If you spend time in the outdoors during the warmer months you are going to run into bugs. Mosquitos, ticks, and black flies—they can all ruin an otherwise great time outdoors. Traditional solutions have included things such as wearing bug nets, long sleeve shirts/pants, and using chemical sprays. The first two options can be cumbersome and uncomfortable in the hot summer days. Chemical sprays tend to leave sticky residues and expose our skin to harsh chemicals. Organic and natural sprays never really work as advertised.
The Thermacell is a device designed to repel mosquitos. The model I recommend for personal use is the MR450. It is about the size of a walkie talkie. It works by using a butane cartridge to warm up a small pad that contains the bug-repelling chemical. As the pad is heated up it releases the repellent into the air creating a bug-free barrier around you. There are larger models with higher outputs that would be great to use on a deck. I like the MR 450 so much because it is fairly lightweight, rugged (features drop-proof shell), and easy to use. It features a belt clip so you could clip it to a pack while hiking—keeping in mind that the front of the unit does get fairly hot (maybe 120 degrees or so) while operating.
The one downside to the unit is the requirement to purchase refills. Each butane cartridge lasts for 12 hours and each pad lasts for 4 hours. However, the results are well worth the small cost for the refill packs. The Thermacell provides by far the best bug protection I have ever used in the field. There are even kits that come with “earth scent” pads that attempt to mask the smell of the repellent for use during bear and deer seasons. People disagree about the effect the device has on an animal’s sense of smell, but if you point it downwind and the deer are coming in upwind it is typically not an issue.
Whether fishing, hunting, camping, or hiking the Thermacell is a device that can significantly increase your enjoyment of the outdoors and help keep you safe. For $30 it is one of the best purchases of outdoor gear you can make.