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Reviews > Health & Safety > Insect Repellents > REI Jungle Juice > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

REI Jungle Juice 100 Insect Repellent
By Raymond Estrella
July 08, 2007


NAME: Raymond Estrella
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Huntington Beach 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 brother-in-law Dave or fiancée Jenn.

The Product

Manufacturer: Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI)
Web site:
Product: Jungle Juice 100 Insect Repellent
Product number: 738782
Years manufactured: 1992 to 2006
MSRP: US $5.50
Volume listed (ingredient only): 2.5 fl oz (74 ml)

Product Description

Courtesy of REIREI Jungle Juice 100 is a DEET based insect repellent. It contains 98 % DEET with the other 2 % being inert ingredients.

DEET was developed by the United States Army, following its experience of jungle warfare, hence the name "Jungle Juice". It entered military use in 1946 and civilian use in 1957. DEET is believed to work by blocking insect receptors (notably those which detect carbon dioxide and lactic acid) which are used to locate hosts. DEET effectively blinds the insect's senses so the biting/feeding instinct is not triggered.

DEET is an effective solvent which can damage some plastics, rayon, spandex, other synthetic fabrics and leather; it does not damage natural fibers, such as cotton or wool, and is said to have no effect on nylon. (More on this later.)

REI's Jungle Juice comes in a 2.5 oz (74 ml) plastic bottle as seen to the side (picture courtesy of REI). The bottle has a screw off cap, which when removed uncovers the small hole that lets the product come out. The actual opening is only about 3/16 in (4 mm) wide to keep from over applying the product.

It is said to repel mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas, gnats and ticks.

Field Conditions

I have been using the REI Jungle Juice 100 for over 15 years. I even have one of the 1992 or '93 bottles in Minnesota right now. From the south up it has been carried and used in the following parks and forests.

Cleveland National Forest, San Jacinto Wilderness, Mount San Jacinto State Park, San Bernardino National Forest, Joshua Tree National Park, San Gorgonio Wilderness, Death Valley National Park, Sequoia National Forest, Sequoia National Park, Domeland Wilderness, Kings Canyon National Park, Inyo National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness, Jenny Lakes Wilderness, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra National Forest, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. (Whew)

Elevations have ranged from below sea level to at least 14000' (4300 m) and temperatures on the trips have been from below freezing to 120 F (49 C)


I am kind of a health nut. I do not like chemicals. But I also do not like being bitten by bugs, and with the increasing occurrence of diseases like Lyme and West Nile, I am even more interested in keeping the biting insects at bay. Hence my long time association with REI's Jungle Juice 100.

I have tried a lot of insect repellents in my many years of hiking. I have even found one I like much better than the Jungle Juice. But its narrow window of effectiveness keeps me coming back to the Jungle Juice.

Let me say what I do not like about the Jungle Juice first. I can not stand the smell of it. I have never got used to the smell of it. I can even smell it when I go into our gear room, and I keep my bottles in plastic bags.

I hate the feel of it. It is very oily feeling. I will not even apply it unless there is water nearby to get it off my hands before I have to pick my trekking poles back up. I will even use precious drinking water rather than be stuck with it on my hands until I find a water source.

It is said to be a solvent. I am here to say that it is a very good solvent. I have two bottles of it here in California. Dave has one on his side of the gear room. All of them were unusable for pictures because the words have been dissolved off by the DEET.

On a trip to do the John Muir Trail I made a wild run to where we needed to pick up our permit, then to Yosemite to meet Dave and his dad, then back south. I was driving up and down all that day over the mountains and passes. Dave had put a bottle of Jungle Juice in my pack, but had forgotten to put it in a bag. Towards the end of our first day I went to use it and found that the constant elevation change had caused the bottle to leak. The DEET ate the end of my compact camera tripod, and worse was eating a hole in my pack. The material of my Mountainsmith Auspex was melting. I washed it out at the stream I was by. (I did say that I try to always be near water, right?)

What makes me keep using it? Two words. It works! Always. Without fail.

I have been attacked by swarms of aggressive mosquitoes that stayed on me while I was smashing them, they were so hungry. I slather on the Jungle Juice and watch them buzz around me impotently. Sorry suckers…

I have even used it on my hair to keep mosquitoes from biting my head. But I always rinse it back out before I hit the sleeping bag for the night. (This was before I started wearing a Permethrin treated hat.)

I hike in shorts most of the time and am always forgetting to watch for ticks, which we have a lot of. I remember once my legs are crawling with the clingy little things. One application of the Jungle Juice and they literally fall back off by climbing to the end of a leg hair and letting go. "Goodbye cruel appendage."

In Sequoia National Forest I had so many little black flies in my face that I was breathing them in. I tried cutting a pine branch to wave it in front of me while I hiked to keep them away. Finally I put a good amount of Jungle Juice on my hands and rubbed it into the brim (top and bottom) of my hat. It worked to keep them far enough away to where I could walk without eating flies. The same is true for gnats, they will not land when the Juice is on, but they still hover as close as they can.

It works well on deer flies, which inflict a painful burning bite and seem to be able to do it upon landing. But good ol' horse flies are the only thing I have seen that can land on my treated leg and take a big bite.

I have learned not to take the Jungle Juice 100 in the stock bottle. For some reason they just will not seal tight. I have poured smaller portions in a variety of containers, although they do not seem to be able to restrain the potent potion either. At least I am not carrying the whole bottle. As little as it takes to protect me it is crazy to take more than about a half ounce (15 ml) on a week long trip.

REI does offer it in a pump-spray bottle also, but I have never used that version.

In conclusion I can say that I have a love/hate relationship with the REI Jungle Juice. And since it does its intended job so well I am sure that I will continue the relationship for some time to come.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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