Ben’s Max insect repellent review

You only need to use this effective but pricey Ben's Max spray sparingly to ward off insects – great for hiking

Ben's Max
(Image: © Ben's Max)

Advnture Verdict

A hardworking, highly effective, all-American DEET-laced spray offering all-day protection – but use sparingly and with caution.


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    Smells pleasant

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    A touch on the sticky side

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    High DEET content means caution required

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First thoughts

Ben’s ‘Max’ spray contains a hefty hit of DEET (50% in Europe, the highest percentage allowed under EU law, but up to 98% in the US), which means that despite its dinky size, you don’t need to spray too liberally to keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay. (Ben’s do a wide range of formulas, not all of them are available in Europe, so check the DEET content carefully before purchasing.)

Avoid using the strong spray on delicate skin – spray it in your hands first and avoid your eyes and mouth if you’re applying to your face. When first applied, the spray has a very strong lemon smell that’s a little reminiscent of toilet cleaner, but the good news is that the smell fades fast and ends up being a pleasant whiff of citrus. 

The spray also goes onto clothes easily without staining them. Ben’s MAX does feel oily and thick on the skin, so it may not be suitable for those with sensitive skin, or if you don’t like to feel a repellent is there - it’s also a tad sticky even when dry.

In the field

We first discovered Ben’s Max insect repellents in America (they claim to be ‘Made in New Hampshire. Torture tested in the White Mountains’), where the DEET dosage is even heftier than the 50% contained in the Euro version.

We were impressed from the start with the effective protection it provides on woodland hikes, and since then we’ve used the Max Spray both in America and Canada’s insect-ridden woods, and in the milder climate of the UK, and have always found it a great barrier against mosquitoes and other no-see-ums.

On test we found the MAX spray offered effective all-day protection on mountain hikes, and we also hear good things about its effectiveness against Scottish midges. Ben’s MAX does feel oily and thick, so it may not be suitable for those with sensitive skin, or if you don’t like to feel a repellent is there - and it remains a tad sticky even when dry.

Sian Lewis

An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog,, champions accessible adventures.