A screen shelter lets you enjoy the outdoors without worrying about mosquitoes or other bugs ruining your fun.
It used to be that mosquitoes were only annoying in the evening. Now, the Asian tiger mosquito, an aggressive daytime biter, has spread through most of the southern United States. Then there's the new worry about mosquito-spread diseases like West Nile Virus.
The first shelter described below fits over a picnic table or a table and several chairs, but is fairly easy to transport and sets up in just a few minutes. You can also see a photo of it at left. The other is larger and more permanent, good for an all-summer shelter.
If you're looking for something smaller and lighter, that's easy to toss in the car or carry over your shoulder and set up at the beach or campground, see some other ideas here.
Coleman 12x10 Hex Shelter Sets Up Fast, Screens Out Skeeters
No, this shelter won't put a hex on you. It's hexagonal--six-sided, rather than square--but the best thing about it is the straight sides. The measurements are 12'x10', with the corners angled off due to the hex shape. The height is 100" at the center, very generous, but also makes it a little harder for a short person to set up.
Unlike a tent-shaped screened shelter, you can use every inch of the ground-space, with no leaning over when you near the sides, so it seems bigger than it is when you're inside.
You can fit a full-size picnic table inside, or a 4-foot round table with chairs around it, and enjoy a meal or an evening outside, with no mosquitoes, flies or yellowjackets. There are two screened doors with zippers to seal out the bugs, or when you just want to use it for shade, you can leave off the screens.
It really does set up and come down quickly. They say three minutes, and that's not far from the truth; I'm guessing it's about seven or eight minutes, with two people. One person can take it down. If you need something you can move to a site, use for a day or a weekend and bring back home, this is it. If you need a bigger shelter that's more permanent but harder to move, check out the big Shelterlogic one below.
The weight is about 45 pounds when packed up, but it's not that bad, since it has a wheeled carry bag so you can roll it to the site, rather than carry it. It's got a steel frame, a heavy-duty solid top with 50+ UV sun protection. The poles have feet, so you can either stake them in place with tent pegs on grass, or weight them down on pavement. They're also adjustable in height so you can level it on an uneven surface. There are guy ropes also, to hold it in the wind, though it's not something you'd want to leave up in a high wind.
That's the good news. The bad news is not really bad, but... rain. This shelter isn't meant to be left up in a heavy rain. If water starts to pool on the roof, creating excess weight, it can damage the frame, especially if the wind gets blowing. At least it's quick and easy to take down.
"We've used this every weekend this summer, with no fading, and it's still holding up. Sets up and takes down very quickly. Nice to have a bug-free zone for eating and relaxing. It fits nicely packed in its case, but is kind of heavy. Glad the case has wheels."
"This is an attractive shelter, bright on the inside when lit with lanterns at night. The screen is fine enough to keep all the bugs out but doesn't obstruct your view so you don't feel closed in. The straight sides make it seem bigger than a tent-style shelter. It fits over a campground picnic table with no problem."
"Another review said the plastic brackets on the poles came cracked, so I checked mine when it arrived and they were fine, but probably good to look. The roof covering seems kind of thin but it has held up so far. First time setting up took a while, but after that, it really was speedy. The metal frame itself seems sturdy."
"We have this on our deck and leave the frame bolted in place by the flat legs, and add the canopy when we want to use it. That way no worries about wind or rain. The zippers have held up to lots of use."
Shelterlogic 10x20 Screen Shelter Has Sturdy, Long-Lasting Frame
This screen shelter is made by the same company that builds carport frames, so it's sturdy and big. It makes a screened enclosure for outdoor parties, weddings, art shows, flea markets, anyplace you're trying to cut down on bugs and need some shade. My friend, who's a caterer, loves this thing. Buffets covered with flies aren't attractive.
This has a heavy white, waterproof cover, treated to resist UV light and protect you with 50+ UPF rating, so it'll last in the sun. The frame is gray powder-coated steel to protect it from rust. It's 20' x 10' and 9' high in the center, 6' high at the edges.
The mosquito netting attaches with little bungee cord loops, so it doesn't seal completely around the edges, but for those using this size shelter, you'll probably have people coming and going, letting a few bugs in as they do. What this does is cut down on mosquitoes and other bugs tremendously.
The doorway opening is on the side, by a corner post. You can set it up so the door is near any of the corner posts, and it zips, or rolls up to keep it open.
Here's a peek at the manual (pdf file), so you can get an idea what's involved in setting it up.
This probably isn't a shelter you want to set up every weekend at the campground, but if you need a sturdy, solid shelter to set up and leave up most of the summer in the back yard or at a summer camp, or to last under hard use at flea markets or festivals or outdoor receptions, something like this will do the job. Like with any screen shelter, though, be careful of high winds.
"I use this for catering and it really does cut down on insects, even though I leave the door rolled up so people can come and go. Set-up requires getting all the parts laid out in order, and at least two people, but the metal frame slips together easily and the screen ties on, so no tools. A step ladder or at least a chair to stand on is a must, but the result is a big, airy screened-in room. We used to use a quick-set-up camping-type shelter and it wasn't sturdy enough. Only thing I don't like is I wish there was a second door on the other side to make the crowd-flow work better. Hi, Liz. This is my review."
"The metal frame has stood up to a summer outdoors with no rust, and the canopy has handled the rain and sunlight. It comes with guy lines and spikes, but we replaced the spikes with longer ones, since we get a fair amount of wind here. The screen is nice because it lets a lot of air in and with the shaded roof, it's really comfortable inside in hot weather, but definitely install good guy ropes because the wind can catch the roof like a sail."
Product photos courtesy of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.