Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sawyer Products Chemical Treatment Reviews: Permethrin, Picaridin, Sunblock

As a brand ambassador for Sawyer Products I was able to utilize several topical chemicals on the AT that I found essential to my health and success.

First of all, I used Permethrin to treat all of my clothing, gear, and shoes. This included the 5 pairs of shoes I sent myself in resupply boxes (and the many pairs of new socks I also mailed myself). As a result, I only found two ticks on me. They were both on my left arm at the same time, immediately following a thrashing through head high grasses near Pearisburg, VA. I flicked them off, no harm done.

Secondly, I used Picaridin insect repellent instead of DEET. As I said, no tick problems. The time I did find ticks I wasn't actually wearing Picaridin. The only times I felt like the Picaridin wasn't working was when I was sweating profusely in the northern Mid-Atlantic states. I'd apply the repellent and the mosquitoes and black flies would leave me alone for approximately 3 minutes. However, I'm not sure even 100% DEET would be sweat proof in those conditions.

I also used the Sawyer SPF 30 sunscreen in the northern part of the AT. I also use it when climbing and mountaineering. It doesn't need constant reapplication even in sweaty conditions, which I appreciate, and provides adequate protection from the sun.

For anyone considering a thru-hike of the AT I HIGHLY recommend treating your gear and clothing with Permethrin and using either Picaridin or Deet while on the trail. Ticks carry a lot of yucky diseases (not just Lyme).


  1. very interesting post - i trail run here in the Northeast & use permethrin to treat my clothes & shoes - have never had a tick on them either...also, i had just picked up some picaridin and wondered how it would compare to my deet-based Ultrathon product --- your perspective is very helpful!

  2. Hi Heather! I too swear by Permethrin, but have run into logistical issues with re-treating my gear on the trail, after the 41 day window of effectiveness (as the product claims). Do I just take a zero day and hang around naked while I treat my gear? Also, with mailing myself resupply's of new shoes/socks, I haven't yet figured out how to have freshly treated gear shipped to myself, if say I am 41 days or over on my hike...if I treated the gear I am shipping to myself, before I left for the hike, then a package I pick up after 41 days would contain gear that has a no-longer-effective-treatment. Do you just have your partner treat and ship extra gear just before you are to pick it up?
    I hope that is a clear question. Thanks for your help!

    1. Well, I generally treat all my shoes and socks ahead of time. Since they are sitting in dark boxes the permethrin doesn't wear off. It lasts 45 days in the sun or 6 washes. So, treat your shoes and socks before you leave and keep them in the dark. As far as other clothing and gear, yes, you can send the permethrin to a town that you intend to zero in and treat it in your hotel. However, I usually don't retreat along the way.


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