A host of high-tech products promise to rid a broad area of pesky bugs, but we found only one that comes close to upholding that promise. The ThermaCell Mosquito Repellent Outdoor Lantern ($31) emits a cloud of allethrin that acts like a force field against mosquitoes and black flies. Allethrin is a synthetic form of a compound in chrysanthemums that repels insects.

A small butane-fired heater releases the allethrin from a replaceable pad atop the bright battery-powered LED lantern. We found the ThermaCell unit creates a buffer extending about 10 feet away – effectively creating a 20-foot diameter ‘bug-free zone,’ though wind can effect that zone’s size and location. The U.S. Army uses similar devices to protect bases in heavily mosquito-infested parts of the world.

The lantern itself casts a soft light throughout camp—plenty bright enough for cooking or a game of cards, without the blinding incandescence and heat of white gas or propane lanterns.

Heavy testing of these lanterns by our experts in places like Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area, along Montana’s Bitterroot River, and in the fetid swamps of Alabama proved that the ThermaCell Mosquito Repellent Lantern truly works at keeping biting bugs away.

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