Columbia Reactor 35
- Slight ‘sticky’ feel on bare skin
- Low foot-box ventilation
- Poor warmth-to-weight ratio
The best value in our test of synthetically insulated, 25-35 degree bags. With the reflective liner and the modest layer of synthetic fill insulation, the bag proved comfortably warm during cool nights in the desert, provided the mercury stayed above 40.
With a generous cut and an effective insulation system, the Reactor provides a comfortable night’s sleep, provided its used in appropriate conditions – namely, when the temperatures stay above 40ºF. The bag packs small and weighs less than 2 pounds – a reasonable weight for an affordable synthetic bag, though by no means the best warmth-to-weight ratio.
The Reactor 35 stuffs down into a 7x17-inch compression sack. Engaging the compression straps gets the bag to nearly half that size – about as big as a Nerf football. That’s a nice, tight little package for a synthetic bag and it fluffs up to its full loft (which, admittedly, is a bit thin) with no trouble.
Though the bag’s insulation doesn’t spring up in a deep pile of loft, it does provide a great deal of warmth given what is there. The combination of the insulation value of that dense layer of synthetic fill, and the heat-reflective properties of the shiny bag liner, help trap in heat. Unfortunately, the generous cut includes some excessive air space inside that can act like heat sinks. The sub-two pound weight does help keep the warmth-to-weight ratio on the favorable end of the spectrum.
The “mummy” who modeled for this tapered bag must have been one of the huskier pharaohs. The cut feels loose and flowing around you, with lots of room to move—including space enough for side-sleepers to draw their knees up a bit.
The bag showed no signs of loft-loss or wear and tear, despite rugged use in Canyonlands National Park and an unexpected wash-cycle in a river rapid on the Green River. We did find the zipper occasionally catching on the shell material, but not enough to show damage.
EN Comfort limit = 51ºF / 10ºC
EN Lower Limit = 43ºF / 6ºC
How We Tested It
All bags were tested on Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite for consistency throughout the test. Bags were used in the Olympic National Park rainforests, deserts of southern Utah, and the Cascades of Washington and Oregon for a minimal of 8 nights with at least two different testers. We also machine-washed each bag twice in front-loading machines using any specific manufacturer instructions/recommendations when available.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Insulation Type: Synthetic
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