Confession: I am something of a neat freak (which, by the way, is completely different from a clean freak. While I like to put stuff away, my oven doesn’t sparkle and the bathroom grout could use a good once-over with a toothbrush). Everything should have its place, and my heart sings when it encounters an appropriate container. Clutter makes me feel out of control.
This proclivity toward packaging extends into my sporting life. I have individual bags for swimming/boxing/running, baskets in the car trunk to organize equipment, plastic bins for bike gear, and a cloth wine bag to separate and store my hand-held bottles. All my stuff has its special place.
You can imagine my joy when Austin-based company BlueAvocado reached out to me about reviewing their product. We have a history that goes back to my Austin Fit Magazine days; I’ve been a fan ever since attending 2012’s Farm to Plate, a fundraiser for Austin’s Sustainable Food Center, when BlueAvocado was a sponsor. Guests received reusable lunch and cool bags…which I adore and use to this day. Inspired by the company’s story, I included BlueAvocado’s Fit Kit Plus in the Oct. 2012 magazine’s “Fit Finds.” A year later, I wrote two pieces for the Oct. 2013 issue that touched on BlueAvocado due to their connection with local designer Ross Bennett. Of course I’m going to try out whatever they want to send me.
Opening the box full of all shapes and sizes of BlueAvocado re(zip) storage bags felt like neat-freak Christmas. There was too much bounty for one person, so I farmed out duplicates to people in my workout circle. The goal: to see how these containers might function “outside the box.” In other words, how would BlueAvocado bags translate to workouts?
Taking BlueAvocado Out of the Kitchen
Over the course of several weeks, my friends and I tried out the various sizes of bags in whatever ways appealed to us. Because each re(zip) product comes as part of a 2-pack, I was able to spread the joy fairly liberally.
For years, I’ve carried electrolyte tablets and Benadryl capsules in a variety of containers, with less than optimal results. Old-fashioned plastic coin purses (impossible to find these days, plus contents can easily pop out when fumbling in an endurance-induced haze) and Ziploc bags (only the brand name snack bags hold up; generic versions give out after one or two uses) have been top performers. This, however, is now my go-to choice. I can carry as many SaltStick caps as I need plus packaged Benadryl tablets without fear of the bag splitting open. The pouch seals easily and fits neatly in the front mesh pocket of my Nathan vest. It’s clear enough that I can quickly see how many capsules I have left, strong enough to reuse. My friends were like-minded; they toted electrolyte tables, NUUN, and money on their rides and runs. My only negative feedback? The stiffer corners can rub at my arm if I don’t pack it carefully in my pocket.
My friend Barb tried out this size. She reported, “The small bag…was used to hold powder to mix with my water. Long hikes and shuffling, no leaks. I was able to pour easily a controlled amount into a glass and, even though the seal was coated in powder, it seemed to seal well when I reclosed it.” What she particularly liked was that the bag was able to stand on its own. “That’s the selling point,” she exclaimed. “Being able to set it down like that is pretty ingenious.”
A note: the bags come in three colors (orange, green, and clear), which refers to the sealable strip at the top. Negative: the body of the bags are all the same color and opacity, which could be misleading when ordering “clear.”
My friend Kathryn frequently does a morning open-water swim before it gets light. For safety’s sake, she and the other swimmers wear orange buoys that float behind, making them more visible to boaters on the lake. But where do car keys go? “In the dry half of my swim buoy,” Kathryn explained. There’s a separate pocket to the inflatable buoy that’s “supposed to be dry – but things might get wet if not also in a separate bag. With the BlueAvocado bag, both the key and the phone stay completely dry.” At least two others tried this, and all confirmed that it worked. My only criticism: I’d like to see the bag size, in ounces, printed on the outside as it is on the bottom of the smaller pouches.
I loved this quart-sized bag. For one thing, it’s TSA compliant, meaning I can reuse (and clean) my travel container after all those please-take-your-liquids-out-of-the-bag moments. I put it to use in two different ways. First, I stored all of my extra long run food in it. Items are visible (though my friend Julie disagreed; she found the slight opacity to be a negative: “I want to see my stuff clearly.”); the strong seal meant that I could put wrapped items into the small cooler I leave in the car without worrying that they’d get spoiled by moisture. (Why a cooler in the car? Honey, if you have to ask that, you’ve never done an all-day run in the 100+ degrees Fahrenheit Texas summer. Everything left in the car melts.)
Second, I measured out Epsom salts, placing a bath’s worth plus my bottle of milk+honey’s Sore Muscle Bath & Body Oil inside the bag. That went in my suitcase for a refreshing out of town hotel room soak. The recycled plastic is thick and provides extra padding, and the strong seal gave me assurance I wouldn’t wind up with an oily, salty weekend’s worth of clothes. Because these BlueAvocado bags are washable (by hand and machine), I’ll be able to reuse this for something else once I’ve given it a good cleaning.
My only negative? Again, it’s a complaint about not noting the bag size. People often picked up my bag full of stuff to marvel at its use and then ask how to get one, and I couldn’t say what size it was. Also, the names on the website are kind of arbitrary; one person’s “snack” is another person’s “lunch” (and vice versa).
I confess to being greedy. I did not share any of the gallon bags. I knew immediately how I wanted to use these puppies. Remember that cooler in the car on long runs? I put a towel with cold water in a gallon bag and stuck it into the cooler, underneath my extra food. When done with my run, the towel went on my head and neck, and I used the cold water to wipe down legs and feet. Talk about heaven…
The other successful use for these gallon bags was packing a few clothing items (gloves, lightweight jacket, visor) to carry on my Nathan vest. The backpack has elastic cords on the outside, and I’d discovered via trial and error that less sturdy bags disintegrate after time on the trail. Singular items just fell out of the cords. When I combined pieces into the bag and rolled it up, everything stayed put and clothes were kept dry. I know they’ll be great in drop bags at trail races, too.
My one usage fail, however, came with these gallon bags. I’ve long looked for an appropriately sized reusable plastic protector for route maps. I’d thought this would be perfect. However, while the material is clear enough to discern large items (energy gels, clothing), there’s enough sheen that reading through it is difficult. Darn. Julie, you were right.
Re(zip) Travel Quart
Sold individually, this bag differs in that it has a cloth seam and zipper. While washable, it can’t go in the freezer like the re(zip) bags. I used it to corral all my small electronic-related items (power cords, ear phones) when attending 2015 BlogathonATX. I can certainly see this as containing, say, medical kit supplies for a drop bag, but I didn’t get around to testing that. Nope; this is living in my computer bag, ready for the next conference. I can also envision packing a variety of things in it when traveling, and that brings me back to Ross Bennett’s collaboration with BlueAvocado, the American Designer series.
Yes, I bought those suitcase-organizing, reusable designer containers I wrote about in that Oct. 2013 cover story. I was able to retire all the nasty plastic bags I’d used to protect my clothes and now, I travel in neat-freak bliss. At first, my husband laughed at my obsessive organization…that is, until a packed bottle of sunscreen exploded all over his unprotected vacation clothes. Am I mean for loving the karma there?
NOTE: Other than items needed for review, I have not received compensation for this article.
Related Articles and Links
“What’s in Ross Bennett’s Bag?” (Oct. 2013)
“Ross Bennett: Fashion for Track and Stream” (cover story, Oct. 2013)