Bugs can quickly ruin a national park vacation, especially the ones that bite and suck your blood. That's when you need a shelter from the storm, as it were.
True, there are many concoctions you can spread or spray on your body with hopes of warding off mosquitos and other biting bugs, clothing that purportedly will deter the most determined skeeter, and always the option of retreating to your car or tent.
There are battery-powered rackets you can swat at, hit, and electrocute, these bugs, fans that supposedly drive them off with air currents, and, of course, friendly bats that will gladly eat as many of the bugs as they can.
But there's another option that doesn't require holing up inside your car or tent to flee the swarms, electricity, or friendly bats. And that would be a nylon domicile designed to let you eat your meals, read a book, or simply enjoy the evening without exiling yourself to some cramped bug-proof quarters.
There are several of these bug tents out on the market, and four of us on a five-day paddling trek in Yellowstone National Park in August were fortunate to be able to test the Bug Blocker (MSRP $289.95) from Kelty.
Designed for three-season use, the Bug Blocker has 40-denier no-see-um mesh walls and a 75-denier fly to provide both shade and some protection from any rain showers passing your way. The tent goes up quickly, requiring just two ridge poles and two hoop poles. The front of the tent has a large door with zippers on either side and a back door with a single zipper.
The large size has a footprint of 13 feet by 11 feet, and a center height of 7-foot-6. In other words, it's large enough to accommodate a small picnic table and four or five people without a problem. There's no floor to the tent, but rather fabric that runs along the bottom of the walls to serve as a bug barrier.
The Bug Blocker performed quite well on our trip, though to be honest conditions weren't quite as buggy as they can be in July, the height of bug season in Yellowstone. The only quibble we could come up with was there was no system for hanging a lantern from the ceiling.
All-in-all, this is a good solution for coping with bugs, whether you're in the backcountry or a picnic area.