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Camera + DEET = No

Camera + DEET = No

You’ve got that once in a lifetime trip booked and are looking forward to taking some incredible photos. Camera gear’s all ready to go, but then wait, what’s that being packed? DEET? Jungle Strength? Good bye nice looking camera!

If you haven’t had to use strong DEET before, you may not be aware that it’s particularly good at eating plastic. Once applied, mixed with sweat, it tends to get everywhere, which unfortunately also means all over your gear.

Don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to end up with a small pile of melted plastic that has a vague hint of camera appearance left, but you will notice that some of the labels around your buttons start to disappear, the grip tape starts to be less grippy, and in some reported cases your finger print is burned in to the shutter button.

With a trip to Kenya coming up, and having had the above happen to me on a previous camera, I wasn’t prepared to let this happen to my new gear. Not being properly protected against mosquitos in a malarial region is not an option. Just to be absolutely clear, do not forgo protection in aid of camera longevity.

So, I started to do some research, asking around a lot of my travel buddies to see if anyone knew of alternatives.

After a while I compiled a list of products to keep me protected day and night:

First up, clothing. I wanted something that was light weight, offered a high SPF factor and had mosquito repellency protection. I looked at many options, but by far the best choice was the Nosilife range by Craghoppers. A shirt, long sleeve, hat and cargo trousers were duly purchased

Next, anti-malarials. Last time I had travelled to an at risk zone, I took chloroquine and proguanil – the cheapest option. This involves taking one pill a day for two weeks before your trip, every day of your trip, then 4 weeks when you come home, along with a bigger pill once a week. They were hideous. I have never felt so sick in all my life and hated that feeling of knowing that I had to take it. A new option was needed and found in the truly brilliant Malarone. The license for this has expired now, so the price has come right down. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not free at about £60 for a 10 day trip, but this is 100% money well spent. 1 tablet a day for one day before, the trip and one week when back. No sickness feeling at all. Highly recommended!

Last up, the DEET alternative. DEET really does own the market. Its effectiveness has been known and proven for many years, however it’s pretty nasty stuff. Not something you want to keep applying to your skin in high quantities.  After a LOT of research I found a new product called Ecogaurd extreme. It’s completely DEET free and uses Icaridin as the active ingredient. This has been approved by the World Health Organisation to be as, if not more, effective than DEET at lower concentrations. The best bit, as indeed the reason for this post, is that it is completely plastic friendly. With all this in mind, I bought a bottle to try, but of course packed DEET – just in case.

Taking the usual, obvious precautions, i’m pleased to report that I didn’t suffer a single mosquito bite, malaria ridden or otherwise. The Ecoguard was fantastic. It’s applied with a non-aerasol pump spray, rubbing in really easily. No greasy or oily residue and smelt a bit like CK One! It felt so much better on the skin than DEET and most importantly left my camera gear completely in tact.