Who else besides us got excited to see Curtis Joseph rockin' his vintage Bauer Reactor set in the "Reactor 5" design during the Winter Classic Alumni game? It was great to see Cujo dominate the crease again, and it got us thinking about how much we liked our own Reactor 6000 sets. Jim Martin (based in our Minnesota market), and I have each been using our Reactor 6000 sets for a few months now, and since the gear is back in the spotlight we figured that the time was right for a review.
Both Jim and I chose to go with the "Vintage" color way option, as both of us agree that Bauer does a fantastic job of making this setup look great. You can also customize your set in the stock color way, or - just released - you can build your own vintage "Reactor 5" color way as well. Contact us to get either option ordered for you.
When reading this review, please keep in mind that several of the key features and performance characteristics of the Reactor 6000 line can also be found in the Reactor 4000 and Reactor 2000 lines. Though there will be differences in construction options and materials, both the 4000 and the 2000 lines will perform similarly.
Without further delay, here's our take on the gear.
Mike's set is on the left, Jim's set is on the right.
JM: The very first thing I noticed about my new Bauer Reactors was how soft the internal foams were. Most manufacturers are using stiffer HD foams, even in their hybrid style pads. Bauer, however, is using a unique combination of foams for the Reactor 6000 to give the pads a soft flex and feel while still keeping the pad rigid enough to maintain it's shape over time. They're calling this their "Pro Core". I chose the single, below the knee break only, though the top thigh still has plenty of flex in it, as does the boot. Guys who loved the old stuffed pads will appreciate this set.
MB: You'll notice two things about the Reactor 6000 pads as soon as you try them - they're light (my 32+3.5" set weighs 5.12 lbs), and they're REALLY flexible. As a "soft pad" guy I really like this feature, and as someone trying to break in new pads I liked this feature even more. Besides the usual fuss with dialing in the strap lengths and getting used to a new pad, I had no problems settling into the pads on my first skate with them.
JM: When first out of the box the side profile of the pads was really straight. I like to store my pads upside down when I'm not using them; it creates a gradual curve without breaking down the internal foams prematurely. In the picture above you'll also noticed that I removed the top nylon strap. I do this on just about every set of pads that I wear because I feel it is unnecessary weight, and I don't use that strap to pull my pads together. My setup with these pads now consists of one leather boot strap, two leather calf straps, and one nylon knee strap
MB: Unlike Jim, I went with all nylon straps (plus a leather boot strap) on my set. I switched to nylon a few years back and, unless I'm in a pad with all elastic straps, I won't go with anything else. Nylon straps allow me to put the pads on quickly before games, and I like the fact that I can dial in the exact strap length that I desire without being forced to choose from one of the holes in a traditional leather strap. I've had no problems with the plastic buckles breaking on any set that I've owned, and even if I did these buckles are easy to replace.
Also, due to my narrow butterfly, I do use the top thigh rise strap on my pads to help pull them together when going down to the ice. However, with my Reactors, I found that the location of this strap wasn't helpful in sealing the pads together at first. It just sits too low down the thigh rise to give the strap any leverage to pull the pads together. But, after storing the pads upside down for a little bit, they did conform to a nice "S" shape and this problem disappeared. Most younger, more flexible goalies won't find my issue to be a problem with these pads at all - just thought I'd mention it for those who's butterfly's are as narrow as mine.
JM: The inside/medial edge is flat and features decent sized knee and calf landing pads. The leg pads move laterally on the ice well. The upper thigh has a very thin profile so I'm able to move with ease and the pads don't interfere with each other in the butterfly, even with my +3 thigh rise. You'll also notice in the picture above that the pad has a longer boot scoop. I wear a size 7.5D goal skate and have found myself catching on the inside toe edge as I pushed laterally. In hindsight, I wish I had ordered a shorter boot like I've done in most of the other pads that I've tested.
MB: I found that the pads slid well, and there wasn't any snow buildup along the inside edges. The pads also didn't show any wear spots even after a few months of wearing them about 1-2 times per week. Unlike Jim's setup, I went with the Tapered Toe and the sliding toe bridge options on my pads, knowing that I've always had problems catching the inside toe edge of the pads when pushing laterally - no matter what pads I'm wearing. With my mods, I have had no such problem with my Reactors.
JM: The face of the pad features flat knee rolls and a triangular outer roll. I chose to have a single break below the knee and "Flex Darts" in my outer roll. The vertical stitching "rolls" are stuffed with a soft foam to absorb the shot impact. (NOTE: I had to request that my "Flex Darts" be orange; otherwise they would have been made in purple due to the colors I chose. Please keep this in mind when customizing your own set).
JM: The knee cradle is sewn in on the Reactor pad unlike the Supreme and older Re-Flex line that featured the AKL (Adjustable Knee Lock) system. I feel the sewn in cradle is more stable but the AKL has more cushion to it. I wear Bauer Supreme Knee Guards so I have no need for cushion, and the Reactor knee cradle is wide enough for these knee pads. My only wish is that the Reactors had the option of running the knee elastic strap down to the outside of the calf wrap as some other manufacturers are offering.
MB: The knee cradle has a very simple setup and featured a has a few features that I liked. First, the knee elastic attachment point between the cradle and the large knee block is made up of a large piece of velcro loop material. This allows you to place the starting point of the strap either higher or lower on the cradle to customize the placement of your strap behind the knee. Second, the gray MSH backing on the cradle provides just enough friction to help the pad move with my leg a bit easier, but not enough that it hindered pad rotation at the knee.
JM: When in my butterfly I felt really stable and upright. A large reason for that is the added calf riser attached to the inside thigh wrap. The combination of the riser and a somewhat tight outside calf wrap makes my leg feel really locked in. I generally like a velcro strap running across my calk but with this setup I feel just as secure in the channel.
MB: Again, not a lot of frills here, just a medium depth leg channel lined with the gray MSH material and two medium length calf wraps. As with the MSH material in the knee, this keeps your leg a bit more snug in the channel but still allows the pad to rotate well when going into the butterfly. As Jim mentioned, I liked the additional calf pillow attachment as well. It does help fill some space between your leg and the inside calf landing piece, and it even helped trap a few pucks underneath my pad.
LEG PAD CONCLUSIONS:
Overall, our impression of the Reactor 6000's was very favorable. Bauer has hit on a great combination of pad flex and performance, and though we've only been using them for a few months we've been riding them hard and haven't noticed any premature wear or pad shrinkage.
Goalies will find that rebounds tend to play on the softer side with these pads. Though pucks won't die in front of you as they will when wearing a shredded foam pad, but they do end up being slightly closer to your feet than in most other sheet foam sets that we've tried. Goalies who prefer this type of rebound will love the performance and weight combination that you'll find in the Reactors.
MB: Modeled after one of Bauer's most popular custom spec options - the "Roli" spec - the Reactor 6000 trapper is very closely modeled after a Vaughn T5500 catch glove though it does have some subtle differences . Those familiar with a 5500 will find that the Reactor 6000 has the familiar "thumb to index finger" closure, though it does have a steeper thumb angle to help funnel more pucks into the single, skate-laced T-web.
I found the palm to be thick and protective, even with the stock palm that I choose. No need to upgrade protection here unless you're taking Pro level shots in practice every day. In fact, I found the protection to be much thicker than I anticipated, and it took me more time than normal to break this glove in (for tips on doing that, please visit our Catch Glove Fitting and Gear guide). The glove is great once it's broken in, but getting it to this point took some work. It's worth the effort though, so don't let this deter you if you can't close the glove right off of the shelf.
JM: The Reactor 6000 catcher has a different feel from the previous Re-Flex models and uses a full hand closure. I call this a finger tip to thumb closure and it almost feels like a baseball mitt on my hand. My initial thought when I received my set was also that the catcher was stiff. It took me at least six skates to get the glove where I could snap it shut without extra effort. However, with this tough break in process comes the benefit of a very protective palm. I get very few stingers in this glove.
JM: The pocket features a deep single-T with skate lace webbing. I haven't had any issues with the puck popping out of the pocket.
MB: This is my first experience with a skate laced pocket, and I really like it. Granted, I did get 1" added to the depth of my pocket (personal preference), but pucks feel softer when I catch them when compared to similar, nylon laced pockets that I've used. I found that the glove seals to the ice fairly well too.
MB: The backhand padding is made up of a traditional segmented, two-piece design. The wrist cuff is attached at the bottom of the glove to a traditional velcro tab. This allows the goalie to easily open the glove for strap adjustment or drying, and it also allows for a bit of customization as goalies can determine how tight or loose they would like to wear this piece across the wrist. The backhand piece is laced into the glove above the HD foam fingertip pad, and it's secured to the glove using two Velcro straps. This allows the glove to be opened nice and wide for adjustment and glove drying.
The best part of the cuff, however, is the "Free Flex Cuff" tab located at the center. This piece is attached using two pieces of elastic on each side which allows the goalie to easily flex the wrist when playing the puck or presenting the glove to the shooter.
MB: The fingertips are covered with an HD foam pad to protect against slashes while covering or playing the puck.
JM: The internal hand strapping features three traditional strap locations; a wrist strap, a strap that spans the back of the hand, and a thinner Velcro strap that spans the fingertips. I don't have giant hands so I appreciate having the strap across my fingers and I can get that synched in feel.
MB: In addition to the three straps that Jim mentions, the metacarpals are covered in a neoprene material for more flexibility, and to help keep the hand snug in the glove. I found it really easy to snug the glove up tightly on my hand (which I prefer) but those who like to wear their glove loose could easily do this as well.
CATCH GLOVE CONCLUSIONS:
Goalies who appreciate the traditional "baseball mitt" feel and closure to a catch glove will really enjoy the Reactor 6000. We found the glove to be a pure catcher, as even pucks that didn't hit the pocket directly were funneled into the large, skate laced pocket. Weight (2.20 lbs), balance, and performance were all great. Since receiving our gloves, we've loaned them out for other to try and most everyone who tries them echoes these sentiments. You just can't go wrong with the Reactor 6000 trapper.
JM: You've heard me say in the past that "a blocker is just a blocker". I don't mean to say that every blocker is built the same, but instead it is easy to play with any blocker on the market. In the past I would consider this to be a fair statement, but now manufacturers have started to play with offset hand positioning, built in side boards, and thicker board densities. When I tested the Re-Flex 10 set from Bauer a couple of years ago I felt that it was really well balanced and very light weight. The Reactor 6000 blocker has that same great feel.
MB: Goalies who love a great balance of wrist mobility and protection will have a hard time finding a better option than the Reactor 6000 blocker. I've loaned out my blocker to several other goalies and nearly all of them love it as much as I do.
The blocker board itself is about 1" thick at the center, and it is tapered at the front and back of the board for decreased weight, better mobility, and less interference when playing paddle down. A traditional binding around the perimeter finishes off the classic look.
MB: Over the years, manufacturers have pushed the envelope in regards to sidewall protection. Every year they seem to edge closer and closer to that fine line between great protection and good stick grip and mobility. I'll admit that, on first glance, it looked to me as if the Reactor 6000 had crossed this line somewhat. Don't get me wrong - there's nothing illegal about the size of the sidewall, or about the thickness of the pad itself. What concerned me was the gap between the forefinger and the thumb. Would a stick fit well in this area, and if it did could I get a secure grip on it? I'm happy to report that my first impression was way off, and that Bauer has indeed created a sidewall that is both really protective and also allows me to grip the stick very well.
JM: The HD foam side panel is complimented by a plastic thumb and a soft cushion next to the palm thumb. I like to use the blocker side board to cover my six hole on shots in tight to the body and this blocker seals that hole very well. It has good protection in the right places.
MB: The soft foam pillow between the thumb plastic and the palm is both protective and effective. The pad both provides extra protection to the hand, and it provides a "backing" to the sidewall so that it doesn't flex inward towards the hand when the puck hits it. For me, this setup has done a good job of sealing up the six-hole when trapping pucks between my arm and body.
JM: The palm is centered on the board for a fantastic balance point. Note the wrap around protection on the side of the pinky finger.
MB: Simple, protective HD foam shields cover the back of the fingers, and though you can't see it in this shot there is a nice, thick HD foam piece that covers the side of the index finger as well. I'm thankful that I never had to test this piece, but I'm confident that my index finger would have been safe from harm if I had.
MB: As mentioned earlier in regards to the catch glove, Bauer has hit upon the perfect combination of protection and mobility with their "Free Flex Cuff" design, which incorporates three separate elements. First, as you see above, the cuff opening itself is cut deeply into the glove enough (see picture on the left), and wide enough (see picture on the right) to keep it out of the way of your arm protection.
MB: In this picture, you can see just how much the cuff flexes while still staying close to your wrist. Also, a Velcro hook attachment piece, which is secured to the blocker board on the outside of the hand/wrist, is long and wide enough to enable the goalie to customize both the tightness and the position of the cuff (forwards towards the palm or backwards towards the arm) based on style and needs.
Third, the Reactor 6000 has a traditional wrist strap over the base of the wrist for further customization.
JM: The palm is one of the more comfortable that I have ever worn. Bauer is known for having great palms in their player gloves and that carries over into their goalie lines as well. The Reactor 6000 palm stays soft and does not get "crusty" between uses. An additional layer of nash was added to the palm this year for added durability.
MB: I second Jim's sentiments here. Also, I don't have the largest hands (base of palm to tip of middle finger measurement is 7.5"), and the Reactor palm fit me perfectly. I finally found a blocker that didn't have a lot of "slop" in my fingers, which made me feel much more comfortable holding and controlling my stick.
As Jim mentioned earlier, no one subscribes to the notion that "a blocker is just a blocker" anymore. Use a blocker that's too big or too small, too bulky or not bulky enough, too restrictive or too flimsy and you'll see just how silly that statement is given today's designs. With emphasis on stick play, both in and around the net, a blocker has to fit style in order to be effective for you. We think that the Reactor 6000 blocker is great for just about any style. It's got great padding where you need it, adjustable features that will fit most any goalie, and it's fairly lightweight (1.77 lbs) as well.
Expect Simplicity, Functionality, and Performance
The entire Bauer Reactor 6000 line is extremely light weight and 100% functional. You won't get the bells and whistles that you'll find on the Supreme line, but what you will find are features built solely for performance and agility. You can learn even more about this gear by checking out the product videos located on our Total Goalie TV YouTube page, you can check out your next set from our wide selection of Reactor 6000 sets.
We'd love to read your feedback as well. Feel free to post any comments or questions in the discussion box below. If you have any further questions, please contact us anytime.
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