With three hikes in the Upper Peninsula on the calendar during the height of mosquito season, I was in search of an effective bug spray. Guardian’s DEET-Free Mosquito and Tick Repellent delivered when it came to both the Wilderness 8-Hour and Backyard 4-Hour sprays.
Before heading into the wilderness, I needed to establish trust with this product. I started in my own backyard, which despite expensive mosquito treatments every three weeks, still manages to be plagued with mosquitoes. I applied the 4-hour spray before a dinner outside. On an evening without Guardian repellent, those mosquitoes would feast on me. With the repellent, I blissfully had a relaxing, lingering dinner – free of mosquito bites! I was pleased – and ready to take on the hard core mosquito territory of the UP.
Our family hiking trip started with Mt. Arvon, Michigan’s highest point, and Timms Hill, Wisconsin’s highest point, both of which are heavily wooded areas. Before stepping foot into the woods at either mountain, we applied the 8-hour Wilderness Guardian repellent to the entire family. Not one mosquito or tick to speak of.
The final and true test came with Eagle Mountain, Minnesota’s highest point. Everything I’d read about this mountain screamed warnings emphasizing how miserable the mosquitoes are during the summer. For most, this hike is 7 miles of survival. I’ve seen pictures of highpointers wearing head nets in the name of mosquito protection on this mountain. In fact, I’d even made a last minute rush order purchase of three head nets after a fellow highpointer recommended I not try to swim in the lake at Eagle Mountain because the mosquitoes are simply that miserable.
When I opened the car door at the trailhead, I expected to be swarmed with mosquitoes instantly. While that didn’t happen, accounts of these blood thirsty creatures’ prevalence is rather accurate. I didn’t notice them too much when we were moving, but whenever we stopped, even just for a few seconds, they descended upon us in what felt like thick blankets. These mosquitoes seemed impervious to any repellent, landing on my wrists in trios. To be fair, I’d also equipped everyone with mosquito bracelets, so I can’t account for whatever effect those had. But, I can say that out of the three of us, we left Minnesota’s backwoods with only one mosquito bite and no ticks. We carried our head nets with us, but the Guardian spray offered so much protection, that we never removed the nets from their packaging. I did have to reapply the spray after about 3.5 hours under these conditions (at this point, I sprayed all of our clothes, which I wasn’t supposed to do), but once I reapplied, we had enough protection to complete the hike without misery. Marching through thick veils of these bionic creatures, I call that a huge success.
Points to Consider
This product is not odorless, but I find the scent to be okay. When I applied it to my 6 year old daughter for the first time, she remarked unprompted, “Oooh, this smells like marshmallows.” To my daughter, this was the best possible smelling bug spray I could ever apply to her. For adults who may not want to smell like marshmallows, the smell washes off once you’re out of the wilderness. The effectiveness of this product is worth it.
When in charge of applying his own bug spray, my husband – every time – expressed a preference for aerosol sprays over the pump. He argues that aerosol gives the user a more uniform coating of protection. I personally am fine with either application. If a bug repellent works, which this one does, that’s all that’s important to me.
✅ It works. Period.
✅ Safe for the whole family, including young kids
✅ Safe to reapply as needed
✅ Smells okay
✅ It’s DEET-Free
✖ If you prefer aerosol sprays, the spray pump application may not be ideal