Kevin VanDam on How the New Mossy Oak Fishing Thermacell Has Improved His Outdoor Experiences

Thermacell, Mossy Oak and Kevin VanDam are joining forces.

Spring is here and warmer months are rapidly approaching. With warmer temperatures comes the one thing we do not like about summer and that is all the mosquitoes that fill the air. Not only are they annoying, today they can be downright dangerous with all the diseases now being spread by these biting pests.

In the past, the pest control solution was to slather on the bug spray and other chemicals, which are often oily and greasy in nature. Plus, many people are now trying to avoid putting strong repellent products like DEET on their skin.

Of course, if you love the outdoors, you need to do something to protect yourself. This leaves many campers, backpackers, hunters, and fishermen and women looking for an alternative. For pro bass fishing legend Kevin VanDam, his solution was the Thermacell portable mosquito repeller.

Kevin VanDam: Champion Angler and Mosquito Magnet?

VanDam is best known for all his many fishing championships on both the Bassmaster and FLW tournament trail. Many people do not know he is also an avid hunter who spends all year enjoying the outdoors. The only downside for the eight-time Angler of the Year is that wherever he goes, a cloud of mosquitoes seems to follow when the season is right. He is not sure what makes him so tasty, but it means he has tried every other solution out there.

"If there is a mosquito within a thousand miles, he will find me," VanDam said during an online press conference.

He said the clouds will often ignore other people in his family and seemingly focus only on him. VanDam is now teaming with Thermacell and Mossy Oak to promote the mosquito repeller made specifically with fishermen in mind. However, VanDam said he first discovered the mosquito protection product nearly 20 years ago when looking for a solution for the flying pests during the spring turkey seasons.

VanDam realized how effectively the device repels mosquitoes on just such a turkey hunt in a swampy area that had clouds of big mosquitoes swarming around the Thermacell radius zone.

"I sat down by a tree with a Thermacell running and it's like a forcefield. You could see them, they wouldn't get any closer than about six feet," VanDam said. "So, I saw how well it worked 20 years ago and have really been using it ever since."

Like many outdoorsmen and women, KVD has never liked the sticky feeling or the smell associated with traditional spray repellants, citronella candles, and lotions. While he started out just using Thermacell for hunting, that has since morphed into every aspect of the outdoors during the summer months. He even once used a Thermacell at an outdoor wedding for his niece.

"We use them on our deck, in our backyard, my parents have a lake house, we have the Thermacell lanterns out there every evening while we're sitting around because the mosquitoes in Michigan are real," VanDam said.

MR300 Mosquito Repeller Mossy Oak Fishing

For those unfamiliar with Thermacell, they are unique in the mosquito repellent business for using allethrin. Basically, it is a synthetic form of a natural repellent found in certain chrysanthemum flowers. The repellent is put into specially made mats which are inserted into the repeller. Add a fuel source in the form of butane cartridges which creates a small open flame that heats and activates the mat, and it dispenses the repellent into the air. All Thermacell products essentially create a 15-foot zone of protection around the device that keeps mosquitoes away. No spray, no mess, and it is scent-free, which is good for hunters concerned about fooling the noses of big game. In the 20-plus years since its debut, Thermacell has constantly been tweaking and improving the design.

"The active ingredient has pretty much stayed the same," Thermacell's Adam Goess said. "What we've done is we constantly optimize and improve how the air circulation goes, some of the non-active ingredients that help in the vaporization."

That has also meant changes to many of the device's openings, grills and how it vents repellent into the air.

"As simple as the system looks like, there is so much that the engineers do to make it super-efficient," Goess said.

VanDam agrees, stating he has noticed the difference between the new launch of Thermacells and his original olive green unit from 20 years ago, which he still has. He has noticed up to an extra hour of use from each butane canister when compared to the effective time of the older units. The new versions also light a lot faster than the old ones.

"I think they're considerably more efficient than what I have that's five or six years old," VanDam said.

The Mossy Oak Fishing version comes with a belt clip and a multi-purpose clamp that allows you to mount the repeller anywhere on your boat where protection is needed most. Partnering with a well-known angler like VanDam was an obvious choice for both Thermacell and Mossy Oak when they learned what a fan he was. VanDam said he has already extensively used this newer model of the product.

"I'll put it on my windshield, I'll put it under my dash, I can put it on a boat cleat," VanDam said. "If I'm working on tackle in the mornings or evenings, it's just easy to have it running."

VanDam expects the DEET-free insect repellent to work well not just for mosquitoes, but also swarming insects like those he often encounters coming off hydrilla mats while fishing in Florida.

With the fishing version of Thermacell, anglers will find the Mossy Oak camo repeller, the clamp, three repellent mats, one Thermacell butane cartridge that are good for up to 12 hours of protection. Thermacell mosquito repellent refills with extra mats and fuel cartridges are also available from most retailers. 

See the Thermacell and Mossy Oak websites for more information.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels