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Gear Review - ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellant

The product that we are going to review today is the ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent. This is the product that made the company famous, and has given them a familiar brand recognition among hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. 

If you spend enough time in the outdoors in the Maritime Provinces of Canada you will grow to hate mosquitos and black Flies. It is an inevitability. They are the bane of my existence, a horrible little creature that makes some days in the wilderness without protection an absolute impossibility. The climate and proximity to the water means the summer months are filled with swarms of these awful pests. If God ever made a mistake, it was allowing poor Noah to keep two of these things on the Ark through the flood!

For a hunter this hatred is magnified. We love bear hunting, and they ‎are a careful animal very aware of their surroundings. Their sense of smell is acute, meaning you cannot use some of the heavily scented products to keep the insects away. And being carefully aware of their surroundings means you can't just swing away at a biting mosquito. Pretty well the only thing we had found before the ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent was to cover as much of my skin as possible and wear bug netting over my face and hands. But those things are hot and an impediment to bow hunting (and breathing) and a determined mosquito seems to be able to bite through anything. At least fishing or hiking you can apply bug repellent liberally. What could we do, as hunters? Was there any answer?

First thoughts:

Right out of the box we were still questioning the effectiveness and value of this product. It doesn't seem or feel like something revolutionary. We've tried a lot of different products over the years that were supposed to repel mosquitos, but most often we have found that the ones designed to be mild and easy to bear fail to be successful. If they aren't strong scented and proven like deet and citronella products, they usually vary between good for nothing and no good at all.

This product is fairly light plastic and compact and we didn't entirely believe the claims yet. The appearance did nothing to quell those fears.

ThermaCELL handheld personal mosquito repellent 

ThermaCELL Claim: 15 x 15 Foot Area of Protection
In The Field:

If you are to remain stationary, as when you’re in a tree stand or sitting on the shore fishing, the ThermaCELL creates a nice large area of protection.  It’s hard to tell if it’s actually the 225 square feet, but we believe them.  As we discuss below however, if you’re moving the device around, the effectiveness is limited.
ThermaCELL package
Claim: Compact, Easy to Carry
In The Field:

The model we have weighs in at 0.7 pounds, and we bought ours with a holster, which makes this device extremely easy to carry.  One thing to keep in mind is that because this is a product which is powered by heat, there is an element of burning danger to it.  Be careful where you hold the ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellant.

Claim: Completely Odorless
In The Field:

Perhaps it’s in our heads, but it does seem to have a small odor.  Perhaps from the butane burning, or the chemical pad themselves, there appears to be an extremely mild odor.  That being said, we’ve been very close to a number of bears while utilizing the ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellant, and none have been spooked by it, so it clearly isn’t a very strong odor.

Suggested Retail Price: $26.99
In Reality:

There are a number of ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellant variants, and as such, there are many different price points attached to them.  It is not uncommon to see these products for under $25.  Keep in mind that there are additional costs associated with using the device.  A refill unit retails for approximately $8, and provides you with ~12 hours of coverage.

ThermaCell Mosquito Repellent Refill


Real World Thoughts:

‎The first and most important thing about this product is that it works! It actually does the advertised job of repelling mosquitos and black flies, and even seems to cut down on the larger pests like horseflies with an unobtrusive smell. Once it gets going there is a bit of a scent from the repellent fog, but it is not overpowering and doesn't seem to bother the wildlife. We have been sitting and using it in swirling light wind and watching bears that seem to have no idea we are there. That is a ringing endorsement. 

Another positive is the easy setup and use. You merely slide in a repellent square and twist in the butane tube and you are ready to go! Starting it is easy and you only have to wait a couple of minutes before you will see its effect. The pests will leave until you are sitting there comfortably enjoying the outdoors! The first time we used it we really couldn't believe it.

It is also important to note that the unit is easy to start and effective even when used in intervals, shutting it off for periods of time. When hunting in the spring bear season that is exactly how we use it. It saves fuel and repellent and the soft clicking noise to start it up again isn't a terrific risk of ruining my hunt. Certainly not as much as a swinging arm swatting flies would be.

ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellant products are also widely accepted and sold almost everywhere. The product and refills of the butane and repellent squares are easy to find. And the price is reasonable, but to be honest they could likely charge more and we would buy it just to be able to sit and enjoy our hunt outdoors again.


As we mentioned the plastic feels cheap and might be a turn off to those who consider purchasing one. It just doesn't seem like anything special.

Another negative for us was that it doesn't come with any kind of a holster to put it on a belt or fasten to your clothes. They sell a holster, which we think is essential, separately. And unlike the unit itself, which is reasonably priced, the holster we found was quite expensive for what it is. But again out of necessity we recommend it for anyone who needs one of these units. We can't imagine holding it in the hand for long periods of time and the contoured design means it won't stand up someplace.  Even with the holster, we feel that there may be a slight burn risk given that the product is powered by a heating element.

One question would be of negative health effects of the repellent ingredients, but it has been approved for use by our health watchdogs. There really isn't anything that would carry zero risk in terms of repellent, and allowing mosquitos to bite brings the risk of infection from things they are carrying such as West Nile disease and more.

The unit also is more useful in a stationary position than if one were moving. The effectiveness of something like this would be diminished if you were boating down a river or moving frequently to fish or walking and hunting. This is not necessarily a negative; it’s just something to be aware of. For stationary use, we don't think you can beat it.

The Bottom Line:

A Cloud of Mosquitos

The ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellant Device is a must-have item for anyone who hunts bears or other species in a climate where biting insects are a pest. There is no way that we would go without one in our spring bear hunt again having used one. It is a true area repellent and makes the experience easier to enjoy.

This item makes a great purchase as a gift for the outdoor enthusiast. We also have one of their "lantern” style products which is every bit as effective since it uses the same technology. Having one on the deck at the cottage is almost a necessity as well and not cost-prohibitive‎. 

If you've never used one and see how this unit could help you to get back outside again, ‎this is a purchase you will not regret. Close the laptop, step away from the computer, and buy one now!


2014-12-26 08:14:07


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