Mosquitoes Becoming Immune To DEET, Study Suggests

According to a new study, mosquitoes are learning to ignore DEET, the BBC reports.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine tested the responses to DEET by the Aedes aegypti, a type of mosquito that can carry yellow fever and dengue fever and is thus particularly dangerous to adventure travelers.

In a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers say that while mosquitoes are at first repelled by DEET’s smell, they soon become accustomed to it and can return bite the wearer. Electrodes attached to the insects’ antennae show that they adjust to the scent of DEET and simply stop smelling it.

This is something I’ve heard campers and hikers comment on for quite some time now. Spending time in mosquito-ridden Missouri, I’ve noticed this trend myself. Missouri has about 55 known types of mosquito, including the Aedes aegypti.

An earlier study has raised questions about DEET being a neurotoxin. It looks like science’s next task is to find a better insect repellent.

I’ve also noticed that mosquito coils, which do not have DEET as an active ingredient, no longer seem to work on Missouri mosquitoes either. I enjoy sitting on the porch swing of my friend’s house reading. It used to be that a burning coil set nearby would keep the bugs away. No more. The last time I tried it the little bastards were attacking me so much I actually put the coil under the porch swing so the smoke rose right onto me. The mosquitoes didn’t seem to care. I soon retreated inside.

[Photo of Aedes aegypti courtesy US Department of Agriculture]

Gadling Gear Review: Adidas Terrex Swift Softshell Jacket

The weather has shifted here in the Pacific Northwest and that means a person can’t just throw on any old thing to ride her bike anymore – or go for a hike, or just a bus ride into town for sightseeing or … you know. It’s windy and sometimes rainy, and it gets cold. It’s jacket weather.

Adidas is known for their sports and outdoor stuff, but I’ve never used any of their gear before. I wrapped my stuff in their Terrex Swift Softshell jacket and rode my bike for 16 miles. That seems as good a way to test a piece of gear for insulation and breathability as any, right? Plus, lucky me, on the last two miles it rained. Yes, I DID stay dry.My biggest issue with outdoor brands – all outdoor brands, not just this one – is fit. I wore a large and really, I’m 5’2″ and SO not a large. The jacket has a narrow cut, it’s a little close in the armpits and the sleeves are narrow; the cut is very close. I could not have worn more than a thin shirt and/or long underwear underneath. Once I got going on my ride, I really appreciated things like the stretchy underarm fabric, but there’s no way I could wear this jacket on over a sweater. That limits the seasonal use for it – fine for warmer weather, but once you need to start piling on the layers, it is not so practical.

It’s actually a great jacket for riding a bike in, though. The sleeves are elastic at the wrist and keep the wind out. You can cinch it at the bottom, too. The pockets are flat and roomy and double as vents if you need that. And there’s a breast pocket that’s perfect for stowing your phone. It’s made of windstop fabric, and while it’s narrow, it’s actually a nice cut if you’re not worrying about cold. It looks great and includes the Adidas trademark triple stripe along the sides for the brand conscious.

You’ve probably gathered that I was cold wearing it. I wasn’t insulated enough for the wind from those fast downhill parts of my ride. I stayed very dry in the rain and the tall collar kept the cold from getting down my neck, but the Terrex jacket didn’t quite do the trick for the conditions in which I tested it.

The Terrex comes for men or women and retails for about $150. Get one size larger than you think you need. Pack it if your travels require an outer layer for something sporty in mild fall weather.

[Image credit: Adidas]

Gadling Gear Review: Brooklyn Outfitters Wolfjaw 16L Backpack

Over the years, major outdoor gear companies like North Face and Patagonia have built billion dollar businesses out of selling their various jackets, base layers, packs and other equipment. But these days some of the highest quality and most innovative gear comes from smaller, lesser known companies who mix a passion for adventure into their designs. Many of these boutique gear companies are the result of climbers, backpackers and paddlers creating the specific gear they need simply because they can’t find it anywhere else. Such is the case with a company called Brooklyn Outfitters, which makes a small, but very high quality, line of backpacks that were clearly designed by outdoor adventurers for outdoor adventurers.

As the name implies, Brooklyn Outfitters is located in New York City and in addition to creating their own line of gear they also regularly organize a series of short outdoor excursions and seminars. I haven’t been lucky enough to join them on one of those day trips just yet but I have had the good fortune of putting one of their packs through its paces. Over the past couple of months I’ve been testing the Wolfjaw 16L backpack and I can honestly say that I’m very impressed.

The Wolfjaw is a no-frills, minimalist pack that will appeal to day hikers, peak baggers and rock climbers alike. Its simple, yet unique, design hugs the body nicely, doesn’t restrict motion and stays in place while on the move, which is important for those that like to hike or climb light and fast.

Made from lightweight and durable fabrics this pack can take a beating without showing a hint of wear and tear. Better yet, those same fabrics are also waterproof and when combined with the unique buckled top enclosure – which resembles something you’d find on a dry-bag – you can be sure that the contents of the pack will stay nice and dry even under the wettest of conditions.Staying true to its minimalist roots, the Wolfjaw features just one main storage compartment and a second front organizational pocket. Both are large and can swallow up more gear than the 16-liter size would typically imply, but there were times where an extra pocket or two could have come in handy. Access to the main compartment can also be a bit frustrating at times as whatever piece of gear you need will invariably be on the bottom and difficult to find.

On multiple occasions in this article I’ve used the term “minimalist” to describe this pack but that doesn’t mean that Brooklyn Outfitters has skimped on the options in the Wolfjaw. For example, the bag includes a dedicated internal hydration sleeve that makes it easy to carry a couple of liters of water on your adventure. The designers have also incorporated an easily adjustable hip belt, multifunction compression straps and a foam pad that provides solid back support. Those looking to shed excess weight from their pack will be happy to know that both the compression straps and foam pad can be removed.

I used the Wolfjaw on a variety of trails, as well as while climbing, and found that it was comfortable and carried a full load of gear very well. The shoulder straps aren’t particularly thick, but still provided plenty of support, and the hip belt helped lock the bag into place, keeping it from moving unnecessarily. I appreciated the fact that this bag wasn’t constantly shifting about while hiking or climbing and didn’t limit motion in any way either.

Not everyone will appreciate the Wolfjaw’s minimalist approach and for those who need more storage or organizational options, I’d recommend looking elsewhere. But outdoor and adventure athletes in need of a well built, comfortable pack that was designed specifically for their needs will find a lot to like with this bag. With a price tag of just $99, the Wolfjaw also happens to be a fantastic bargain, particularly for a pack that is made in the U.S.A.

In addition to the Wolfjaw 16L, Brooklyn Outfitters makes a couple of other packs as well including a larger Wolfjaw 34L and the smaller Panther 14L. If those packs share the same high quality and attention to detail as the Wolfjaw I tested, the company has some real winners on their hands. This small company could be in for big things down the line.

Tomorrow Is National Get Outdoors Day!

Tomorrow, Saturday, June 9, is the 5th annual National Get Outdoors Day, an event, which has been created to encourage Americans to head outside and spend some time connecting with nature. Throughout the day, more than 130 locations across the country will be celebrating the occasion with a host of outdoor games, events and activities.

It’s no secret that Americans in general are spending less time outdoors and to some degree it is a bit disheartening to think that we need a specific day to remind us to do just that. On the other hand, anything that inspires people to get off the couch and get active is a good thing in my book. So with that in mind, why don’t you plan on dusting off that old bike tomorrow and taking it for a spin. Or better yet, gather up some friends and family and head to a local park for a hike and a picnic. Remember that tent you bought three years ago because you swore that you were going to go camping? How about dragging it out of the garage and setting it up in the backyard? It doesn’t matter what inspires you to go outside, what is most important is that you actually do it.

And don’t forget, all of the National Parks are completely free tomorrow too. That means that the more than 130 parks that normally charge for entry will be completely gratis. If you live near any of those parks, tomorrow is the perfect time to go out and enjoy them.

The Teva Winter Mountain Games begin today

The first-ever Teva Winter Mountain Games get underway today in Vail, Colorado, where some of the top pro and amateur outdoor athletes have gathered to compete in a variety of sports. The event, which lasts through the weekend, will also feature a number of concerts, gear giveaways, clinics, and more.

Some of the sports that the athletes will be competing in including ice climbing, Nordic and telemark skiing, snowshoeing, and on-snow cycling. Even man’s best friend can get in on the action, as there are several events for dogs to compete too. But the biggest event of the weekend is the Ultimate Mountain Challenge, which features three different sports spread out over three days. In order to be crowned the King or Queen of the Mountain, a single athlete will have to fend off all the competition in a Nordic Freestyle race today, than follow it up with an up-hill cross country skiing competition tomorrow. On Sunday, those same competitors will then square off in the toughest stage of all – a skiing race up, over, and back down, Vail Mountain.

A large group of spectators are expected to be hand over the three-day event, cheering on their favorite athletes. That crowd won’t have to sit on the sidelines without getting the opportunity to join in on the fun however, as they’ll get the chance to take part in photo competitions and clinics, test out some gear, and hone their own winter outdoor skills. They can also enjoy an adventure film festival, listen to some live bands, and join the celebration at several parties.

The inaugural Teva Winter Mountain Games is a natural extension of the summer Mountain Games, which will be taking place later this year. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who loves to run, ride, or climb, you’ll certainly find a lot to love at both events.