Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sea to Summit Nano Pyramid Net Review

This piece of gear seems to have gone under the radar of many in the ultralight community. I have only found one review (Backpacking North) and very little discussion (Backpacking Light) about what is potentially the lightest and cheapest mosquito net option for pyramid style shelters. So, what is there not to love about a 3 oz pyramid style net that costs $50?

I bought mine from REI with a 20% discount, so it cost me $40 and I figured it was worth trying out. Other netting options for my Zpacks hexamid are quite expensive and I couldn't really justify the expense. Of course, it is hard to put a price on peace of mind, which becomes very valuable when being attacked by hungry, persistant and horribly annoying mosquitoes.

I don't recall where I first heard about the Sea to Summit Nano Pyramid Net but you can get the specs here:

Sea to Summit Nano at REI

I decided to take the net out on my last backpacking trip, not because I expected any bugs but just to see how it worked with my hexamid tarp.

The first thing I did was weigh it, many times manufacturers claims about weight are off but in this case it weighed in exactly at 3 oz. I think I can reduce this a little bit by trimming off the immensley long stretchy cord that is used to hang the apex of the net. Make sure you get the Nano, there is another non-nano version that weighs 3 times more.

Bug net set up under Hexamid
There are corner loops that can be used to attach the net to your tarp, if your tarp has loops or clips to attach to. The hexamid has these, as do many other pyramid style tarps.

I had to do some field modifications to keep the net from being too droopy and laying over my face. This net is not specifically designed for use with the hexamid, so I wasn't surprised that it didn't fit exactly. In fact, it fit a bit funny and I had to play around with it for a bit to get it into decent form. I found that clipping all four corners of the net to the tarp did not work out very well, so I ended up only clipping in 2 corners.

Rubber band and stick to take up slack

The elastic around the bottom of the net did an ok job of sealing off my sleeping bag, pad and bivy from the outside. There were a few small gaps that a persistant mosquito could get into. With some more fiddling these could probably be sealed but it is not a perfect fit.

I keep mentioning mosquitos because the netting is definately not fine enough to keep out noseeums and other really small insects. For me, in the West, this is not a big deal but those of you in the East, this might reduce the effectiveness of the netting. There is a bug repellent treatment applied to the netting, so this might provide some protection, but I am just speculating.

What came to mind for me as I was playing around with the netting was that it actually could be quite versatile. For example, if you want to eat your meal in peace, just drape the net over yourself and keep those pesky mosquitoes away. I can see this being very useful when stopping for lunch and you don't necessarily want to set up your shelter for a short period of time. Draping the net, takes almost no time and provides 100% mosquito protection.

And, perhaps more importantly, it can be used when Nature calls. You know there is almost nothing worse than trying to do your business, squatting over a freshly dug hole, and being ruthlessly bombarded, in very sensitive areas, by hundreds of mosquitoes that have been following you around. With some care, OK a lot of care, you could drape the netting over yourself and have a few minutes of peace with a nice relaxing poo.

So relaxing

That almost makes it worth the price right there and is one definite advantage this net has over many others which come with attached floors. As I carry a ground sheet, I do not require any floor with the net and so this allows it to be much more versatile.

To summarize, I think this net has a lot of potential. If you want a light, cheap bug net option and are willing to accept that it might not fit your shelter perfectly, I don't think you can go wrong with the Sea to Summit Nano Pyramid Net. Add to that, the ability to provide yourself a mosquito free zone when eating and excreting and you have a winner.