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We’ve long been fans of Thermacell’s mosquito-shield technology because it actually works. How? A small heater releases a compound that includes the active ingredient metofluthrin—a synthetic version of a substance found in chrysanthemum flowers. The chemical cocktail repels mosquitoes without posing health risks to mammals or birds. The brand utilizes this technology in a range of devices, from hybrid lanterns to palm-size travel pods. The new Rechargeable Adventure EX-Series EX90 ($50) is its best hiking and camping model yet.
The softball-size unit weighs only nine ounces, yet yields a 20-foot radius of bug-free bliss. Its plastic shell held up to a summer’s worth of field abuse (dropping it, stuffing it into packs) and was water-resistant enough to survive a drizzly night on a picnic table with no loss of performance. But the thing that excited us most is that it’s rechargeable. Rather than relying on bulky disposable isobutane canisters, which tend to run out and leave you unprotected when you least expect it, the EX90 uses a USB-rechargeable lithium-ion battery. How it works: Once you have your EX90 topped off, insert a repellent cartridge (they’re sold separately for $18 apiece, and were good for around 30 hours in our testing) and press the on/off button. Within about 15 minutes, a nearly invisible, odor-free plume of the metofluthrin mixture wafts out. (But note that wind can mess with the chemical’s effectiveness.) We achieved a full charge in two hours and ran the EX90 for nine hours before running out of juice—plenty of time to enjoy a bug-bite-free outdoor cocktail hour. We even made it through an entire three-day backpacking trip in Colorado’s Flat Tops Wilderness, using the EX90 for around three hours each night, without needing to plug it back in until we got home.