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Gear test: Soft CoolerBags - Soundings Online

Gear test: Soft CoolerBags

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SailorBags’ line of “strong, simple and beautiful bags” includes both round and square-end duffels, zipper totes, drawstring closure stow bags, and the product I have been working with, the Soft CoolerBag.

SailorBags’ line of “strong, simple and beautiful bags” includes both round and square-end duffels, zipper totes, drawstring closure stow bags, and the product I have been working with, the Soft CoolerBag.

It seems that store shelves and catalogs are crowded with every conceivable style and size of soft-sided cooler, most of which provide marginal quality and performance. I came across the Soft CoolerBag on a marine supplier’s shelf and was impressed with its material and construction.

Like all SailorBags products, the Soft CoolerBag is made from a custom-woven, closely knit Dacron sailcloth without resins. By eliminating the resins from the Dacron, the material feels more like a nicely broken-in sail than a newly processed fiber while retaining the toughness the cloth is known for. The bag is well-assembled and stitched on the outside, and its two 1-1/2-inch-wide web straps wrap around the bag and provide strength and support in addition to serving as carrying handles. The handles are held together at the top by an attached wraparound Velcro closure. A detachable shoulder strap is included.

The CoolerBag inner liner is made of heavy, puncture-resistant vinyl that at first glance appears to be slightly oversized. As it turns out, the liner is designed to be pulled from within the bag but not removed, which allows it to easily be washed and left out to dry after use. SailorBags uses closed-cell PVC foam along with a vapor barrier sandwiched between the inner and outer material to provide temperature insulation.

In use, the Soft CoolerBag proved to be both thermally efficient and user-friendly. I filled the 12-pack (medium size) bag with two bags of ice and a plastic quart bottle of seltzer, zipped it, and placed it on top of my oil burner, which keeps the room at 80 degrees. The seltzer started out at 30 degrees, and after 24 hours in the 80-degree room it remained at that temperature, while the ice was only partially melted. It took an additional 12 hours for the seltzer temperature to elevate even slightly to 35 degrees. While the ice appeared to be 50 percent melted, the exterior of the bag remained sweat-free.

The design of the bag provides a wide, zippered opening on top, which when closed will conform to the shape of the bag by using the two web straps and quick release fasteners on both ends. The wide opening allows large and bulky items to easily be placed inside.

The Soft CoolerBag is available direct from SailorBags in three sizes, listed as 8-, 12- and 24-pack. Retail prices are $35, $45 and $59, respectively. A choice of either blue or red webbing with decorative stitching accents in the same color adds a nice contrast to the off-white sailcloth, which reflects sun, helps keep things cool, and will develop natural patina as it ages, according to SailorBags. The bag exterior can be cleaned with soap and water.

SailorBags products reportedly are guaranteed for life; if it wears out or underperforms in any way, return it for repair or replacement. The Soft Cooler-Bag is as advertised: strong, simple and beautiful. I would certainly add “effective” to that statement.

Contact SailorBags in Charlotte, Vt., at (800) 639-1754 or visit www.sailorbags.com