Labor Day is over: Do you know where your cooler is?

cooler lead image

Engel MR040

Credit: Amazon

Back from the beach, coolers are discarded like an ungrateful brat’s toy after Christmas. But not so fast, technologies are out there that breathe new life into the unglamorous staple.

Back to work after a sublime, if stormy, three-day weekend in the States, and the ubiquitous ice chest cooler has once again been magnanimously keeping drinks chilled and food un-spoiled, if not a bit waterlogged.

Newer cooler technologies are available, however.

The classic cooler in need of a remake

A worthy performance, but the Wal-Mart staple, in shades of sun-bleached blue or red, is now consigned to the depths of the garage, waiting to be cleaned sometime in the distant future — hopefully before hunting season starts, if you partake.

Or at the very least before next Memorial Day, when the whole beach or lake or whatever outdoor thing kicks in again.

Bring on a chance to give the family member a loving wash, with a bit of bleach maybe, which will hopefully solve any health hazards that may have accumulated between now and then.

The lucky among us, though, will skip this hazardous chore, retrieve any unopened beers, and then tip the whole thing, along with its possibly now-somewhat-tinged food products, into the trash, sometime this winter—and go and buy a new cooler.

Ecologically unsound, true. But a good way to display our commitment to a consumer society.

If you are one of these lucky souls, I can tip you off to the future of coolers:

Next gen

First up is a slam dunk of a Kickstarter campaign that’s just concluded. It brings us the Coolest, a $300 ice chest with built-in speakers, USB charger, and, wait for it, a blender.

What’s quite extraordinary about the cooler—other than its suitability for the SkyMall catalog, as suggested by Reddit member Descarts—is that, according to an article in The Verge, it will be the biggest Kickstarter campaign ever.

As of the time of writing, with 14 hours still to go, the campaign had earned $11 million, and had received over 20,000 percent more than what it was looking for.

That’s not bad for a product that could conceivably break almost immediately, as iLLNiSS says in his Reddit comment. He or she thinks all of those features would be better accomplished by a dedicated device.

“Portable battery powered USB chargers are cheap, blenders are cheap, portable stereos are cheap, and most of all, coolers are cheap,” iLLNiSS says. “Mix them all together and you have an overpriced cooler that will just lose more and more features over time as things break.”

Camping fan Churicaun is even more doubtful as to the viability.

“That blender thing is stupid,” Churicaun wrote on Reddit. “Never once have I been sitting around the fire with my buddies complaining that we don't have any goddamned daiquiris.”

The Aussies know how to do coolers

If you too have doubts as to the benefits that your life will gain from an 18-volt, battery-powered, rechargeable blender with waterproof speaker, ice chest, and LED light, then look at how the Australians do outback camping for guidance.

They know what they’re doing, and outback camping generally is as highly anticipated there as the upcoming football season is here, in the U.S.

Two Aussie-originating portable fridge makers who have products available in the U.S., through Amazon, are ARB and Engel.

Both masters of engineering come in at over $800, so they aren’t for the faint of heart. But unlike some of the cheap 12-volt coolers available commonly at camping outlets in the U.S., the Aussie fridge technology products do the job properly.

At best, the iffy hundred-dollar-or-so, U.S.-originated, 12v coolers cool contents to 40 degrees below the ambient temperature. So if it’s a hundred outside, the cooler will only get down to sixty—and the beers will be warm.

Freezing ability on the compressor-driven 12v Aussies, however, ranges from 40 degrees Fahrenheit to below zero, for the Engel MR040, with power consumption at just 0.7 to 2.5 Amps. This low-power consumption is the result of some serious insulation, among other things.

A cellphone charger, for comparison, is usually one amp.

ARB’s 10800472 50-quart model boasts sub-zero temperatures in 90-degree heat. Of course, both the ARB and the Engels need a 12v power source—like a vehicle.

And neither has a blender.

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