Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme Thermolite Liner

Specs

Weight 14 oz / 399 g
Dimensions 84 in x 36 in / 210 cm x 90 cm

Reviews

7

Provides a 7-9° F increase inside the bag. For the…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $64.95

Summary

Provides a 7-9° F increase inside the bag. For the size and weight, I would recommend it as a comfort item, if you can fit it into your budget.

Pros

  • Misunderstood and misused piece of gear
  • Packs small
  • Adds versatility to a bag you already have

Cons

  • Misunderstood and misused piece of gear
  • Expensive

I was very skeptical about the +25 degrees claim of the Thermolite Reactor Extreme so, I set up this little experiment to see just how well the liner worked. Because sleeping comfort is such a personal thing, I will try and provide as much information here as possible so that you can make your own informed decision.

I used a sleeping bag rated at the current outside temperature, a low R-value sleeping mat to insure I wasn't gaining a lot of warmth from the mat, and a hammock to insure I wasn't gaining heat from an enclosed space. I also wore a medium weight base layer to provide a good surface to measure temperature that was not skin. The hammock was open and the sleeping bag top was fully exposed.

Weather Report:

Temp: 30° F Precipitation: 60% Wind: 0-5 mph Conditions: Cloudy with light sleet

Equipment:

Test conditions: All temperatures taken from three locations (center of chest, center of body and center of left thigh) using an infrared thermometer and then averaged. When I added the liner, I got out of the sleeping bag and allowed 10 minutes for it and the pad to cool.

Ground Temperature at start of test 28° F

Temperatures at 5 minutes w/o liner

  • Outside of sleeping bag w/o liner 42° F
  • Inside of sleeping bag w/o liner 66° F
  • Base layer w/o liner 75° F

Temperature at 15 minutes w/o liner

  • Outside of sleeping bag w/o liner 45° F
  • Inside of sleeping bag w/o liner 69° F
  • Base layer w/o liner 77° F

*Added Thermolite Reactor

Temperature at 5 minutes w/ liner

  • Outside of sleeping bag w/ liner 43° F
  • Inside of sleeping bag w/ liner 64° F
  • Sleeping bag liner 68° F
  • Base layer w/ liner 82° F

Temperature at 15 minutes w/ liner

  • Outside of sleeping bag w/ liner 44° F
  • Inside of sleeping bag w/ liner 74° F
  • Sleeping bag liner 80° F
  • Base layer w/ liner 86° F

As you can see from the numbers, the sleeping bag and pad was working at their designed levels and keeping me comfortable with a base layer temperature of 75-77° F with an outside temp of 28-30° F. When I added the liner, I went from being comfortable to being very warm as my base layer temperature went up to 82-86° F with the outside temp still at 28-30° F.

Now, about the +25° F claim. I have no way of knowing what a 7-9° F increase inside the bag equates to in temperature range outside the bag but, I can say this. For the size and weight, I would recommend it as a comfort item, if you can fit it into your budget.

While this test/review isn’t comprehensive, I did apply somewhat of a scientific approach and tried to give you something better that “this is great” or “this sucks”.

Stay Warm,

JR

DrPhun

That is a great test! Your body does do some adjustment to temperature, so the 7-9 degrees should equate to a larger amount of outside temp.


8 months ago
Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for sharing your results, JR.


8 months ago
Joseph Renow

Nice review Jason...I am curious about how this liner fairs as a stand alone item in warmer temps..I really love my 200wt fleece liner...but I would love to save some space.


8 months ago
Jason Rea

Joseph, that is a question that many people have. It stands to reason that what ever technology/magic that makes this thing work inside a bag would also work outside of one. Sadly, I'm finding that this is not the case. I tried treating as an ultra light sleeping bag for summer hammock camping and found that it has almost NO insulation properties when used as a stand alone item. This item has to be used in conjunction with a sleeping bag to really have any effect at all. On a side note, it works wonderfully with the REI Travel Sack Sleeping Bag. The Travel Sack is a VERY small/lightweight and pairs well with the Reactor liner for a little more versatility beyond the Travel Sac's 55 degree rating. However, saying that the Travel Sack/Reactor combo produces a 30 degree bag is a bit of a stretch.


8 months ago
Ashleigh MODERATOR

Thanks for the helpful review, Jason! Jason and Joseph, I have a story that you can both appreciate. My husband and I both thought that we could use our Sea to Summit Reactor liners as summer bags one early summer night in NC on Max Patch Bald. It was somewhere between 45-50 degrees and 20+ MPH winds and we packed very light clothing and just the liners. Long story short, we got so cold that we had to double up our liners and sleep together in one doubled up liner. That actually made a tremendous difference, but it was pretty miserable as you can probably imagine!


8 months ago
1

Don't count on this liner for an additional 25 degrees…

Rating: rated 2 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Somewhere around $70

Summary

Don't count on this liner for an additional 25 degrees of warmth, or even 15 degrees.

Pros

  • Lightweight and small
  • Super-soft fabric

Cons

  • Does not deliver the warmth it claims
  • Was getting wrapped up and tangled in it

Very disappointed in this liner. I had my 30-degree bag and knew I'd be on the borderline temp wise. I'm a cold sleeper, and was excited to try this out. There is no way this 'increases warmth by up to 25 degrees."

Thankfully at the last minute tossed my fleece bag liner in the car. At 3 a.m. I finally gave up on the Reactor and switched to the fleece — and slept toasty warm for the rest of the night. I was surprised since I've read good reviews about other Thermolite Reactor liners.

I'd suggest testing it out—and having a backup liner—before you take this out into more extreme conditions. You could end up having a very cold night or possibly suffering from hypothermia.

Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for sharing your review, Auburn, and letting us know how the liner fared.


11 months ago
0

See through fabric. Can't expect it to hold in warmth.

Rating: rated 0.5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $68

Summary

See through fabric. Can't expect it to hold in warmth. Is expensive and heavy. Will keep a sleeping bag interior clean, but that's about it.

Pros

  • Will keep skin oils and dirt off the inside of your sleeping bag
  • Stretchy material
  • Doesn't get 'twisty' in the middle of the night

Cons

  • See through fabric, can't expect it to hold in warmth
  • Expensive
  • Adds maybe 1 degree F of warmth
  • Heavy

I really wanted to love this liner, but I just don't. The possibility of adding up to 25°F to my sleeping system was very appealing! Especially as I was gearing up for test #1 in -25°F outside temperatures. At ~14 oz, this is a bit heavy, but I was willing to bring it along if it added warmth.

Easy enough to get completely inside with my medium build 5'1" frame; has mildly stretchy red material so pick your butt up when getting inside. I am pleased it never got twisted up around myself in the middle of the night (I don't move much), but am not pleased that it is not warm.

Test 1: Was excited about getting this liner so I did a simple test inside my house. Sitting in a 78°F room, I climbed all the way in the Reactor liner and sealed it with the cord over my head. The material is basically see-through so I had no worries about breathing inside it.

I was wearing this outfit: polyester gym pants, a long sleeve Icebreaker 260 wool turtleneck, and wool socks. I had an infared thermometer inside the liner bag with me. After 10 minutes, I took a temperature reading. My body heat had warmed the air inside the liner about 1 degree F.

This same test of sealing myself inside only a -30°F sleeping bag, 78°F room: temperature increased so much that I had to get out of the bag after 7 minutes without a temperature reading (so I didn't faint)...

Test 2: I originally bought the Reactor Extreme liner because I was going cabin camping (moderately insulated cabin heated with a wood stove) when it was -25°F outside. I had a -30 rated sleeping bag, and I was hoping this would add a smidge of warmth. No such luck.

I was wearing fleece pants over Patagonia Capilene 4 pants; top was a fleece top over spandex-y shirt with a thin fleece layer on the inside. Hot water Nalgene bottle at feet, hot hands feet pads on both feet, two pairs of wool socks on. Cabin never warmed up enough to melt the snow I tracked in next to my bunk.

I was still very cold inside the liner and sleeping bag. Enough to sleep but my body woke me every hour to warm up my gloved hands. At least the liner kept my sleeping bag clean.

Test 3: I was thinking maybe my other tests weren't completely fair. Test 1 was only wearing the liner and no other "shell." Test 2 happened during extra extremely cold temperatures. For Test 3, I went on a two-night RV trip in sunny 50-55°F weather (45° minimum both nights). The RV had an electric heater running and I estimate inside temperatures were around 70°F when I fell asleep and 60-65F in the middle of the night.

I slept on a mattress with this liner *inside* of the Sea to Summit Fleece 'Toaster' liner. I wore the outfit described in Test 1: polyester gym pants, a long sleeve Icebreaker 260 wool turtleneck, and wool socks. Was still very cold all night. 

I wore the described outfit to sleep in a 69°F room (sans socks) with only two blanket layers on top of me (two fluffed cotton blankets which keep me was warm as two fleece blanket layers) and I am very comfortable. Anyways, if this Reactor Extreme liner actually could add even 2 degrees of "warmth," I should at least be in the lower end of 'comfortable' when the RV temperatures were 67-68°F (before temps dropped off at night), instead of cold. I was eating ridiculous amounts of carbohydrates on this trip so my core body temperature was already getting a boost.

Test 4: Repeat of Test 3 but inside a 60 degree house. Felt very cold all night.

Conclusion: This liner may actually add warmth for some people, but it's not for everyone. For me, the Reactor liner is overpriced and ineffective for....anything...except keeping a sleeping bag interior clean. Don't expect any real added warmth besides maybe a placebo effect.

Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

That's too bad it didn't work out, Christina. Thanks for sharing your review.


6 days ago