Inside the outdoor industry

PRODUCT PROFILE: Thermacell MR150 insect repeller

Burton McCall has launched a new style of insect repelling device for this year

214

Burton McCall has launched a new style of insect repelling device for this year, Thermacell’s MR150, which deploys a protective cloud around the user, keeping away midges, mozzies and other insects, dispensing with the need for sprays and lotions.

Product manager, Mark Ashton, told us more about the distributor’s new bug-beating technology.

How long has this range been with BM?
Thermacell is new for 2018 with Burton McCall. We started looking at the brand around 18 months ago with an aim to bring it on board for this year.
What success have you had at retail with it so far?
The uptake has been great. Go Outdoors have been the first national account on board listing it in all store as soon as the product landed in the UK. Tiso Are also going to be ranging it, along with independents all over the country. We have been really pleased with the response from retailers.
What is the advantage of this range over more traditional repellents?
Thermacell has a number of advantages over traditional repellents. No more sprays or lotions to put on your skin. No chemical smells or residue. Simplicity insert a cartridge add a repellent mat and switch it on. Simply “turn it on mosquitos gone” and key for the UK it works on midges too.
How does the technology work?
Thermacell technology uses heat activated repellent to create an invisible, scent-free, zone of protection from mosquitoes, midges and other small flying insects. The devices are powered by a small fuel cartridge that provides the cordless, portable heat that is directed to a metal grill. A small mat saturated with repellent is inserted on top of the metal grill. Heat disperses the repellent from the mat into the air, creating the zone of protection.    In this way, mosquitoes and midges are stopped in flight instead of on one’s skin, so Thermacell reduces both bites and the annoyance of buzzing mosquitoes and midges.
The repellent, allethrin, is a synthetic copy of a natural repellent found in chrysanthemum plants.

What are the differences offered in the range?
We have three models in the range. Two are aimed at the camping/outdoor market the MR300 and the Backpacker. The MR300 is a portable device that you could attach to a rucksack whist hiking or a vest whist fishing. The backpacker is a standalone unit that fits on screw fitting gas cartridges giving you really long run times, up to 180 hours depending on the size of the cartridge? We also do the Halo Mini (left) which is aimed at the garden market. Essentially they all work in the same way it’s just a variance on the style and shape of the product.
Any promotions for retailers? POS and support in-store?
This year we were one of the sponsors at Banff film festival with adverts that will have been seen by over 75,000 people giving the brand great exposure. Strut cards and kick stands are also available for use in-store.

 

FIELD TEST

We took the Thermacell M150 out and pitted it against some insects…


As is quite often the case here in the UK, the weather during the summer months can be inclement at the best of times. While us Brits start stripping off to shorts and t-shirt at the very first sign of sunshine, our usual summer weather of heavy rain followed by sunshine can also bring out an army of unwanted visitors, such as midges and mosquitos. Indeed, these little pests love our weather so much that mosquito bites have been on the rise in the UK, with local authorities reporting cases up over 2.5 times in the last 10 years.

While we’re fortunate enough not to be affected by the deadly malaria disease that they carry, bites in the UK can still lead to itchy, swollen welts. And, with over 30 types of native mosquito to choose from, chances are any outdoor activities that take place near water will be affected by them.

As someone who enjoys the outdoors, especially fishing trips, finding ways to repel mosquitos has always been a challenge for me. Spending long periods by lakes with dense reed beds, which provide fertile breeding grounds for the little blighters, often has me slapping my arms and legs as they feast on any exposed parts of my body. And, while Deet-based sprays can be work initially, they need to be applied regularly for them to remain effective.

Protection

Enter the MR150 Portable Mosquito Repeller by Thermacell. US company Thermacell has been manufacturing mosquito repellents for over 20 years, without the need for chemical sprays or lotions. The product works by heating a mat containing insect repellent on a hot plate based on the front of the unit. The heat comes from a fuel cartridge that’s inserted into the base and switched on to create a mosquito free zone, with each mat offering four hours of protection.  Sounds simple and easy to use, but does it work? I took the MR150 down to a lake to find out…

The first thing that struck me was how sturdy the product felt. Built almost entirely of hard plastic, the unit is about the size of a large TV remote control with the ruggedness of the plastic adding to the feeling of durability. A metal plate heats the mat, while a sturdy On/Off switch releases fuel from a butane cartridge. A Start button ignites the butane, and within five minutes of removing the product from its packaging, placing the fuel cartridge and mat into the MR150, a steady flow of vapour was rising from the front grill, providing me with immediate protection.

There’s a viewing panel on the back of the unit that allows you to check butane level, plus moulded areas for a better hand grip. When the butane is lit, a faint red glow can be seen through a viewing window located on the top, letting you know the MR150 is operational.

Mats are secured tightly between the grill and hotplate, so no chance of them falling out while moving or transporting the product. As the mat burns, the initial solid blue colour fades to white, indicating that the mat needs to replaced. Sliding another mat into the space through the side of the grill ejects the old mat through the other side. It’s a simple, well-thought-out design which is extremely neat and easy to use.

Active ingredient

The active ingredient in the mat, d-cis/trans allethrin, poses very little risk to adults, children or any pets/animals that might be wandering by, making it safe to use in any environment.

Thermacell claim that the unit creates a mosquito-free zone of up to 15ft, an umbrella-like forcefield that protects the user from the dreaded mozzies attack. I found that checking wind direction was important to the effectiveness of the unit, as ideally the vapour must cascade over you rather than away from you for the best results. Positioning the unit correctly I watched mosquitos as they flew around and was pleasantly surprised to see them taking no interest in me at all as I set up camp for the night.

Overall, I found the Thermacell mosquito repellent a great little product that does exactly what it says, keeping troublesome mosquitos and midges away, without the need for sprays or lotions. It’s portable, really simple to use, of durable construction but lightweight. Replacement mats and butane replacements are readily available from specialist outdoor retailers or available online.

There’s also a myriad of accessories to choose from to customise your unit, including carry holsters, LED lights and holders.

For anyone spending a lot of time camping outdoors during the months when mosquitos are at their hungriest, the Thermacell Repellent is an absolutely essential piece of kit that should be carried in every backpack.

Comments are closed.