Your list of travel necessities is long, your baggage allowance is small and so is your budget. So should you invest in mosquito nets before setting out on your travels? Well, it essentially depends where you are going. But if you are visiting a country where mosquito-borne disease, or any illness carried by insects, is prevalent, the short answer is yes, you need one.
Mosquito nets provide a protective barrier around you as you sleep, which is when you are often most vulnerable. The biggest threat that comes with mosquitoes is malaria, and the mosquito that carries it – the Anopheles mosquito – is most active at dusk and dawn. One of the most deadly diseases in the world, malaria is caused by a blood parasite that multiplies within the host, destroying red blood cells.
Sound nasty? It is. This is why purchasing a mosquito net is vital if you are travelling to any country where malaria is a risk. But it could also protect you against other diseases, including dengue fever, yellow fever, Zika virus and different forms of the encephalitis virus.
So what should you look for when purchasing mosquito nets? It depends on the nature of your trip. If you are backpacking around and moving locations frequently, a lightweight, compact net is worth considering. If you are going to be residing long-term somewhere, maybe think about getting a net that will offer more space, air circulation and comfort.
Also, many nets are pre-treated with an insecticide, such as Permethrin or Deltamethrin, which are much more efficient than normal nets. The insecticide kills the mosquitoes as soon as they come into contact, or simply repels them. In fact, the repellent effect of the chemical can also protect people in the room who aren't using the net – so you are protecting others while also protecting yourself – extra bonus points!
So what options do you have?
1 – Self-supporting Nets
Self-supporting mosquito nets come with hoops or wands to create a frame that suspends the net over the sleeper like a tent. They often come with a base so you are completely enclosed and protected from anything crawling around on the ground or on your bed. The advantage of a net-like this is not having to stress about strings and hooks, which can be a nightmare, especially in hostel bunk-beds. It can also be used on a bed, in a tent, and even outside. However, these nets are often more expensive, bulkier, and heavier. The space inside is also slightly cramped, so there is less air circulation.
We recommend: Lifesystems GeoNet Free Standing Mosquito Net
This net is made of a fine mesh, and has a simple dome-shaped design, providing maximum headroom. It is constructed using two lightweight aluminum poles which are easily collapsed and packed away. There is also a waterproof groundsheet and zip-up entrance.
2 – Pop-up Nets
Similar to the self-supporting nets, pop-ups are the quickest nets to assemble – you just take it out of the bag, and boom, there you have it! You can use also use it inside a tent or outside under the stars, making it ideal for campers.
We recommend: Pyramid Mosinet Single Bed Pop-Up Mosquito Net
This pop-up net is large and airy, with a side zip for easy entry and exit. It comes pre-treated with Permethrin, effective for 2 years, and there is also a double-bed version. While it couldn't be easier to put up, reviews suggest taking it down is another matter. Worth watching a YouTube tutorial before you set out on your travels!
3 – Wedge Mosquito Nets
These nets get their name from their wedge-like shape, similar to a doorstop. They are designed to provide maximum space over the sleeper's head, while the lower end drapes over your bedding. They are some of the cheapest nets around and are relatively simple to put up, requiring only one or two supporting points. Lightweight and compact, they are ideal for backpackers who are moving around a lot. However, like the self-supporting net, they are also are fairly small and can feel a bit cramped.
We recommend: Lifesystems Superlight Micro Mosquito Net
This net weighs only 180g and is the size of a hand towel when folded – ideal for those travelling light. It requires only one support, above your head. It is a great choice for a single person backpacking around: easy to put up, and unpack, and is also treated with insecticide formula for extra protection.
4 – Bell Mosquito Nets
Bell nets are shaped like a bell – surprise, surprise – with one single suspension point above the centre of the bed from which the net hangs. Although they are quite bulky and heavy, they are easy to erect, with only one hanging point, and provide plenty of air circulation – perfect for hot, tropical nights. Plus, they look glamorous and stylish, for added interior design points!
We recommend: Lifesystems BellNet Double Mosquito Net
This net has been designed for extra strength and tear resistance – making it a great long-term investment. It fits both double and single beds, and has a single hanging point over the centre, providing plenty of height and space. Airy and comfortable, this is the perfect option for those who have more space in their luggage and who are worried about it getting a little bit stuffy.
5 – Box Nets
Box nets are rectangular, mimicking the shape of the bed. They provide lots of space and air circulation, with the largest enclosed volume of any style of net. However, they are trickier to assemble and take down, with 4 different points of suspension. It may be difficult to find suitable places to attach them from in more basic accommodation, and they can also be quite heavy.
We recommend: Lifesystems BoxNet Double Mosquito Net
This net is for two people, but could also be used as an extra spacious net for one. Again, it is pre-treated with Lifesystems EX8 formula. Although ideal for those who are keen on comfort and concerned about being too hot, it is less good if you a moving around on a regular basis.
So once you've decided on the best net for your trip, what else can you do to protect against bites?
- Of course, the first step should be to talk to your healthcare provider about antimalarials. Although no anti-malarial is 100% effective, they will do a great deal to reduce your risk of contracting the disease, especially if combined with nets and repellants.
- Place a fan near your bed to provide a gentle breeze that will keep mosquitoes from landing on your skin. According to the American Mosquito Control Association, mosquitoes are weak fliers, and the fan also disperses your scent so mosquitoes are less attracted to you.
- Avoid getting too hot at night as the odours released with sweat attract mosquitoes. But you don't want to be naked either! Wear long, loose clothing that is comfortable but also keeps you covered.
With all this in mind, you can sleep easy knowing that any creepy-crawly bedfellows stand no chance of staging an attack!
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