Mosquitoes, gnats and flies can be a real nuisance when camping in coastal areas. Nemo has developed a versatile shelter called the Bugout that combines the protection of a waterproof tarp with a generously sized screened enclosure. I had a chance to test it in an area where the mosquitoes are notoriously bad—the Florida Everglades.

The Bugout is very well made and combines a bug enclosure with a rain tarp/sunshade. A tarp is always handy to have in camp for shelter from sun and rain, and if the bugs aren’t biting the netting can be rolled up, secured with loop-and-toggle fittings, and stowed out of the way. When it gets buggy, the netting can be released, staked down, and zippered shut, creating a bug-proof enclosure. The netting also helps as a wind and rain break, and it is treated with a durable water repellent (DWR)  so it sheds water, making packing up easier.

The Bugout with the screen walls rolled up. The trim sewn to the edge of the tarp roof curls upward to form gutters that direct rain to the low corners.Photographs by the author

The Bugout with the screen walls rolled up. The trim sewn to the edge of the tarp roof curls upward to form gutters that direct rain to the low corners.

The Bugout comes in two sizes: the 9′x9′ that I tried, and a 12′x12′. Both have 6′ headroom, and the 9′x9′ weighs about 5 pounds. The smaller shelter has room for setting up a table and chairs so on a buggy shore you don’t have to be tent-bound, swathed in a head net or slathered with DEET. The reinforced tie-downs and beefy grommets are really tough and should hold up very well with regular use. The zippered corner entries provide quick entry and minimize the number of bugs that get in with you. Another very useful feature is that the Bugout works flawlessly with my hammock. The three sliders on each zipper allow the Bugout to be set up over the hammock as a rain fly and add a bug-proof porch to my setup. No more letting hundreds of mosquitoes into my hammock before I can jump in and zip it up!

Setup is quick and easy, provided there are trees or other uprights to string it to. It’s a little more difficult without trees, but you can use paddles, oars, spars, or Nemo’s optional tarp poles and some additional stakes and cords. The Bugout includes a set of stakes for anchoring the netting, but they won’t hold in sand. For loose ground you’ll need sandbags as weights or sticks buried as deadmen.

Here in South Florida, the mosquitoes can make an outing downright miserable. With the Bugout set up over my campsite I could enjoy being outdoors rather curse and swat at the bugs that would have otherwise swarmed around me while I was cooking breakfast and trying to make that early morning cup of coffee.

Rain fly, sunshade, windbreaker, dew preventer, and bug net—the Nemo Bugout is truly multifunctional and has made a great addition to my kit. If your next camp-cruising adventure is somewhere hot, wet and buggy, the Bugout is a must-have.


A native Floridian, Thomas Head grew up working on his father’s home-built stone crab boat in the small coastal town of Inglis. He has 19 years of service in the U.S. Navy. His account of racing in the Everglades Challenge appeared in our November 2014 issue.

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