The Thermacell Backpacker is a mosquito repeller that any outdoor adventurer will be happy to have. The Thermacell Backpacker is a small lightweight portable unit weighing 4 ounces, (without a fuel canister). It uses a fuel canister to heat up repellant mats that fit into the head of the unit. When these mats are heated up they offer a 15 by 15 foot protection zone. The Thermacell Backpacker comes with the unit, 3 repellant mats, owner’s manual, and a waterproof pouch to put your unit when not in use.
I have never used a system like this in the wilderness so I was interested in trying it out on my adventure into the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. My protection from insects, specifically mosquitoes, has been either a liquid or powder repellants that I manually apply to my clothing or skin.
Once I was at my first basecamp in the Kalmiopsis I brought out the Thermacell Backpacker and fired it up. I used a 3.5-ounce jetboil fuel canister for my fuel. Thermacell recommends that you wait 30 minutes for the unit to take effect. I actually waited an hour before continuing my field test.
When I returned to where I had placed the Thermacell Backpacker I immediately noticed a dramatic reduction of mosquitos within that area. I still had some mosquitos landing on me but for the most part 70 percent of the mosquitos were held at bay. I estimated my protection zone to be somewhere around 10 feet and not the 15 feet stated by the manufacturer. There was a slight breeze in my basecamp during this application.
There are a number of factors that will affect the functioning of this unit. The most obvious would be the wind. If you are in a wide-open area with a moderate to strong wind you should expect a dramatic decrease in the effectiveness of the Thermacell Backpacker. During my application, I observed a small amount of smoke, (on occasion) coming from the grill portion of the unit.
I used the unit throughout my stay in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, which consisted of 5 nights and 6 days. The 3.5-ounce canister lasted the entire trip, and I had fuel left in the canister when I returned to the trailhead. The mats that come with the unit lasted about 3 hours and I used 6 throughout my stay. When you handle the mats make sure you wash your hands especially before you eat.
Overall, I was surprised with the Thermacell Backpacker’s performance. The reduction of mosquitos mad my basecamp stay more pleasurable. My recommendation would be to always carry with you some other type of mosquito repeller such as a liquid or powder. I wold always recommend that you treat your clothing before heading into any Wilderness. Sawyer makes a product called Permethrin that you can spray on your clothing and it lasts up to (6) weeks or (6) washes. The cost of the Thermacell Backpacker runs between $30 to $35 dollars online.
The Thermacell Backpacker can be used on any outdoor activities. Remember there are limitations when using this unit and a lot of those limitations are environmental, (i.e. wind).
Below are my (2) videos I posted on my You Tube Channel for your review. These video give you a better perspective on the functions and features of the Thermacell Backpacker Mosquito Repeller.