The best way to protect yourself when you are outdoors is a two step process. The first step is to apply a deet based lotion to your exposed skin. Sawyer has a few offerings with deet concentration ranging from 20% to 100%. For direct skin contact you’ll want to stick with the 20% concentration. The next step is to apply a repellant containing Permethrin to your clothing, gear, sleeping bag, etc. Both Sawyer and Coulston offer insect repellant containing Permethrin.
What is so special about Permethrin? It chemically bonds itself to the fabric it’s applied to when it drys. Once applied to your clothing you have a few weeks worth of protection from chiggers, ticks, mosquitoes, mites, and a bunch of other critters. What’s even better is it doesn’t wash off in the rain.
Your American Backyard carries both Coulston and Sawyer brands along with Repel and Cutter. Once the main site goes live you’ll be able to order them right here.
The best stuff I ever used was standard mil spec. 100% DEET. I used it for geology field trips in the Adirondacks. It's the only thing I've ever used that kept the blackflies at bay. It also melted the color off of every one of my colored pencils so I can't vouch that it isn't toxic, just that it repels bugs.
As far as the best bug repellent I know of, there are two of them.
Organic form - Find the nearest cow pasture and collect the dried out "cow chips". When ready to put out the repellent, place chips in a pile and light fire to them. They will burn a bit but then smolder the rest of the evening keeping away the mosquito's.This really works as my Father used them during our cook outs in the summer. Don't fret the smell!! Its like smelling hay in a barn.
Deet- free arm bracelets (Coleman product) -You can find these in Walmart, K-Mart and most any store that sells the "Coleman" products. They are the coiled arm bracelets that glow in the dark and come in different strengths for children and adults(color-coded).They keep mosquito's and other bugs away from you up to 25 feet radius.They do work well as I purchased a bracelet for each one of our girl scouts when we went on a week end camping trip. The best thing about the bracelets are that they are Deet- free which enables those with allergies to be able to wear them. The cost runs $1.99 - $2.19 each. Try them out, there great