Last week, my high hopes for protection from bugs by a Thermacell unit were ruined.
By nature, Iím cautious about new gadgets, but when I read the near-universal praise of the Thermacell on this forum and on Cableaís, I decided to buy one. I even bought extra butane cartridges and repellent pads.
Confident and smug, I fired up the unit on a recent river trip in British Columbia. The area was infested with enough mosquitoes and white socks that everyone in our party was wearing head nets. Mind you, all of us are experienced backcountry travelers and have a high tolerance for bugs. The number and persistence of bugs in this place wasnít the worst Iíve seen, but it was bad enough: maybe a 7 on a scale to 10.
The Thermacell provided no noticeable difference in bug protection. In fact, it became a camp joke: ďHereís how itís supposed to work!Ē says my buddy as he uses it to smash a couple mosquitoes that were resting on my sleeve.
Now, I donít doubt for a minute the claims and praise I read from members on this board. My intention is not to invalidate your positive experiences with the Thermacell. Iím happy - and jealous - that it works for you. But I post this report to provide another perspective, and also because Iím curious.
You see, Iím puzzled why the Thermacell failed so miserably for me when it worked so well for others? I used it on 2 different evenings. There was no significant wind. I let the unit warm up sufficiently (burned through an entire butane cartridge) and I always placed the unit nearby when I was relatively stationary: I put it in the drink pocket of my camp chair while sitting by the fire; on the table next to me when I was cooking; and in the front pocket of my shirt Ė all the while making sure that the unit was functioning and warm, and that the vents were oriented outward. Bugs continued to swarm, land, and chew on me Ė not just a few bugs, but LOTS of bugs. There was no noticeable difference between the number of insects swarming me, and the number hovering and biting my buddies, who were located some distance away.
Anybody have any idea what may have gone wrong? Before I decide to list this unit on the ďfor saleĒ section of this forum, Iím open to ideas.