Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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RV gadget: Inflatable cooler solves lots of problems for RVers

Coolers are a fixture in the RV world but they usually come with some inherent disadvantages. Fortunately, Jim Phelan at AirSkirts® (more on those here) has solved many of the downsides of coolers for RVers by inventing an inflatable cooler.

The AirSkirts inflatable cooler

What AirSkirts has come out with is an inflatable 58-quart cooler that really has a lot of unique features that serve RVers well. But the most important job a cooler has is to keep the contents cold, of course. The AirSkirts cooler uses an air gap to accomplish this, and air is a surprisingly good insulator. 

Using the included bicycle-style pump, you inflate the sections of the AirSkirts cooler. But the pump also has a reverse mode to deflate the cooler, too. This is part of the magic of this design. 

When it’s not busy keeping your beer cold, the AirSkirts cooler deflates down to a small 14.5″ X 27.5” X 6.5” size. It fits in a carrying bag with the included pump. This is small enough to fit into just about any storage compartment on an RV. The fact that it weighs just 13.7 pounds with the pump and bag adds to the appeal of this gadget. 

The problem with most coolers is simply that they are always taking up a huge amount of space—even when they’re empty. 

A brilliant feature

Even though the ability to shrink down into a small size is game-changing, my favorite aspect of this cooler is that there is a clear plastic liner. This serves several purposes. 

If you do get it messy, you can simply bring it to the outdoor shower on your rig or any convenient spot and wash it out. Cleanup is simple. Further, since the liner is a separate item, I would imagine it’s far less likely to be gross in short order. That is something I’ve found with more traditional coolers. 

Another nice aspect of the liner is that you can have the ice outside the liner. That way, anything inside the liner stays completely dry. Now that I’ve had a cooler with a liner, I never want one without one ever again. It’s amazing how much the liner makes a difference in using and storing this cooler. 



The cost of inflation

Despite my laziness, I found inflating the cooler to be a breeze. The pump attaches to a very high-quality valve mechanism and is really easy to use. In a few strokes, the cooler is inflated. There is more than one valve on here, so you’ll have to inflate the lid and the body of the cooler separately. But it’s no big deal, really. 

There’s also a hook-and-loop strap to keep the lid closed and handles on the side, as you would expect. 

Quality 

I have come to be very impressed with every aspect of AirSkirts’ products in terms of materials and workmanship. This is no pool toy—at all. 

But I bet it would float in the pool, just the same. 

The caliber of materials and stitching are up to the level you might expect of a standup paddle board or inflatable kayak. You can actually sit on the cooler without feeling like you’re going to damage it. That is more than I can say for my Igloo cooler. It actually had “not a seat” molded into the plastic at the top. 

Of course, it was the perfect height so everybody sat on it and damaged the lid such that it wouldn’t seal properly anymore. It was since donated to some event. That’s not going to happen here, as this is pretty solid. 

Keeping your cool with inflatable coolers

In terms of what a cooler is there for, this one is comparable to that Igloo one I had. Being a genuine cheapskate, I like to use those freezable ice packs rather than going and actually spending money on frozen water. It seemed that the cooler kept the contents cold and those ice packs close to freezing for most of a pretty hot day. 

If absolutely medical cold is your true need in a cooler, then this one probably isn’t as effective as some of the extraordinary coolers by companies like Pelican and Yeti. But those don’t deflate to easily fit into a small space, either. 

And, those coolers are pretty pricey—coming in at around $500 or so for a cooler of the same capacity. The current Kickstarter price of the AirSkirts cooler is $299. 

I actually would suspect that this cooler would easily outlast many of the budget coolers on the market, including the one that didn’t last one season since people sat on it and damaged it. 

Further, that liner is such a nice feature because you can dry it out so it doesn’t get gross between uses. That’s a huge advantage. 

These coolers are presently being offered by AirSkirts as part of a Kickstarter campaign. I have already shown mine off to a number of people, all of whom were pretty impressed. Frankly, if someone had shown me this cooler and I didn’t already have it, I would be on Kickstarter ordering one for myself. 

##RVT1071

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