- Looks: 19/20
- Effectiveness: 20/20
- Versatility: 19/20
- Value: 18/20
- Feel: 19/20
- TOTAL: 95/100
It’s a given—I’m picnicking in the park, having cocktails on the patio or just giving the dog his last evening walk—and at the same time getting devoured by mosquitoes. It’s an annual hazard yet I’m constantly forgetting to spritz insecticide (which I don’t like the smell or soggy feel of anyway), leaving me on an endless cycle of slapping away squadrons of tiny predators and then scratching at the raised welts left behind.
I have long identified as the annoying camper/girlfriend/traveler who has to tap out of any outdoor activity because the mosquitoes are just terrible so when I heard about the Outer Bug Shield blanket, a lightweight recycled poly blanket that’s treated with permethrin (a non-irritating insecticide derived from chrysanthemums) to protect wearers from mosquitos and other creepy crawlies I was intrigued but not convinced this could work, As I unwrapped the featherweight blanket—which was more like a shawl at 50 by 60 inches—I realized it didn’t even smell like insecticide or anything at all, so how could bugs be put off?
I half-heartedly stuck it in my bag as a friend and I went to a sound bath held at a private home. On a quiet street on Los Angeles’s West Side, we were directed to mats laid out on a gorgeous green lawn. As we lay back, listening to our host bring forth wails and signs from crystal bowls, dusk settled and I drowsily watched a hummingbird flit through the olive trees. I brought out my little blanket and laid under it, and as the sound bath ebbed and flowed, my mind emptied, except for that hummingbird and some stirrings of my friend beside me.
As we left an hour later, my friend asked me if she bothered me with her rustling. “I was getting bitten by so many bugs!” she said. It’s then I noticed the stealth genius of the Outer Bug Shield blanket: I hadn’t gotten a single bite. Nor had I noticed any insects at all. The unassuming little blanket, which by the way is made from recycled materials so it’s eco-friendly, is so understated (I have the beige-and-black plaid, but it also comes in houndstooth and pinstripe) that you underestimate it. But the company has tested it on not only mosquitoes but also ticks, ants, biting flies, chiggers and no-see-ums (ugh, those are the worst). And the active insect repellent mojo will work for 25 washings (although the company cautions users not to dry clean it, which somehow ruins the natural insecticide’s effectiveness). But who needs dry cleaning? My anti-bug blanket washed up fine, then I hung it to dry to keep it from wrinkling.
The brand that makes the blanket, Outer, also produces Martha Stewart-approved lawn furniture and outdoor pillows with a crisp East Coast preppie vibe, so it doesn’t surprise me that I’m as happy using the blanket in my living room as outdoors. And after it’s too cold for insects to bite, I’m planning to fold it longways and wear it as a cozy fall scarf. Take that, skeeters—I’m going to extend backyard wine o’clock way into the night if I want to.