Insect Repellent Clothing For Africa

Page Updated: Mar 2024

Do you really need an insect repellent clothing for hunting in Africa?

Insect repellent clothing are an extra level of protection from biting insects which may be useful for hunting particularly in malarial areas, thick bush, swamps and rainforests or if you are generally very attractive to insects or get bad bite reactions.

Insect repellent clothing can do the job in one of two ways...

  • Garments made with material impregnated with an insect repellent such as permethrin OR
  • Garments constructed with mesh to create a physical barrier against insects, which may or may not be impregnated with insect repellent.

Proprietary Brand Clothing Pre-Treated With Permethrin

Permethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide which is an insecticide rather than repellent - it kills insects after they land on your clothing and hopefully before they bite and an insect repellent which deters insects from landing on you before biting. Read more on insect repellents for Africa.

The most common proprietary brands of insect repellent used in the manufacture of clothing are Insect Shield and Nosilife.. However more companies are getting into the market as insect repellent and fabric bonding technology advances.

They both work in much the same way - bonding a permethrin formula to the garment fibres which mask the human odours that are so attractive to insects. The pre-treated garments are odourless and protect against mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and flies. They are said to 'permanently' retain the repellent properties at least for 70 wash cycles or the natural life of the garment. Just do not dry clean the item.

Bear in mind only the skin surface covered with the permethrin-treated clothing is protected from insects. Other exposed parts of the body need an insect repellent applied directly on the skin for more complete protection.

Mosquito Sandfly


Insect Shield

'Insect Shield' is one of the registered proprietary companies which binds a proprietary permethrin formula to fabric fibers which results in effective, odourless insect protection that lasts the expected lifetime of the garment (or 70 washes). 'Insect Shield' repellent clothing has been tested, proven and registered to repel mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and flies.

So the options are that you can buy clothing already made with 'Insect Shield' fabric, you can spray your own clothes with Insect Shied's own product, Insect Shield Permethrin Spray or you can even send your clothes, either a few garments or all your safari clothing, to Insect Shield to be treated and returned to you.


This is a little confusing ... 'NosiLife' is the name given by Craghoppers to their fabric insect repellent in their 'NosiLife' range of clothing. However, the product used is permethrin from 'Insect Shield' technology and the garments are sold as having 'Insect Shield' protection in the USA. In Europe, Craghoppers say "this technology falls under the 'NosiLife' brand name which can appear on some of our products in the US".

So it appears 'NosiLife' is actually 'Insect Shield' but is being marketed as a plant-based repellent, which Insect Shield technically is not, as it is a synthetic version of a chemical produced naturally by the chrysanthemum flower. Just when you thought it could not get more confusing, there appears to be a 'new Nosilife' feature which stops insects landing on your clothing with additional body "odor elimination" "from a plant-based renewable source". The active repellent ingredient is Eucalyptus Citriodora Oil which is also known as Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE)is the active repellent ingredient in NosiLife clothing. which is approved by the European Biocides Product Regulation (BPR) 528/2012/EU. There is no mention of the names of the third-party specialist entomology facilities and analytical companies who tested this product.

But What About A Tsetse Fly Repellent?

You are out of luck here...No insecticide or repellent, on clothes or not, seem to work to reliably deter the tsetse fly and nothing has changed since this 1989 study Evaluations of permethrin-impregnated clothing and three topical repellent formulations of deet against tsetse flies in Zambia. So the best that can be expected from permethrin impregnated clothing is 34% reduction of tsetse fly bites for the untreated and exposed skin of head and hands.

When the tsetse flies are really bad, only olive-coloured, permethrin-treated mesh over-garments reduced the tsetse biting rate by 75%. (See above study).

Tsetse Fly

Insect Repellent Clothes For African Hunting - Any Good?

  • If you are a 'mosquito-magnet' or have always been particularly bothered by insects, you may find some relief by wearing insect repellent clothing.
  • Wearing all your insect repellent clothing in the evening is recommended for mosquito protection in malarial areas and wearing insect repellent pants and socks while out hunting should do the job for ticks. Just one word of caution on some brand name insect repellent pants - many of them are made of synthetic fabric which can be noisy when you are trying to stalk quietly. Most hunters prefer to wear cotton garments so may like to pre-treat their clothes with a permethrin spray or soaking solution.
  • Also these types of synthetic garments must not be ironed because the fabric will melt. Make sure the laundry person in your hunting camp knows this because just about every item of clothing in Africa gets ironed. Why? Read more...
  • Certainly, insect repellent clothing is a very good idea if you are going to hunt in a malarial area of Africa and want to take a 'belt and braces' approach to your anti-insect bite precautions.

All Insect Repellent Clothing

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