Great Summer Gear

July 28, 2010, 8:04 am

Of all of the seasons, summer is the cure that many of us eagerly await after spending long, dark months in winter’s cocoon. It’s not just the good weather that makes us happier in the summer, it’s all of the things that the warmer weather brings—baseball, fresh corn, ripe watermelon, rhubarb pie, warm mountain lakes, fireflies, backyard barbecues, July 4th fireworks, and Mr. Smoothie. Of course, all that glitters is not gold, and there are a few things that conspire to make our lakeside retreats and picnics a little less enjoyable—thunderstorms, heat stroke and, of course, mosquitoes.

With an especially wet spring in most parts of the country, mosquitoes, gnats and other pests have thrived. They’re even flourishing in areas where you wouldn’t see them traditionally. Don’t let nature’s bite stop you from enjoying the joys of summer. We found the following gear to be invaluable when dark clouds or swarms of insects collude to threaten your next trip:

For centuries, native peoples relied on plants and their essences to repel mosquitoes and other biting insects. The Cherokee were known to smear a combination of goldenseal and bear fat on their bodies to repel mosquitoes. The smell of this compound is an acquired taste so to speak, and you might want to try something a little more palatable. The blend of 100 percent natural oils in Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent keeps away even the most stubborn of pests. Burt mixed rosemary, lemongrass, and citronella oils with five other oils that bugs hate, creating an all-natural solution for keeping them away. Since the formulation is totally natural (there’s no DEET), it’s safe enough to apply liberally to children and pets. Give it try—you’ll love it.

ExOfficio, known for comfortable and functional travel clothing, puts a new spin insect protection with the new FlyBye shirt and Ziwa convertible pant with Insect Shield available for men and women. Whether you’re canoeing through the Everglades or fly-fishing in Yellowstone, your trip will be much more enjoyable with these insect-resistant threads. The Insect Shield treatment binds permethrin to fibers, giving reliable insect protection that’s EPA registered, safe and most importantly, not messy.

If you are fighting both bugs and the elements, consider the JakPak, the Swiss army knife of clothing. This jacket/rainsuit/tent/sleeping bag multitasks efficiently, offering you the protection from any elements you’ll encounter this summer. It’ll also make hiking far less complicated. Perfect for three-season camping, the JakPak also accommodates a mummy sleeping bag, and all the pieces detach for easy packing and comfortable wearing with a pack. With no poles, no stakes, no guylines, it offers instant shelter and instant satisfaction.