Mosquitoes. Over the years I've got more used to them, but I could live without them quite happily. I still can't stand getting buzzed in the ear by one when I'm trying to get to sleep, and I'll stay awake until I've dispatched every last one, karma be damned.
Prevention, I'm told, is better than cure, and I've tried numerous preventative measures (ointments, smoke, iPhone apps, electric thingies) but at night, nothing, in my opinion, beats full enclosure. I have a couple of solutions that I use: a bivy, and a custom-made OookWorks DuoMid inner. The inner is great, but it adds weight to the DuoMid setup. The bivy is lighter, but I don't really like sleeping in it in summer.
I was intrigued, then, by reports coming out of the OutDoor Fair in Friedrichschafen about some of Sea-to-Summit's latest gear – especially about a pyramid mosquito net that looked quite promising for pyramid tarp usage. Furthermore, I had a vague feeling that my local Prisma supermarket (which is ironically the best outdoor store in the area) already had these in stock. Lo and behold, on my next trip to the shop for salt liquorice and pea flour, I walked out with an additional 82g worth of bug protection – and the potentially lightest shelter money can buy.
An 82g shelter? I know what you're thinking:
That's not a shelter – it's not waterproof or windproof you stupid English idiot!
Well, just wait a minute and listen to my reasoning...
First of all, I'm writing this from a Lapland perspective. Regular readers will know that there are a large amount of
(lean-tos) in Finland, and the amount of them explodes in Lapland.
alone (shed lovers should not that you can click on the icons for pictures!).
So, here's my thinking: if you can a sturdily-build open shelter offering ample protection from the elements, a built-in fireplace, and free wood(!), why not take advantage of that? You don't need to carry a tent, you don't need to carry fuel (well, maybe something as a backup). It's a lightweight backpacker's paradise!
If only there was a simple and light way to protect yourself from the mosquitoes...
Now, I should emphasize that the PyraNet (I'm going to call it that as it's a lot easier than typing Nano Mosquito Pyramid Net, and my time is limited) is not suitable for every backpacking situation. The lack of a floor makes it less than ideal if you are pitching on open ground where mosquitoes tend to lie in wait of such foolishness. Also, if the ground is wet, you have no protection from that.
However, the PyraNet is designed to be used with a sleeping mat – the perimeter has an elasticated draw cord that you can tighten around the pad. I'm not entirely sure how effective this would be unless your pad is approximately the size and shape of the base (120x220cm), and these days most are not, and many ultralighters use torso pads anyway. But, if you use the net on the solid base of a
then this is a moot point.
As an alternative, the four corners have stake loops, so you can pitch it quite easily and have it stay in shape. In this
test, I used four rocks to keep the shape, and this works quite well too. The perimeter is large enough to still keep the netting tight to the floor.
want to use it under a tarp, for example, a tvvek ground sheet would enable you to use it anywhere. If you were really clever you'd cut it to size (or slightly larger) and make some eyelets to peg out using the same pegs you put through the net corners. Boom. An improvised inner with floor.
One smart thing I immediately noticed was that the apex is off center, located more over the head end (the stake loops are colour coded; red for head). One of the drawbacks of pyramid tarps for taller people can be that the angle of the walls at ground level means the shelter comes in contact with your head, or at least head clearance is limited near the walls.
By moving the apex towards the head end, you get a steeper angled wall, and more headroom. I think this is important in a net shelter such as this: it helps to create a sensible, usable space inside, and avoids any claustrophobic "net on face" experiences (I know some people can live with that, but not me).
The PyraNet isn't a huge, spacious shelter. At only 1m high I wouldn't want to spend a long time in it, but you can sit up in it quite easily. I think it's fine for sleeping in, which is when I want the bugs kept at bay the most.
The apex tie-out cord is also elasticated and the apex itself is reinforced with cordura – a very good thing with fragile bug netting. The cord is long (around 2 meters): ample length to hand it in any number of situations.
The netting material is 15D UltraVis – which I guess means it's lightweight, light in colour (grey is easier to see out of than black or white), but anavoidably flimsy. The holes are small; they claim 500 per square inch. That number seems a little high to me, but I'm not yet that bored to be bothered to count them. I doubt the netting is
proof, but for mozzies and other smaller biting flies, it works a treat.
It also does a good job of keeping larger beasts out. Well done Sea-to-Summit.
So, if you're looking for the lightest shelter from the storm of biting insects, and plan to take advantage of ready-made outdoor shelters such as
, it might be the lightest shelter you can buy - only 82g (well, mine was 92g in the stuff sack). String it up, anchor the corners with pegs or stones, and you're set.
Of course, as with any netting-type product, you have to be especially careful not to rip it or snag it on a stone (a dog's nails will likely make short work of it, so think again it you're planning to invite Mutley in), but for the price and weight (mine cost a paltry €34.95) it's worth trying out, and a handy addition to you arsenal of shelters.
Sea-toSummit also offer a permethrin-infused version, but I can't really see the point in that unless you're
by mosquitoes. A double size version is also available, which might be worth looking into for additional space (and a slight weight increase to 137g).
You can find the Nano Mosquito Pyramid Net at
in the good 'ol U.S of A., or from
in the EU. I got mine from the local Prisma in Rovaniemi for €10 less.
UPDATE: DuoMid Compatibility
Several people asked how the Pyramid Net works under a DuoMid, so I set it up in the garden to find out. As you can see, it actually works very well indeed – the asymmetrical hang matches the angle of the DuoMid perfectly. With a piece of Tyvek underneath, you'd have a quick and cheap bug inner.