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Field Tested: Engel HD30 Soft-Sided Cooler

Just when we thought 12-volt refrigerators were all the rage, the cooler revolution began. First, high-quality rotomolded cooler boxes came to market boasting the ability to keep ice for a week. Next came soft-sided models with durable construction and everyday usability (think überlunchbox) and portability. While not the first to market, the Engel HD30 has several notable features, including fully-welded construction and a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film that serves as an additional abrasion- and puncture-resistant layer. A waterproof and airtight zipper keeps spills to a minimum and ensures longer ice retention in the 30-liter compartment.

In use, I found the HD30 to be surprisingly convenient, taking the place of a cooler box or fridge on most day trips. I also brought it along on longer adventures to keep cold drinks near the driver and passenger and allow for storage of ice cubes. There is something about adding ice to a drink after a long, dusty day.

I was impressed by the overall quality of construction and appreciated the inclusion of a bottle opener, small outside pocket, and shoulder strap. My only minor gripe is the finish of the interior walls, which are made of a high-grip rubber. Items do not slide easily from the narrow opening since most bottles grip the material as they are inserted or removed, making what should be a one-handed action, the job of many. 

Scott is the publisher and founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and include three circumnavigations of the globe. He lives in Prescott, Arizona

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