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Chris Townsend is a world-leading authority on outdoor gear. In his weekly column, he assesses new innovations and tests exclusive early samples of new kit. This week he examines essential sun and insect protection for the summer months


In recent days I’ve had to deal with two of the potential hazards of summer – sunshine and midges. Now the first is always welcome but only if you avoid sunburn. The second is never welcome but sometimes unavoidable. Protection against both can come from tightly-woven clothing but even if you go for full-body cover plus a wide-brimmed hat there will always be some exposed skin and for that you need sunscreen and insect repellent. The latter will also protect against ticks too. There are many options for each in many different containers, most of them larger than needed unless you’re out for many days.

Care Plus makes both sun protection and anti-insect products – I reviewed its Anti Tick spray last September. For this year the company has combined a number of these products in a Travel Set that comes in a resealable plastic bag. There are five 15ml bottles – Anti-Insect DEET Spray 40%, Anti-Insect Natural Spray (lemon eucalyptus), Insect SOS Spray for after stings and bites, 30 SPF Sun Protection, and After Sun Spray. The whole package weighs 134 grams. Each individual bottle just 25 grams.

The small size of the bottles means they can easily be tucked into a tiny corner of the pack. I’ve been carrying the Sun Protection and Anti-Insect Natural sprays for several weeks and have used both occasionally. On a longer trip I might carry the SOS and After Sun ones as well. I don’t like using DEET so I’d leave that one behind. The idea of having both types of insect repellent is that the natural one is suitable for children aged 3 months and older and DEET isn’t. In that case though why not just have the natural one? Even so, I think this is a good set because of the small size of the bottles.

While on the subject of midges a reminder of Netspex, which I reviewed last year (see here). I’ve been using this head net again and the glasses do make a big difference. One correspondent did comment that the closeness of the net around the edge of the glasses enabled midges to bit there but this isn’t a problem I’ve had and I’m prepared to take the risk of it happening for the visibility Netspex gives.

Care Plus Travel Set  £13.99

Netspex  £22.50