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Welcome to our very own Igloo Reactor Review. It's a new soft cooler for the summer of 2020. Today we’re excited to the whole Igloo's latest cooler series – the Reactor.
In This Article
Igloo is one of the most prolific companies out there. They have a wide array of products and, though the vast majority of their ice chests are not rotomolded, and they’re still not Yeti, we really admire how well they meet customer needs.
Interestingly, despite not having rotomolded coolers (we're not counting the older ones) and being overall cheaper than Yeti, Igloo still manages to get good ice retention times on most of its ice chests.
Apart from that, the quality, design, and variety of their products is something to be envied. We’re not surprised. This company has been around for over 70 years. They definitely know a thing or two about the cooler business!
The Reactor series by Igloo brings the next level of cooler technology to consumers. They are premium soft coolers with a stylish design. They also have great features, are durable, leakproof, water-resistant, and spacious, and they come with many different carrying styles.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; we’ll take this step by step, and by the end, we hope you’ll love the Igloo Reactor Series as much as we do!
Igloo Reactor Cooler Review
We’ve talked about soft coolers and how they’re growing increasingly popular on the market these days. In our article on the best soft-sided coolers, we took a brief glance at each of the Yeti Hopper, Engel HD30, Otterbox Trooper, RTIC Soft Pack, and the Polar Bear Deluxe. All of these are great soft-sided coolers, each trying its best to outdo the others.
The Igloo Reactor 2020 series fits in this category, and it is coming for the competition relentlessly!
It has a premium, high-end design capable of competing with the best of the best, such as Yeti, Pelican, RTIC, and Orca.
Construction and Design
I’m guessing that when Igloo designed their Reactor soft-sided coolers, they were going for a stylish, classy, premium look. A first glance at the Igloo Reactor shows that they succeeded. This cooler has a high quality, high-end style. The only thing about it that isn’t high end is the price.
There’s certainly a sense of streamlining, which makes the Reactor feel like you could take it anywhere with you. You could take it hiking or you could take it to the office. You could take it tailgating or you could take it to the next team building event at your company. Versatility would be the Reactor’s middle name if it had one!
The material is certainly strong. It has a welded exterior that is water-resistant and abrasion resistant. This hardcore material can take a splash and a scratching with equal stress and won’t even break a sweat.
I also like the fact that it’s leakproof. A lot of soft-sided coolers ruin it when they leak out the melting ice and get everything soggy. With this cooler, you shouldn’t be able to tell just how wet the inside is by looking at the outside.
The weak point for most coolers, of course, is the zipper. The rest of the cooler could be as waterproof as you want, but if the zipper does a terrible job keeping fluids in or out, then it doesn’t matter.
Well this zipper is also leakproof, and the liner inside is too, giving multiple layers of protection.
I also like how spacious each one of them is, with a large main compartment where you can keep everything. Your lunch and beer will easily fit, as even the smallest of these bags have a capacity of 18 12 oz beer cans.
The base is non-slip, which means you can transport it in the back of your truck or on your boat without having to worry about it moving around and unsettling its contents. It’s compression-molded, so it has a serious grip.
Overall, this soft-sided cooler is clearly built to last. It can just as easily handle thorn bushes as it can an asphalt pavement. The insulation is foam, incorporating Igloo’s UltraTherm insulation technology and giving really good ice retention.
We’ll talk about that in a bit, but the point is that it is built perfectly to do its job. We personally can’t wait to take this cooler out on an upcoming kayaking trip. I have peace of mind knowing I won’t have to worry about getting it in the water.
On the bottom, we have a strong compression molded base that provides stability and a firm structure to the whole bag. Sitting this bag down on its base will keep it firm and upright. All round, it’s a strong and durable bag with a pleasing aesthetic design.
The Reactor series is a great series of coolers, with simplicity and elegance defining it for the most part. On the front is the Igloo logo, neatly embossed on the plain background. We consider this a feature because who doesn’t want to show off that they have an Igloo back?
The greatest features for this bag are spaciousness, being resistant to water and other forms of damage, and being easy to carry.
Each one has a large main compartment where you can put your food and drinks, with a waterproof liner to make sure none of the wet stuff makes it to the outside. The insulation is also pretty solid, and the airtight zipper on top ensures no heat escapes.
The zipper itself is leak proof as well, as mentioned earlier, and fairly easy to operate. One thing we hate about many of the soft coolers we come across is that the zippers, even though they’re heavy-duty and do their job well, are pretty hard to operate.
Pulling the zipper across the lid feels like a great feat to pull, and all I want to do at the time is zip my lunch bag so I can get going.
With the Igloo Reactor, I really can just zip my soft cooler up and get going. In fact, if you don’t like zips at all, you can just opt for the cinch top and call it a day! It has a T-bar zipper pull, which gives a superior grip and a lot more leverage when zipping your cooler open or closed.
Our favorite feature, however, has to be the variety of carrying options that you get. It seems the designers at Igloo tried their best to anticipate all the possible preferences users might have, and we think they have largely done a very good job.
Do you like to carry your soft cooler at the waist level? The handle at the top with a tight grip helps you do that. If you’d rather carry it around your shoulder, you can take advantage of the free adjustable and detachable shoulder strap that comes with most of the Reactor coolers. They are well padded too so your shoulders don’t have to suffer.
There are also dual side handles if you want to carry it that way. If you would rather carry the cooler on your back, then you can opt for the backpack version with its comfortable adjustable straps. Backpack versions are available for both normal zippered top and cinch top Reactor coolers.
The backpacks are particularly handy because they have interior zipper pockets to keep small accessories in.
The side handles can also be used as tie-down loops. Combined with the textured base, it ensures the Reactor stays in place in the back of your truck.
The ice retention on the Reactor series is fairly good, even if it’s not breathtaking. The ice retention is advertised to be 2 days for the 30-can and a full day for the 18-can.
Two days is certainly possible, but only in the larger sized options and if pre-chilled, if ice packs are used, if the cooler is not opened too frequently, and if it is stored in the shade for most of the time.
PRO TIP: Read more on how to maximize your cooler's ice retention time.
At 2 days, it should be good enough for most simple uses, such as fishing, tailgating, carrying work lunch, or food for a picnic. I wouldn’t go out camping with it, though.
Available Sizes and Colors
There are 5 size options:
- The 18-can cooler bag,
- the 24-can backpack,
- the 30-can cooler bag,
- the 46-can cinch backpack,
- and the 56-can cinch tote.
There are 2 color options for each model in the series: Deep Teal and Gray Asphalt.
Even though the color options are limited, Igloo still didn’t fail to deliver variety in terms of sizes. There’s bound to be a size for everyone.
The Igloo Reactor series also comes with a warranty of 1 year. We like seeing that kind of thing. We know it’s a good quality product because the manufacturer is willing to put their money where their mouth is.
Overall, we are really pleased that Igloo added to its product line coolers that can directly compete with well-known designs on the market. Considering the attractive price, it seems to be a move in the right direction.
Igloo Reactor vs Yeti Hopper
So how does the Igloo Reactor stack up against the Industry heavyweight? In terms of construction and materials, I would say Igloo have really outdone themselves and you wouldn’t be necessarily getting better quality with a Yeti Hopper.
Size options are also roughly tied. The Igloo Reactor offers 5 different capacities while the Yeti Hopper offers the same (6 if you count the M30).
Where Yeti really beats Igloo is color variety. Yeti always has 5 different colors available at any given time. The Igloo Reactor only offers 2 color options at the moment.
The real win for the Igloo Reactor over the Yeti is the price factor. You’re getting a premium cooler at just a fraction of the price of the Yeti (for example, the Igloo backpack options is just $119 compared to $299 for the Yeti Hopper).
When it comes to ice retention we would expect better results with the Yeti Hopper.
In terms of brand factor, we would put it at a tie. Both brands are well known, both are from the US, and both make their products both locally and overseas.
Overall, they’re quite similar coolers. You can see how the Igloo Reactor draws inspiration from the more expensive Yeti. Yeti, however, are more premium, which makes them much more expensive.
The cheaper Igloo, however, will not disappoint, and the money saved can be put to good use. Of course, if you’re a die-hard Yeti fan, nothing will make you happier than a Hopper, so that’s what we would advise you to get.bestcooler.reviews Team
Other Coolers Like Igloo Reactor Worth Looking At
If you’re not convinced, why not do a little bit more research to see what are other options worth considering at the similar price level.
TOURIT Soft Cooler
The Tourit soft cooler has the same premium materials and sleek design as the Igloo Reactor series and even comes at a very similar price level.
It also features multiple carry options, including side handles, a top handle, and a shoulder strap. There is no backpack option, however. On the flip side, the Tourit can retain ice for up to 3 days.
RTIC Soft Pack
RTIC makes great products, and their soft-sided cooler is no exception. It’s a great alternative to the Igloo Reactor and comes with 4 size options.
The design is fairly similar to the Igloo Reactor, with a few variations, so it should fit people with the same tastes. It also retains ice for around the same amount of time.
Cordova Traveler Soft Cooler
The Cordova traveler soft cooler is also a good alternative to the Igloo Reactor series. It is well-insulated with 2 inches of foam, which gives it slightly better ice retention than the Igloo Reactor and is comparable in price.
This is a good time to get one, by the way, since they’re on sale on the Cordova website.
Igloo Reactor Review – Bottom Line
And that’s it for our Igloo Reactor review. As you can see, this new series is bound to make waves for the summer and put Igloo neck and neck with the competition.
We thoroughly enjoyed reviewing it, and can’t wait to hear from our readers about their experiences with the Igloo Reactor.
Until next time, stay cool!
Igloo Reactor Rating and Review
- Ice Retention
User Review( votes)
Last update on 2021-05-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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