How Can I Guard Against Ticks?

I work outdoors in some serious deer tick habitat. I saw that Outdoor Research makes the pre-treated BugOut gaiters. Do your recommend them, or do you have any other suggestions for staying tick free?

The prairie might look innocuous, but you'd be a fool to ford its grasses sans protective gear.     Photo: Marilena/Flickr

A:Ticks used to be a minor annoyance but they’ve become a serious health hazard in your area, the northeast. With their ability to carry and transmit Lyme disease, you're smart to take serious counter-measures.

I'd investigate ExOfficio's line of clothing that is treated with a Permethrin-based bug-repellent called InsectShield®. Their BugsAway Zima Convertible Pant ($99) will keep ticks and other insects off you for as many as 70 washings. And with a lightweight nylon fabric that’s tough, dries fast, and protects from the sun, they’re also useful as trekking pants. (And they convert to shorts, although that may not be much of a feature in tick country.)

ExOfficio BugsAway Ziwa Pant   Photo: Courtesy of ExOfficio

The Outdoor Research BugOut Gaiters ($45) you mention are also a great idea. Like the Ex Officio pants, they're treated with Permethrin to repel ticks and other bugs. Plus, the gaiters themselves are lightweight and durable, and will help keep dirt and rocks out of your boots.

Outdoor Research BugOut Gaiters   Photo: Courtesy of Outdoor Research

Otherwise, take the standard precautions: Make sure all pant cuffs and shirttails are well tucked-in and avoid knee-high vegetation, which is where ticks hang out. When you wash your outdoor clothing, make sure to dry on moderately high heat. Ticks are hard to drown, but heat and dryness will kill them. And, of course, give yourself a thorough self-exam at the end of each day. Good luck!

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