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Sea-to-Summit Head Net with Insect Shield

Sea-to-Summit Head net with Insect Shield
Sea-to-Summit Head Net with Insect Shield

I wear a Sea-to-Summit Head Net with Insect Shield when I hike and backpack during bug season. When coupled with a wide-brimmed hat like my OR Sentinel Brim, wearing a head net is far more comfortable and effective than coating my ears, head, chest and shoulders with DEET insect repellent.

I’ve tried several head nets over the years but the one from Sea-to-Summit works best for me. The weave on some head nets makes me feel nauseous: I think it’s a form of motion sickness from looking through the mesh while I’m walking. But the mesh on the Sea-to-Summit head net is black which makes it easier to see through and I can wear it all day without any side effects. If fact, I don’t even realize that it’s there until I try to eat or drink water.

It surprises me how few people wear head nets during bug season. I did a 16 mile hike yesterday and everyone I encountered was getting eaten alive by the bugs. I must have had a dozen or more people tell me what a smart guy I was for bringing along a head net along. It’s really just common sense.

If you read Section Hiker regularly, you know I like wearing hiking clothes that have been treated with Insect Shield (also called Permethrin), a bug resistant treatment that was developed for the US military to protect soldiers from insect bites in the tropics. The hiking shirts, pants, hat, and socks I’m wearing above are all Insect Shield garments. It doesn’t kill bugs on contact, but it will kill insects after a few minutes if they decide to hang around or crawl under your clothes, like Lyme disease carrying ticks. Covering up just makes sense for me and means I don’t have to mess around with DEET which I hate wearing.

When worn, the Sea-to-Summit Head Net covers your face and collar so you can keep your shirt open at the top and not worry about the bugs biting your there. The head net also comes with a tiny gear lock that lets you cinch the opening so it won’t blow off your hat in the wind.

The Sea-to-Summit Head Net weighs 0.9 ounces which is well worth the added freight. While it’s fine mesh, it’s sturdy enough to be used as a stuff sack for loose stuff in your pack until you need it. The head net is packaged with its own little stuff sack, but I lose those things so quickly that I just store mine bunched up in the top lid of my backpack or the chest pocket of my rain coat, which I typically wear at dinner when the bugs are at their worst.

For the money, the Sea-to-Summit Head Net is one of the most effective chemical-fee bug deterrents available for hiking and camping out there.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product with his own funds. 

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19 comments

  1. I use the same one, and I’m also amazed more people don’t use them. It’s such a simple solution to help maintain your sanity when the biters are out in force.

  2. Here’s an old trick. Use alcohol to swab your ears. Carefully of course. That will lessen the visits you get from gnats and such. I have yet to find something other than a swatter that does it for Florida Deer Flies, swatting them is sweet revenge! A green branch carried before you will deter them somewhat.

  3. “The weave on some head nets makes me feel nauseous” and this is the exact reason I gave the only bug net I’ve ever owned to someone while I was on the trail in VT. I haven’t tried the STS but worth checking it out to see if it’s of the non nauseous variety, if it works for me then it’s a keeper.

  4. I was surprised when it worked without any nausea…after suffering all those years. I’m sold!

  5. I bought my bug head net so many years ago that I can’t remember the brand, but it is one of the best pieces of gear I have. I carry it on every three-season hike and even if I only use it once a year (though this year I’ve already used it twice) it’s definitely worth it. I would say it’s worth its weight in gold but since it hardly weighs anything, I don’t think that means much.

  6. Have you tried a head et from Peter’s ahead eats? If so I assume it caused the same issues for you.

  7. I was hiking up Slide Mountain in the Catskills one Memorial Day weekend and several desparate people actually tried to buy my bug hat off me. Beats me why more people don’t wear them.

  8. what about your hands? i had black flies attack my hands when i exposed them just to take pictures.

    • If it’s really bad out, I pull on a pair of this pertex gloves, but most of the time I’m walking and moving my arms and the bugs don’t hit my hands. Again, when it’s bad, they go for my wrists where my veins are close to the surface, so I just put a dab of DEET there and they go away. I suppose protective sun gloves would work pretty well if its a problem too. Another useful solution is to walk with someone who is a bug magnet, and let them draw all the fire. :-)

  9. I use the same STS, it really works great. I normally only use it for basecamp when I’m idle, I don’t seem to be a bug magnet. And the bugs aren’t as bad in NC as what I’ve experienced in the Rockies.

  10. I use the same headnet, and have had similar responses from jealous people when they see me put it on and wish they had their own. I prefer not to use Deet based repellent at all, and so wear long pants and shirts and gloves also- protection is a must in Alaska where I live in the summer.

  11. My problem with DEET is that I hate it more than I hate bugs, causing me not to wear it, which brings great rejoicing to the entomological world. In order to keep all my vital juices from being sucked dry on a hike, I’ve gone to Insect Shield on all my hiking clothes. I also use Picaridin rather than DEET, however, Picaridin repellents sometimes can be hard to find.

    Most of my hiking has not been in heavy bug season but I’ve got a few head nets and I quickly noticed a black net is much easier to see through than a lighter one. Mine are likely the cheap Coghlan’s brand. I’m going to check the Sea to Summit and Peter’s versions.

  12. I’ll second Herbert’s comment. My wife and I headnets by Peter Vacco. They’re well designed and the visibility through the material is very good.

  13. I have not hike anywhere buggy enough for me to try out my head net. Last summer was a dry year on the JMT so the mosquitos weren’t bad during our July/August hike there. Ticks are more of a problem in Mississippi where I live and on the section of the AT we hiked last month. Since I started hiking in long pants tucked into socks this earlier this spring, I have not had a single tick even when others were finding lots attached after hiking. Seems to work regardless of whether or not I’m wearing gaiters, shoes and sock tops sprayed with permethrin.

  14. Another great review Phill. The STS HN fits nicely in the inner pocket of my Tilley airflow hat. They are a good match.

  15. Love this head net. Never considered using it as a stuff sack though, so thanks for the tip!

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