Other Tech 

Packable device keeps mosquitoes away in the boonies

Beyond heated insoles, Thermacell makes a variety of battery-powered gadgets for outdoor lovers, among them a line of mosquito repellers. The company is preparing to launch a lighter, more compact repeller designed to go deeper into the wilderness. The packable Backpacker Repeller drops Thermacell’s mosquito-fighting technology into your pack so you can easily carry it to even the most faraway backcountry destinations.

We’ve used one of Thermacell’s larger repeller lanterns and can say that it’s an absolute pleasure. Thermacell claims 96 percent effectiveness against mosquitoes, black flies and other pesky flying insects. Usually we’d like those odds, but four mosquitoes out of 100 will still leave you itching in the morning.

We have yet to meet those four mosquitoes, though. The lantern was so effective that we thought maybe there just weren’t any mosquitoes around – right up until a subsequent evening when we didn’t bring the lantern out and got eaten alive.

Thermacell’s repellers are designed to set up a 15 x 15-foot (4.6 x 4.6-m) perimeter, giving you a safe zone from those incessant winged biters. There’s a faint smell but the system is not nearly as intrusive as candles, torches, sprays and other traditional mosquito solutions. You basically set it and forget it, letting it work in the background while you enjoy your time outside, no batting or scratching necessary.

Thermacell’s technology has been around for going on two decades, seeing use in the military and other segments. More recently, the company has been making an effort to get its repellers into the hands of a wider population, growing a lineup of backyard and camping lanterns and products. The all-new Backpacker Repeller is its lightweight, sized-down solution for those that travel fast and light.

To slim the Backpacker down, Thermacell removes the butane cartridge used in its larger products, relying instead on an external source: the camping stove gas canister that many a backpacker will be carrying anyway. The result is a model that weighs just 4 oz (114 g) and measures 3.8 x 2 x 2.6 in (97 x 50 x 67 mm, H x W x L) while still offering the same 15 x 15-ft protection zone.

Like Thermacell’s other repellers, the Backpacker includes a piezo lighter for sparking the heating element. That heat activates the blue repeller pad, which is soaked in allethrin, a synthetic version of an insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers. According to Thermacell, the system provides up to 80 hours of protection from a single 100g canister. Thermacell offers four- and new 12-hour allethrin pads.

Backpacking is what’s in the name, but the Backpacker Repeller could also be useful for canoe camping in mosquito-infested waters, bikepacking, picnicking and other outdoor activities in which mosquitoes are a problem and space for gear is limited. As with any other piece of gear, individuals will have to weigh the benefits against the added weight and subtracted pack space. It’s still going to take up more space than a small bottle of mosquito spray, but it’ll also prevent you from smelling like chemicals for the rest of the trip.

The Backpacker Repeller will launch in early spring 2017 (Northern Hemisphere) for US$39.99.



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