If you’re among the throng of Thermacell users out there, you know the benefits of their butane/mat system. It’s effective, but for users that travel, TSA won’t let you bring butane in your carry-on or checked baggage. The Thermacell Radius Zone covers you where other solutions won’t fly.
The system takes a different turn from other Thermacell repellents. It uses a liquid refill that’s good for either 12 or 40 hours. The refills look a lot like the ones you get for plug-in air fresheners and install in a similar way.
Instead of butane and an igniter, the Thermacell Radius Zone uses an integrated lithium-ion battery to disperse the repellent. It charges with a micro USB cord just like tons of other devices running around. You’ll get around 6 hours of runtime from it. A short USB charging cord and plug come in the package so you can go with a standard AC plug or charge from a USB port/charging device.
Where the Radius moves into the realm of must-have outdoor gear is in its size. It’s only 3.1 x 3.3 inches and 1.9 inches thick.
The potential drawback over other Thermacell products is that the protection zone is 110 ft² – roughly a 5.25-foot radius. That’s down a little from the 15-foot protection zone (7.5-foot radius, ~ 175 ft²) of the standard repellent.
Of course, the effectiveness still depends on any wind and giving the unit time to fill the area with repellent.
Using the Thermacell Radius Zone
We spent a week in Wyoming this past July and some backcountry camping was on our menu. As advertised, we had no problem getting our Thermacall Radius Zone units through TSA and they’re small enough to carry easily in our backpacks.
What we ran into on one of our two is that a couple of the magnets that hold the lid closed came out. The slight annoyance is slipping it back into the appropriate hole, but a drop of superglue seems to solve the issue. I realize it’s not ideal to have to glue a new product, but it’s still an easy fix.
My Bride and I are hammock hikers, so it’s easy to set up a Radius right under each hammock in the evening. We have bug nets, of course. However, it was very nice to have some protection during those times when we wanted to sit and hang rather than stretch out and sleep.
MSRP on the Radius is $49.99 including a 12-hour refill and charging cord. Compare that to Thermacell’s MR150 with 12 hours of refills and butane for half the price. One of the big differences is that your consumables are just the 12- or 40-hour refills since you don’t have butane cartridges to replace. 40-hour refills run $20 and there are multi-packs of both sizes available.
The Bottom Line
When we’re traveling light, I really like what the Thermacell Radius Zone offers even though there are a couple of trade-offs over sprays and even other Thermacell products. However, when space and weight aren’t as critical, the Thermacell Backpacker or Halo will give you similar benefits with larger protection zones.
Thermacell Radius Zone Highlights
- Uses a lithium-ion battery and liquid refill – no igniter or butane
- 6+ hours of battery life on one charge
- 12 and 40-hour refills available
- 110 ft² (6′ radius) protection zone
- Compact size
$49.99$44.57 on Amazon