Family Handyman Approved: Ranger Ready Repellent

Updated: Nov. 13, 2023

Check out the buzz surrounding this DEET-free, Family Handyman Approved insect repellent.

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It seems like clockwork. Every spring, I read countless articles in local publications signaling a record year for some fill-in-the-blank pest. This year in Minnesota, articles warned of record mosquito and tick populations in the northern half of our state.

With summer looming, I heard of a new insect repellent that sounded intriguing. So I grabbed a three-pack of Ranger Ready Repellent for a long weekend with my family in lake country.

What is Ranger Ready Repellent?

Ranger Ready Repellent is an insect repellent that uses picaridin, rather than the neurotoxin DEET, as its active ingredient.  Picaridin is a safer yet equally effective alternative to DEET, which originated from the same group of plants that produce black pepper.

Unlike DEET, picaridin can be safely applied directly to the skin. It’s recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for adults (including pregnant women) and children at least one year old.

A single application of Ranger Ready with 20 percent picaridin has been proven effective against a long list of pests including mosquitos, ticks, biting flies, chiggers, gnats and sand flies for up to 12 hours.

Best yet, picaridin is not a plasticizer like DEET. So it won’t break down elastic, leather, rubber, plastic, paint, or vinyl on your clothing or outdoor gear.

How We Tested It

For the last six Memorial Day weekends, our entire extended family has made its way to a couple of cabins in Minnesota’s North Woods. This year, the bug report was really bad. A mild winter and lots of spring moisture contributed to large amounts of mosquitos, gnats and ticks. I packed the car and headed north with plenty of Ranger Ready to test.

There were a few questions I hoped to answer about Ranger Ready Repellent.  Was it as effective as DEET? How did the Ranger Ready feel when applied onto your skin? Does it have a potent or off-putting scent?

Fh22d Approved Ranger Ready Repellent 05 19 003 Family Handyman Approved Ranger Ready Repellent With PicaridinFamily Handyman

Performance Review

When we pulled onto the winding dirt road that leads to the cabin, something felt eerie. At the neighboring cabins, there were few people out and about conversing, playing yard games or fishing from the dock. After parking in the driveway and opening the door of our cabin, I knew why. It was true. The mosquitos were horrendous.

After carrying in the first load, I paused a few times to swing at those bloodsuckers. I cracked open my backpack and tried dousing every square inch of my body with the Ranger Ready Repellent.

On my many remaining trips to the car, I was pleasantly surprised by how effectively this product handled the constant barrage of incoming mosquitos. The bugs found a few spots I inadequately covered, but the remaining five loads netted only three or four solid bites. The first trip alone left me with a dozen or more.

Ranger Ready comes in many scents, and randomly I ended up with the “Ranger Orange.”  It smells pleasant and citrusy, in no way chemically ridden or overpowering.  I appreciate the Ranger Ready bottle has a pump, so there’s no lingering cloud of repellent as you apply.  The Ranger Ready spray also felt soft and dry on my clothes and skin.

Ranger Ready vs. DEET

On the last day of our weekend, my father-in-law and I decided to be brave and play a round of golf.  Before we could even get to the first tee, a course employee warned us about the gnats on the upcoming wooded holes.

I fished the familiar, grass-green DEET-filled aerosol can from my golf bag and decided to test the repellents head-to-head. I covered one arm and leg with that stuff, and the other with Ranger Ready. The gnats stayed away for the most part, and no side of my body seemed better protected than another.

At the end of the day, both sprays proved equally effective. But the Ranger Ready stood out for its feel on my skin, pleasant nontoxic smell, and its overall safer use.

Why You Should Buy This

If you’re looking for an effective bug spray that’s non-toxic and gentle enough for even the smallest members of your family, Ranger Ready Repellent is the one for you!  It comes in different scents, sizes and package designs, so you can easily find one to take wherever your next pest-filled adventure may be.

Where to Buy

Ranger Ready Picaridin 20 Percent Deet Free Insect Repellent Ecomm Walmart.comvia merchant

Ranger Ready Repellent and other Ranger Ready products are available at Walmart, Target, Amazon and

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