View Full Version : tarps + bugs = ???
i'm looking into summer bug protection, and i'd like to hear your thoughts/opinions. whats the most popular approach: sleeping in repellent, a headnet/shell clothing, a bug bivy, or other? i'll be using a 7'x9' silnylon (obviously) tarp as opposed to a tarptent or golite nest, so if you'd be so kind to direct your response along that line i'd appreciate it.
also, where/when does 'bug season' start approximately? thanks.
I've used a Walrus (now MSR) Bug Net I, and it may be something you should consider. It's a bug net that covers the top half of your sleeping bag with two crossing poles for support. I believe that Repel and Adventure 16 make similar things. It's actually roomy enough to stretch out your elbows while lying down or read while propped up on your elbows. I've used it only a couple times under a tarp, but many times on my deck at home. The one thing I didn't like about it was that the noseeum netting prevents breezes from reaching you, so you can be hot under it. Guess that's just the price of good insect protection. Last summer I used a more open mesh for sleeping on my deck, and I enjoyed the breezes but occassionally suffered from the noseeums. The nice thing about this type of bug netting is that it would work well in shelters as well as under your tarp. However, to keep your legs protected from bugs, you have to keep them in your sleeping bag. On warm night you have to choose between hot legs or bug bites.
I have a Colghan's mosquito net that works okay, but not with my tarp. If you have a normal rectangular tarp that you set up along a ridge line (i.e, A-frame), then such a thing may work for you. For this summer, I'm planning to use a simple sleep net from Dancing Light. Really just a large, long headnet with a tie off loop. If you are planning to spend alot of non-sleeping time under bug netting, this won't be for you.
Let me tell you about bugs. Everyone's body chemistry is different so different bugs like different people at different times. Generally they start somewhere in PA., for me it's the Doyle Hotel (that was a joke). Below there I use a Tarp. First the Ticks get me but they stop at the CT/Mass. border just above Sages Revine and below Bear Rock Falls. The mosquitoes start in PA also but they don't bother me much until Mass. Just after Mt. Everet there is a place called Mosquitoe Hell year round. I was just over there and they were still bad at 5 below. The mosquitoes stop at Mt. Katahden when you go home.
How could I forget my favorite bird, uh bug. They carried away my horse a few years ago. They start at certain elevations in May, from northern Mass. up to the Big K, until early to Mid July. This year because of no snow cover they were not too bad, this year we have snow, lots of it. But they are very tricky sometimes the sneak in early. Again body chemistry is everything, some people can hike through them only losing a little flesh. To get to some people I swear netting is their before meal snack. This is very important, I've lived with them all my life. If you're out there during that period, EAT LOTS OF GARLIC.
Atleast we don't have Bot flies...
I'll try to give a straight answer to this.
Some sections of the trail are buggier than others. But in general, the bugs are the worst in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Also, top of Glastenbury Vermont.
Black fly season is spring until the first hot spell, usually in June. This is also mostly in New England.
I don't think time is a factor, just season. All summer long, I'd expect bugs in these areas.
What I did was set up my 8 x 10 tarp A frame on one end and then sloped the tarp to the ground on the other end. I then had a piece a of mosquito netting covering the open end. The netting didn't have grommets, I would just poke the tent stake and center pole (hiking pole) through it. It worked okay when it wasn't to hot. This year I am going put in a small window of mosquito netting in the back of my tarp. I really don't think the bugs were that bad as long as I tarped on a ridge where there is some breeze. What I hate is when I feel bugs and spiders crawling on me at night -- but it beats sleeping in a shelter with mice scampering all over you.
Vermont and Maine have the worst Black Flies/Mosquitos/No-See-Ums. New Hampshire low-lands suck too. Massachusetts and connecticut are probably half as bad as vermont and maine. I'm planning a thru-hike of the long-trail (mass to canada) in late august/early september, and even then I will be using an enclosed tent/long sleeve clothing. Bug spray does crap in my opinion (including 100% DEET).
Headnet/shell clothing along with a tarp works well for me out west with the cooler nights. Your 7x9 silnylon tarp sounds perfect. I've been looking for that size. Where can I get one?
In the east I need full coverage. The lightest would be adding netting along the edges of your tarp like the original tarptent. Or you could probably hang netting from a center line and tuck it in under your pad. For the east the best solution is a hammock, at least once it gets warm.
Bug seasons vary. Black flies in New England usually decrease in late June or so. Headed north on the AT and going along with the mob I needed a lot more than DEET when the heat hit in the mid-Atlantic states. Worry a lot about the ticks that carry Lyme from mid-Virginia into Massachusetts. Much less frequent but serious is West Nile which maybe should be protected from with DEET anywhere in the east whenever it's warm.
I had a small nest type tent made that strings under my Poncho/Tarp. After much modification it is now six foot six inches long thirty inches wide, thirty inches high with a six inch bathtub floor of sil nylon and netting for the rest. The front opens down the middle and along both sides via hook and loop fastners. There are tie out loops in the middle of the netting to add tension when I rig it low and grommets at each corner. Grand total weight is 9.5 ounces after seam sealing the corners and addidng some silicone to the inside floor to keep me from sliding around. I may snap a couple of photoes of the modified set up and post them today.
I use the Sil-tarp as well, and I always carry a bug bivy. I can use it under the tarp and in the shelters to protect from all sorts of critters. For me it works well in the summer since I can lay on top of my sleeping bag and I'm still protected...all over. That was the deciding factor for me when choosing between the bug bivy and the shorter, half-coverage nets. I found I got a good enough breeze through the mesh to not burst into flames from the heat.
I support all the others comments on the winged critters!! And it's true about the black flies and body chemistry....My sister and I were hiking in New Hampshire in May (I know..what the hell was I thinking?) She was 15 feet behind me and getting completely DEVOURED by black flies. I got bitten twice. Go figure!!
Hope this helps!
I like the idea about bug bivy+tarp.
Most bugs don't like me. Some people here made comments about bugs liking some people more than others.
I have heard an alkaline body chemistry is the reason. If you wear a copper bracelet, or ring, and skin gets discolored green, acid. If not green, alkaline.
I don't know. I don't turn green.
I have also heard a person can change their body chemistry pH from acid to alkaline, by adding organic or squeezed lime juice into their morning drinking water. Other people say, eat less meat. I eat less meat. I have a little organic lime juice in the water bottle, at home. (I don't drink city water.)
I don't know. Bot flys devour the skin at my ankles, right thru my socks, if I do not wear mini-gaiters.
I also have an OR Yukon no-see-um hat net, and also a baseball-type Bug Hat I found one time at REI. Both pull down the no-see-um netting tight.
The biting bugs around here are smart: they go right to the edges, and scoot under. This is why I have an OR double bug bivy: I bring everything inside.
I have a little mosquito repeller noise-maker, that actually works, for about 10-15 feet around me. It was so inexpensive, I thought I would try it: Sunbeam™ SB001 keychain mosquito repeller. It makes the sound of dragonfly wings, maybe. Dragonflys consume mosquitos, so do bats. Maybe bat noises.
I think DEET is harmful, to humans. I have worn cat flea and tick collars around my ankles, on the outside of my hiking pants in bad tick season.
I have heard something about Avon Skin-so-Soft™ is bug repellent. I don't like a perfumed or soapy smell out hiking. I haven't tried this bug "remedy".
Anyway, I thought I would add my 2 cents on the subject of biting bugs.
I've dealt with bugs all the way from northern Alberta to Manaus, Brazil. The one thing I've found to hold true regardless of where you are is that the farther you can keep a bug from you, the better.
Forget sleeping in the open with repellent only to prevent bites. That'll just make sure they hover 1 millimeter away from your ear drum all night driving you crazy. You will sweat the bug juice off, and the will eat you alive. I was bitten bad inside my ear canals in Bolivia once because I forgot to coat my finger with bug juice and swab the insides of my ear. Don't forget you have to saturate your hair with DEET to keep them from biting your scalp.
Anyway, get a bug net - and don't scrimp on size. I like a bug net that I can completely sit up under and eat dinner. I use one made in England by Nomad Medical. It has multiple attachment points and packs to about the sixe of a 16oz can of Guiness. You can see mine here: http://www.actiongear.com/cgi-bin/tame.exe/agcatalog/level4s.tam?xax=29859&M5COPY%2Ectx=10275&M5%2Ectx=10275&M2%5FDESC%2Ectx=Bivouac%20%2D%20Sleeping%20Bags%2C %20Shelters%2C%20Modular%20Sleep%20Systems%2C%20Bi vy%20Bags&level3%2Ectx=results%2Etam&query%2Ectx=mosquito&backto=%2Fagcatalog%2Fresults%2Etam
I use a Mombasa Tracker net inside my tarp. I hang it from the trekking pole that supports the tarp. It can also be used in the shelter. You can check it out at REI. I think Cohlgans also makes one, I saw it at the Pro Bass Shop.
I bought a rectangular cot size mosquito net that I plan to use under my tarp. I haven't had a chance to use it in the summer yet, but I will be soon. Heading up to do the Jersey section plus some of NY. For those of you lucky enough to be on the trail anytime soon, spend your time wisely. If you pass an Internet Cafe, keep going! Rocket on past gals and have funguys. Stay in the woods, where the beavers are swatting flies. Don't be conned by the lure of the screen. Get out and hike instead of paying lip service to an electronic box.
Maybe you could bring pet bats along for your hike. They get to feast like kings while you're asleep.
Atleast we don't have Bot flies...
Ugh IMO An absolutely disgusting insect. Unbelievable
Have you ever been to New Hampster?
I was looking for pictures of an underquilt and look at these big bats I saw !
no fear of mosquitos, here.
I've been using tarps for more than 4 years now and found several ways to deal with bugs in that time. While I was thru-hiking, and inclined to stay in shelters more often, I used a bug bivy from Outdoor Research. The bivy was fully enclosed, had a waterproof bottom, and a pole to keep the netting off of your face/torso. It was perfect for that situation, becuase it worked as well in shelters (even crowded shelters) as it did under my tarp.
After my thruhike, I have been more inclined NOT to use shelters anymore. In that case, a dedicated bug bivy means that I'm carrying around 16oz of dedicated bug protection that won't even let me sit up in it. So after the trail I made a bug-netting enclosure that fits two people well under my tarp (integral designs sil shelter). The netting enclosure, while tons larger than the bug bivy, weighs about 6 ounces less because of the lighter material used for the floor (1.1oz silnylon) and the lack of pole.
I have been leaning towards a tarp-tent style shelter, however, to minimize the hassle further, however. The tarp-tent Squall would be perfect for two, and at 30oz with the sewn-in floor and extended beak, it's only 2-3 ounces heavier that the setup that I'm using right now, while providing an edge in effeciency of setup and performance.
When I'm hiking alone, however, I prefer a hammock. Hammocks are the best thing going right now, in terms of total shelter setup. If I could come up with a two-person hammock design that my girlfriend would approve of, it could quite possibly be the best shelter ever. My bug protection is built right in, as is a level of comfort never dreamed of before when I was using a pad. The only kink in the system is that cold-weather options are still limited, but there are those who are working on that problem.
I'm not into these hammocks, but it seems wind is the biggest opponent (other than the lack of trees). So I would imagine a shell to protect from the wind and elements for the full 360. The poles would be like tent poles, but in sets for top and bottom separation of shell from hammock. The poles would look like <> from the front and | from the side. Since the pole supports itself and the hammock as a whole moves with the wind, I'd think you'd be able to get by with a lighter/thinner pole. Maybe the top and sides would be waterproof, the bottom water resistant to allow for some weight savings without compromising weather integrity. Well, that's assuming fabric can be windproof without being waterproof. I'd guess two poles, one near foot area and the other near head area. I also assume both the shell and hammock share the same guylines at the head and toe.
If you use a hammock long enough you will discover that it is better to separate the fly guy's (lines) attachment from the hammock proper.
This way when you settle into the hammock and the hammock settles toward the ground, the fly remains taut above you....
another option is to use bungies,rubber tubing, and the like to give the fly guy lines stretch.
I look forward to hikes for many reasons, getting into my hammock at the end of the hiking day is a joy often looked forward to.
It is more comfortable than any bed I've ever been in.
To not try it at least one full night (post a big hiking day) is an injustice to your feet, legs, and spine.