If you happen to see me driving along with Mrs Muz applauding like a loony in the passenger seat you would be forgiven for thinking that she was delighted with my skills on the road.
This is, of course, perfectly feasible but if it were to happen in Scotland the chances are that we’ve inadvertently trapped a couple of dozen midges in the car at the last stop and she is midway through a frantic killing spree. It’s also highly likely that we’ve forgotten the Smidge.
We were sent a can of Smidge in advance of a two-week tour of the far north west (which sadly ended last weekend) and because Scotland in summer is a feeding ground for midges it was the first thing I packed. And it was the first thing I unpacked when we arrived at our campsite at Applecross because, by God, they were hungry. The second thing I unpacked were our Gelert Mosquito Hat Nets, but more about that in a later review.
The pump-action brushed aluminium can holds 75ml of Smidge which boasts Saltidin as its active ingredient, which is renowned for being ikky to insects. The blurb on the back also states that Smidge is formulated by the people behind midgeforecast.co.uk so you would expect it to actually work.
The good news is that it does, but the problem with insect repellent of any kind is that what might work for one person might not work for another, so be warned. Case in point: Sketolene, which works a treat for me but for my better half it’s like ringing the dinner bell for mosquitos… and she comes out in great big itchy red blebs the size of 50p pieces. Not pretty.
Speaking of mozzies, Smidge is also meant to show the door to those, horse flies, sand flies, fleas and ticks. Don’t rub it on the dog though cos he probably won’t like it.
But for the four people in our group Smidge seemed to work for everyone, which was great news. Joe, however, only used it for a couple of days because apparently he doesn’t taste as nice as the rest of us and he discovered he didn’t really get bitten much anyway.
With that in mind I decided to test it properly so I squirted some into the palm of my hand and applied it like a thin layer of suncream everywhere except my right arm. I did this for two days – these are the lengths we at GearWeAre are prepared to go to for you lot, you ungrateful bunch.
And what do you think the results were? Correct. My arm was bitten to bits. It seems Scottish midges in August have voracious appetites.
Smidge does appear to have its limitations, however. To be fair the can says “up to” eight hours of protection but I found myself reapplying the transparent gloop every two hours or so because the bitey little buggers seemed to get wise to it and start holding their breath so they could edge closer and closer to my face.
I also had to reapply it after washing my hands or face because the effectiveness started wearing off straight away after contact with water, despite its apparent waterproofness. Again to be fair, I wouldn’t really expect anything like this to be totally impervious to water, so I wasn’t all that surprised. It’s still a bold claim to make though.
Some more good news is that our little can of Smidge lasted the entire fortnight – despite reasonably regular use by the three of us – so a little seems to go a long way, which is a relief because we saw it on sale in numerous shops for between £6.99 and £9.99 which goes to show how much people are prepared to pay to stop being lunch.
Nevertheless, scared that we might run out in the last day or two we bought another can and discovered that the dispensing nozzle was different to the original. Whereas the test can’s nozzle screwed on to the top of the can, this new one had been firmly pushed on.
The latter is the better design though because we found that the former would unscrew a little bit in a bag or pocket, creating a small but irritating leak – so make sure you check which one you’re getting if you’re able to.
SUMMARY: Seems to do the trick nicely but protection for eight hours might be a bit optimistic, ditto for the waterproof thing. Searching online doesn’t really yield any cheaper results, but you’ll likely pay a few quid more in the shops. Oh, and it tastes horrible so don’t get it in your gob.
Question: How do YOU pronounce midge? As in ‘sqidge’ or ‘squidgy’? Feel free to answer below, but be aware there is only one correct answer, as decreed by me.