Skreenz - For When You Don't Want to be Bugged While Camping Anymore
This isn't a photography tip per se, but I'm a photographer and was quite pleased to learn about this myself recently and thought I'd share it. Finally, a way to deal with mosquitoes and bugs when car camping.
When travelling on photography outings, I often use my Honda Element as my home away from home. It's actually quite practical to camp in. Stretched out in the back, there's even a skylight so I can look up at the stars at night. It opens too so I can get some ventilation to keep the windows from fogging up from condensation. Honda makes a screen for it that snaps into the headliner to keep bugs out, but it doesn't work that well. With only six snaps spaced around the circumference, it leaves enough gaps that determined mosquitoes inevitably find their way in. This is still better than cracking one of the side windows of course where even lazy bugs would be allowed free entry while I tried to sleep.
While reading on the Element Owners Club online forum, I came across a product and a company known as Skreenz. Basically, Skreenz are window screens for your van or RV.
Invented by Chuck Blethen, an engineer by training and an outdoor enthusiast by choice, Skreenz come readymade for a variety of SUV's, vans and recreational vehicles, including the Honda Element. If they don't make one to fit your vehicle, they can custom make them for a price. Skreenz are constructed from a strong, coated fiberglass screen mesh material that seems durable yet fine enough to stop even fairly tiny flying insects. Blethen has been making these things for twenty years now, and it is evident that he has fine tuned the design to be both simple yet functional.
Regular Skreenz slip over the top of your car door frame much like an upside down pillow case, giving you a layer of screen material on both the inside and outside of the window. You slip them over, and then close the door to complete the seal on all sides except the bottom which is kept tight by tension from a Velcro closure around the side view mirror. I have Honda window visors on both front doors, and the Skreenz fit over them quite well allowing me to leave the windows open a ways without any fear of water or mosquitoes getting in. The Skreenz website says you have to remove window rain deflectors but this works great for me, something that is important in the Northwest where we have both bugs and rain.
Skreenz also makes a better screen for the Element sunroof window too. Rather than going on the inside as Honda's own screen does, Blethen's version goes on the outside and is held down by no less than 32 small rare-earth magnets sewn into the hem. It can be a bit awkward at first to get it on properly so I'd advise you to practice with it at home first. After playing with it a bit though, it works just fine. Come to think about it, compared with figuring out how to get Honda's Element privacy window shades up, this was relatively easy.
I only just got my set of Skreenz, but they seem quite well made. Although I could likely rig up something similar myself for cheaper, I like the idea of supporting Blethen who came up with this and has obviously put a lot of thought into designing them right. Only time will tell how they hold up, but with satisfied customers going back to 1986, I'd guess they should wear just fine. For now at least, if you'll pardon the pun, I'm a happy camper.