Best Insect Repellent For Gnats – Hiking, Camping, Beach

Keeping pesky gnats away is a problem, especially when you just want to experience the great outdoors in peace! These are our recommendations for best insect repellent for gnats when you’re traveling, camping, or just spending a day at the beach.

Gnats (aka black fly or midges) are pretty annoying, and they can also draw blood and leave your skin an itchy, blotchy mess. In addition, a single gnat can lay hundreds of eggs, so they multiply quickly. So no matter where you’re traveling in the world, don’t let gnats invade your space.

Luckily, plenty of ways, sprays, and scents will help gnats disappear. Of course, insect repellent is a lifesaver, but there are also safer and more natural alternatives. Regardless, looking for bug sprays or fragrances that keep gnats away is essential. 

So, let’s dive into the best insect repellent for gnats. Whether hiking, camping, or heading for the beach, below is everything you need to know.

best insect repellent for gnats
It’s all fun and games until the gnat swarms show up!

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Can You Take Insect Repellent On A Plane?

Before heading to your vacation destination, there are guidelines on repellent when flying. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, checked luggage can’t exceed 68 fluid ounces. Also, all gels, liquids, and aerosols on carry-ons must be 3.4 ounces. 

While you can’t bring traditional sprays and aerosols on a plane, you can bring repellents. Instead, you can bring repellents applied to the skin or clothing. If aerosol bottles contain a cap or nozzle, getting them on a plane isn’t an issue.

Since repellents aren’t hazardous materials, there are also no size limitations. But, repellents such as Picaridin are flammable, so size restrictions still apply.

Whether you’re going on a hiking, camping, or beach trip, let’s find out which gnat repellent is best for you. 

Best Insect Repellent For Gnats

When hiking, beware as gnats love moist areas and overwatered plants. DEET is a common ingredient in the best insect repellent for gnats when hiking. While effective, the more DEET there is in a product, the higher the potency. 

Although it’s one of the best bug spray ingredients, it can cause eye and skin irritation. Also, DEET has a strong smell so try not to breathe in the chemicals. 

A few of the best hiking repellents against gnats include the following:

Repel Sportsman

Repel Sportsman is for the nature lover who intends to be outside for extended time periods. It uses 40 percent DEET, and works for gnats. Repel lasts for ten hours and also comes in a lotion form. You may prefer a lotion for a precise application and rub where needed.

While the repellent works with sunscreen, it’s crucial to put sunscreen on first. Repel is excellent for outdoor activities like hiking. 

Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent

The Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent is another excellent outdoor spray to repel gnats – and it’s one of the world’s best selling insect repellents as well.

It comes in spray form, lotion, and individual lotion packets, with many options in travel sizes. Feel protected for up to eight to 12 hours for the aerosol mist and 14 hours for the lotion. 

Additionally, the repellent won’t damage gear or clothing. It’s also safe for the entire family, for six-month-old babies to expecting mothers.

Picaridin is made from the piperine compound found in pepper plants, and the repellent is also fragrance-free.

It’s a natural alternative to harmful chemicals such as DEET, and it’s super effective. So, take it on the go as it’s small enough to throw in your backpack or pocket as you head for the trail. 

Bug Soother Insect Repellent 

Another safe DEET-free option is the Bug Soother Insect Repellent. The spray uses plant-based ingredients such as lemongrass, castor oil, and vitamin E. You can use it on your skin or clothes to ward away gnats. Although, you may need to every couple of hours, depending on how often you sweat. 

From DEET to healthier repellent alternatives, there are plenty of ways to stay safe. While gnats love cool, damp places, you’ll feel prepared as you embark on wildlife. 

Avoiding Gnats While Camping

Camping is a great bonding experience for you and your family, escaping the modern world. However, reconnecting with nature has its downsides regarding insects, especially in the summer. So first, preparing ahead of a camping trip is essential. 

Being out in nature has its advantages. For example, gnats gravitate towards the campfire flames; however, they’ll leave you alone. You can also add sage near the campfire, as it calms humans and repels gnats.  

Let’s explore gnat repellents and the differences between each. Soon, you’ll know what to bring next on an upcoming camping trip. 

Best Gnat Repellent for Camping

When it comes to gnat repellent, DEET works well for campers. Also, spraying repellent on your clothes is best while avoiding spraying on the skin. So instead, spray all clothing items and accessories first thing in the morning. 

For another option, there are bug repellent bracelets, which are great for kids. The bracelets emit chemicals in the air surrounding you, almost like a safe zone.

However, not all DEET sprays repel against gnats, which is why looking at the bottle is crucial. For instance, OFF! Deep Wood Bug Spray is excellent. Now, you can eat those marshmallows by the campfire in peace. 


If you can’t use repellent, vinegar and apple cider vinegar are natural alternatives. Plus, unlike sprays, it’s safe enough to use on your skin. Keep vinegar or spray around your tent and campsite, as it works for gnats and bugs like mosquitoes. 

First, get a clear container while adding dish soap for the best trapping outcome. Then, as the gnats gravitate toward the vinegar scent, grab plastic wrap to seal all edges with the band. From there, you’ll poke small holes in the top of the container with a toothpick.

The smell is powerful, so diluting a solution with vinegar, water, and essential oils is a great idea. 

Essential Oils

There are particular essential oils and scents gnats hate. For convenience, Wondercide’s Peppermint Pest Control Spray works great for gnats. If you want to mix your spray, you can grab the following scents:

  • Lemon
  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon
  • Citronella
  • Cedarwood
  • Tea tree
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Geranium

While you can mix it with vinegar, water, or vodka, carrier oil also works and doesn’t have a strong scent. So instead, you can use a coconut oil carrier or almond oil carrier to dilute your essential oils.

Checking labels is essential, especially for natural-based products with oils, and it also describes age ranges that may not be suitable for children under three years of age. 

Although camping attracts many insects like gnats, camping can have advantages. For instance, campfires act as a natural gnat repellent. While repellents are essential, there are also safer methods you can bring with you. 

Staying Safe from Gnats on the Beach

Whether you spend a day at the beach or are looking forward to a beach vacation, staying safe from gnats is crucial.

Although the beach climate is free from many plants and trees, gnats flock to water and moisture. But, there are still ways to get rid of sand gnats.

Below include four of the best beach-proof gnat repellents:

Repel 100 Insect Repellent

For a potent option, the Repel 100 Insect Repellent takes care of sand gnats. With 98 percent DEET, it’s great for adults but may not suit young kids due to its high concentration. However, one application stays for ten hours.

Repel Plant-Based Repellent

The Repel Plant-Based Repellent is free from DEET.

Instead, enjoy a refreshing spray made with lemon and eucalyptus oil. Keep sand gnats away from your beach activities for up to six hours before reapplying. The repellent is safe for all ages three and older. 

Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus

Avon’s Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus is another excellent DEET-free gnat repellent you can take on the beach, as it includes SPF 30. It’s hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested, and is best to use before laying in the sun. Be sure to reapply after eight hours or after using a towel, sweating, or swimming.

It’s a repellent and sunscreen all in one, yet four daily applications are the limit. Overall, Avon’s Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus is safe for all ages but may not be safe for young babies under six months old. 

Badger Anti-Bug Shake and Spray

Badger Anti-Bug Shake and Spray are great for an excellent beach repellent if you love natural products that are lab tested. The Badger repellent is free from DEET and other synthetic chemicals. A bonus is that it has a pleasant smell. Ingredients include:

  • Lemongrass
  • Geranium
  • Citronella
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Wintergreen
  • Cedar
  • Castor, soybean oil

All ingredients are great for sand gnats while being gluten-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. 

Don’t let gnats put a damper on your beach vacation. From Repel, Plant-Based Repel, and Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard. Plus, look for natural options like Badger Anti-Bug Shake and spray. There are many options to choose from for you and your family. 

Final Takeaways – Best Insect Repellent For Gnats

Although gnats gather from all over, it’s essential to look out for them while on vacation. Hot spots include damp and humid conditions in the woods or on a sandy beach. Repellents can help soothe your worries. But, preparedness is the first step toward bug safety.

Repellents range from potent DEET sprays to natural scents like peppermint oil. Regardless of your choice, there’s a repellent for all ages and preferences. Your guide to the best insect repellent for gnats is complete, as your travel plans await! 

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