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Keep your blood inside your body with Thermacell’s Radius Zone mosquito repellent

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Keeps a protective dome around you.

I don’t know about you, but mosquitos eat me alive in the summer. I’m not quite sure why, maybe it’s a mix of my skin bacteria and the Type O blood that flows through me, which mosquitos find more delicious than A or B. Either way, I’ve dived deep into the world of mosquito repellents to stop my life as an insect feast. The latest weapon I’ve found to combat these blood-suckers is the Thermacell Radius Zone – it utilizes vaporized oils to make a mosquito-free dome around your campsite or yard. It seems like a clever device, but can it really keep my blood inside my body?

So what is it?

This mosquito-repelling device by Thermacell keeps the biters at bay by vaporizing an oil that contains Allethrin. This is a synthetic version of a compound that’s present in chrysanthemum flowers – a natural mosquito repellent. Actually, you’ll find chrysanthemum extract is a regular ingredient in many popular skeeter stoppers; in a similar vein, many gardeners will plant chrysanthemums around their outdoor living areas & gardens in order to keep insects out.

In the past, Thermacell gadgets have used oil-infused disposable mats, or one-shot fuel canisters (creating two types of trash). However, Thermacell’s new Radius system opts for a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that heats and diffuses the oil. The actual repellent is still in a disposable cartridge, but at least one area of waste is cut down. The protected zone created is said to cover roughly 110 square feet.

How to use it

From a user standpoint, the Radius is dead simple to use. Using a USB cable, you charge the internal battery, then snapping in a repellent cartridge and pushing the ‘On’ button. Due to it not emitting a sound or smell immediately, it’s a tad tricky to tell whether it’s doing anything right away.

Over the course of two weeks, I put the Radius up against a variety of different bug repellents in multiple locations in my yard – locations which, after sunset, typically turn into a bacchanal for blood-sucking bugs. I opted for the 40-hour cartridges, which simply contain more repellent juice than the smaller 12-hour cartridges.

Up against standard techniques such as a citronella candle, it’s obvious that the Radius is more effective, this being more obvious the further you move from the device. Although taking a few minutes to heat up, I found myself slapping at fewer bugs with the Radius on than without.

On a personal level, I still found a good bug spray (typically containing controversial chemical DEET) was the best repellent, but a combination of the spray and the Radius worked impressively. You won’t prevent every bite, but instead cause a significant reduction.

One of the main draws of this new tech from Thermacell is the battery power, and the Radius substantially reduced the quantity of bug bites endured. However, with the battery being integrated, you’re unable to simply swap this out when needed, as you can with the fuel canisters. Off a single charge expect to get roughly six hours of coverage – the unit can also work while charging, just don’t expect to take it to the wild where you’ll be lacking outlets. My curiosity got the best of me, and the device did seem to work off a portable battery charger (as you’d use with your dead cellphone), but this wasn’t tested extensively, so I’d consider this an emergency-only option at the moment.

Worth buying?

Although the Radius effectively creates a mosquito-light (I wouldn’t go as far as mosquito-free) area around your backyard/campsite, be wary that the expense of pods will add up over time. You’ll pay $8 per 12-hour model, and $20 per 40-hour one. If you intend to use this while camping, I would suggest looking at the Thermacell Backpacker that opts for disposable gas canisters, ensuring you won’t run out of charge while in the forest. If you’re looking to keep your delicious blood inside your body on your own patio, this is a great option.