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How prevalent are no-see-ums? (subtopic: bug netting with tarp)
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Eric Carlsen
(cooleric1234) - F
How prevalent are no-see-ums? (subtopic: bug netting with tarp) on 08/01/2006 07:48:29 MDT Print View

As a newbie to backpacking I can sense that the bug protection issue while using a tarp as shelter has been discussed ad nauseum. However, I feel like it's all been discussed so long ago that I can't find the conclusions that most people have drawn, or maybe there aren't any? Anyway, for those who ignore long messages, I just have one question: how prevalent are no-see-ums? I live and camp in Ohio (not exactly a backpacking mecca), but I will probably do portions of the PCT or the Sierras in general with my brother every year or so. I also foresee going to the Appalachian Trail with the Scouts. I'm not sure this should go in this forum or the gear forum, but I'll try it hear.

I'm trying to reduce my weight, and I'm moving to a tarp instead of a tent. But that brings up the bug issue. So I'd like to review all of the bug protection schemes I've found out there and get your expert opinions and advice on the best solutions. Sorry for the length of this post but maybe it will be helpful to someone else in my position, just starting out. I'll also mention the drawbacks and advantages to each of them (from my perspective).

First, there's the full protection bug bivies, such as the Integral Designs BugaBivy and the Outdoor Research Bug Bivy. Advantages: 1) full protection. Disadvantages: 1) I'm 6' 5" and probably won't fit well (although supposedly the BugaBivy fits up to 6' 7", 2) kind of on the heavy side, 3) not much room, and 4) the integrated floor. The last one is a disadvantage because I don't always want to use the bug bivy, so I want to bring a ground sheet too. I could sleep on top of the bivy, but that gives less flexibility in ground cloth size and I might damage the bivy.

Next, there are the full bug tents, such as the GoLite Nest, the ID Bug Tent, and the REI Bug Hut. Advantages: 1) full protection, 2) can mate well with tarp depending on what one you get, and 3) roomy. Disadvantages: 1) relatively heavy, 2) what I mentioned above about the floor, 3) expensive.

I'm putting one solution in a class of it's own, the A16 bug bivy. The REI Bug Hut is similar, as is the Repel Sleepscreen, but I'd like to talk about the A16. Advantages: 1) pretty lightweight, 2) self supporting. Disadvantages: 1) I'm a big guy and I hear this doesn't work well for big people, 2) I toss and turn a lot and there's no way I can keep a good seal on the bottom, 3) I'll be using a tarp and it would be trivial to attach a bug canopy to the tarp, making the weight of the pole unnecessary, 4) again the problem with the integrated floor.

Then there’s what I call bug canopies, such as the Equinox Mantis and the Gossamer Gear Bug Canopy. I'm leaning towards the Mantis now. Advantages: 1) very lightweight, 2) corners can be staked or tied down, which helps if I toss and turn, 3) should be easy to tie to tarp or pole, 4) Mantis has an elastic drawcord at the bottom that can be used to cinch it up around me, 5) GG doesn't have a floor, can use my own ground cloth. Disadvantages: 1) not sure how useful the drawstring will be since I have a 2.5" thick InsulMat sleeping pad, 2) with my height these solutions might be upper chest instead of mid torso, which might create problems with my arm placement, 3) there may be some situations in which I want a free-standing canopy.

I've also considered making my own canopy by using Grip Clips and buying no-see-um mesh. The problem is that the mesh must be pretty wide in order to be elevated and still tuck under my pad, although I think I found one or two places that sells it in a width of over 100 inches. Advantages: 1) adjustability, 2) hopefully lightweight, 3) use my own ground cloth. Disadvantages: 1) sew in loops to stake out (I can't sew), 2) cost of buying everything (net, loops, clips, shipping), 3) getting in and out.

The solution that I really want, is to use a hikers mosquito net like the Sea to Summit Mozi Net or the Mombasa Defender Mosquito Net. Advantages: 1) roomy, 2) not too heavy, 3) allows me to use my own ground cloth, 4) almost full protection (some gaps between ground sheet and net but that's no big deal in my mind), 5) corners can be staked out, 6) fairly inexpensive. Disadvantages: doesn't work against no-see-ums (I asked about the Sea to Summit one, since it looked like it might).

So that brings me to my original question, how much can I expect to see no-see-ums? I can’t say that I have encountered them yet, but I’m not sure if I was mistaking mosquito bites for no-see-um bites. Thanks.

Edited by cooleric1234 on 08/01/2006 08:22:54 MDT.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: How prevalent are no-see-ums? (subtopic: bug netting with tarp) on 08/01/2006 08:57:06 MDT Print View

" much can I expect to SEE no-SEE-ums?"

Well, duh...
OK, I just had to do that. They have a huge range but are usually very local and they disappear in chilly weather. I've encountered them from the Rio Grande in Texas to the Rio Grande Pyramid in Colorado and north into Canada from Quebec to BC, and from the California coast to Maine. This land is yooour laaand. This land is theeeeir laaaand.... But only for a few miles. The trouble is, when they are bad, they are bad. You will wake up looking like a ripe tomato, or they will pester you to suicide if they attack while you are awake. Then they will be gone. Notice, I didn't say they 'disappear'. How can a noseeum disappear?

Edited by vickrhines on 08/01/2006 09:05:44 MDT.

Paul Wozniak

Locale: Midwest
Re: How prevalent are no-see-ums? (subtopic: bug netting with tarp) on 08/01/2006 09:41:14 MDT Print View

How prevalent? In Michigan, they are a problem much less frequently than skeeters. However, when they're bad you might just loose your sanity.

I too have just moved to a tarp and so far have not encountered them on my 6 trips, 14 nights this year. I have had some bad mosquito nights and one bad ant encounter, which I have effectively solved. Since you're looking at a similar set-up, I'll describe what worked for me .. and how I plan to refine it.

I have a cot-sized mosquito net which I hang from the tarp. This has been big enough for two (with feet extending out but protected by the sleeping bag). There's enough material to allow the net to bunch on the ground or bag, creating a very effective mosquito barrier. Only problem, the net is 9 oz. Too heavy for one person, OK for two.

Underneath I use a rain poncho. One full size poncho is plenty for two people (feet on Backpacks).

This combination has cost me only the rarest of nighttime mosquito or ant bites.

For the future, I plan on making my own draping triangle-shaped net (est. 3 - 4 oz)using no-see-um netting. I also will attempt to make a silnylon cape (est 5 oz., not a full poncho) for underneath and for rain protection in a downpour.

Thanks for the question. Would like to know how other open tarp users are dealing with this.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
no-see-ums in the Sierra/PCT on 08/01/2006 17:26:51 MDT Print View

No-see-ums are not a problem, in my experience, in the Sierra. Mosquitos, on the other hand....nuf said. Same goes, for the most part, in Washington State, where mosquitos and blackflies/deerflies are the biggest headache. As for protection, all mosquito netting I have run across works for all of the above plus no-see-ums. My question would be: Have you checked out tarptents? For a small weight penalty you get full bug protection, good 3 season protection from precipitation, and an easy setup(a big bonus at the end of a long hard day on the trail. and have excellent products worth investigating before you make your final decision. If you are just starting out in the Sierra, you might consider taking your first trip in September. Bugs are much less of a headache then and the weather is usually very stable. Best of luck!

Eric Carlsen
(cooleric1234) - F
Tarptent on 08/01/2006 17:47:01 MDT Print View

Thanks for the comments. I have thought of Tarptents, I think they look pretty nice. There are a few problems with them, however. First of all, cost. I just don't see myself spending over $200 on one. Secondly, the weight penalty might be more than small. I'm looking at getting an Oware or Gossamer Gear tarp that will comfortably shield two people for 8-11 ounces. Tarptents seem to be around 2 pounds for two people. Of course, there is adding bug protection to the equation. The next problem is that I will be using this quite a bit in the Ohio area, which has a lot of humidity in the summer time. The tarp gives me the ventilation and flexibility of pitching it higher. But I guess I am trying to have my cake and eat it too, I suppose something has to give.

Eric Carlsen
(cooleric1234) - F
Permethrin on 08/02/2006 11:14:58 MDT Print View

Two more possible solutions that I found:

1) Spray permethrin on regular mosquito netting. Supposedly this repels no-see-ums, lasts for around 6 weeks, and is safe once it's dry.

2) Wear a head net to bed. Assuming you are using a mummy bag, your face is the only exposed portion. Note that this will not work the best in warm weather, which is probably when the bugs are a problem anyway.

Eric Carlsen
(cooleric1234) - F
One more options on 11/26/2006 01:55:27 MST Print View

I know this is an old thread but I thought I'd put one more option that I found. Mountain Laurel Designs sells nifty bug shelters that keep out no-see-ums. The shelters have a silnylon bottom and the triangles at the ends are silnylone, which reduces spray in a tarp and allows for a smaller tarp. The one man version is 7 ounces and the 2 man is 13 ounces, which is pretty light. You pay for it though. Here's the link.

Tim Kropf
(tkoutdoor) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: One more options on 06/05/2007 22:59:37 MDT Print View

Quoting a previous post... "Mountain Laurel Designs sells nifty bug shelters that keep out no-see-ums. The shelters have a silnylon bottom... 7 ounces... You pay for it though. Here's the link."

The link doesn't work anymore, but it looks like an excellent solution so I'm updating the link info for others here. Follow this and it will take you there. The website is so simplistic it's actually confusing because it looks incomplete! Click this link and go to the "Shop" menu and click it, then click on "Bug bivy" and you've got it.

The weight is now 5 oz according to their website with an optional Spectralite floor that reduces the weight to 3.9 oz. per their web site. I have a Gatewood cape I'll probably get this for and it should somehow make it to the Gatewood cape thread. Maybe that's enough keywords if someone looks it up... This is a great bang for the ounce solution since it elimates a groundcloth that for most people would weigh more than the whole bug bivy, but it's not a great bang for the buck solution. It'll cost ya.

Edited by tkoutdoor on 06/07/2007 16:58:35 MDT.