of mind too.
Use promo code LEARNERSANDMAKERS for 10% off your Ranger Ready order
Guest blog by the St. Clair Travel Living Family, Learns and Makers.