Ben's Ultranet | Bikepacking Companion?


So why is a fat bike blog reviewing a bug net . . . it has nothing to do with fat biking. Quite true unless you are bikepacking with your fattie in mosquito and black fly country.

A couple of years back I headed to Clam Cove for an Under-24-Hour-Overnight (U24O) bikepacking trip. I had a cheap no-name head net with me and that did nothing to protect me from the ravages of the black flies. Getting back to the vehicle the next day I counted 300+ fly bites on my face. It was not pretty. I needed something better.


Not being a fan of using any type of buy spray, I wanted to stick with some sort of netting that would allow me to wear my own hat underneath. While browsing in The Outfitters one day I spied a little orange bag hung on a rack. Upon closer inspection I saw it was a Ben's Ultranet Head Net. It had an elastic crown (I could wear my own hat), ultra-fine mesh (to keep out the nasty flying bugs) and straps (to snug it down and keep it tight).


Getting it home, I popped it out of the package and discovered exactly how compact the Ultranet actually is.


Comparing it to a traditional bug net it packs up much smaller, which is very important when bikepacking as space is at a premium.


However, the Ultranet does look a little odd when pulled out of its orange stuff sack.


Dropping both nets on the scale, the traditional bug net is over double the weight. Also another factor when bikepacking.


And the mesh in the Ben's is much tighter than the traditional. This means less critters would be able to squirm through for a meal.


With the bench comparison completed it was off to test it in the wilderness. Dropping the Ultranet in the front of my Arkel Rollpacker bag I headed off to Indian Bay for a Under 24 Hour Overnight (U24O) adventure.


As we kept moving for most of the day the mosquitoes and black flies did not really have the chance to cause much irritation.


All that changed after we set up camp and the black flies and mosquitoes decided to pay us a visit. Grabbing the little orange bag it was pretty easy to free the net from the mini stuff sack. I did find that aligning the net for installation took a few tries. This is where the traditional bug net would be easier to slip on as it has one easy to find entry point.


The toggles on the straps allowed me to adjust the tightness of the Ultranet, which kept the bugs from crawling up underneath.


When I finally got it on, with the straps tucked up under my arm pits, I found it quite comfortable. As I had no way to see myself, I did not realize the bunching of the mesh on the bib of my hat until after seeing these pics. I bet I could have gotten an even better fit.


I did notice that the very fine mesh is a little delicate, as it did stick to some velcro, so you may want to be patient when installing. While the mesh is dark, I did not have any issues seeing through it. However, if it had been a lighter color it may have been possible to see the frustrated mosquitoes and black flies looking for a meal.


The only bite I did get on this trip was after I removed the Ultranet when heading to bed. This this guy managed to get inside my Amok Dramur hammock when I wasn't looking.



FINAL THOUGHTS

Ben's Ultranet kept me bug bite free on this U24O excursion.  Despite the Ultranet's somewhat delicate nature . . . the compact size, fine mesh and comfortable fit will ensure that it stays in by bikepacking kit.


RIDE FAT!




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