My Awesome Weekend With the Reactor
It’s that same old feeling that I know all too well, but with a new twist: Anxiously waiting for the Friday work-from-home day to end because the weekend plans are palpable at this point. And then? I made it! 5:00pm and laptop is closed. Weekend mode finally engaged (jk, that happened hours ago). Rushing out to the garage with butterflies, I try and collect my mental checklist. I frantically unearth my massive bins of trusty camp gear that’ve been tucked away, still in the same shape as after the last trip. Tent, chairs, sleeping bag, cookware, headlamp and big cooler (the Igloo IMX). But this trip, I’ve got a secret weapon, the Igloo Reactor softside cooler bag. Made for the real adventures when you leave basecamp, I load it up and set the 4am alarm (and 4:03, 4:10 and 4:15) to hit the road for the local mountains at the crack of dawn. In these days of social distancing, the best way to experience nature is to do it locally and with your inner circles. I find it truly amazing how much there is to offer around you if you look hard enough.
COVID SIDEBAR: Please remember to be cognizant of the areas you visit. Wear masks if you’re around people outside of your circle, pick up after yourself and leave the places as clean and beautiful as when you arrived!
After a cup of coffee in my Stainless Steel Tumbler, some good jams and a lot of turns on the highway, I was finally awake. We drive into town and stock up on ice and food (I like to hit local stores to support their town when I’m visiting, instead of buying from home).
To save on space, we ditch our cars and pile into a friend’s old pickup. Then we head up the dirt road to our little slice of paradise. The faithful long-bed shimmies and thumps as we approach the scene. Finally, home for the weekend and time to unload.
As we set up, I realize the tinkering always ends up being the best part. Where to: put your tent, stash the IMX cooler, set up the Handwash Station and find the best sunset views. I admit I’m a total gear nerd, which is why the Reactor cooler bags are my new obsession. Totally high-end technical, totally functional and totally affordable. We whip up a quick breakfast and get ready to explore the wild around us, adding some extra ice to load up the Igloo bags with lunch (for me, camping is all about planning where your next meal will be enjoyed).
With snacks and drinks now safely stowed, we hit the trails. The bags have leakproof zippers and are fully waterproof. So even with the rough terrain, I never feel a drop of moisture come from the bag on my back. Some of my friends also got the Reactor totes and backpacks and are raving about how comfortable they are for trekking.
It’s hot out (like 91 degrees at a high elevation). The bags have been in direct sun the whole journey. But after almost two hours, all the ice is still in there, and our food and drinks are frosty cold! Approaching a big rock that doubles as a lookout zone, we stop for lunch.
Friends, conversation and a view high above the lake, paired with ice cold drinks and fresh snacks, is something you just can’t beat! We take it all in before making our way back to basecamp. The sky fades from blues to oranges to blacks, and the debauchery begins. Hours of laughter and fun under the stars leads to painful cheek muscles and heavy eyelids. Before we know it, the only sounds from our campsite are the tiny noises of zippers, the rustling of everyone getting into tents and snuggling up in sleeping bags.
I oversleep. Not a problem until the sun heats up your tent to a boiling point. Crawling out to the smell of coffee helps. We eat, laugh, talk about last night and start the packing. As much as we want to stay here, we have a body of water with our name on it and a friend who offered to take us out on his boat. It’s too hot to pass on. We load up and fill our Reactor bags with the remaining ice, drinks, snacks and boat essentials, then head for the marina.
The walk down the dock never felt so good. All we needed was tucked in our bags, and we were about to conquer the heat. I slip my phone into the tote bag that we designated as dry storage and we load into the boat, headed for open waters.
Suddenly, these bags just became the best boat bags ever! They’ve taken a beating and never leaked, all while keeping our phones, personal effects and towels bone-dry. And again, the drinks in the other bags were ice cold when we would dig in to hydrate.
Music up and sun beating down, the fun continues with the sips and dips becoming more frequent. Hours on the water and it’s finally time to head back. The weekend is drawing to a close. We hang onto the last light of the day and head for land, thanking our new captain friend. Quickly loading up wet towels, swimsuits and loose items into the tote bag is ideal. They’re leakproof and will be on the seats or floors of our cars the whole way home; it was perfect to take the usually soggy mess out of the equation.
I toss everything in the back of my car without the detail and intense organization I had on Friday. With windows down, I head for home with the memories of a successful weekend getaway fresh in my mind. Staycation: Success! A summer memory for the books. And I attribute much of the success to my new favorite bag.
UPDATE: At time of writing this, I still haven’t unpacked (because Mondays). But as I walk my dog through the patio, I kick the Reactor bag and hear the slush of ice. I open it up. It still has ice in it.