One of the basic truths about any kind of camping, including river trip camping, is the presence of bugs. Particularly those pesky little critters that make us miserable, mosquitoes.
I’ve been on many camping trips where I’ve been forced into a tent or had to bathe in insect repellent to avoid their pesky little bites. How many times have you laid awake slapping at your face as mosquito’s high pitched buzzing kept you hopping?
Besides the obvious repellents and mosquito nets, the best way I’ve found to avoid mosquitoes, especially on a river trip is so simple you’ll laugh: stay out of the woods.
That’s it, that’s the big secret, avoid the shady woods. Set up your river camp on the beach near the river. You’ll effectively cut down 95 percent of mosquito activity.
When I was river guiding, clients would constantly choose a nice looking sleeping spot up in the woods above the river. Even though we’d counsel against it, for some reason (maybe it’s human nature) they wanted to be as high as possible…searching for the high rent district I guess.
It wouldn’t be long though, before those campers would be moving back to the beach sometimes in the middle of the night, forced from their chosen spot by the constant bites and buzzes of mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes hang out where they’ve got the most chance of scoring a meal. In the great outdoors the woods are full of mammals. The rivers’ edge doesn’t have nearly the opportunities. Also the heat of the day is easily avoided in the shady woods. The occasional human camping near the river isn’t enough to warrant a move from the forest.
Of course if you’re sleeping outside near the river and you turn on your headlamp for a bit of reading, you’re going to attract all kinds of bugs including mosquitoes. That’s why I always have an inexpensive mosquito net in my bag. They’re light, easy to pack and will keep the dive bombing moths and mosquitoes out.
You won’t find nearly as many mosquitoes on river trips as you will on back packing trips because you’re not in the woods. Some rivers, however, are swampy with stagnant water. Those kinds of rivers are going to have mosquitoes wherever you go. When it’s like that…Deet’s the answer.