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Reviews > Health & Safety > Insect Repellents > Cutter Advanced insect repellent > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent
By Raymond Estrella
August 13, 2006


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.

The Product

Manufacturer: Spectrum Brands, Inc.
Web site:
Product: Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent
Year manufactured: 2005/06
Volume listed (ingredient only): 6 fl oz (177 ml)

Cutter Advanced

Product Description

Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent (hereafter referred as Cutter’s) is a personal insect repellent that is based on the active ingredient Picaridin. The bottles that I have say that they contain 7% Picaridin and 93% “other ingredients”.

Mine came in the blue spray-pump bottle shown above. The front label claims that it “repels mosquitoes, chiggers, biting flies, no-see-ums, gnats and fleas.

The back label contains directions for use which are as follows. “Hold 4 to 6 inches from skin while spraying. Slightly moisten skin. Reapply every 3 to 4 hours. Excessive amounts or more frequent reapplication should be unnecessary. Do not apply more than 3 times a day.”

It also lists a bunch of precautionary statements (including that it is flammable, cool) and disposal information.

The following are some of the company’s marketing points about it, I will comment on them later.

*Odorless – No chemical odor and no added fragrance.
*Feels light and clean on your skin.
*It will not harm plastics or other synthetic materials.
And the one of extreme interest to me,
*Cutter Advanced can be used by the entire family.

Field Conditions

I have used this repellent outside of Palm Springs on the Pacific Crest Trail and the Skyline Trail. It has been with me on a 108 F (42 C) hike along the Kern River and up to then down the Rincon Trail. It has been used a lot in the Domeland Wilderness and the surrounding Sequoia National Forest where I took four backpacking trips and a camping trip in 2005. It saw a lot of use in Kings Canyon along Bubb’s Creek and the Kings River. I have used it in my regular local stomping grounds around Mounts San Jacinto and San Gorgonio.


I first read about Picaridin and its use in Europe early in 2005. A friend forwarded me a link to a press release from Spectrum Brands that said they were cleared to begin sales of Cutter’s Advanced, a Picaridin-based repellent in spring and I immediately started trying to find it here in California but was not able to. I found it in Minnesota on one of my monthly trips and brought a bottle back to begin trying it out.

I have always used 100% DEET for my backpacking trips and am quite satisfied in its level of protection. What I do not like about it is the oily feeling that it leaves on me, and I can not stand the odor of it. The fact that it ruins clothes is a strike against it also because there are situations that I have to put it on my clothes as the mosquitoes were biting through my shirt and pants.

So the fact that it claimed to be clothes-safe, odorless and non-greasy was attractive to me. The smell when it is first applied is kind of like rubbing alcohol. The odor goes away within a minute or so. It dries on my skin very fast and leaves no residue.

California had a record-breaking winter and spring for snow and rain fall amounts that year and the insect population was a hungry buzzing testimony to the fact. It was the worst year for bugs that I have ever seen. On one trip I opened my truck door at my Big Meadow trail head in Domeland and was attacked inside of the vehicle immediately. I received about four bites by the time I could get the Cutter’s out of the side pocket of my Vapor Trail pack and squirt myself down. But the result after doing so was instant relief from bites. They hovered about a foot (30 cm) away from me whining with the frustration of a meal denied.

A month after that trip I brought my six-year old twins Emma and Raymond to California for their first real camping trip. We stayed at a beautiful remote campground in Sequoia National Forest that I had found while driving to one of the Domeland hikes. As a creek ran through it (see below) I knew that the insects would be bad and I wanted the kids to be protected and comfortable. Since I had been experiencing good results with the Cutter’s Advanced I brought a bottle with us. My sister and her family came also. They brought 3 different kinds of “Natural” insect repellent from a health food store.

Kids in creek

The bugs were horrendous. Besides mosquitoes we were also assaulted by deer flies and horse flies. I sprayed my children and myself with the Cutter’s and we happily set up camp. Within a couple of hours my sister’s kids were getting eaten alive. Her four girls all hit my Cutter’s and finally as the afternoon wore on Jennifer admitted defeat and asked to use it. We spent three days there and were very happy that we had the Cutter’s along.

Rather than take the big bottle on my hikes I pour an ounce (30 ml) into the little spray bottle seen in the first picture. This will get me through a few days of hiking. It works very well but…(Beware the backpackers “but”.)

Unfortunately it does not last as long as I would like to see. If I am sweating hard I have noticed it wearing off in two to three hours. And as they recommend applying it no more than three times I will run out of coverage before my days mileage is put in. Needless to say I ignore the warning and reapply as I need to. Because of this I am still taking the 100% DEET on trips over four days in duration. I hope that Cutter can figure a way to boost the effective time.

Another thing that I do not like for backpacking is the spray application. It works great for the children. But I find it difficult to spray myself sometimes. And I’ll be danged if I am going to ask Dave to spray me. It sounds too much like a scene from Bokeback Mountain. “Hey cowboy, it sure is buggy today. Get my back?”

I also think that a lot of the product is wasted especially if there is even a gentle breeze blowing. I think that this year I am going to try hand applying it and see how that works. It will continue to have a spot on the shelf and I hope that further improvements will be forthcoming.

Pros: No smell, works good, no residue, safe for kids and clothes
Cons: Does not last as long as I would like, spray application wasteful

Kids at play
Here are some happy bug-free kids. Cutter is on the table

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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