The Original Bug Shirt. Handcrafted in Canada, helping people enjoy the outdoors since 1991.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the differences between the colours of fabric?

Light colours attract less biting insects so we offer off-white and sandstone. However, many bird-watchers, photographers, hunters and fishers are looking for more camouflage and this is why we also offer the camo and ivy green. All shirts, regardless of colour, offer 100% protection.


Why isn’t your shirt all mesh?

Mesh is mostly holes between the woven or knit fibers. Consequently anywhere the mesh is in contact with your skin, mosquitoes in particular have easy access to your blood supply. We use a specially constructed high density protective fabric (either cotton or polyester), which mosquitoes are not able to penetrate, because it eliminates the need to wear extra clothing underneath in order to be protected. It is also more comfortable since mesh can be quite abrasive against bare skin. It is usually warm when biting insects are active so we use the mesh just for ventilation providing ultimate protection as well as cool comfort.

Is there a difference in the protective capability of the different fabrics you use?

Effectively, no. Before using any new fabric we not only test it ourselves amongst the biting hoards, but we also have it tested in a laboratory environment to determine the degree to which it can be penetrated by mosquitoes.

In tests, the microfibre was not penetrated at all by mosquitoes. With the 100% cotton, two mosquitoes were observed to penetrate the material in a ten minute period, as compared to the tester receiving 101 bites in 5 minutes on unprotected skin. That equates to approximately 99% effectiveness.

How do I choose between the cotton and the polyester?

This is a tough one to answer. As far as effectiveness goes, they both offer the same basic degree of protection from bites. The density of the weave is approximately the same, so the sun protection factor and durability are pretty much the same.

The main difference between the two fabrics is their moisture absorbency. The cotton is more absorbent, so on those hot sweaty days you may find the cotton fabric absorbs your sweat more, potentially making your skin feel a little drier. The down side of this is that the shirt is then damper. The polyester is less absorbent and consequently quicker drying, so if you’re caught in a downpour while out paddling, you are going to dry off faster in the polyester than you would in the cotton.

Also, the polyester does not show stains as much as the cotton, and there is no shrinkage in the polyester, compared to a shrinkage factor of about 3% in the body and sleeve length for the cotton. The polyester washes up well, whereas the cotton will look a little wrinkly.

The differences are minimal, and it really comes down to what you like the feel of on your skin. The polyester does not have a plasticky feel to it – it has quite a soft hand.

What are the differences between the “Elite Edition” and the “Original Style”?

The “Elite Edition” shirt contains several improvements over the “Original Style” that we felt made it a better product. The most significant of these is the placement of the zipper on the face mesh, which we moved from the lower edge of the face mesh to the top edge and put two sliders on it. This means that you can open the face mesh just a bit, to look through binoculars, or to eat or drink, without exposing your neck and head to the bugs. It is actually closer from the top edge of the mesh to your mouth than from the lower edge. You also have the option of moving the zipper sliders down approximately in line with your ears, and then tucking the face mesh under your chin. This lets you have your face exposed – obviously when the bugs are not too bad! – but you know they won’t be crawling in your hair or biting the back of your neck!

We also added an adjusting cord to the back of the hood, so that if you find the hood falls too far forward on your face and blocks your peripheral vision, you have the option of pulling it back and locking it in place, to tailor it for your particular head size or neck length.

We added a knit cuff at the wrist, as well as the adjustable elastic cords, so it makes a better seal around your wrist to keep out crawling things. And we changed the shape of the sleeve a little so it does give you a slightly higher degree of protection against mosquitoes at the elbow, since there is less chance of the mesh contacting your skin.

Will your clothing stand up to hard use, like an extended wilderness trip?

Yes!!! We are outdoor oriented people ourselves and really need durable outdoor clothing that is both functional and long lasting. This is another reason we use the high density protective fabric in most areas of the Shirt…mesh is more vulnerable to snagging, tearing, and other damage.

How well can you see through the face mesh?

Most people have no difficulty adjusting to looking through the mesh. Keep in mind that everyone will react differently to a meshed in hood. A small number of folks just can’t tolerate having their face enclosed.

Our feeling is that if the bugs are bad wherever you are (or where you are heading) then THE ORIGINAL BUG SHIRT will make your time a whole lot more enjoyable.

Do you always have to have the hood up and zipped shut?

If the bugs aren’t bad or if you’re frequently going from inside to outside it is really not necessary to be zipped in all the time. When they do get bad the hood is very quickly and easily pulled into place and zipped closed.

With the “Elite Edition” it is possible to open the zipper just a small amount without exposing your neck area. Then you can look freely through binoculars or cameras, see clearly to tie flies, eat, drink or anything else that you might want to expose your face for.

What do most people use this type of clothing for?

Just about anything done outdoors where biting insects are a problem. The most obvious uses are things like camping, hiking, canoeing, fishing, gardening etc. but we have many customers who carry our clothes when they travel abroad; field scientists, bird watchers, nature photographers, astronomers, as well as people who have reactions to bug bites and/or chemical repellents.

Also our protective clothing can help reduce the risk of contracting insect borne diseases, like encephalitis, lyme disease, West Nile virus, dengue fever, malaria etc.

Should I wear the Bug Pants over other pants or shorts, or would they be worn in place of regular pants?

There is no need to wear other pants or shorts underneath the bug pants. They work effectively over just your underwear. But if you want to, and they fit, go for it!

Does the stirrup on the Pants or Gaiters go under your shoe or just under your foot?

The stirrup is there to hold the pants down when you bend your knees, so there is no possibility of exposing skin to the biting insects when you are active. It should definitely be worn under your instep, inside your shoe. The stirrup elastic is going to wear through much too fast if you are walking on it, and wearing it over your shoe is not going to offer you the same protection from the bugs – there is still the chance that bugs or ticks might crawl up inside.

If I’m going to a country where insect born diseases are prevalent, and I’m taking my Original Bug Shirt, do I still have to get the shots and take the pills?

Yes!  Although we do an excellent job of protecting you there is always the possibility of getting bitten.  Get the shots, take the pills, and be sure!  Note:  When travelling to any country outside of the US and Canada it is best to consult your doctor for the necessary inoculations and preventative measures.  Your travel agent may also have information specific to your country of destination.

How do you know these things will work in some exotic location?

We would love to say we’ve been around the world testing but the sad fact is we have not.  Our customers however HAVE taken and used our products from the Arctic to the Amazon and from Africa to Australia.  The letters and reviews have been excellent.  See the STORIES section of this website.

Does your clothing protect against the sun?

The Shirts and Pants are both examples of UV protective clothing, protecting against both UVA and UVB.  The  solid fabrics actually block 98.9% of UVA and UVB.  That equates to an SPF factor of 90.9 (did you ever see that on your sun screen bottle?). The side mesh blocks 46.1% of UVA and UVB which is only equivalent to an SPF of 1.9, but the positioning of the mesh fabric means that the sunlight is not beating down directly on your skin through it.

Is the clothing light and easy to pack?

Yes.  Our fabrics are very dense but very light weight.  An example is that an Adult large sized Shirt or Pants weighs about 340 grams or 12 oz. (A pair of denim jeans would weigh around 550 grams or 19.3 oz.). Once you are in an area with biting insects we recommend you wear our clothes as much as possible.  We have designed all our clothing to be as comfortable as regular clothing so you can wear it all the time…even if the bugs aren’t out!

Is the clothing waterproof?

Waterproof…no, Bugproof…yes! Because we have built in ventilation in the form of mesh panels on the sides, the rain could come through these even if we did proof the solid fabric. So there really would be no point!

How long have you been in the blood protection business?

We made the first prototypes and started testing in 1989.

What if something happens to my Shirt (Pants, etc)? Do you repair them?

If there is a defect in any of our products we will replace it or refund the purchase price. We do not do repairs ourselves as the time and cost involved in shipping them back and forth between us seems excessive, especially when most communities have someone with the skills necessary to do the job.

If you get a tear in the mesh (this is the most vulnerable part) there are several ways to fix it. As a temporary measure, duct tape (one piece on the inside and one on the outside) works well, but doesn’t last through too many washings! It can be sewn closed (regular sewing thread) or patched (any fabric will do since it is not going to block too much of the ventilation – and will add character!) or if you prefer just call or email us for a piece of mesh fabric or indeed complete mesh panels to replace those torn. We have a series of photos of a repair job (replacement mesh panels) to help guide you through the process.

If I’m away from home (and my brochure and/or computer) is there any way to get in touch with you?

Our address and 800# are on our label which is sewn into the side seam of our Shirts and in the centre back seam of the Pants.

Does your clothing work against bees, wasps, and hornets?

We did not design the Shirts or Pants for use in defense against bees, wasps, etc. and so we have not conducted tests ourselves with the “stinging” insects.  However, we do supply bee keepers, and have several stories of the effectiveness of the shirts against the stinging beasties.

Which fabric is more durable?

Because both the 100% cotton and the breathable polyester are so densely woven, they are both very durable fabrics.  If you really want to get nit picky though, the polyester is probably ever so slightly more durable because it is not subject to rotting if left damp!

Which fabric is cooler?

Because the 100% cotton and the polyester are both breathable, and because the shirts are ventilated with mesh panels in the sides, there is very little to choose between them.  Because the cotton is more absorbent of moisture, it soaks up your sweat on those hot and humid days, so you may possibly feel marginally cooler, even though the shirt then becomes damper. The polyester is a quicker drying fabric, so that may make it more comfortable.

So like everything else in life you have to weigh up the pros and cons, and decide which is most important to you.

Are there any special instructions for washing your bug shirts and pants? Are they machine washable?

Yes, they are machine washable.  Just make sure the zippers are all closed (like you would washing anything with a zipper, so the teeth don’t get caught in the mesh) and wash in your regular cycle. Make sure there is nothing else in the load with open zippers, or hook velcro, which might get caught in the mesh.

We DO recommend HANGING TO DRY rather than drying in a dryer. They are quick drying anyway, and unless you know your dryer and can set it on a low heat setting, you don’t want to run the risk of it getting too hot, or it will tend to make the mesh brittle over time.

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