Sawyer Permethrin Premium Insect Repellent

Reviews

8

Easy to use and long lasting this bug treatment really…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $15

Summary

Easy to use and long lasting this bug treatment really works. If you visit buggy areas or are concerned about ticks at home or on trail this stuff is peace of mind in a bottle

Pros

  • Effective
  • Easy to apply
  • Won't harm most clothing and gear
  • Long lasting
  • Safe for children's clothing

Cons

  • Very poisonous requiring safe disposal of any remainders
  • OK, that was a reach since I can't think of any real cons

Designed to be used to pretreat clothing and gear to repel ticks, chiggers, mites and mosquitoes this product works as advertised.  After one full season of use I am convinced of the effectiveness of Sawyer's permethrin and will keep using it so long as that remains the fact.

Application is simply a matter of waiting for a day without much wind, hanging the item or items to be treated, lightly dampening items with the product via the spray applicator and then waiting for them to dry. Sawyer claims 42 days of effectiveness per treatment and will last through 6 washes, but as I'm either walking in the rain or sweating in the heat I retreat once a month if I remember.

Once the product dries it is almost entirely without odor. There is a very faint smell which I do not find annoying in the least and really only notice when I'm sniffing to see if I should reapply. I have yet to find any item I have treated which was discolored by the process, but I would recommend testing first on a small hidden area just in case.

The info on the container says the 24oz bottle is enough to treat four complete outfits but that seems very conservative to me. I treated my own shirt, pants, hat and socks three times last year, some clothes for Mrs Stranger and The Tot as well as treating clothing for three other people who came on trips with me last year and that left about a third of the product remaining. I may have been under treating but based on how well it worked I'm thinking they may just be avoiding setting their specs too high.

As mentioned the product is safe to use on children's clothing which is great if you have kids who like to roll around on the ground. Our back yard is a forest filled with ticks so I have found the permethrin useful at home as well as on trail given Lyme Disease concerns. Now that EEE is moving into our area I think we may start treating more of our clothes we wear outside the house this year.

There are other brands of permethrin out there but having tried the Sawyer I don't feel much need to try them.  This stuff works as advertised and definitely far better than I expected. On last year's trips I never had to resort to using a head net and only used bug repellent one time.

Keep in mind my trips were all here in Maine where bugs are certainly not a minor annoyance so if it works here it will probably work where you go. Personally I'm sold and will buy a bottle each year unless something better comes along.


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G00SE MODERATOR

You can save a lot of money if you buy it concentrated at local farm supply stores (It's used to treat cattle and horse stalls). I bought a quart of concentrate for $25. It mixes to 20 gallons. I mix it up in a pump up sprayer and treat my gear and my basement (for spiders) at the same time.


3 years ago
LoneStranger

@G00SE heh I think I'll stick to the version designed for humans and cut corners elsewhere. I'm using this to try to cut down on the toxic chemicals I absorb 8p


3 years ago
Sean Harrison

Nice review. Gotta get a bottle for my Katahdin trip.


3 years ago
G00SE MODERATOR

LS, it's the exact same stuff. Sawyer just jacks the price up by selling it as ready-to-use.


3 years ago
5

I have used DEET and other products since the early…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: received it as a sample, freebie, or prize (Trailspace - Reviewer of the Month Prize)

Summary

I have used DEET and other products since the early 1980s, but Permethrin treated clothes are much more effective in tick prevention based on my experience in tick-infested areas. Sawyer Permethrin can keep ticks from landing and biting, and can actually kill them on your clothes. It is the repellent I depend on for work and recreation—effective and easy to apply.

Pros

  • Doesn’t damage gear like DEET
  • Extremely effective against ticks
  • Safe if used as pre-treatment for clothes
  • Lasts for multiple washings
  • No exposure to stronger concentrations

Cons

  • Not as effective against mosquitos
  • Doesn’t absorb well into water resistant fabrics
  • Can be dangerous if not handled properly
  • More expensive than mixing your own solution

20170409_103704.jpg
A recent forum thread reminded me I hadn’t reviewed bug protection products that I planned to write up last year.  With today being excellent gear-treating weather for the spring Permethrin application, I decided to finish this review while my clothes dry.

My Reviewer of the Month prize last year included Sawyer Permethrin and Picaridin, both of which I have been using for a while before that. I have posted a separate review of Sawyer Picaridin, but wanted to mention it here as it is an integral part of my overall bug defense system in combination with Permethrin. 

Usage:

I have consistently used Sawyer Permethrin for the last 5 years as my primary defense against ticks. I mostly used DEET products prior to Permethrin, for tick repellent as well as for mosquito/flies. I have treated complete sets of backpacking clothes and multiple sets of field clothes for work, where I have the most tick exposure.

I live and play in the humid Southeast where bug season can be extensive, and many different species of ticks present throughout the year in some areas. I often have to go into tick-infested areas—it is not uncommon to be counting ticks by the tens, as they are an everyday hazard of my line of work.

Product Description and Use:

Sawyer sells Permethrin in multiple sizes of trigger, pump, and aerosol sprays. This review is of the pump spray that I was provided as a reviewer prize by Trailspace. The active ingredient is a 0.5% concentration of Permethrin. The bottle comes in multiple sizes but all seem to have the same concentration, so selection should be based on the amount of treatment you need.
20170409_105857.jpgSawyer makes the following claims on its website:

  • Effective against ticks, chiggers, mites and mosquitoes for up to six weeks.
  • One treatment will last up to six washings or six weeks before clothing has to be treated again
  • If you treat your tent, you can expect full potency for up to 40 days of direct sunlight.

Application is relatively straightforward, but you must follow the directions to protect yourself from harmful effects of exposure. Permethrin should be applied outside when there is no wind and before clothes are worn (I have seen folks spray the aerosol on themselves like other bug repellents!). After treatment let the clothes hang for two to four hours (depending on humidity).
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You should avoid contact with skin and eyes during application phase—I take this seriously as you can see...
20170409_103652.jpgResults:

Application Process

I find the application process pretty easy. It does get a little tiring pumping the trigger to spray if you are treating multiple outfits. That is where a mix of your own or transferring it into a pump sprayer would ease things, but I find it not worth the effort. I know others in my industry (natural resource professions) who mix their own solution and pump spray or soak.

I prefer not to handle this stuff too much, so the spray method works for me. Soaking will produce a lot of waste product that I do not want to hassle with proper disposal. This stuff is definitely potent and therefore should be taken care of with precautions. I don’t let the dog or kids (when they lived at home) near the spray area, but once it dries it is harmless. Cats are the exception—it can cause significant damage to their nervous systems when in solution but supposedly harmless after drying.
20170409_105914.jpgHere is a quick video of the treatment of one side of a shirt:

Bonding/Drying

I have found that Permethrin dries relatively quickly—within the 2 to 4 hour time frame they suggest. I do question the effectiveness of it bonding to water repellent clothes and don’t usually treat those. You can see in the photos below that it beads up more on my water repellent pants than my standard hiking ones.
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I also have treated my tent in the past, but stopped doing that for the same reason. Although Sawyer suggests tent treatment as an option, I am not confident that the water repelling nature of the tent would allow for effective bonding, or longevity. Seems like a lot of work when bug netting could be put into play!

Effectiveness

Sawyer Permethrin is the only tick repellent I use in both my profession and recreation. After years of being covered with DEET and still finding ticks all over me, Permethrin pre-treated clothes have drastically reduced this occurrence. On the odd day at work when I go in the field without pre-treated clothes I can immediately tell the difference. It’s like they have been waiting for me to slip up!

While I still get the occasional tick crawling round, it is difficult to tell how many were repelled by the Sawyer Permethrin treatment. I have watched on a lunch break as a tick has crawled onto my shirt and then slowly curled up and died (I shouldn’t have enjoyed watching that so much but I hate the little critters—and I forgot to film it!). 

I cannot stress enough how much this has helped me in my work, as well as backpacking. I have had days in the field when you had to look down every other step to brush ticks off your pants, but that isn’t needed with Permethrin. It’s not fool-proof, but it’s the next best thing.

Longevity

I have found that Sawyer Permethrin becomes less effective over time. Sawyer claims it will last at least 6 washings, but they specify it should be done delicately. I tend to throw all my stuff in together and therefore don’t follow the washing instructions well, which likely leads to the reduced effectiveness over time. I will try to use it every other month during high tick season and more often if I am out more.

This obviously depends on your varied use, but when I tracked it tightly a couple of years ago (kept a running log of number of washings since treatment) I found that I wanted to reapply after 4 or 5 laundry cycles. Again, I bet it would last longer if you actually followed their washing instructions!

Alternatives

There are multiple alternatives, but the primary competition is Permethrin impregnated clothes, sending your clothes to a service to have Permethrin impregnated into them, or mixing your own solution. As mentioned, I prefer not to handle the concentrated stuff so don’t mind the expense of the Sawyer pre-mixed solution. I also prefer to pick my own clothes out, so don’t usually opt for the ones that have Permethrin integrated into the manufacturing. 

Sending clothes off for this also seems like an effort and extra cost compared to the ease of spraying my preferred clothing occasionally. However, clothes professionally manufactured and treated are likely to last longer.
20170409_104341.jpgStrength

I have seen recommendations to increase the concentration of the at-home solutions, but find the 0.5% Sawyer strength perfectly suitable. As mentioned above, I spend a lot of time in tick habitat and have seen dozens of seed ticks (nymphs) and others crawling on my legs in the past. Sawyer Permethrin has stopped that from occurring.

Is it 100% guaranteed? No. But it beats pulling ticks out of you—something I had to do on a regular basis after work, which I seldom have to do now.

Conclusions:

Overall I feel that there is no easier or better treatment to prevent ticks. If you don’t use this, then consider making your own, buying tick repellent clothing, or sending your clothes off to get treated. You don’t want Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, or any of the other issues that ticks can cause!

pillowthread

Great review. I feel compelled to say that if you're going to go through the trouble of donning gloves and a mask, one will get a longer-lasting result (near-permanent) buying a quart of the 10%-concentrated permethrin sold at tack stores and the like, dilluting that to .7% in a large bucket, and soaking clothing thusly. Treat three times the clothing, and it lasts 50 washings.


12 days ago
pillowthread

Oh, and that's for the same price.


12 days ago
FlipNC

I know that is an option and mentioned it in the review. I don't like messing with the more concentrated formula...personal preference...and then I have to figure out how to dispose of the solution. The premixed spray is the lazy way put for me!


12 days ago
Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

Great review, Phil! And it's also an excellent reminder to go treat some of my spring running/hiking gear soon.


12 days ago
LoneStranger

No matter where you hear folks talking about permethrin there will always be some who suggest using the horse version. Myself, I say neigh ;) Nice review Phil.


12 days ago
FlipNC

Always horsing around LS!


10 days ago
pillowthread

I wouldn't say the spray-on method it's the lazy way, Phil. It is a good option. I understand when you speak of disposing the remnants, which is why I prefer the soak method; in this way I can better control where it ends up, not worrying about overspray/backspray coating everything around me.


10 days ago
FlipNC

What do you do with the remaining solution? That has been a reservation for me going that route.


9 days ago
Old Guide

I use it and also find it works. I use Deet for skeeters at the same time


7 days ago
Joseph Renow

Great review Phil!...pillow hasn't answered yet...but since I soak too (I find the soak application more controlled as well) I imagine his answer is something like "I usually have very little unused fluid because I do large/heavier items like pants first and work my way down to small/light items like socks and bandanas...by the time I get to the small items there is very little liquid remaining which I store in a plastic bottle with a good lid for next year.


6 days ago

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